Many people have their own bucket list with the things they wish to do or experience. One of the things on mine was to spend a night above the clouds.
Luckily for me, this did happen two years ago. A group of my friends decided to go on journey to the Black Peak (Qurnat as Sawda’), which is the highest point in Lebanon and the Levant, at 3088 meters above sea level.
At first I was hesitant to join since I never went camping before (let alone camp on a mountain in the middle of nowhere). However, I ended up going because it was an amazing challenge.
First steps on the journey to the Black Peak
After having prepared everything we needed for the journey, we took a bus and set off to our destination. However, the bus obviously couldn’t take us all the way there.
After it dropped us, we still had a hike of around 18 km (11 miles) to reach the bottom of the Black Peak. This included climbing hills on rough trails with all our packs and tents. We took a break on the top of each hill we climbed, and eventually got close to our destination.
Once we found a good spot between some hills, we set our camp and had lunch. It was 2 pm, but we felt as if we had been walking all day. Everyone was exhausted, so we decided to have some rest before going on another small hike around the mountains.
Even though it was summer, the nights on the black peak are really cold. We had to light a fire at night in order to stay warm, which is why we divided ourselves into 2 groups: 4 of us volunteered to roam the mountain for dry bushes, and the rest went to check the place around.
I was with the first group, because I thought it might be less exhausting (yeah, I’m a lazy non athletic guy). Little did I know that I had picked a tough job. We had to keep going up and down the hills every time we collected some bushes, and ended up doing it for 4 hours until we collected enough bushes for the night.
○ We had to endure a long road on our way up the mountain, and we had to maintain a steady pace in order to achieve our goal. Walking fast wasn’t going to get us faster to our destination, it was only going to drain our energy.
Life is just the same. If you push yourself too hard and consume all your energy, you won’t get far. Be steady and consistent, and remember to take breaks.
○ Not all simple tasks are easy to achieve. Sometimes, even when something looks easy on the surface, it takes a lot of work to be completed. That’s why you should never underestimate a certain task no matter how easy it looks.
When you fall into the trap of underestimation, you may start missing deadlines for things you expected to finish earlier.
A night to remember
As the darkness started to fall, our friends hadn’t been back yet. We suspected they got lost and couldn’t find their way back. We started the fire so that they could follow the smoke and used a whistle we had to signal to them every couple of minutes so that they know where we are.
Around an hour later, they appeared. We all gathered around the fire and started telling stories.
As it got darker, the view above us became more and more majestic. We were above the clouds, with no city lights whatsoever around us. The sky was a complete masterpiece. NEVER in my life have I seen the stars this beautiful. It was breathtaking, and I enjoyed every moment of looking at them.
At that point, I realized how much we were missing on the true beauty of nature. The city’s neon lights made us blind, and took away the beauty of the sky from us.
As it got closer to midnight, we had to go to sleep. Our plan was to continue climbing to the highest point on the mountain before dawn to experience the sunrise in a way we never experienced before.
The tough journey back
As we expected, the sunrise on that mountain was another masterpiece. An hour after sunrise, we went back to the camp and started packing our things to go back down. This time, we were taking a shorter road to get down the other side of the mountain.
There was a small catch though: were out of food and water. We had to walk for at least 3 hours to reach the closest inhabited place. After walking for 2 hours, we got to our last challenge: a path that was steep as hell. It is used as a ski path in the winter when it’s covered with snow, but it gets dry in the summer.
We were all very thirsty but we couldn’t go fast because any slip would mean breaking some legs on the way down. If there’s anything I learned from this challenge, it’s that the way down is as hard as the way up (or sometimes even harder). You should always be careful with your limited resources, because even when you think you have enough, they may end before you notice it.
Even though the journey wasn’t easy, I enjoyed every single moment of it and I still remember it as if it was yesterday. If you’ve never been on a journey that gets you out of your comfort zone, now is the time. You will discover beautiful things and it helps you grow more than you would imagine.