19-Dec-2002 -- Our first night in the area was spent camping on the beach near Yanbu`. We arrived at the beach after sunset and set up camp on a patch of sand on an uplifted reef. The wind was blowing onshore and we set up camp to the sound of breaking waves just below us. Dinner was a light affair with food from tins and no fire. Although it was a little chilly, some of us slept beneath the stars and a full moon that illuminated a long white line of breaking waves stretching along the shore below us.
At 6 am Josh rustled us from our sleep and the full moon now lay to the west painting a golden yellow streak across the dark waters of the Red Sea. To the east the faint light of dawn hinted at daybreak. We left camp in the semi-darkness and drove north for about an hour to another spot on the beach where we stopped for breakfast as the sun rose. It was a beautiful morning.
Our first Confluence was 27N 36E. We set our GPS’s and headed north through al-Wajh, a port on the Red Sea. We stopped there briefly to drive into the old town where we photographed some abandoned homes with beautiful weathered woodwork that overlooked the harbor. Heading north again toward Ḍubā, we entered the foothills of the Ḥijāz Mountains until or GPS’s indicated that the Confluence was due west of the highway. A small track led in the direction, so we abandoned the tarmac and headed through the narrow track through the hills. The track was bumpy and littered with cobbles, and eventually we abandoned the vehicles and walked the remaining distance.
The morning was warm and sunny with a crisp blue sky. We hiked for about 30 minutes up and down small hills and just as we reached the Confluence, the rounded hill before us seemed to drop off into a large valley, suggesting the Confluence might be on a cliff face. However, when we looked over the hill, we saw a moderate slope down to the valley and were able to locate the Confluence about one-third of the way down the hill. We were a little disappointed also to see that a well-worn track lay near the base of the hill and appeared to lead back to the highway we had just left (Picture 1). We could have driven to within a few hundred yards of the Confluence! Still, the hike was nice as we still had lots of driving ahead of us.
Upon returning to the car we found our way down to the well-worn track and followed it back to the highway. Near the intersection was an old caravanserai, which was used in ancient times by pilgrims traveling to Makka (see photos). After a short stop there, we headed north toward Ḍubā and the next Confluence 28N 36E.