Friday, August 23, 1996

LebEnv #8


I recently described a hike a cousin and I had done in the Qartaba area during an overnight trip. Here is the other hike we did the following day.

The next day, we went spent some time under the cottonwood tree where water flowed through a small canal. I drank cool water and we filled our canteens. We met Walid Shuqair, a resident of East Beirut who was here for a change just like us, and started hiking. We aimed at a peak of Jabal Laklouk west of the previous day's climb that showed as being 1896 meters in elevation on the map. We walked on the dirt road, which headed in the right direction, to the west. Beyond the terraced cherry orchards, the road passed through the large grassy plain we had seen the day before from above. We passed by a row of strange cliffs, curved like arches at the top, rising out of the grass. On the north side of the road was a large spooky cavern with birds flying out of it and around it. The road, recently opened, rose steeply then quit at a small water development. From there, we climbed higher up a steep grassy slope, framed by cliffs, into a rocky landscape. The top of the mountain was capped by a maze of sculpted limestone rocks and deep, narrow passageways. We went into one, which led a short distance into a "room" where the sky was framed by knife-sharp vertical rocks. We walked out of the room and climbed a short distance up to the summit where we scrambled on the rocks, examined strange subalpine plants and enjoyed the extensive views of the treeless high elevations. This high up, there were virtually no signs of abuses aside from a discarded bottle or two. We returned more or less the same way.

We were back around 10:30 or 11:00. We relaxed under the cottonwood for a while. On the way down to Beirut, we stopped at the ruins of the Roman temple of Mashnaqua. Because of high dead grass, the place was difficult to explore, but its location on the top of steep cliffs overlooking Wadi Nahr Ibrahim afforded good views.


On the way to and from the Qartaba area, we passed next to a new Portland cement (concrete) factory a few kilometers above Halat. It sits on a hill on the edge of Wadi Nahr Ibrahim. Its construction involved moving a lot of soil. Some of that soil was dumped over the edge of the steep, rocky cliff and down into Wadi Nahr Ibrahim, creating an ugly vertical scar in a beautiful area. I had seen the scar and a lot of dust and smoke (from bulldozing operations) on an earlier trip through the Wadi; now I knew where it had come from.

The concrete factory itself is located in a barren area and largely out of sight of the Wadi. There was no need to infringe on the Wadi by using it as a toilet for unwanted soil. This reflects indifference and laziness exhibited by some Lebanese towards the environment of their tiny country.



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