A few years ago, my family of 8 started hiking the Israel Trail together. But we aren’t doing it in the traditional way, taking off for a few months at a time and hiking from one end to the other. Rather, we are using vacation time to hike as a family, starting at the very northern tip of the trail and working our way south. It’s understandably taking us a long, long time as we only end up covering 30-40 kilometers during each vacation.
So far, we’ve loved just about every trail and have gotten to work our way through so many beautiful locations. We’ve shown the kids the beauty of the land and have been teaching them about geography, geology, Tanach and more along the way.
And then we hit our path for Pesach and found…quite a different part of the trail. We started near the Caesarea Aqueduct, walking south, and ended just before the coast in Netanya. And boy was this a boring, urban, sweaty and noisy part of the trail! If we weren’t hiking through sand dunes trying to get around the smoke stacks in Hadera (and feeling like the Israelites stuck in the desert) then we were pounding the pavement on the actual highways and bridges of Hadera and passing through gas stations, tourist attractions and roads.
It was not the Israel Trail that we have, so far, experienced on our other adventures and we were all a bit surprised. Since we only use our holiday vacations to hike, we always hope that the experience is going to be a lovely, enjoyable one, frolicking through fields and down mountainsides.
But as we were huffing in the heat and shaking the sand out of our shoes (and yes, grumbling), my husband reminded us of a really important and lovely point. The fact that the trail goes through urban areas, and that we have to walk through large highways and built-up cities; weave through new apartment buildings and dodge gas stations is a zechut, an honor. This landscape shows just how populated the country has become and how impressive it is to have so many people and so much action in our little land. It was a lovely reminder and one that really helped to change our frame of mind.
As we finished this piece of the trail we gave thanks for the journey, for the ability to enjoy time as a family, to return home safely and to look forward to the next leg of the hike when we get to it. Lessons learned from a noisy and urban section of the Israel Trail and from an incredibly difficult time in Israel with the recent murders of the Dee family members and the deaths of Ma’ayan and Sahar Asor in flash floods.
May we all have many more hikes and better days ahead.