The next morning, Ronnie, Lara, my father, Gabriel and I woke up at 5 AM to drive to Masada and hike up the snake path. We arrived a little before sunrise. At dinner the night before, my mom said it takes over an hour to climb Masada. Considering its between 300 and 400 meters, we felt an hour was a bit excessive. So, we decided to try and beat Mom’s hour threshold. Gabriel bounded forward like an antelope. I was able to keep up with him for about half way up. At which point, I stopped him and forced him to drink a little water. From there, I said go. Next thing I new, I saw him slightly jogging/ skipping about 50 meters above me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not catch up. In the end, he finished the hike up in 25 minutes. I came in around 35 minutes and Ronnie, Lara, and my father came in under and hour while taking time to enjoy the views (along the way). I have a feeling when my mom did the hike there was a lot of scrambling. Now they have steps and a really well layed out path. I can see the scrambling/ hand hold climbing taking a good thirty minutes.
At the top, the ancient fortress had a fair number of groups already at the top. Some where in Army uniforms doing a ceremony/ discussion, while others were clearly tourists part of youth groups from the US. My dad was way impressed. He said the turnout was amazing to see. It gave him hope that Jewish youth were being raised to love and value the importance of Israel. The Chalutz was coming alive in his heart.
We walked around the top and saw got a good understanding of the story along with the technical marvels of the Roman engineering. As we started our way down, we noticed the parking lot was filled with buses. It was around 8 AM and the cable car was now working. I expect the National Park gets busy right when the cable cars start and then taper around mid-day (when the heat is oppressive). Nevertheless, we got avoid the huge rush and we made it back to Ein Gedi for a great kibbutz breakfast.
Life is good!!!