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Letters from the Oman Trail – Jabal Sham

Letters from the Oman Trail – Jabal Sham

The asphalt climbs almost straight up. Why waste time with curves and turns ? It’s so vertical you want to hold on to your steering wheel, afraid you might fall backward if you let go. Soon enough, the road turns into a dirt track carved by water rushing down the summit.”

For the second day in a row, the sky is menacing, cloudy, dark and heavy. This is not usual, not in August. On my way to Jabal Sham, the highest peak in Oman, it’s hardly if I can see anything above my head. Clouds are low, covering the mountains with fog. All of a sudden, it pours. Express shower of a few minutes, just enough to create chaos. A few miles down the road a car is laying upside down, people rushing to see what happened. Is it worth trying the climb to the summit under such conditions ? Is it safe ? Will see…

The climb is steep. In order to cut cost, local engineers have a tendency to cut corners, literally. The asphalt climbs almost straight up. Why waste time with curves and turns ? It’s so vertical you want to hold on to your steering wheel, afraid you might fall backward if you let go. Soon enough, the road turns into a dirt track carved by water rushing down the summit. Mud makes it almost impossible to go further. Backward left, backward right. Low gear, all so smoothly pressing on the gas. A few cars are stuck in front of me, tourists caught by the rain, ill equipped for those conditions, now too scared to move an inch more. Passing them is a real challenge, pushing me close to the edge. At least the fog prevents me from realizing how deep the edge really is.

I often say that my car can go further than me. It can mechanically conquer trails only deemed impossible because of my insufficient driving skills. This climb is a prime example of that. It only appears difficult because of my fear of the unknown, my lack of trust, in myself and the vehicle.

Once I settle down, escape the stress, and allow the car to “express itself”, it becomes easier, smoother, even enjoyable. Surely, the car climbs up the track to more and more beautiful sceneries. A faint light passes through clouds, shining on the wet stones, offering an unusual contrast to my eyes. A reward for not giving up, not turning around. Then the sky opens up some more to reveal one of the most beautiful sunset I have seen in this part of the world.

Jabal Sham Oman
Jabal Sham
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