The cold is getting to me (Chicago’s high is 17F today), so it’s time for memories of warmer days and an entirely different landscape than winter’s bleak outside. I haven’t yet shared any impressions from my trip to Israel in December, so I’ll take you along on a hike my daughter and I did off the beaten path in the Dead Sea area.

We had spotted this ruin looking down from a viewpoint off the winding road that leads down to the Dead Sea from the town of Arad in the high desert of Judea. Farther along, when we passed a sign indicating “Zohar Stronghold” and pointing up a dirt road, we vowed we’d check it out. Guidebooks and an Internet search provided little further information, so, a few days later, we drove our little rental car as far as we felt safe to on that dirt road, which wasn’t very far, grabbed our backpacks and set off to find out what the “Zohar Stronghold” was all about.

First, a cliff with a few holes in it.

And then, gloriously, the ruin of the fortress.

Sadly, one can’t poke around much as the ruin itself is fenced off. What to do? Poke about Wadi Zohar itself.


I love this river of stone! It looks like the rushing water has turned to rock.


Puddles let you imagine what raging river this Wadi can be.

Climbing up, we get a view of the Dead Sea on the hazy horizon.

Colors of the desert

From high on up – can you spot the fortress? Good camouflage, eh?

Let’s inspect that hole in the wall.


View from the cave in the wall

Thankfully, beyond the dry river bed with its sharp-edged stones, our little car is still there, waiting for us.