03-Apr-2004 -- We were on a 9-day trip to the northern area of the Kingdom and were passing through the Ḥā'il area. Two days earlier we had visited another confluence point - see 27N 44E - and then headed northwest to Fayd to explore off-road into the volcanic area.
It was a pleasant camp in a sandy bowl in the ḥarrat (volcanic lava) near Ṭāba, and it was a time for some repairs and maintenance as Alistair's desert boots needed duct tape to keep them going. More seriously, my car was having starting problems, so after jump-starting it, we headed for Ḥā'il to the Nissan dealer to have it diagnosed. While we were waiting we went a short distance out of town and visited the old mud village of Qufār, which was the original Ḥā'il and was lived in to 170 years ago until malaria struck.
After fixing the car quite quickly as it only needed a new battery, not a starter, we continued alongside Jabal Ajar with its majestic red granite peaks and then headed south on the road to al-Ḥinākiyya, which also had beautiful granite outcrops. We left the road and took off in a northwesterly direction on sandy tracks and stopped for lunch near the small village of Saqf. The area was heavily populated and there were new paved roads connecting some of the villages. A little more bumping around palm plantations and rocky jabals and then we came unexpectedly on to another paved road, which took us quite near the confluence point.
It was a short approach winding our way into a valley with trees where we left our cars at the base of the jabals. This would have been a nice camping place if it had been later in the day. It was a 10-minute walk up to the saddle to the point where we got good views in all directions of the red granite rock with basalt protrusions.
We then planned to spend the rest of the afternoon by going a little east and then work our way north for a few hours through the granite jabals. However, again we were surprised as instead of sandy tracks, the new paved road continued northeast and eventually joined the main road at al-`Uqlat ibn Jabrayn. The infrastructure of the Kingdom is rapidly pushing out to the small villages and as there are no up to date maps, finding new paved roads is quite a surprise in some of the more remote areas.
As we had made good time we explored some of the wādiys running through the southern end of Jabal Ajar and finally found a place to camp away from the very strong winds. The next morning the group split as Craig, Sandy, Jim & Helen went west and then north to Taymā' (Continued at 27N 40E), and Alistair, Sean and Barry went northeast of Ḥā'il (Continued at 28N 42E).
This will probably be the last confluence point we do with Alistair, as he plans to leave soon. We have enjoyed being together on many desert trips in the last few years, and we thank him for getting us into the Degree Confluence Project, which has led us off road into some interesting areas in Saudi Arabia.