Day 13: Nazerath to Harduf

24/02/2012, Day 13:
We decided to start our day a bit later after our hard day yesterday.
We woke up at around 7am and had breakfast at the inn.

We took a taxi to the point in which we left the shvil yesterday which meant we had an extra 300m to walk… Not a biggie.

We hiked through Mishad which is a nice Arab village and quickly reached the outskirts of the village. We met the local garbage yard which seems to be prevalent at every Arab village we meet.

As we passed Rabbi Yehuda’s grave we met our first field of thorns and nettles.

We passed the field and it started raining. Again we moved fast to our rain gear and continued hiking with a very light misty rain that helped us cool off.

At this point we figured out that we will not reach the monk’s Gristmill so we contacted the ecological farm in Harduf and were told that we can sleep there.

We continued further and went up rish lakish vista point. When we reached the peak we asked ourselves where was the hard climb…? I guess that the Tavor helped us with our perspective…

We reached Gush Alonim forest reserve and after an hour or so met a nice geeky couple (like ourselves) riding their bicycles.

We continued hiking and finally reached the Arab village kaabiya. From there we walked km or so to our final destination of the day (or so we thought) – Harduf.

When we reached Harduf, Rei, the contact person showed us the place. We never felt so NOT at home anywhere else… And since he sent us to sleep in a cold large old army tent that is used as a warehouse. While it was freezing outside and we knew we will be very cold during the night so we called our friend and rescuer Yochai who came to pick us up home. Luckily we got a mail from our friends Noga and Tom asking if.they can join us for the next day. So we said of course. But please pick us up on the way 🙂

Day 12: Kfar Kish to Nazareth

23/02/2012, Day 12:

We started our day in Kfar Kish. Sarah gave us a lift to Gazit junction which was the stopping point of yesterday’s hike.

We started climbing the Tavor mountain. We climbed and climbed and after 2 hours of climbing the mountain we finally reached the peak. Climbing 500m of a very steep mountain is not an easy task.

We went into the church at the top of the mountain and saw the really impressive architecture of the church. on our way out we went to the restrooms and were quite shocked from the smell and overall filth of the restrooms (we even had to pay 2 NIS to get into the restrooms…). It felt like no one has cleaned them for at least a year…

After our short visit we went down in a very steep path and arrived back to “Shibly” village.
We had to put some band-aids on my feet as I was starting to get some blisters so we stopped at the local rest area. We were told by the unpleasant manager that we can’t use their facilities for our break (despite the fact that we ordered some fresh juice) and eat our own food there as this is a “private place”…
We continued on and had a short lunch break in the nearby forest just before climbing on mount Dvorah.

Climbing mount Dvorah was a piece of cake after climbing the Tavor, we reached the peak of the mountain and clibmed down rather fast.

We had 2 hours until sundown and we were not sure if we could still make the 6Km we had left for the day as we had a very hard climb to Nazareth. We decided to give it a shot and indeed, we managed to get to the top a good 30 minutes before sundown. We continued hiking and almost reached the end of our planned day. We had 300m left to hike but this involved going down in an unknown territory and going down on some large boulders so we decided to finish the day and called a taxi to take us to our motel. A very famous establishment for the Shvil hikers – Fauzi Azar inn. This is a beautiful vintage house with a large court turned into a nice guesthouse. We slept in a shared room (for the first time ever) and it was really nice and cozy.

We had a really nice dinner at a local restaurant serving an authentic arab food with some fusion touch.

Day 11: Yavniel to Kfar Kish

22/02/2012, Day 11:
What a great day!
We woke up really early at around 5:45 and we took a jeep ride to the beginning of the shvil.

We went into Yeela Forest and watched beautiful ancient trees. So old that they managed to tilt to the side, touch the ground and go back up.

We walked through a small stream and then climbed to Mitzpe Elot. The view behind us was spectacular. We saw the Kinneret, the Hermon, the Golan Height and the beautiful valley that stretches south from the Kinneret.

We pushed further at a really good pace and after a small navigation error that cost us nearly a km of extra hiking we arrived to Mitzpe Olam and had a breakfast stop.
We had boiled eggs that we made last night with some cottage cheese, vegetables and bread we bought the earlier day. We also had tea made from the last vapors of gas we had in out first tank (we have spare, don’t worry).
The tank was enough for 4 pots of soup, 3 pots of tea, 3 pots of pasta and 4 pots of oatmeal breakfasts… Not bad 🙂
The bad thing was that by bending down I managed to tear my pants… 🙁

After nearly an hour break which was a bit longer than we expected we continued on and after a short time we have arrived to Hirbat Sirin. The area surrounding it was simply green and beautiful.

We continued on and around 2pm we arrived to our day’s end.
This was the first time we end a day so fast so we decided to continue 3 more km into the next day so tomorrow we will have less hiking (tomorrow is a really hard day)

We arrived to Gazit junction and Sarah, our hostess from “Home in Kish” arrived to pick us up.
Sarah was wonderful and helped us a lot. Sarah even took me to a local tailor to fix my pants!
Home in Kish is a beautiful house that Sarah rents for short terms to people who wish to tour the area. Sarah has a warm place in her heart for Shvil Israel hikers so if the house is available she rents it to the hikers for a minimal fee.
We had a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant called Sirin and later we were invited by Sarah to a vocal group concert in which Sarah participated.
We decided upfront to leave no later than 9pm as we needed to wake up early the next day. The concert was so good that we stayed until the end!

We went to sleep knowing that this was our best day on the shvil.

Day 10: Porryia to Yavniel

20/02/2012, Day 10:
In a word: MUD.
In three words: lots of mud.

We started our day in Porryia, the weather was great and we could see a very snowy Hermon.
We walked down to moshavat  Kinerret. This is where we first met our friend for the day: Mr mud.

It was the quiet, shy type. The kind that doesn’t look too bad until you find out that you are carrying half a kilo of it on each one of your feet…
Not only that – it also makes you lose balance on uneven terrain…

We continued further and reached Kinerret (moshava). The old houses were simply beautiful and we were happy to see them well maintained.

We pushed further and reached Kinneret’s cemetery. We visited Rachel’s grave and listened to some of the stories on the automated audio device present there.

We continued to Yardenit and after that arrived to Rob Roy kayaks to get some water. We were invited for tea and a story.

We continued on and met the noisy kind of mud. The kind that lets your feet to sink into. This is where we were kind of sorry we didn’t wait another day for the puddles from the heavy storm to settle down and try out…

We arrived to a perfect place for a short stop under some nice trees with a small stream flowing by and we had late breakfast there.

We continued forward and everywhere we walked there was an endless sea of mud. Sometimes we were faced with a hard dilemma: should we cross the mud or the field of thorns next to it… Sometimes the later won…

We then arrived to a point in the shvil that goes up a small stream. The problem was that it was very slippery and we had only 2 hours for sundown. We were not sure if we could make it in time or not so we decided to go to Yavniel like the book suggests (we planned on continuing and building a tent on the shvil where possible in order to save us going 3.5km from the shvil and back to it the other day)
We walked through a sea of mud.and had to cross Yavniel river twice. The second time my left foot sank into the mud all the way in so water came in… Judging by the smell it wasn’t only water… 🙁

We arrived to a camping site, drunk hot tea and ate pasta. Took a hot shower and went to sleep in our sleeping bags.
We shivered. It was so cold we were freezing inside our bags. We have 850+ down bags. Kareene’s is rated for -5 degrees for woman and mine is for -2 for men.
After an hour when it became impossible I contacted the guy from the camping site. We paid a little extra and moved to a heated tent where we didn’t get a good night sleep either because the rooster and the peacock were challenging each other on who can make more noise…

We woke up late, tired and with a big headache after the bad sleep we had.
We decided to stay and rest the day.
We called a few zimmers around and got to a really nice one with an enormous jacuzzi. We rested and today we are ready to begin our day early.
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Day 9: Migdal to Porryia

15/02/2012, Day 9:

Our hostess gave us a ride back to the entrance of Migdal, from there we walked another km or so to the gas station that was supposed to be the end of our previous day and then we walked to Hamam, an arab village near the Arbel mountain.
We started climbing the Arbel, this was a very very very hard climb. We met a nice guy from the reserve. The conversation started with him shouting “Shvilistim?” (People who do “the trail”) so we said yes. He then advised us to hurry up and climb the mountain as rain was approaching. We also heard some distant thunders so we decided to skip the fortress embedded inside the mountain and go straight to the more technical part of the climb (steep rocks and stakes to help climb the large rocks).
Later on we discovered that he was supposed to collect money from people who enter the reserve but since we were “shvilistim” we got a free entrance 🙂

We arrived to the top and were really happy the climb was behind us, the view was horrible as Kareene predicted with her “hard climb crappy view” rule…

We continued and arrived Kfar Hitim, on the way down it started raining.
This time we moved to our rain gear very fast just to be prepared.

We reached Tverya and had lunch at a mediocre restaurant. After that we climbed through  Sapir street to Switzerland forest and from there to Porryia.

My father came to pick us up back home as a big storm was approching, we stayed at home for 4 days until it was over and got back to the shvil.

We left my camera at home, the pictures from now on will be taken using my cellphone, The SLR camera I have + a general purpose lens along with the small bag and accessories was around 2.2Kg but this wasn’t the issue, the big issue was that it was sitting on my belly and interfered every time I had to climb rocks or do any other “technical” climb.

So goodbye dear camera.

Day 7: Zfat To …. Zfat

13/02/2012, Day 7:

We left Avigail and Nitzan’s house and started hiking from Meiron river to Amud river, Amud was filled with water and looked very nice.

At around 14:00 we arrived to the midpoint of Amud river and decided to call Laser, the superintendent to ask if he thinks we can still make it to the end of the river before it gets dark, he said that we need to clear the reserve by 16:00 and not when it gets dark so it meant we had to go up to Sheikh Koves to get out of the reserve.
Climbing Sheikh Koves was very hard as it was a really steep climb, when we reached the end we decided that tomorrow we are not going to get down this way as we still value our lives…

We went to a really nice hostel in Zfat called Ascent, we got a private room for a really decent price and ate a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant called “Ha-ari 8”.

Day 6: Mount Meiron To Zfat

12/02/2012, Day 6:

We woke early again and got ready. Kareene waited for the office of the Beit Sefer Sade to open up @ 8:00 to get our trail passports signed but they were still closed when we left @ 8:15…

Adam left us and returned back home and we continued by climbing the 200m we still had left to get to the top of Mount Meiron. It was very windy and cold when we got to the top, the horizon wasn’t too clear either (you can see it in the logo picture).
Kareene decided that there seems to be a law that says that every time we get to the top of the mountain it becomes hazy so we don’t get the nice view that we worked so hard for…
At the top of the mountain we did have view all the way to the Kinneret which was nice as this is where we were headed.

After mount Meiron we started going down towards Nachal Amud, on the way I fell and bended one of my trekking poles… bummer…

We arrived to Moshav Meiron at around 14:00 and decided that we won’t have enough time to arrive to Zfat so we went up to Moshav Meiron and took a bus to Zfat. We then arrived to our trail angles’ home.

Avigail and Nitzan were really nice to us and their hospitality was outstanding. Thanks guys!

Day 5: Kibbutz Baram to Mount Meiron

11/02/2012, Day 5:

We left early, Adam joined us for the day.
We arrived back to the point in which we left the Shvil and walked through the beautiful Dishon river.

We arrived to Baram forest, it was a really nice walk and the forest was great.

For the first time – we made tea in our stove and had a really nice lunch break.

We continued on and arrive to Beit Sefer Sade Meiron, apparently it was closed (Saturday…) but we called the number on the gate and the nice managed gave us the code to open the gate and we went in.

It was 2pm and we were pretty sure we won’t make it to the top of the Meiron mountain and down to a place where we could build our tent (we were wrong as we could have easily made it to the top and down in the 4 hours of light we had…)

We took the rest of the day off, made some pasta and rested.

Day 4: Moshav Dishon to Kibbutz Baram

10/02/2012, Day 4:

We started our day in Moshav Dishon. As we started walking outside the Moshav we felt some rain hitting us. We stopped and had our backpacks covered with their rain cover and put a rain coat over our clothes.
We continued and after a few minutes the rain was gone and the sun was out so we thought “well, that was quick, let’s take off our rain gear as it is getting too hot”…
A minute after we took off our rain gear it started raining again, this time – serious rain…

We were too slow this time and we got wet, for those of you who don’t know this – once you get wet and put rain gear on top of you – you stay wet…

We continued on and managed to cross the Dishon river a few more times without having to change our shoes (we have goretex shoes so as long as the water is not too high we can just cross it).

After a few more crossings we had no other option but change to sandals which was really weird – rain clothing and sandals 🙂

We saw a few jeeps passing by and then came a military 4×4, they stopped and asked us if we want tea. OF COURSE WE DID 🙂 and we got 2 cups of steaming hot and sweet tea in the middle of the rain, this was incredible.

After a Km or so I gave a nice slide on the mud and crashed down, nothing was harmed other than my pride and my pants and shirt that got filled with mud 🙁 Walking in the mud with Crocs is not a good idea…

We arrived to the crossing point of Aviv River and sat under a big tree hiding from the strong winds and the heavy rain that fell.
At this point we also knew we are not going to make it to Meiron, our walking pace is not good enough and adding lots of mud and rain doesn’t do us any good either…
We decided to make a stop in Kibbutz Baram, we gave a phone call to Yehuda from Baram who said “sure you can come to our backpackers room” but warned us that this is not the season and that the room isn’t quite ready… (more on that later…)

Once the rain got weaker we continued hiking, this time with our boots on…
We crossed road 899 and continued on the beautiful path of the river.

We arrived to the water bridge under road 899 and decided not to go through there – there was too much water and we didn’t want to switch back to sandals (I had a bad feeling about using my crocs in a very slippery environment…)
We rushed back to the Mekorot water treatment facility that was ~100M back and crossed the road.

We tried hitchhiking for a while and only 1 car stopped but there wasn’t enough room for us and our backpacks. It was raining again. We started walking on the road which seemed like suicide as most cars were driving really fast and there were almost no shoulders to walk on… After a few minutes a police pickup arrived in front of us and the driver stopped and asked us if we need any help (2 idiots walking in the rain on a shoulderless road… He probably wanted to arrest us at first 😉 )
We said that we need to get to Baram so he said he’ll take us!
He dropped us on the rear gate and we waited for Yehuda to come and pick us up.

We entered Kibbutz Baram, Yehuda gave us a nice tour around the Kibbutz. These guys have a beautiful place to live in, great view that goes all the way to the Hermon mountain.
We then arrived to the backpackers room. oh my… The room was incredible! we had beds, clean sheets, clean towels, hot water, central heating and everything was dead clean! We even had basic supplies brought to us by Yehuda! this was an amazing welcome!
Adam (my brother) joined us and we were invited to a Friday dinner at the Kibbutz mess-hall.
Boy! we forgot this was Friday…!!!
We went there and had one of the best meals we ever had, everything was great and we had a ball!