Hiking the Jordan Trail: Um Qais at the trailhead

Um Qais amphitheatre

The Um Qais amphitheatre, which holds 3000 spectators.


Um Qais church

The remains of a church which was destroyed by an earthquake.

I stood atop the hills overlooking the Jordan Valley mesmerized by their sheer expanse. It was a very hazy day and, although the Sea of Galilee was almost directly below me, I could just barely see it. The Golden Heights dominated the hills on the opposite side of the Jordan Valley. The hills of Syria dominated the northern horizon and all I saw was their dark outline behind a wall of haze.

This is the northwest corner of Jordan from where I’ll start my journey to the Red Sea tomorrow. It’s the site of the Um Qais ruins where ancient Roman ruins lie amid a Ottoman-era village.

Um Qais also has a Biblical significance. Some claim it’s the place where Jesus cast the demons out of two possessed into a herd of swine. The swine then rushed down the steep banks and perished in the waters below.

The 70-mile drive from Ammon to Um Qais was rather unspectacular. It was settlement after settlement after settlement, each one looking like the one  before it – pods of large concrete block structures. Trash was everywhere and the exhaust fumes almost overpowering. When I got to the hills overlooking the Jordan Valley I was hit by a burst of cool, refreshing air. Olive groves dotted the slopes where quaint farm houses of all shapes and sizes were built with indigenous rocks.

The explorer within me came out of nowhere, and I wanted to start hiking the trails immediately, but that would have to wait until tomorrow.

All journal entries from hiking the Jordan Trail can be found here: Jordan Trail

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

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One Response to Hiking the Jordan Trail: Um Qais at the trailhead

  1. Kristina Carpenters March 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

    It sounds very exciting! I look forward to following you. Enjoy.

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