Again, the grandeur and atmosphere are difficult to adequately describe.
But it draws you in incessantly.
We camped in Rum village, and I intended firstly only to walk to the end of the tarmac at the edge of the village. No camera, water or anything.
Here, there's a gentle slope of large boulders at the base of the massive rock edifice to the right, which I climbed a little way to get a better view into the desert wadi ahead.
Magnificent, but the view ends at a low ridge in the distance. Two camels carrying visitors and led by a child on foot go past, and after a while reach the ridge and disappear. It didn't take long to get there so I follow, into the sand which varies between soft and difficult to walk on, and hard and easy.
I arrive at the ridge, and a different massive rock outcrop has risen on the right which I climb a little way.
Now I can see in the distance a group of Bedouin tents, some camels with tourists, and a couple of 4WD pickups. I arrive there a while later and find this is the site of 'Lawrence's Spring'. So I've walked about 4 kms, only having intended to go to the end of the tarmac.
I get tea in one of the tents. "One dinar for one cup, two cups, however many you like. Where you from?"
So I have three cups, the vendor looks pleased and explains that the spring is next to a solitary tree visible a third of the way up the cliff side. After observing it a while, I'm drawn on and climb up to it.
The spring is a pool of water held in a large horizontal crack in the cliff. Lots of greenery around as well as the tree. It's impossible to see any flow, as the water just soaks into the surrounding vegetation, so it's not possible to judge how much water this spring produces. But two steel pipes run from it, down the cliffs into the area of the tents below.
So my tea must have come from this spring.
It's quite high up here, maybe two to three hundred feet, and the view further into Wadi Rum truly stupendous.
I'm lucky enough to have the thought: When you've seen the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and this view of Wadi Rum, there's not much more to see in the world.
Definitely a bit fanciful, but I'm definitely struck by the similarities, and stark contrasts between the two places. Ten-mile-wide rivers of sand between bare angry mountains here, ten-mile-wide rivers of ice between bare angry mountains there. The sun hanging above glowing amber sand here, above glistening ice there, imparting subtly different colours onto the sky above.
Seemingly endless, and barren. A strange human-like groan from the wind, no whispering here, as it fills the bare crags and pinnacles, the only sound to be heard. Sand dunes here, glaciers there, leading on and up to infinity, distant mountain peaks, endless sky, all desert.
Lawrence and Scott, they both must have felt the call of these landscapes, calling you to continue on and on through the barrenness up to the hidden horizons.
So after quite a while of contemplation I turned back to camp, specially when I found the tea-seller had gone, no longer to be seen.
No tea seller - just like Antarctica.
Approach to Wadi Rum.
Camp at Rum village. "The walls were precipices, like all the walls of Rumm."
"Shall I ride on this time, beyond the Khazail, and know it all?"
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
The Three Motorbikes of Madness.
The Leaving of Wadi Rum.
Posted by Ken Thomas at December 05, 2009 10:36 AM GMT