Well we are on to the last leg of this adventure. Our friends, it turns out, also wrote about the trip: the Andersons and the Palmers. I found it interesting to read about the same trip from another’s perspective. A big thank you to both the Palmers and the Andersons for such a wonderful time.
On the last day we planned to visit Wadi Damm and the Beehive Tombs. The Andersons decided to get home early so headed straight out after our stay on the mountain. We couldn’t blame them, Matt had to work the next day. I hate pulling in late after a vacation and having to get up and go to work the next day. It simply does not leave any time to relax. So it was just us and the Palmers. We realized after Wadi Damm that none of us had the energy to visit the Beehive Tombs. These tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage site and probably would have been fascinating. It gives us a great excuse to go back to Oman though.
Wadi Damm was a fantastic adventure. I will pause here for a moment to share something I’ve avoided talking about, garbage. It is likely that garbage, litter, waste, refuse and their cousins are a Middle Eastern treasure and protected by some unknown cultural law. Everywhere you look there is trash. It wasn’t uncommon to head out into the woods in Canada and find a party site where thoughtless folks abandoned their beer cans and other waste. There are selfish jerks everywhere. Here though trash is a part of every landscape and scene. It surprises me how little of it shows up in the pictures we take.
The trailhead at Wadi Damm was covered in trash. Wadi Shab was no different. Wandering through the village on Jebel Akhdar I was shocked at the trash lying about. Thankfully, with the Wadi’s the further you hiked back and the farther you got from the beaten track the less trash there was. It seems the litter bugs are also too lazy to go too far beyond the comforts of the trail head. It makes me a little sad to see it all and I suppose I will never get used to it. I’ve thought a few times about buying gloves and garbage collecting sticks and making my kids pick garbage around AUS when we take the dogs for a walk. Enough about the garbage.
Wadi Damm was pretty fantastic once you got away from the first pools and the trash lining the first part of the trail. Set in an enormous canyon the Wadi wound its way back in the shadows of monstrous rock walls. The trail crisscrossed back and forth across the sometimes dry “river” bed. The water from the Wadi springs fully formed from the rock and is worth the rugged walk to get to.
There is a dam at Wadi Damm, go figure. I’m not sure if the locals use the reservoir for irrigation or some other purpose but the reservoir was dry when we crossed the small dam a few hundred meters from the start of the trail.
When we reached the first pools we were shocked at the cool or cooler temperatures of the the water. Wadi Shab felt like a warm bath. The water here had a bite to it. I wish I had a thermometer to take the temperature of the water. It probably wasn’t as cool as it felt. Once you were in the water you could stay as long as you wanted. There were fish in the pools too. it was surreal to swim through the schools of fish. The fish ranged in size from little minnows to 6-8 inches long. They were grey and silver and reminded me of trout. I wonder how they got there – I suspect it is stocked.
A few times along the trail we had to pass either over or under massive boulders. You can imagine that Jaron was in seventh heaven. When I got looking back at pictures of the trip though I had to laugh. There is a picture of Jaron crossing over a rather large boulder at Wadi Shab that he could easily have gone around. Then the Palmers caught a picture of me climbing over a much larger boulder at Wadi Dam that I could have easily gone around – but jumping from that rock to the pool below was just too tempting for me. I guess like father like son.
I think we had nearly as much fun scrambling through the rocks as we did jumping into and swimming about the beautiful pools. I should point out that before I jumped off that gargantuan rock featured above I went for a swim in the pool below to test its depth. The water is quite clear in many of the pools. You can see right to the bottom but often it looks deeper than it actually is. This pool was plenty deep.
The final pool at the end of the hike features a small waterfall. Water courses over a moss and shrub covered rock and rains down a few feet into the blue green pool below. You can swim beneath the ledge of rock among the silver fish and enjoy the beauty of the scene around you. Where the water comes out of the rock to feed the wadi is a sole palm tree and long green grasses. Both Wadi Shab and this Wadi reserved their most beautiful scenery and exciting features until the end. There is a great life analogy there that brings me to moments of grateful reflection. I can’t help but believe that God has created these remarkable places for his children. This is muslim land; how deeply He must love them.
As we neared the last pools we came across a good size tree growing from a thin crack in an otherwise seamless rock. It made me think of one of those motivational pictures. The word determination came to mind and I asked Lisa to try and capture it with her camera. She took a few shots but with just her little point and shoot she was sad that she couldn’t capture the beauty of that tree amongst the rocks. I was sad too. I’d have liked to put it on my wall.
A picture may be worth a thousand words but it is a pale reproduction of reality. This trip to Oman was beautiful not just for the sights and sounds but for the time spent with my family and our new friends. I hope by writing about it I can revisit the memory decades from now and be grateful for my time with them.