What The Mountain Taught Us

*This post was posted last week then seems to have disappeared! I apologise. Cant find it anywhere! Only found the old version of it in drafts.

First off, Oman! You are beautiful. I mean I heard you were before, but I didn’t realize! Your landscape, Your greenery, the wadi’s the peaks, the people! I know I have on barely seen anything yet but thank you for being so gracious and welcoming. Also so clean and organized. I can’t believe you have been here all along, so close, and we don’t visit. We are already planning a week long vacation here.

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Secondly, Husaak. Thank you! I am so proud of this group of young men and women, all from the GCC, who have managed to create something so authentic, genuin and from the heart such as Husaak. They did EVERYHTING from cook the meals to put up the tents to run up and down shams mountain a couple of times before the event and a few times during to set the whole thing up. Every station I would stop at along the way up I would be greeted by a smiling, enthusiastic, helpful man or woman encouraging us, proud of us and standing there for hours on end just to help us. And to every ‘where are you from?’ I would ask I would be answered with ‘Oman’ ‘Bahrain’ ‘Saudi’ ‘UAE’ ‘Qatar’ and my heart would swell. I am so proud of of you!

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The idea for the Jabal Shams Challenge started last month when I received an add about it from two different people. Then started seeing it pop up everywhere. I was fresh off my first 10 K working towards my second and felt this would be a great new experience. I booked it and didn’t give it a lot of thought after that because I hardly had time to process it.

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Things I learned hiking up Jabal Shams

1- There is climbing involved in the hiking. Not the ‘hug the mountain’ kind of climbing but the ‘use your arms and your legs to climb up big boulders’ climbing.

2-Wear the right shoes. Ankle supporting shoes. Ones you have broken in. Preferably ones you have walked uphill and downhill in for a long period of time. Otherwise you will end up with at the least really bad blisters and at worst a broken ankle.  In case you’re wondering, you can find all of your hiking needs at any of the Sun and Sand sports shops in Riyadh. No need to order them online (like I did).

3-4 litres are water are not too much to carry. Yes that is an extra 4 kilos on your back but theres a reason for it. I of course made the brilliant decision to leave 2 litters behind but thats only because I thought J and I would turn back at the 5k. She’s 10… I underestimated my 10 year old.

4- Don’t underestimate your 10 year old. At one point my body just quit. I sat down at the 7.5k and told J I can’t keep going. I tried to tell her she couldn’t keep going either. She looked tired and the hike was definitely trickier than I expected. She conceded. Her face fell. Looking at her made me feel guilty. “J, Why do you want to go all the way up to the 10?”. J: “well… I had my mind set to get to the 10k… and I don’t like giving up.”. Well said J… On we go.

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5-Stop and look around. The scenery is breathtaking! I would honestly recumbent that you don’t do the challenge as we did (20 km, 10 up and 10 down in one day). I would suggest you do it the way the Husaak team usually do it. climb up, spend the night then climb down.

6- The gps functions on phones lie… by about a kilometre. Probably because the network was sketchy. But when it says 7km and you’re only at 6km it lies.

7- Follow the flags and signs. This is mostly for my 10 year old as I was religiously following the flags and signs but J was adamant she knew a better way. (one of the reasons for our two huge fights on that mountain).

8- When you’re not on the side of a mountain and you have the option of giving up because your body just can’t do it anymore. It’s BS. It totally can. It can so much so that it can do double the amount of work it just did and then some. It’s a lying, sneaky little cheek.

9- Hiking doesn’t have the same exhilaration that running does. It’s something appreciated after the fact. While hiking I jumped between being nervous, worried, awestruck and in pain. There was no exhilaration. Even at the peak, which J pushed us to reach, there was more a feeling of relief and exhaustion.

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10- don’t underestimate oranges. Oranges! Where have you been all my adult life! Back at that fateful 7.5 k where I begged J to agree to turn back we had basically ran out of water and were refilling at the check in stations. I had decided to ask for an orange as well, one of the fruits that is generally detested by my mother and husband and are messy and avoided at all cost. It is something eaten by children away from the adults and they are promptly hosed down after to get rid of the stickiness and the smell. At that point I thought an orange would do two things, the first is nourish me and the second is quench my thirst. J bit into the skin and I peeled the orange and took a big bite. Oh My God. Oranges! How could I have forgotten! So gratifying and satisfying and the best thing I could have had at that point.

11- The way down is tougher than the way up. The adrenaline is gone, the drive to reach the summit is gone. All that’s left is the fatigue. This is where your boots get the true test because going downhill for hours on end on uncomfortable or ill fitting boots is torture.

12- if you have the chance to do this alone or as part of a big group you would be missing out big time if you chose the former.

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I had a really well thought out conclusion to this post when I first posted it before it disappeared into thin air! Not sure how to recreate that honestly so won’t try! Needless to say, despite that it was levels harder than I expected, I am beyond proud of my children for completing the challenge. In fact both my husband and myself would tell you that if it weren’t for them we would have turned back before the summit. Love my little super powers!

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