When talking about my experiences on the Jordan Trail first in 2018 and later on in 2021, I noticed I take a lot of things for granted. One of the things is how I live my days on the trail, adapting to the cadence and flows of nature and the trail. So maybe it’s good to quickly give you some insight into how I spend my days in my daily routine on the Jordan Trail.
Morning route on the Jordan Trail
I tend to wake up with the sun (without using an alarm of any sorts), this time of year in Jordan around 05h30 in the morning. I put in my lenses, take a toilet break, brush my teeth, drink some water. I check on my water levels (how much water do I have left, how much water is drinking water and how much water still has to be purified). I ration my food (how many snacks/bars/gels do I have left, how many can/should I eat for the day). Finally, I start packing the rest of my gear, making sure to balance the weight in my pack. Before starting, I use my Garmin InReach to check-in with selected friends and family to let them know I started my hike (as a security precuation) and what my location is.
As I’m not too much of a breakfast person in general and especially not on the trail, as soon as I’ve packed (somewhere between 06h00-06h30) I usually set foot on the trail and eat some nut bars, nuts, fruit, snacks and whatever I feel like in the first hour or so. And as the sun is not at full strength in the morning, the temperature is ok, I try to get in as much kilometers as I possibly can. It usually makes me feel I already have a head start going into the day and that the afternoon is already “bonus”.
That means keeping a decent pace (depending on the terrain, somewhere between 3-6 kilometers per hour) and not stopping until around 11h00-1200 in the morning, which usually helps me getting in 15-20 kilometers before my first stop and usually is the moment when I get a bit hungry and start feeling a bit tired. Where I take my break exactly depends on several things. How I feel (hungry/tired) of course, but also the presence of water (more on that in the next section). For example, the second day of my 2021 hike between Dana and Petra, Joel, a Swiss hiker I met on the trail and I met up at a stream in a valley, a logical place to take a longer break. But mainly a natural one, as restocking on and purifying of water takes some time, which is perfect to combine with resting a bit and eating a bit.
Afternoon routine on the Jordan Trail
I’d usually adopt a more flexible approach to my afternoons and would change my plans slightly based on how I would feel, what the weather would be like (super warm, rainy, or just mild temperature) and what my food/drinks status was. If I wouldn’t feel energised, I would try and reach my minimum next destination and maybe spend a bit more time during lunch, or drinking tea with Bedouins (more on that in a second). If I would feel really good, I would push for the next feasible camping site. When planning for water, I first anticipated I would need to refill my supplies at Humeima (a slight detour), but when arriving near Humeima, I had more than enough water to last for the next village, Shakriya, so I pushed for a later camping site.
The only day where I felt a bit pushed and pressured for time was my fifth day on the trail. I had decided to combine section 703 and 704 and hike from Wadi Al-Saif to Wadi Gseib (703) and on to Wadi Aheimar (704). I felt good, so decided to see if I could do a few kilometers from the next section (705) towards Humeima. But as I was well on my way, it started to rain. Rain in this time of year could potentially worst case lead to flash floods. And that’s something avoid – better safe than sorry. As the first part of the section is mainly through wadi, I felt the need to push towards the wild camp spot around kilometer 10.9 at Ain Aheimar, to make sure I was safe on higher ground (to avoid any chance of flash flood issues). Stressed by time (because of falling darkness), I really had to push to make it in time, clocking a total of 38km that day and arriving when it was already getting dark.
And then … Bedouins … my Bedouine routine (?)
Another recurring theme on the trail is Bedouin encounters. In general, they are the most warm, welcoming, inviting people you’ll ever meet. Only once on the trail I passed a tent where an older lady made sure to gesture me that I had to move on and get away. The other exceptions are the touristy areas around Petra and Wadi Rum, where over-tourism nudged bedouins into trying to make a profit out of every foreigner interaction – a “welcome tea” is often a commercial interactions. But apart from these few exceptions, your encounters with local bedouins will be amazing.
In the touristy areas around Petra and Wadi Rum I tend to politely decline invitations with a “no thank you” and/or explaining the end point of that days hike, usually giving the context for them to understand why I don’t want to spend time drinking tea. In the other areas, I would usually at least make a small chat (usually asking for the weather/rain, specifics about nearby trails or wells) and -if I would feel like it- join them for tea or even dinner. It was often a welcome, uplifting and energising break during long hiking days.
Evening routine on the Jordan Trail
Finally, the evening routine is mainly dictated by the sun set. In this time of year in Jordan, it is really getting dark around 16h45. That means I’d ideally reach my camp site of the day around 16h15, 16h45 latest. After checking out for the day using my Garmin InReach telling selected friends and family that I’m ok and where my camp is, I’d usually start boiling water and in the meantime set up my tent, which would mean I would usually have boiling hot water, by the time my tent was pitched, my inflatable mattress was ready and I had prepared my tent to go to sleep.
And after dinner, it’s usually brushing teeth, using a wet/wilderness wipe to at least have some sense of hygiene/cleanliness, taking off my lenses and get tot sleep. All usually before 18h00. That seems like insanely early, but is no luxury after 8+ hour hiking days usually and it often takes only a few minutes before me falling asleep.
And then … well … repeat routine.