Hiking the Jordan Trail: Preparation

I’ve got butterflies fluttering around in my stomach.  The kind of feeling I get when I’m about to experience something new, exciting, and unknown.  Tomorrow I leave for the country of Jordan where I plan on hiking the Jordan Trail from the Palestinian/Syrian border all the way down to the Saudi Arabian border, a total of 450 miles.

gear for Jordan Trail

Everything I’ll need for the hike on the Jordan Trail – food and water will be purchased locally.

What have I gotten myself into?  I’ll be doing a solo hike in the rugged and remote desert wilderness – from the mountains overlooking the Dead Sea where Moses and his brother Aaron roamed to the ancient land of the Nabateans to the spectacular deserts of Lawrence of Arabia.  Unlike the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail, there is no trail to follow; it’s just a series of 36 GPS tracks that two energetic Jordanians put together.  The ‘trail’ doesn’t even officially open until March 31 so not many people have hiked it.  There are no physical maps, only GPS waypoints to follow.

For the most part I’ll be in the hinterlands of northern Arabia.  Bedouin camps, plush olive groves, rugged desert mountains, forests, Roman ruins, and spectacular desert scenery will break up the monotony.  But it’s the renowned culture of the Jordanians that I’ll be immersed in that excites me the most.  Several times I’ll emerge from the wilderness into tourist towns where I can sleep in a real bed, resupply, rehydrate, and catch up on lost calories.

There are several more things I need to attend to and few more errands to run then I’m good to go.  The hiking/camping preparations are almost second nature to me and I had all the necessary equipment.  It’s this GPS and smartphone thing that’s getting me.  I’m one of those few people who have owned neither.  Since there are no maps, all the navigation must be done with a GPS.  My life is dependent on it.  If it breaks or runs out of batteries, I’m in serious trouble.  I loaded a map of Jordan and the tracks given to me by the two Jordanians and I now have a pretty good grasp of how to use it.

There is a 60-mile stretch where there is no water, food, or village.  What I plan on doing is hiring someone with a 4-wheel drive vehicle to cache food and water.  The trail and jeep roads don’t intersect so it will require going off trail a bit to pick up the cache.  The problem is that when I’m hiking I’ll have no idea where the cache is in relation to the trail so what I’ll do is make a waypoint for each cache.  In doing this I can go off-trail to find the waypoint.

I’m also new to the smartphone thing.  I bought a Samsung Galaxy and loaded a bunch of useful apps.  Put on Skype and Gmail to communicate with my wife and text editor to write and upload blogs with.  I also put on an app to organize pictures and an extra memory card to store the pictures.  Of course with all these gadgets I need batteries to run them so I bought a bunch of rechargeable batteries and a battery charger.  But it’s not that simple – Jordan has three different types of 240 volt (we use 110 volts in America) electrical outlets, so on top of all the other stuff I have to carry three plug adapters.  My backpack will be much heavier than it was on the Colorado Trail.

Between the extra weight and the navigation, I don’t plan on doing high mileage days!

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8 Responses to Hiking the Jordan Trail: Preparation

  1. Sarabeth February 27, 2017 at 7:39 am #

    Can’t wait to learn more about your adventures! So exciting!

  2. Hope February 27, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    Hi John, Sounds like an interesting hike you’ll be taking.. Be safe and with that being said I wa wondering why you didn’t get a solar battery recharger to back up the electric one? I know they do work and since you’ll be where it’s sunny (hopefully) it seems like a natural… Again be safe and enjoy!!!

    Hope

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel February 28, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

      Nancy here, but I can answer this one. He’s VERY concerned about weight. He’ll be carrying significantly more on this trek than he did on the Appalachian Trail or the Colorado Trail, so only took what he considered essential.

      • Tintin March 8, 2017 at 9:58 am #

        Hey Nancy, I’m due to start my thru-hike of the Jordan Trail at the beginning of April so it’s great I can follow John (thanks John) before-hand. I thru-hiked the AT too but am expecting to carry significantly less than I did on the AT. I’d be interested to know John (you) took that you didn’t on the AT?

        • Nancy Sathre-Vogel March 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

          I’ll see if I can get hold of John to have him answer this. I know the basics of navigation are different – he has a GPS and a stack of paper maps that he printed out before he left. He also has a phone, which he didn’t have on the AT. I don’t know that anything else is different.

    • Hadija March 6, 2017 at 2:17 am #

      There is sun but problem in spring is also fair amount of rain in the north and many cloudy days. Seems solar chargers take a long time to do their job too, but main problem is you’re walking north to south so useless strapped to back. Others get round problem by starting to hike at dawn and finishing early to catch sun when at camp. In the end the weight is everything.!

  3. Martha Bunnell February 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    I’m an armchair traveler who followed you from Alaska to Argentins. Excited for your new adventure! Will be very different solo vs. all 4 of you!

  4. Nick March 3, 2017 at 7:03 am #

    I’ve done hiking on several South asia mountain trail and I can suggest you to include one small medical kit with you always.

    It can be a life saver just in case.

    By the way, love your blog

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