Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dahals in the Summan, an update

I mentioned in a previous post of our failed attempt to find a cache in one of the many sinkholes (dahals) in the Summan desert plateau because of lack of proper gear. Well, I’m happy to report that this time we bagged the cache with ease. We left on a Thursday morning from Riyadh to Rumah on the Riyadh-Dammam highway. We first made a stop at SACO store and purchased a foldable ladder but were not sure if it will fit within the hole opening and had some doubts about its length. The drive was a scenic one and the desert was in full bloom after the rainy season.

We first made a stop at Dahal Shawiyah (GCE180) and descended quickly into the upper and lower chamber without looking at the cache description/pictures. That proved to be a mistake. Our search for the cache in the lower chamber did not turn into any find so after a while we quit and decided to leave and headed north to the Mines of Moria cache (GC8069).

Arriving on site, we lowered the ladder easily into the Dahal but it was a little short so we tied it with a rope hooked to our car. I was accompanied by two of my cousins and both were eager to go down. They used the rope to reach the top of the ladder and descended easily. After reaching the bottom, Abu Talal was a little hesitant to grab the cache box so that task went to the hard-headed regular geocacher, cousin Hamad.

We then took a tour of the nearby garden (Rawdat Ma’aqla) before leaving the area. The tarmac continues north to Al-Rafee'ah but we took a short cut across the Dhana dunes that cross it from east to south west along a line parallel to the newly constructed power line. I read about this road (about 64km) in mekshat website. The journey across the dunes was beautiful at this time of the year. Our trip did not stop here as we continued to Al-Tenhat but that is a subject of a new post coming soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tarut Fort

This is a trip that will take you back in time. I have been to this island many times before but nowadays I could hardly feel it’s an island. The narrow land bridge that used to separate the island of Tarut from the mainland is hardly visible. There is a newly constructed bridge to the south that connects Qatif to Darin. The central part of the island is famous for its Fort located at around N 26.34.240 E 50.03.828 .

"The fort is believed to have been built by the Portuguese in 1592 … It sits on a mound formed by successive layers of occupation, reaching back to the third millennium. The earliest references to the Land of Dilmun are nowadays taken to mean this part of the mainland of Saudi ..." Jon Carter reports in his book Desert Treks from Al-Khobar.

There is a rich history that surrounds this island and is interesting as you will see a different face of Saudi that you don't normally see in the big cities. It is somewhat reminiscent of Bahrain which is not surprising as the two places are close to each other. A drive through the narrow streets of the island is a pleasant one. In the old days I used to visit the famous dhow harbor at Darin, at the southern tip of the island, which until recently was site for traditional boat building. Qasr or Palace of Ibrahim was once standing here in testimony to the wealth of the people who lived in this island. Unfortunately it is now gone. Sanabis is a small fishing harbor to the north with old buildings around. I decided to hide my cache here but later I learned that this was not a good place to hide. So I moved it a little to the west but it was later washed ashore. So finally I moved it south where it rests in peace, for now at least.