Moon Walk

A five-day hike on the Jor­dan Trail pushes Chloe Berge to the outer lim­its.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market | Moments -

I GLANCE BACK AT MY BOOT TRACKS in the windswept red sand and squint to spot where they dis­ap­pear into the end­less hori­zon. The vast desert is punc­tu­ated only by the sand­stone canyons in the dis­tance, and, right be­fore me, Sun City Camp’s clus­ter of bub­ble domes is back­lit by the fiery set­ting sun. For a mo­ment, I for­get I’m on planet earth— »

I sip mint tea and watch in won­der as the most bril­liant stars I’ve ever seen prick the indigo dusk sky.

Jor­dan’s Wadi Rum is where they filmed The Mar­tian, the desert moon of Jedha in Rogue One and The Last Days on Mars, af­ter all. The desert has be­come a cin­e­matic touch­stone for the outer lim­its of our col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion. The feel­ing of be­ing some­where this un­usual is ex­hil­a­rat­ing, and it’s ex­actly why I’ve come to Jor­dan.

Mo­ments af­ter I climb into a small Jeep with my guide, a young Be­douin man named Ateya, we speed away from the camp, soar­ing up over colossal sand dunes be­fore plum­met­ing down the op­po­site side, like a ship ca­reen­ing over the waves. In­stinc­tively, I shoot one hand up to brace my­self against the win­dow frame. We coast to a stop high on one of the rolling hills and watch the sun dip below the smoky pink hori­zon.

Too of­ten, even when we ar­rive on the other side of the world, things quickly start to re­sem­ble life back home: Wi-Fi at our fin­ger­tips, a com­fort­able bed, the same unin­spired buf­fet-style meals. That night, back in my yurt-size bub­ble dome at Sun City Camp, I sip mint tea and watch in won­der as the most bril­liant stars I’ve ever seen prick the indigo dusk sky. Fakhem is a word used by Jor­da­ni­ans to de­scribe some­thing “epic” or “in­cred­i­ble,” and as those glit­ter­ing ce­les­tial bod­ies wash the night sky with their light, I whis­per it to my­self. Lyri­cal Be­douin prayers echo through the camp, the day’s last Mus­lim call to prayer, or Ad­han, and I catch glimpses of the stars blink­ing through the top of the dome as my eye­lids grow heavy. I feel worlds away.

Sev­eral days af­ter my stay in Wadi Rum, I em­bark on a five-day trek on the newly opened Jor­dan Trail. “Yalla, yalla!” ex­claims Mah­moud, our Ex­pe­ri­ence Jor­dan hik­ing guide. In Ara­bic, this means “Let’s go,” and, much to our cha­grin, it’s a phrase we hear of­ten. Our first day leads us deep into the Dana Bio­sphere Re­serve. Sun-baked crim­son and mauve sand­stone moun­tains kiss a bright azure blue sky, and spring’s flamin­gopink ole­an­der blooms flank our path. The steep de­scent and high white-hot sun are un­for­giv­ing, and I’m grate­ful to ar­rive at Fey­nan Ecolodge, a se­cluded oa­sis in the

desert. I stargaze on the rooftop be­fore re­treat­ing to my room, where I fall into a deep sleep, ser­e­naded by a lone howl­ing Ara­bian wolf.

Over the next four days on the trail, our morn­ings be­gin early as we march into the desert’s re­mote, sprawl­ing beauty. I kick up dust on bar­ren stretches of sun-bleached plains, my sights set on the in­fi­nite blue hori­zon. Our trail through this oth­er­worldly land­scape takes us up over rugged lime­stone moun­tains and in be­tween craggy canyons. “This is some­thing only Jor­dan Trail hik­ers get to see,” says Abdullah, a young Be­douin who has been hired, along with his don­key, Farhan, to keep us sup­plied with wa­ter.

In­deed, we’re miles away from even a whiff of civ­i­liza­tion. As I look down at my khaki-coloured pants, now caked in dirt, and my sweat­stained long-sleeved white shirt, I silently ad­mon­ish my­self for bring­ing only one set of hik­ing clothes. We steal shade un­der a lonely ju­niper tree dur­ing the hottest part of the day, and Mah­moud mirac­u­lously pro­duces a tar­nished kettle and brews black tea with mint and heaps of sugar. If I rub the kettle and make a wish, I won­der, might I be tele­ported to the fin­ish line? When the monastery at the an­cient city of Pe­tra emerges through the moun­tains like a mi­rage on the last day, I blink to make sure I’m not imag­in­ing it.

Days later, I find my­self bob­bing on my back in the milky blue wa­ter of the Dead Sea. The high salt con­tent al­lows me to float ef­fort­lessly, de­fy­ing grav­ity as if I’m sus­pended in space. “Can you be­lieve we did that?” asks one of my fel­low hik­ers, rem­i­nisc­ing about our ad­ven­ture. I can’t. From the cos­mic land­scape of Wadi Rum to the yawn­ing desert plains of the trail, I feel like I’ve trav­elled across the uni­verse and back again. And isn’t that the point?

JOR­DAN’S WADI RUM DESERT IS A FILM­MAKER FAVOURITE.

THE BUB­BLE DOMES OF SUN CITY CAMP

THE AN­CIENT CITY OF PE­TRA’S MONASTERY

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