by Hannah R., NFTY-EIE Fall 2013 Student
At two o’clock in the morning all of us felt a strange mix of exhilaration and exhaustion (most of us fell more towards the exhaustion end of the spectrum). At that particular moment in time, I was definitely not thinking about anything other than going back to sleep. This was not helped by the fact that I knew I would soon be hiking up Masada.
I have to be honest, I was not all that excited about this “adventure.” And after a two hour bus ride my excitement had definitely not grown. Our group arrived at Masada and sat down for a delicious breakfast, of rolls and cheese, which was enjoyed in the darkness. Just before sunrise, we began our ascent up the mountain. Luckily, our hike was up the Roman Ramp and not the infamous Snake Path, but it still was not encouraging to me. About halfway through the hike, I was so sure that I was going to die, I came close to voluntarily rolling back down what I had already climbed. With lots of “pep-talks” from the fantastic Rodrigo (one of our Madrichim) I eventually made it up the mountain, and just in time to watch the gorgeous sunrise.
I must admit that as adamant as I was about not climbing the mountain, I definitely did not regret it. At the top of the mountain, now that I was completely exhausted mentally and physically, we really began our intense day with a sunrise service. Although I’m not particularly used to praying on a Wednesday morning, it was nice to be able to pray overlooking the gorgeous view of the mountains, and it was an experience worth having.
After the service we broke into our Jewish history classes and spent the rest of the trip touring the mountain and learning about the great revolt and the significance of Masada. Learning about Jewish history by seeing the sights really helped to solidify what we were learning about.
After an already fantastic but exhausting and strenuous day, we still had more to go. It was time to hike down the mountain! And this time, down the snake path. Surprisingly, this was the best part. The hike took an about an hour and I knew once I started, I had no choice but to continue. The only other place to go was back up, and I guarantee you that would never happen, because clearly the main idea of this story is that I am not a hiker, nor will I ever be. But despite my obvious deficiencies when it comes to climbing up mountains, I was completely determined to make it up the mountain, and of course, back down again. And so after a long day of pushing myself to do things I never thought I could do, I successfully conquered Masada, and I could not have been more proud of myself. Even still, I am proud to say that I did it! I actually did it! And once I proved to myself that I could, I rewarded myself with a Popsicle!