Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Day 16 – Kfar Aqab to Baskinta

We start our hike in the hills above the town of Kfar Aqab. The town square is called Blata (The Rock). A reference to the very same in Amin Maalouf's "The Rock Of Tanios". In fact we can actually see Mr. Maalouf's house in his hometown of Ain el Qabou from one of the many vistas on our route today. It is a long and grueling 600m uphill to the cliffs below Shwar Baskinta but the views are worth it despite the stubborn haze that we have had for past couple of days. [caption id="attachment_429" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="The Cave of Sayf ...

Day 15 Hrajel to Kfar Aqab

Sultan drives us up to the trail head near the Roman temple of Faqra. This is the section of the trail that we could not do because of the crazy storm last year. We hike through numerous sweet smelling apple orchards and along the banks of a stream.The valley is called Wadi el Kalaa. We stop for lunch at the old monastery of St. Anthony the Great. The monastery seems abandoned but the shade from the large old oaks gives us a break from the strong sun. [caption id="attachment_432" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Lunch at St Anthony Monastery"]

Day 13 – Afqa to Hrajel

I am excited about seeing the parts of the trail that I missed because of the rain and fog last year. We hike along sheer cliffs that tower high above the countryside below. When we get to the Afqa cave I venture up to the huge, gaping opening. The cave ceiling is so high that trees growing near the entrance seem like tiny shrubs. I didn't like the way my blackberry camera showed off the scale so you will just have to get my book to see the amazing picture Norbert took. [caption id="attachment_416" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Inside Afqa cave"]

The day started off cold and got progressively colder. The clouds were playing around us most of the day, giving us brief but exciting glimpses of the dramatic scenery. [caption id="attachment_411" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Brief patch of sunlight on orchard in Mnaitra"][/caption] Close to the Reserve de Afqa we go and visit Boutros Asaker, the goat herder. His farm is full of hundreds of baby goats jumping and frolicking on the rocks. He has lost count of how many he has and  shows ...

Our guide George Sarkis takes us down the valley of Nahr el Joz and up to the beautiful homes in Shatine. There is a very old church on a hilltop that has a bell attached an oak. [caption id="attachment_403" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="George ringing 'tree bell' of old church in Shatine"][/caption] After a long long uphill we get to the Arab el Hib pass in Laqlouq. At 2012m it is the highest point on the LMT. The wind is so strong we joke about just paragliding ...

It's only a 12km hike today so we take our time in the morning.  Joseph Karam and I sign our sponsorship agreement just above the cedar forest. Padre informs us that we are at 1950m. Compared to yesterday's steep climb today's contouring trail seems leisurely. Khaled starts collecting empty rifle shells to clean up the trial and many follow suit. Pretty soon the group has collected 3 large bags full. [caption id="attachment_399" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Roger carrying bags of rifle cartridges"][/caption] After homemade refreshments at Hotel Karam, we go to ...

Looking up from the guest house in Qadisha valley to the cliffs above is quite intimidating. We hike in a drizzle all the way up to Bcharre. We can't resist the smell of saj manakeesh coming out of a small bakery. By the time we get to the Cedars it is bitter cold and Paul, one of the extended hikers, gallantly gives me his gloves for my freezing hands. [caption id="attachment_395" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Ancient cedar outside the forest"][/caption]

After yesterday's grueling 21km hike we really enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing day in the valley. We started at the (relatively) luxurious Qadisha Inn. [caption id="attachment_387" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Sunset from Qadisha Inn"][/caption] We visited the monastery of Mar Lichaa, an amazing hermitage built into grottos high up in the cliffs. Joseph Karam, the man who originally conceived of the LMT and runs Ecodit, joined us for lunch. I was so excited to show him the book. [caption id="attachment_388" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Chapel at Mar Lichaa"]

We got an amazing view from the ridgeline above Ehden. Stopped in Ehden for yummy local sweets and were adopted by a dog we called Rover. He stayed with us all the way to Wadi Qadisha, 13km! [caption id="attachment_384" align="alignnone" width="576" caption="Wadi Qadisha"][/caption]

The British ambassador hiked with us from Bqaa Sefrine to Horsh Ehden. She had a good time. It's a very 'wild' part of the country. [caption id="attachment_380" align="alignnone" width="574" caption="The British ambassador climbing up to Mgharat el Hawa"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_374" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Nayla and I on Day 5 near Horsh Ehden"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_375" align="alignnone" width="575" caption="Below Wadi Swaqi"][/caption]