Touring Israel I participated in activities that, if offered at home, I would most likely politely decline.
Sometimes we take on a physical challenge for the satisfaction of saying,"I did it!" The sense of accomplishment feels good, but also provides a tiny bit of comfort that my body functions, if not as well as my touring cohorts generations younger, well enough to assure me I am not yet ready for the retirement home.
I climbed Masada, a very tall hill, not quite a mountain, maybe a small mountain, in the middle of the desert. It is a national monument, the remains of a Jewish settlement about 2,000 years old. When facing defeat by a foreign power and the knowledge they would all be killed or sold into slavery, the 967 inhabitants made the difficult decision to commit suicide rather than be captured by the Romans.
My day began hours before daylight. The bus left the hotel at 4:00 a.m.; in the middle of the night I am awake, dressed, and very groggy. Hikers must begin before sunrise - 5:30 a.m. - because the sun rises quickly and it gets very hot; too hot to climb. A cable car carries visitors up and down the mountain all day long. My party of seven hiked up the mountain, toured the site, then rode the cable car down.
At the beginning of the trek up Masada. The body of water is the Dead Sea.
The rest of my hiking buddies, all ahead of me. I took up the rear the entire time
And reached the summit in 1 1/2 hours (most people can complete the hike in one hour).
We were not alone hiking Masada. A group of army trainees
Also hiked up - after they had already walked nine miles.
Our group poses with some of the soldiers - still smiling after their long march!
I am the civilian in the gray shirt (not the skinny one - that's my granddaughter).
View from the top of Masada. The mounds in the back of the picture
Are remains of Roman fortifications built during the seige of Masada.
View from the cable car descending Masada.
And I have the T-shirt to prove it!