“The World’s Unlikeliest Trail” is the title Backpacker Magazine, a well-known hiking magazine, gave to the Abraham Path (which is a long distance cultural and walking route in the footsteps of Abraham that traverses across the Middle East).
Dr. Joshua Weiss, Assistant Professor at Bay Path University and Director of the MS in Leadership and Negotiation, worked on the Abraham Path for close to ten years and has served on its Board of Directors for an additional three years. Due to all this experience the Path is not new to Weiss. However, for two of his students that graduated from the master’s program in December, Christine Panetti and Terry Ott, the Path and the Middle East region were dramatic and compelling unknowns.
The three of them recently completed a walking journey on the Palestinian part of the path (in Arabic it is known as the Masar Ibrahim). They joined a group of 30 people from 10 countries who were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Path and walked 15 to 18 KM per day for four days.
In this three-part series, each of our travelers shares his/her reflections on this special experience. Below are Dr. Weiss’ reflections. There is little doubt that what Christine and Terry uncovered is not at all what they, or their families, expected, so be sure to click right back to the blog next Thursday, March 23, and the following, March 30, to read more.
Dr. Joshua Weiss
I have had the good fortune of being involved in the Path for a long time and traveled on it in over five countries. That stated, every experience on the Path is unique due primarily to three dynamics. The first is the Path itself and the varied and beautiful landscape it traverses. It is not what many people think.
There are certainly the stereotypical desserts and camels, but there are also lush green hillsides, valleys (Wadis in Arabic), and majestic mountains. Second, are the local people you encounter and their gracious hospitality. There is nothing they won’t do for you as a guest in their home. The humble act of walking also pays respect to the people who live along the Path and they sincerely appreciate the gesture. Third are the intrepid travelers from around the world you walk with through the landscape. What always amazes me about traveling with a small fellowship of people is how close you become over a short period of time. It is truly the magic of the Path that brings people together and binds them through an inimitable experience.
This trip was special for me for two reasons. The first reason is that the trip celebrated the 10 th Anniversary of the Path’s beginning on the ground in the Middle East. When this effort began those of us at the heart of it gave it a 10% chance of ever coming to fruition. To see it on the ground and thriving is, well, a marvel to behold. The second reason is that while I have lead many groups on the Path, I have never taken my own students in this manner. To see Christine and Terry challenge their fears, embrace the Path and its people, and reflect in a deep way was very impactful for me.