Joyce’s winter traverse was marked by harsh weather conditions that she weathered until the very last day, highlighting the beauty of the trail and Lebanese mountains in the winter. It was also marked by a warm welcome from local communities everywhere that she went; a heartfelt support and guidance by all local guides; and a visit by the Minister of Culture to highlight the cultural heritage on the LMT, and the LMTA’s work in striving to protect it.
As the new LMTA ambassador, and in the spirit of LMTA’s core mission to promote the conservation of Lebanon’s precious cultural and natural heritage along the trail, Dr. Joyce Azzam completed her traverse along the LMT while showcasing the beauty of the trail and its attractiveness as an outdoor destination during the winter season. Joyce was, by the same occasion, training for her expedition to the South Pole in November 2022.
Joyce’s winter traverse began on March 6 in Andqet and ended in Marjaayoun on March 25. While facing extreme winter conditions and frigid temperature levels, she kept going. Her determination and commitment to get to the finish line were stronger than any weather condition.
As difficult as it was on the legs, hiking on the winter solstice was much easier on the eyes. With snow blanketing the LMT, it was a great time to explore the sections transformed into winter wonderland.
“Everyday I become more attached to Lebanon’s remarkable natural sceneries and each section of the LMT has its own magical history.” Said Joyce in one of her recent social media posts.
Joyce also enjoyed rediscovering Lebanese culture with a fresh eye, by spending her nights at guesthouses and getting to know hosts that welcomed her with open arms and warm seasonal dishes prepared by each guesthouse on the trail.
While traversing from one section to the other, Joyce was accompanied by each local guide corresponding to each section. Local guides not only played a key role in making her experience unique, but also enjoyed the outing themselves, during a season when hikers are generally less numerous and yet the experience just as – if not more enjoyable – than in warmer days. Local guides praised Joyce’s courage and dedication and insisted, like her, on the important role that hiking can play on boosting one’s wellbeing and mental health.
“It was a great experience meeting Joyce on the trail and guiding her in my home town Akkar. Though the weather was against us, we managed not only to make it through, but also to thoroughly enjoy the day.” Said Khaled Taleb, LMT local guide on Section 2.
Thanks to her ongoing and detailed documenting of the entire experience on social media, Joyce contributed to creating more awareness about the LMT than ever before. She highlighted the diverse aspects of the trail, from cultural and heritage sites, to natural reserves through which the trail crosses, biodiversity and much more.
Joyce and members of the LMTA Board of Directors were joined by Mr. Mohammad Al-Murtada, the Minister of Culture on section 18 of the trail, in Barouk, reinforcing the Association’s commitment to always highlight and reinforce the cultural dimensions of the trail.
Al-Murtada insisted on “the importance of this activity and the necessity of spreading a culture of awareness in order to shed light on our natural and archaeological wealth,” pointing to “the importance and beauty of the Lebanon Mountain Trail,” and pointing to the distinguished work performed by the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association.