Hiking the Wadi Kelt

By Jonette Udarbe, as told to her by David Hone

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    Hi. My name is David Hone. I live in Jerusalem, Israel, with my mom and dad and three brothers, Jason, Joseph, and John. My brothers and I are best pals, and we have a great time wrestling and playing together.

    I have another family of brothers, too—my Cub Scout den. Joseph, my eight-year-old brother, and I are members of Den 1, Troop 78, in the Israel District.

    Jerusalem did not have a Cub Scout program until two years ago when Aaron Boyd, a Scout in our Latter-day Saint branch, started a new charter. At first he was the only Cub Scout, but today we have six boys in the den.

    Although many of our activities are the same as those of other boys around the world, we get to see and do different things because of the unique land we live in. For example, a few weeks ago the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts hiked through Wadi Kelt. A wadi is a riverbed at the bottom of a valley that is usually dry except during the rainy season. This wadi winds through part of the Judean wilderness, and is it hot! All you can see for miles around are bare, rocky hills and clear blue sky.

    Map of Palestine

    Many people believe that Wadi Kelt is the place where Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, was fed by ravens when he sealed the heavens so that no rain would fall.

    After hiking through this wadi, I can see why Heavenly Father had to provide food for Elijah—there is nothing out there to keep a person alive! So before we started, we made sure that we packed a lunch and filled our canteens full of water. Our Cub Scout leaders kept reminding us to drink lots of water so that we wouldn’t get sick from the heat.

    Our hike began fifteen miles away from Jericho and took us about four hours. We had lots of fun as we followed the wadi through the desert. Some of the boys spotted ibex on the steep cliffs. They look like wild goats, with huge horns that they butt with.

    My friends and I also saw a bedouin shepherd with a herd of goats. Bedouins are desert people who live in tents and wander from place to place. Many of them still wear long robes and veils to protect them from the scorching sun.

    About an hour after we had started, we came to a small waterfall that tumbled into a green pool below. Swimming in it was my favorite part of the hike, because that’s my best sport, besides basketball. The cool water felt good after our climb down the hillside, and before long we were all in the pool, splashing around and sliding down mossy rocks.

    Ryan and Shaun Dennett, two friends in my den, found some dead crabs in the water. They scared some of the boys when they threw the crab legs at them. We also found some frogs, only they weren’t dead.

    We sat on big rocks in the sun and dried off while we ate our lunches. Boy, did the cheese sandwich my mom packed taste good! I was starving! Just as I finished my last mouthful, Joel Galbraith, one of the older Scouts, called out, “Time to go. We still have a lot of hiking to do.”

    As we climbed deeper into the dry valley, Shaun, Aaron, and I pretended that we were in the army. Aaron was a general, Shaun was a sergeant, and I was a colonel. We ran ahead and hid and dropped off cliffs, scaring the others as they came by.

    Sometimes we would march along in the wadi, which was full of water from desert springs. The bottom and sides of it were slippery, and we pretended that we were ice-skating. At times the water was flowing so fast that it would push us along. The moss along the bottom was great to throw, and we had the best water and moss fight. We called it slime fighting.

    Some parts of the hike were really steep, and a lot of us slipped on the loose rocks on the path. Joshua Rona, another Cub Scout, fell and hurt his foot. But Ian Boyd and Steve Rona, two older Scouts, made a foot brace for him out of a bandanna. It was pretty tricky.

    The last part of the hike was the hardest. The sun beat down on us, and my feet hurt. But I continued to run ahead and look for the place that marked the end of our hike—St. George’s Monastery.

    On my way I saw a man and two donkeys by the side of the wadi. The wadi is the only place where desert people can obtain water, and donkeys and camels are the only means by which water can be carried from the wadi to their tents.

    At last I saw the great monastery, built on the side of the cliff. It sure looked neat, but I was just as interested in getting to the top, where a stand with cold drinks and ice cream was waiting.

    I wanted to run ahead, but my little brother, Joseph, was having a hard time going up the last steep hillside, so I stayed behind and helped him.

    I’m proud to be a Cub Scout, and I always try to live the Cub Scout promise to help other people.

    Illustrated by Dick Brown

    Photos by Jonette Udarbe and Joel Galbraith

    Pretending that they are soldiers, from left to right, David Hone, Aaron Boyd, and Shaun Dennett

    Cooling off in the middle of a hot hike

    A bedouin filling his water jug at a wadi

    St. George’s Monastery at journey’s end

    Joseph Hone, foreground, and Joshua Rona trudging along a wadi