Bless the long weekend given on the occasion of Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) birthday in the UAE. Like all good times it didn’t last long enough, but I have managed to catch up on loads of sleep and sort of touched up on my sense of adventure.
By Wednesday I had no plans made for the weekend, which sounded a bit wrong, so I emailed Absolute Adventures to find out what their plans were. They wrote back informing me that I can join a Smugglers Bay trek on Friday. I told my husband about it so he took me shopping for trekking shoes. Much excited by the plan he didn’t bother asking what kind of a trek this was nor how fit do we need to be for it. Neither did the question occur to me; something we both regretted 10 minutes after the trek started.
We left Dubai at 6:00AM on Friday and headed towards Oman. We crossed the Omani boarder two hours later and exited at Dibba Al Bay’aa. The part of the Dibba region that lies in the Governate of Musandam. We reached the adventure center around 8:15AM. The team welcomed us, registered us and handed over our hydration kits and packed lunches. We were then good to embark into the unknown. Literally.
The start of the trail looked like a sweet climb up a relatively high beach side rocky hill, but I couldn’t help wonder which part of the brochure did I miss reading. I wasn’t expecting so much climbing to be involved yet the route was only getting higher and much more challenging. My husband and I huffed and puffed loudly shortly after. Our young, strong and really fit guide decided we needed a break; during which he suggested that we might want to seriously consider turning back; as the bit we’ve walked so far is hardly warm up in trekkers’ standards. It turns out this trek is level (4); in other words the second last hardest level in the program. It actually requires quite a bit of fitness and beginners are not advised to take it. For a long 5 seconds I glared at our guide with empty eyes. I looked down at the center’s building and was tempted to take the offer, then I looked up at the apparent end of the hill and I watched a mountain goat run up in high energy until it disappeared into the other side of the hill. You won’t be having all the fun alone today missy; I am coming right after ya, I thought to myself. I will at least try, I said to the guide.
On our way up we came by a couple of Iranian immigrants. They sat in the shade resting as they were left behind by their group. The woman had casual clothes and slippers on and they were not carrying any kind of climbing gear with them so I figured they were not trekkers like us. Good luck, the man said to us!
We continued to see ragged clothes and other remains from the ones who had passed through that way before. We found the rest of the group later; they waited on top of the opposite hill for their friends to follow.
When we arrived at the top the guide announced that we have now covered half of half the route. The only thing that kept me from screaming out loud was the stunning view of the beach that we were looking at.
The way down to the beach was very steep and dangerous, but we managed to make it in one piece. We had about 45 minutes to spend at the beach as we please. As much as I wanted to jump into the azure water I preferred not to take my shoes off. At this point there was no guarantee I would be able to put them back on as I knew my feet would be swelled. We had our lunch and enjoyed the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings before we headed back.
We took a different route back; but it wasn’t getting any easier. The guide told us stories about people who were not fortunate enough to survive this route and were found days after their remains had disintegrated or were eaten by wild animals. One he said is believed has been bitten by a poisonous snake and couldn’t make it down alive. Others have lost their way and didn’t have enough water to survive on.
The fact that I watched the movie 127 Hours last week didn’t reinforcing my emotional status at that particular moment.
I asked him if the government has taken any measures to stop the illegal immigrants from entering the country this way. His answer was no; especially after few boarder policemen lost their lives patrolling the mountains.
This is the beginning of the end of the trekking season that runs from October to April. During these months the cool weather allows a pleasant hangout in the outdoors such as this activity, but as it approaches the end it gets warmer and harder to put up with the heat. We made few stops to rest as we retracted. We took refuge under the shade of the trees to avoid the burning sun that was now in the middle of the sky. We watched the mountain goats jump across the unstable rocks playfully and steadily. To them it was a second nature; to me it was something to muse at. They spend the whole day roaming the mountain and they return to the village right on time for feeding, the guide said.
At 2:30PM we arrived back at the adventure center. I had lost sensation in the big toes of both of my feet, but I was not short of pleasure that I had done this. Had I decided to turn back at the beginning I wouldn’t have just failed to face a minor challenge, but I would have actually missed out on a great adventure and some serious fun.
Until the next journey ….