Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Our adventure began as we picked up the trail in Beit Hanania, a moshav located close to the southern edge of Mount Carmel. It was a briskly cold but sunny morning . Our group of seven needed hats and even gloves until we warmed up from walking. The effects of the rainstorms the week before were apparent right away -- there was going to be lots of mud and big puddles on this hike and the challenge was going to be not getting stuck. We went under Highway 4 and then began to make our way uphill around the edge of Jabotinsky Park. We continued on into Ramat Hanadiv, a nature park dedicated to the memory of Baron Edmond de Rothschild. We walked through the remains of a Hellenic era settlement, a complex from the time of Herod and a bathhouse from the Roman period. By this time the sun and the walking were warming us up enough to shed some of our layers.
As we continued on our way, we encountered a large group of hikers also making their way on the Shvil Yisrael. As daylight is short this time of year we had to pick up our pace in order to reach the endpoint (and the car) before dark, which was easy to do at this point as the trail took us past the Tishbi Winery and on through an easy, flat stretch of vineyards and cow pastures. The trail markers pointed us towards Route 70, as we got closer the path sloped down and we saw we had no choice but to go across a stream made full by all of the rain, it might be called Nachal Dalya. Off came shoes and socks and we plunged into the icy cold water and quickly went through the stream, up the hill and over the highway. We continued on around the far edge of Zichron Yaakov.
The last leg of our journey was the most challenging. As we made our way uphill it became difficult to find the trail markers in all of the spiky bushes. We continued into a very rocky forest, up and over a lot of boulders, it was a bit of a push at the end of a long day. At last we came out onto the road, 23 km later, just outside of Ofer, and there was the car waiting for us as the sun began to fade.