In the summer of 2019, we spent two days completing Day 1 of the Israel Trail. The Trail is not for the faint of heart – it’s divided into sections that are typically between 20 and 40 kilometers long. So, while your average, incredibly hearty 20-year-old might walk the trail in 6 weeks, we will take 2 to 3 days to walk each “day” of the trail. This can be a bit disheartening, but we keep trying to remember that we are in it for the journey and not the finish line.
After spending months inside with the COVID-19 lock down, we decided that the kids (and their parents) needed a break as the summer started. We were very nervous to book anything, however, until the second before our arbitrarily selected date arrived. I kept envisioning all of the reasons we might not make it to the trip. All that it would take was one sick teacher in one of my kids’ schools; one sick friend; one sick coworker; and we would find ourselves in quarantine. Never mind the idea that one of us might actually get sick; we have simply pushed that thought out of our minds for the sake of sanity (while being extremely careful, of course).
Two days before our travels, we finally booked a lovely house in Metula and held our breath. We arrived in the North on Monday and, rested and ready to go, hit the trail on Tuesday morning right where we had stopped the year before.
We approached the statue at Tel Chai and found the marker for taking the trail south. We were off.
The trail from Tel Chai to Metzudat Yesha says that it’s 20 kilometers long, and counts as Day 2. Our step counter, however, and our feet, said otherwise. On Tuesday we hiked 15.5 kilometers and then went another 7 or 8 on Wednesday to complete Day 2 of the trail. The hike on Tuesday was incredibly long, and quite boring at times. I must have heard myself say at least a dozen times, “We didn’t build the trail ourselves, guys! It’s nature. Some of it will be exciting and some boring.”
But we did have to agree with the kids. It was hot, and boring and tiring. At about the 13 kilometer mark, my 9 year old gave out and I gladly caved with him. We plopped ourselves under a tree and called ahead to the drivers in the family to see if the gravel road was passable enough for them to come and retrieve us when they finished. Before they had a chance to get us, however, a miracle car appeared out of nowhere. Laughing and asking what in the world we were doing under a tree nowhere, the driver readily agreed to take us (masks and all) and to bring us to the main road. We felt like we’d won the lottery. And so, with that assistance, we finished the 15.5 kilometers (and the rest of the family finished it on foot, of course). I was particularly proud of, and surprised by, my 11 year old who can be unpredictably whiny. He stopped with us but said he was determined to finish the trail on foot. He did not want a ride, and he went ahead to find his father and to finish on his own.
The next day, we set out to get to Metzudat Yesha. The views were glorious as we walked along the entire ridge of Kiryat Shemona and towards the Hula Nature Reserve. We started actually feeling the distance behind us – I could point to the massive blue harvesting pools and say – “Remember a few hours ago when those were in front of us? Now look how far behind us they are!” Towards the end of the hike we came to a challenging and exciting (for the kids) area where we went into a wadi and then back up. The kids loved climbing over and around the rocks; then we came up into Metzudat Yesha, looked the map over, gave ourselves a pat on the back and headed to another ma’ayan to cool off.
Thursday was our final hiking day for this trip. We decided on a ten kilometer trip from Metzudat Yesha to….well…some field half way through Day 3 of the Israel Trail. Along the way, we enjoyed many treasures including cows, donkeys, an Israel Trail treasure box, old ruins, and more.
My 15-year-old really started to show some of his photography skills on this day, taking many close ups of his brothers and the surrounding nature.
We finished the week having completed Day 2, and half of Day 3, of the trail. We felt deeply blessed to have this time in nature, and to have this time together. Son #1 leaves for the army in August, and we really don’t know when we will have such opportunities again after that. While that might make his youngest brother relieved (see picture below) it will make the rest of us miss him terribly.
But, before he leaves us for parachutes and guard duty, we’ve decided to grab every moment. We’ve already booked the next leg of the trip, with a house in Tzivon for early August. The owners explained that their house is actually on the Israel Trail, a point that the kids find incredibly cool. We are hoping to capture a few more days of family time along the trail – and will be holding our breath between now and then hoping we get to reach this goal.