A Trek Up Masada

Blog image - A Trek Up Masada

T’was a dark and stormy night.


Well… it’s the dry season in Israel, so it wasn’t very stormy. Anyways, my alarm went off at 2:50 a.m. My roommates and I had a small breakfast of bread and cheese, not wanting to eat too much before the day’s challenges. As the bus approached our destination, a monumental silhouette grew before us. Masada loomed 1,500 feet above the Dead Sea; we could barely see the top under the early-morning haze. At 4:30, we begin our ascent.


There were stairs. So. Many. Stairs. Each one slightly more difficult than the last. Step. Push. Step. Push. My camelback was my lifeline, my only friend. Soon, a friend and I pulled ahead of the rest of the group. Through gasping breaths, we met a pair of guys from New York. We exchanged a short conversation, with them asking us about Muss and us asking them about their university studies. It’s remarkable how a short conversation can liven up a mountain. As the apex grew closer, our breaks grew sparser, driven on by the adrenaline of the path we’d walked and the short distance that remained. Before we knew it, Masada’s snake path winded behind us. Only the sunrise stood in front.


16-year-old Ari Schwartzman is a rising high school junior, in Springfield, PA.