Lebanese bloggers hiked over Jebel Moussa through forests of trees and fields of flowers on Sunday 9 April, 2006.
We bloggers joined a diverse group of hiking enthusiasts for the trip organized by the outdoor adventure group Esprit Nomade. Surprisingly, there were as many if not more non-Lebanese than Lebanese on the trip, which included: French, Germans, Canadians, Americans, a Turk, and a Singaporean.
Esprit Nomade leads hikes every Sunday that depart at 9am from the parking lot across from the Surete Generale and National Museum. 9 April's hike was five and a half hours long. According to Esprit Nomade guide Nidal, the trips normally last longer, but that is only because the hiking site is normally further away from Beirut (ie, the Qadisha Valley). Jebel Moussa is located above Nahr Ibrahim.
To get to the hiking site, we took the road to Faraya, pulled onto a side road, and disembarked. The hardest part of the hike was the very beginning when we had to scale a steep slope covered in loose rocks and gravel. After that brief climb, we encountered bucolic knolls and pleasant picnicing spots along the way.
The sun shone down through the clear sky. Many of us have sunburns that reveal precisely who chose not to listen to the guide who said that sunscreen and hats were strongly advised. Regardless, the views from atop Jebel Moussa were astounding. We peered out into natural Lebanon. Few human structures broke the landscape. Migratory birds flew overhead. Song birds chirped in the trees.
After a brief lunch in a field in an abandoned village that used to grow mulberry trees to feed silk worms, clouds appeared. We walked above the clouds marveling at their snow-like structure until we descended into them. At first the fog was enigmatic and beautiful, but then we desired visability so we could actually see the mountain on which we walked. We couldn't even see the large abandoned St. George monastery (above Yahshoosh) when we stood only a few meters away from it.
The clouds clung to the mountains from just below the peak all the way down to Adma.
Sadly, everywhere we walked the ground was littered with rifle cartrages. Thousands of colored plastic tubes were strewn all over the place, even in some of the higher and more remote areas. In many of the open fields, the remnants of recent human habitation remained: emptied tins, water and Diet 7-Up bottles, a jacket...
Nature, however, overwhelmed any minor blemish. The fields of wild flowers, rare mountain orchids, and forests of trees growing beneath the fog were ideal subjects for the myriad cameras our group carried.
Overall, it was a remarkable, fun, and educational trip. I'd love to go again.
Attending bloggers were: the ever mysterious Eve, Jamal, Leila, Linalone, and lebanon.profile (did I forget anyone?).