Day Two on the Jordan Trail, Hiking 40 miles from Dayna to Petra

My Guide through the Jordan desert, Ghassab Al Bedoul

From my five days Hiking the Jordan Trail,  from Dana to Petra. It is said that Moses, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad have walked along what is now the Jordan Trail. I am excited to share from my on experiences.

Hiking the Jordan Trail with Ghassab Al Bedoul is the desert equivalent of walking the streets of New York with Billy Joel. Everybody knows Ghassab, his reputation here is legendary. During my “desert abduction?” the day before, I had already learned that his name could be a lifesaver.

Day two on the Jordan trail dawned bright and beautiful after a storm the night before had threatened to sweep me off over the edge of a cliff like a kite. I learned that two hiking groups were evacuated last night by rescue teams. Thanks to Ghassab’s direction by radio to my substitute guide, I was safe in a cement structure that was not the Bedouin tent of my plans but allowed me to continue living and breathing and sharing stories. I am grateful. Here in the desert, plans are dictated by years of experience with the ever changing weather, not pdf itineraries crafted through the exchange of emails months before.

When Ghassab emerged from the back of a 4×4 entourage at our designated meeting place on the morning of day two, I knew immediately that I was in good hands. The uncertainties of yesterday disappeared into the past. During the first few hours of hiking together, mine and Ghassab’s stories unfolded as we executed today’s 11.30 km (aprox 7 miles) plan.

As we made our way through wadi’s (valleys) and mountain peaks, 49 year old Ghassab was candid about his life experiences. I appreciated getting to know this Bedouin man of the desert who has never married but is surrounded by family. During his adult years, his only departure from this desert that he loves was to live in Germany where he earned a bachelors degree in physical Therapy.

During our days together I was privileged to meet his mother as she tended her goats, have tea with an uncle and meet a dear 75 year old man that carried Ghassab on his back when Ghassab was a baby. Ghassab has experienced love and loss and I was privileged to hear his stories.

When the conversation turned to my family and what drives the humanitarian photography that has captured my heart, my daughter Christina’s story unfolded. Instead of walking Ghassab through the traditional steps of the story, it unfolded in a way that had yet to be told.

During our crossing of a knife edged peak in the desert, I shared with Ghassab about a little magic trail that had started 33 years ago. I shared about my heart shattering into a thousand pieces when I thought the trail had ended, a newfound joy in Christ, discovering that Christina’s trail had continued, leading me to this place in the desert.

By this time tears were streaming down my face, the high winds drying them before they could disappear on their own. In a moment that I’ll never forget, this kind, legendary man of the desert slipped his hand around mine as we continued to walk; his simple words spoke volumes, “this is very good for you”.

In the days that followed, we explored ancient civilizations that date back 4,000 years BC, the Egyptians, Nabateans and Romans. During our time together I developed great admiration for Ghassab’s ability to take complex amounts of information and reduce them to simple truths.

“We are not sorrowful only, as if this low valley has swallowed all that is high and lovely and good. Nor do we only rejoice, as if the valley is not really a dreadful place after all. No, we grieve and give thanks. We sob and we sing. 

We say with George Herbert, in his poem “Bitter-Sweet,”

I will complain, yet praise;

I will bewail, approve:

And in all my sour-sweet days

I will lament, and love. “

Overview of my five days hiking the Jordan Trail, Dayna to Petra.
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