26-Dec-2000 -- Moti Maman, Chance, and I set out to conquer two
Confluences in the Israeli Negev Desert (31N 35E & 30N 35E). We took
advantage of an occupational necessity to drive from Jerusalem to
Eilat and back. We set out at 06:00, drove a total of 782 km, hiked about
6 km, and returned to Jerusalem at 22:00.
Our route took us from the Holy City of Jerusalem, sacred to Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam, to Beer-Sheva where Abraham dug a well in ancient
times, along the mutual Israeli-Egyptian border to Eilat, the southern most tip of Israel, on the shore of the Red Sea where Israel meets Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, through the Arava along the mutual Israeli-Jordanian border to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth at 394 meters below sea level, to
Jericho, the world's oldest known settlement, dating perhaps from 8000 BC
which Joshua conquered from the Canaanites and finally, back to Jerusalem.
The second confluence, 30N 35E, was a bit more difficult (for the first
confluence see 31N 35E). On a map scaled
at 1:250,000 it looked simple. Had we checked in advance on a map scaled at
1:50,000 we would have noticed the mountainous topography and steep inclines.
Again we were able to drive our Fiat into the sandy vicinity on unofficial trails that were simply tire marks of military vehicles that traveled there previously. We had to give up driving when the sand became dunes, too soft and deep for our car. My Magellan showed exactly 2 km to the Confluence. We packed water bottles, a camera and film, binoculars and set out.
It took over an hour of hiking through very rough terrain. The inclines were despairing. Every hill we climbed was only followed by a wadiy and then another hill not previously visible. The sand turned into sharp rocks and stones. Chance was miserable because he forgot to bring shoes. Moti and I each had moments flooded by the desire to give up only to be encouraged and pushed on by the other. It took over an hour but we finally made it to the Confluence.
We both felt a conquest, partially of the Confluence itself but also of our inner-selves. The Confluence is located in the middle of nowhere on the steep southern slope of one of many hills. Averaging the point to show 0.000 degrees was difficult because of maneuverability. Around us in the distance we could hear the firearms of military units in training. It was a good thing we marked a waypoint for the location of the car before we left. Otherwise we would probably still be searching for it. The round hiking trip took 2.5 hours.
Chance says he’s had enough of the Degree Confluence Project for a lifetime and he doesn’t understand what the point is - there were no cats to chase at the Confluence!