An Early Morning Climb Up Mount Sinai in 1984


It was pitch black when the group assembled at 4:00 a.m., and stood shivering in the cold. Off we went on the Steps of Penitence (also called the Path of Moses), one step after another on the first of the nearly 4,000 steps (I did try to count but kept forgetting what number step I was on), onwards and upwards hoping for an epiphany. Was God going to appear in the form of a burning bush? Enlighten any of us? Perform a small miracle? I’m not trying to be funny. After all, we were supposedly climbing in the footsteps of Moses and Mount Sinai is a sacred place for Muslims, Christians and Jews with a small chapel at the top constructed on the ruins of an older 16th-century church.

Step after step, quadriceps burning, through a natural amphitheater and occasional stops for big breaths, all the way to the top of Mount Sinai in time for the fabled sunrise over the mountains and Sinai Desert. I could lie and report that ex-Marine and I did feel an other-worldly, spiritual feeling on top of the Mount Sinai’s 7,498-foot peak but we felt nothing but relief that the climb was over and hunger pangs!

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the rocky steps up Mount Sinai, Egypt
 

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sunrise on Mount Sinai, Egypt

There is another trail up to the top called the Camel Path, Siket El Bashait…duh…because you can NOW ride a camel almost all the way to the top. You’ll still have to walk the last 700 steps up the uneven surface. Photos…View image… at the top and since the Lord spoke to no one in the group, we headed halfway down to the amphitheater where breakfast was laid out.

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on the way down for breakfast on Mount Sinai
 

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breakfast spread on Mount Sinai

Take a close look at the “breakfast spread” for 30 persons. Not very much there, and the hard, cold facts were beginning to dawn that there wasn’t enough food for the remaining days in the Sinai. Sure enough. The Guides confirmed that they had expected less people in the group and, there wasn’t enough food but with strict rationing, there should be enough for the remainder of the trip.

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Mount Sinai map

With this reassurance and what could we do about it anyway, it was down the bottom section of Mount Sinai with rocks, gullies and avalanche chutes (glad we couldn’t see the terrain in the dark)…View image… in the warm sun, climb up into the convoy truck and drive back eastwards to the Nawamis.

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