The wall of thick, humid air hit me as I got out of the safety of the air-conditioned truck. I breathed it in – filling my lungs with the salty sea air that is so distinct in coastal regions. From this point on, I was going where no vehicles can go – I had to rely on my feet – and occasionally my hands. But little did I know that what I really had to rely upon was my mind to get me through the next hiking days in Oman.
So much of any travel adventure and hiking is mental – overcoming the voices in your head telling you that you want to stop, or you can’t make it, or this climb is impossible, or you’ll never get to your destination – the list of voices go on and on. Or maybe the voices in my head are particularly negative and chatty?
After a morning breakfast on Sifah beach, we tore down camp and set out to do our most difficult hike yet. We were hiking between Sifah beach and the fishing village of Quriyat where there were no roads – we had yet to cover this distance before in our previous hikes. And because it was along the Oman coast and cliffs, it meant that we would be slowed down trying to get up and down the steep wadis along the coastline. But the thing that made it most difficult was going to be the heat. We had left the cool Oman mountain hiking, and now were along the coastline with temperatures of 40 C or 104 F – and no shade. I was kicking myself for not bringing my umbrella for shade, however in retrospect I could have not hiked holding it as my hands were necessary for the climbing at times.
Our Exodus guide, Rob, told us that they leave this 2 day hike to the end so that we’d be better acclimated to the temperatures. Sorry to say – but my body and mind don’t acclimate to 104 F in 5 days – or ever! After all, it took a year of living in Ho Chi Minh City to even sort of acclimate to the heat of SE Asia! So my game plan was to ward off the evil voices in my mind by marveling and soaking up the spectacular turquoise coastal views.
The “blind myself with beauty” plan worked for about the first 4 hours…but eventually the sun baked my brain and the evil voices started to be heard. The hardest part for me about the coastal hike is that you can’t be efficient when hiking the Omani coast. The coastline is not in a straight line. Instead of being efficient and hiking from A to B in a line – we instead looked like a cardio graph of up and down as we followed the jagged coast in and out – it was anything but a straight line and my thoughts were anything but positive at that point.
After 8 ½ hours of hiking and making Rob swear on his grave that this was the LAST hill – we crested the hill and saw our home for the night – a hidden beach near the fishing village of Quriyat. We hiked in and I immediately sat in the sand and tried to take it all in. Then I saw it – a mirage – Zahar walked up to me with an ice cold can of Coke in hand. Orgasmic.
Our camping supplies (and orgasm inducing Coca-Cola) had been brought in on a boat reminding me how happy I was that I didn’t have to carry all of that stuff. And leaving me wondering why I didn’t take the boat! After a Coke, a dip in the water, and some snacks – I had returned back to normal and could really rejoice at how proud I was that I made it through the tough day once again proving to myself that I could do it…whatever ‘it’ was.
The next morning we had a short 3 hour hike remaining to get to Quriyat to finish our trekking holiday in Oman. The sun was up and beating down upon us again, but this time I knew that lots of Coca-cola awaited me in Quriyat when we finished – along with a shower!
Would I do it again…of course…I love a good physical and mental challenge! Plus – I’d get to see more views like this.
Disclosure: While in Oman I was a guest of Exodus Travels on their Oman Hiking Tour as a part of a Navigate Media Group initiative. However, all of the opinions expressed here are my own.