family activities, family adventure, family fun, hiking in Israel, Kiryat Shemona

The Blue Trail

It could have been the making of a great reality TV show – pit a family of 8 against poison ivy, barbed wire fences and broken trails and see if they can get out in one piece. But it wasn’t a reality TV show last week – it was just our reality.

We spent three fantastic days in the North over Pesach, hiking near Kiryat Shemona and enjoying the power of the incredibly wet winter to create amazing waterfalls. On the second day of our stay, we planned out a hike that was clearly marked on the kids’ topographic map. We left one car at the beginning of the trail and another at the end, which was right off a large highway. We hiked for 3-4 hours, enjoying the beauty of our surroundings, the clearly marked trail and the chance to be out in nature without anyone else around.

And then, when we were coming down the last mountain and could see our car in the distance, the trail mark vanished. We could not find the trail no matter what direction we turned. We all decided it wasn’t that big a deal since we were clearly heading down and then to the right – and could already see our car in the distance. No problem – we would be there within half an hour.

And here is where things got a bit sticky, literally and figuratively. A few of my boys always run ahead, and they were making their way through the vastly overgrown shrubbery and bushes (Plan B when you don’t have a marked trail). Suddenly we heard “Oh Crap!” up ahead and ran to catch up. We were only about 200 meters away from the road when we saw that the entire area was covered in a plant similar to poison ivy. My boys explained that this wasn’t poison ivy exactly, but was a plant that induced insanely powerful itching for at least 15 minutes after contact. “We absolutely can’t go that way,” said my boys who think they are invincible, and who never say “absolutely can’t.” We were definitely in trouble with Plan B.

Ok – Plan C. We decided to walk parallel to the road in the direction of the car and to see if the poison ivy stopped at some point, and maybe we could then make it to the road and the car. Yes! We saw a clearing and went for it…only to discovered that right before the road, right before our freedom, there was a barbed wire fence. The entire way. A chest-high barbed wire fence. “Ok,” one older son said tentatively, “Let’s break the fence down.” No, that didn’t work. “Let’s go over to this tree and then each of us can climb over the barbed wire fence and like this….”

Yes, it was time for Plan D. We were so close to the car and yet had absolutely no way of getting there. We decided to climb through the brush and chest high plants again to get further up the mountain. Typically, right along the ridge there is a flatter area and one kid thought that maybe he could get a better view from there; and that maybe there would be a way down if we looked from above. So, we all pushed and smashed and got caught on prickly bushes and made our way to the edge of the mountain…with no luck. There were just chest high prickly bushes as far as the eye could see. We were really stuck.

Other than calling for emergency services (my idea!) we really didn’t know what to do. But it was ridiculous. We were so, so close. And then a few people had the idea that if we hiked parallel to the road but away from the car, maybe we would find a way to avoid the poison ivy and find a break in the barbed wire fence. Plan E! We were on our way, hoping that this would work as basically our last option. “Whoohoo!” Josh and the boys screamed from up ahead, as they found a passage around the barbed wire and a way out to the road.

We had done it.

Josh and our oldest son headed to the right along the road to retrieve the two cars and try to figure out how in the world the trail ended like it did.

I took the rest of the gang along the road to the left to the gas station in the distance where I told them they could have anything their Pesach-admiring eyes could find in the store.

In retrospect, it was quite an interesting experience watching my 17 and 18 year old kids work under pressure. They felt responsible for having gotten us into the mess, and they were determined to get us out. While I got whiny and a bit nervous, they really kept their cool and kept trying to find ways to make things work. And they remained positive with their language and their tone, encouraging their little brothers and using their own bodies as shields from the thorns and bushes for the younger guys.

A hike I’d want to do again? Not so much.

But certainly an experience that showed me some nice moments of family bonding and of my children’s maturity and ability to work under pressure.

And now it’s time to complain to the Park Authority about getting that trail fixed!

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