Full Moon Hiking Qurnat al-Sawda …

Qurnat al-Sawda ( The Black Corner ) peak is situated in the northern Lebanon, 72 km northeast of Beirut.

At 3,088 meters, it is the highest peak in Lebanon and the Levant region.

Snowfall is around 10–12 meters on this mountain every year and with cool temperatures all year long, snow stays thru the summer into the next season which earned it the name “Eternal Snow”.

Winter is pretty long, running for over 7 months of the year with average highs of  -20 °C and nighttime lows that can shoot down to -45 °C.

In the summer, temperatures would be around 10 to 15 ºC during daytime, but goes down to below zero at night. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qurnat_as_Sawda%27

Day hiking to the top is a good hike. Nature is more of desert-like though not much greens. You climb 3 peaks before reaching the top. Each overlooking a beautiful part of Northern Lebanon, from the Bekaa valley to the Northern coast and Tripoli. Then reaching the top, you can see Cyprus on a clear day.

The Full moon hike has more beauty to it on this trail, with the moonlight shining, lighting your way, bringing out the beauty of the mountains. Stop for a second, hear the wind or just listen to the silence.   

Hiking Qurnat al-sawda trail in the Full Moon, is usually only done in July and August, the two warmest months of the year, where the temperatures are acceptable at night. With a 9pm start you be back to the cars around 4am. It is around a 6 and a half to 7hrs hike depending on your pace – 4 hrs to reach the top and about 3 hrs back. I have hiked it before on two different occasions, both during the month of August. It was pretty windy and freezing both times, temperatures dropping down to about 2ºC, kind of miserable for the first couple of hours, then getting used to the misery, you just enjoy the silence and serenity of the mountains.

This year we were 22 persons, it’s one of the rare times I have hiked with such a large group, we were the first to arrive back to the bus 8hrs after take off. It was the first time we hike this trail under the June Full Moon when it is usually extremely cold, so we were well prepared physically and mentally. Sure enough, the second we got out of the bus, at the altitude of 2640 meters, we were hit by extreme strong freezing winds, we couldn’t stand still.. We took off into the mountains and after a couple of hours of misery pushing thru strong blowing freezing winds, to a point where some people wondered what they were doing there with us when they could have been at the beach… but surprisingly the weather changed and temperatures went up to 8-10 ºC with the winds coming and going.

With hiking and sliding at times, thru ice snow and mud, reaching the top was quite an achievement for many who have not done it before. At 3,088 meters of altitude the winds were blowing and cold as usual. Although the idea of the beach kept nagging in my friends heads the whole way yet they kept going against all odds and all 22 of us made it back by sunrise.

The best part of the whole experience was watching the red moon setting from one side over the horizon while the sun was rising from behind the mountains. A rare gorgeous sight. The beauty of nature hits again….