My fingernails are dusted with rock particles. Crouching into
Spider-Man position, I dig into a crack in the boulder with one hand and place my other hand down flat for balance. I lower one foot down, searching for solid rock, while the other holds tight to higher ground in ballet stance. There’s a moment of uncertainty. Then, I put my trust in my limbs, lowering myself carefully to the next layer of rock.
From here, I pounce forward: one medium sized stone, then another. I hop through Super Mario style as I race to the next descent.
Desert canyons are one of my favorite things.It’s all in the senses, the full body immersion at every level.
My eyes take in the pristine beauty of alabaster rock. There are soft waves of stone where water has passed through at the foot of sharp, craggy cliffs. In the distance, through a narrow crack, I can see out to the desert beyond the shadows. A bright blue sky hangs above golden mountains.
As I move forward through the canyon, birdsong is my constant companion. I hear the chirps, the caws, the trills, their singular sounds emphasizing the relative quiet. Every so often, a flap of wings joins in the musical symphony.
Breathing deeply, I smell that distinctive musky scent of desert plants, whose names I do not know.
I touch hard rock, soft rock. I feel the stone on every part of my body as I throw myself in to the canyon dance. Down I go, activating my muscles to safely guide me through this stone playground. There’s even a slide.
And then, of course, taste. Mid-way through the journey, I stop for a break on a large flat boulder. Out comes a toasted sourdough sandwich, so much more delicious after a full body challenge. Four different birds gather round, waiting for crumbs: one looks like a desert penguin, another has orange wings. They are so close that I fear for their sense of self preservation. A splash of water sends them flapping away, to wait at a safer distance for their meal of breadcrumbs.
Then back I go into the playground, my sore legs and arms eager for more adventure.
From the Dead Sea area to the Negev, this multi-sensory experience awaits in a canyon. Beautiful rock gorges weave their way through Israel’s deserts, waiting for us to step in and ask for a dance.