Lately, the deep-summer heat has been discouraging me for going outdoors for extended periods of time. I hadn't done much in the way of walking for a few weeks, so last Wednesday I took advantage of the cooling evening to hike out toward the hills to the southwest of town. I followed the trails and dirt roads that snake around the hills until I saw some lights from must have been the village of Akhbara. Across the valley I saw a small light that I thought must have been a campfire.
Last night's hike was a bit more eventful. I went down to the familiar trail that runs through the wadi to the west of town, the trail with the white-blue-white markers. Very soon after reaching the trail, I heard the growling of wild boars and looked across to the other side of the gully where a mother boar was heading uphill straight away from me, followed by a small herd of cute little piglets. As I continued, I saw a few more packs of boars, each of two to four adults with half a dozen or more youngsters trailing along like ducklings. The first time I encountered the wild boars in the woods, I was a bit intimidated and backed off as quietly as I could. They're much less scary, though, when you have a ravine between you and them and not so much tree cover to hide them. Watching them, I realized that they were at least as interested in avoiding a close encounter as I was, which clued me into the key for dealing with them safely. When I hear a growl come out of nowhere, my first instinct is to freeze up and make as little noise as possible, but this will only make a boar more nervous since they're also afraid of the unknown. So the proper thing to do is to keep confidently walking, keeping your footsteps as clearly audible as possible. Given the chance, boars are much more skilled at slinking away into the rocky brush than you, so why not let them do all the work at avoidance? This worked like a charm all through the rest of my hike.
I was feeling pretty peppy as I hopped down the stony hillside to the bottom of the wadi, and the light of the setting sun was enough to make me quite hot when combined with the exercise. So I was quite pleased when I reached the creek where several valleys intersect, along with the hiking trails that run through them. After resting and splashing myself with water to cool down, I chose to continue on the white-blue-white path, which led along the south bank of the creek. I passed several ruins of buildings constructed out of stone in the old arch-based style that seems to have been popular over the past several centuries in this area. The ruins had signs warning against the danger of collapse. I approached a deep alcove created by the remains of a stone room embedded in the slope to discover bats flying around in the twilight of its shaded vault. The bats were cute.
I'm all out of time, so I'll wrap this up tomorrow night.