Hiking the Jordan Trail: Day 33 – Wadi al-Saif to Wadi Aheimar (7 miles)

Jordanian wadi

Hiking through these wadis is very difficult. I’m constantly climbing up the steep walls, then dropping down into another wadi. Navigation is tricky, and I would be completely lost without my GPS. 

The short several miles to Wadi Gseib went by easily along a dirt track in the siq. As I headed toward Wadi Aheimar things slowed WAY down.

As I walked along the wadi, I somehow picked up 6 stray sheep. They followed me and wouldn’t leave sight of me. This went on for a half hour and I knew I had to do something. Sheep are the lifeblood of the shepherd and each one is critical to his livelihood, never mind 6 of them. I tried throwing rocks at them. They ran in the opposite direction.

“Great,” I thought,  “maybe now they will go back where they belong.”

“Baa, baa,” I heard behind me a few minutes later. I couldn’t throw another rock at them. When I did this before they had that confused and hurt look in their eyes and it was like they were saying: “How could you do this to us? We trust you like you are our mother.”

Having them follow me was not an option. They would die from lack of water and I wasn’t going to give them any of mine as it was way too precious.

“Maybe I can ditch them,” I thought.

I jogged ahead of them until they were out of sight and then scrambled up some rocks and hid where they couldn’t see me.

“Baa, baa,” nope that didn’t work. I tried it again but to no avail.

They were attached to me and there didn’t seem like there was much I could do about it. So I found a good spot to sit and figured sooner or later the shepherd would come looking for them. Sure enough, an hour later he came. I don’t think he was very happy with me – after all, I did walk off with his sheep.

All this cost me well over an hour, but more importantly it cost me precious water. My next water and food pick up will hopefully be tomorrow afternoon. As I walked down the trail I couldn’t get the damned song “Mary had a Little Lamb” out of my head.

Soon afterwards I had to climb over the mountains I’ve seen for the last two days and, unfortunately, in the searing heat of the day. The climb seemed to go on and on and on. Steep uphill on rock fields, then down a ravine, and back up again. These were remote mountains. Other than the one shepherd, I haven’t seen anyone for two days. If something ever happened to me it would be all over.

Every step I took I had to make sure what I was stepping on was solid and not a loose rock. Since the sandstone foot and handholds tend to break off, I had to test them before I used them. The solid sandstone, especially going downhill, tends to be very slippery because of all the loose sand on it. Falling or twisting an ankle wouldn’t be very hard to do.

By far the hardest thing was navigation because of the numerous wadis, ravines, and cliffs. I rely solely on my GPS which may take 30 steps to triangulate and sometimes do it incorrectly. Countless times I found myself along the wrong ridge or going down the wrong wadi and had to backtrack. This took time and energy.

But the worst part was I had to hold it out in front of me almost constantly checking it to make sure I was headed in the correct direction. This wasn’t easy when I had to watch every step I took. If something ever happened to my GPS I’d be stuck in the mountains with no idea of where to go. Every time I got off track and thought I could go forward and get back on track up ahead, I came face to face with an impassible cliff or wadi and had to backtrack. Without the GPS it would take me days to get out of these mountains.


Desert, desert, and more desert.


camping in jordan wadi

Sleeping in protected wadis is nice. So peaceful!

You can find all my journal entries from hiking the Jordan Trail here: Jordan Trail

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

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One Response to Hiking the Jordan Trail: Day 33 – Wadi al-Saif to Wadi Aheimar (7 miles)

  1. Hadija January 24, 2018 at 1:26 am #

    Gosh no one tells you what to do with sheep attaching themselves to you. Really interesting they would follow a stranger. Was their owner having a nap somewhere? So glad you were able to return the sheep safely to their owner! Love your campsite.

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