The Wall Street Journal Showcases Hiking in Lebanon’s Mountain Trail

The trail in Tannourine

(source)

It seems someone, somehow, has paid attention to the rambling of many Lebanese bloggers about the coverage Beirut gets by renowned international publications. The Wall Street Journal has decided to showcase something that many Lebanese are not familiar with: a 440 km hiking trail going from Lebanon’s North to its South: the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT).

After the Telegraph article about Beirut and the New York Times article about Beirut’s Zaitunay Bay, this is definitely a welcome change in a direction that I believe Lebanon can be a pioneer in especially in the region: scenic tourism.

Brooke Anderson, the article’s author, says of the trail as seemingly a world away from Beirut, even though it’s only one hour away.

She describes the trail as showing different sceneries depending on the season: “colorful foliage in the autumn, snowy summits in the winter, waterfalls in the spring and a respite from the hot summers on the coast. It is home to Roman ruins, temples, mosques and churches dating back over a thousand years.”

And even though many Lebanese have not heard of it, foreigners haven’t been as clueless. She speaks of the experience of Adrain Cazalet, an Englishman, who has hiked the trail twice in different seasons and is planning a third trip this coming May and a Dutch contractor, Wim Balvert, who has hiked the trail twice as well, one of those being with his family. They were impressed the most by the Qadisha Valley. Who wouldn’t be fascinated by it, really?

The project was conceived by Lebanese expat Joseph Karam who modeled it after the Appalachian Trail in the U.S., which spans from Maine to Georgia, with donations from USAID and other private donors. The most famous part of the trail is probably the Baskinta Literary Trail, a 24 km walk across the infamous Metn town, which celebrates many famous Lebanese authors such as Baskinta’s own Mikhael Naimy.

I think this is a fascinating side of Lebanon that few get to see, especially Lebanese. Perhaps if more of us get exposed to this side of our country, some of which hasn’t been touched by concrete blocks yet, we’d be less keen about nagging all the time and perhaps relish the beauty of our nation – at least for the duration of our hike.

Thank you for the Wall Street Journal for taking a chance on non-Beirut Lebanon. Here’s hoping some contractor doesn’t wind up in some region of the Trail and lets his greed get into the way of keeping whatever remains of Lebanon’s beauty intact. And people still ask me why I’m harsh on Beirut-related international publications. Simply put, we have such jewels that few know about and you’re still talking to me about how fascinating Le Grey is?

Lebanon’s Sacred Valley – Qadisha

The Qadisha valley (also known as Annoubin) whose pictures you see below is a world heritage site. It is a magical location, deep in the Lebanese mountains, used for centuries to harbor Maronites from persecution.

The pictures are for the western tip of the valley, for a location known as St. Elijah’s convent. I took family members there earlier today and, even though I’ve been there numerous times, the place never ceases to amaze me.

The valley is crowned by the majestic Lebanon mountains, which also harbor the Cedar Forest. In winter, the mountains are adorned with snow.