A Personal Report by David Bickers
Meeting up at Heathrow with some old friends from a previous hike in 2005 to Peru and what would become firm new friend over the next week – again some of whom had hiked and biked in aid of DBF over the years – we arrived later than scheduled – 4.00am – at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel. Had we known what the next week had in store we would have probably stayed there in luxury with amazing food, several swimming pools and beds!
Still that was not the point was it – a timely break would have been perfect but we were there to do a job- get to Petra and fulfil our fundraising obligations to all our generous supporters.
I roomed with Vet Simon – ace photographer and great company – we had hardly gone to bed when we were up for a huge buffet breakfast and then down past the beautiful clear swimming pool water to 95% saline sea, a bucket of black slosh and into the Dead Sea for a float.
Simon entering into the spirit Me floating in about one foot of depth !
Our Dutch Israeli guide Phil Kool – yes his real name – had instructed us to meet with our kit in the lobby to leave by one o’clock after a quick lunch for a preliminary taster of what was to come. A four hour hike in extreme heat through a ravine and ending at a small waterfall with the words ‘Drink lots of Water’ ringing in our ears.
Into our mini coach and off to the first night in camp and to meet the ‘Crew’.
The temptation to sleep under the stars was too great to miss and an incredible experience to see the Milky Way and Shooting stars. I obviously fell asleep and woke from what I thought was a dream where I had been thumped in the chest only for that to have been a reality when Marcus said ‘You’re snoring mate!’.
Little did he realise at that moment that he was thumping the Chairman of The DBF!
This was the beginning of banter and friendships and so much laughter in the whole group that would get us through the next few days very much as a close supportive team.
The Hike in all was a real mixture of expectations and realities. To me a desert is sand and for the initial 2 days of the Hike we were walking along a water bed strewn with rocks and through a rift valley, heads down to avoid stumbling and twisting , drinking 5-6 litres of water a day , initially below sea level , in baking temperatures, following a man with donkeys !
Our camp facilities included the ‘Thunder Box’ and Washing Area – our pets (mascots) – other than the mules -were a team of soft bears dressed appropriately for the trip.
I loved day 5 when we eventually started to climb and the higher we got the more incredible the views and the changing terrains. Looking back over the distance we had covered made it far more real and a feeling of exhilaration started to flow through everyone.
The descent down and through a tiny narrow crack in the mountains saw us emerge into little Petra which has to be one of the most beautiful experiences I have had. The most bizarre thing was going from this enormous open space as a tight group and half way through the narrow crack was a café and suddenly we were amongst ‘other’ people and the commercial world. Descending rock steps and into the narrow valley of cliffs with its carved halls and homes and ‘pink’ stone colour, Little Petra was a taste of what was ahead of us.
The final entry into Petra the following day and the opportunity to see one of the World Heritage sites, marvel at the endeavour of a previous inhabitants and to only imagine how their life was, culminating in the Treasury and the Monastery where the team gathered for the Group shot !
It was a fantastic experience and I really thank all those involved – Phil the Leader, Sarah the Doc, who had very few medical issues to deal with , Keith our trusty DBF Ops Director and my fellow Team members who had come to support DBf in a unique way and with great humour and courage.
Here is to the next one!!