Over the Rainbow
Sunday December 8, 2013
It was a dark, stormy morning when four hikers started out. The forecast called for rain, rain and more of the same, but that did not deter this group.
Equipped with raincoats and warm gear, we started at the Arena Mall, the point where our last hike ended. The surf pounded and dark waves frothed, while a sea spray coated the horizon in a salty fog.
Watching surfers bobbing in the water and riding the huge waves, we thought ‘if they can be out, so can we.‘ Determined to make the best of the day, we trodded along the beach walking towards an ominous dark cloud that squatted above the Tel Aviv horizon like a tornado about to touch down in Kansas.
Yet, within minutes, the clouds above us opened, exposing a clear blue sky. And that brooding, bruised cloud also retreated, lifting our spirits and adding a skip to our pace.
A few people walked and jogged the beach. Some sat in scarves and sweaters at beachside cafes, cradling steaming coffees.
Soon we reached a boardwalk and the Sde Dov airport. Beyond that, at The Port, the blazes headed us inland along the Yarkon Waterway. Turning around, we saw the most magnificent rainbow glowing in the sky, forming a perfect arch across the Yarkon Estuary, framing the Namal lighthouse in its center.
We followed a paved path through the Yarkon Park. Nestled in the heart of Tel Aviv and comprising 3,500 dunams, this park is the largest public garden in Tel Aviv.
Despite its central location, the path was deserted save for a few cyclists, joggers and professional dog walkers. We passed by playgrounds, workout parks, a climbing wall and an amusement park, all quiet as if the world were hibernating today.
A few kilometers inland, we saw the confluence of the Yarkon and Ayalon Rivers. We learned that the Ayalon River, which starts 54 kilometers east in Beit El, meets the Yarkon here and together they flow to the Mediterranean. In ancient times, the Ayalon emptied into the sea near Jaffa, but drifting sands pushed the river northwards until it merged with the Yarkon. A winter streaming river, the Ayalon comes to life with the heavy rains, sometimes overflowing right across the Ayalon Expressway.
Our paved path continued along the Yarkon River through peaceful eucalyptus groves. We came upon a pack of six jackals playing in the tall grass then spied a tall gray heron walking along the riverbank. The rain finally found us, but we were sheltered by the tall fragrant trees above.
It was hard to believe we were in the middle of a metropolis until we saw the Ramat Gan Stadium. The path continued along a greenbelt, hugging the river, until we met up with the section of the trail we had walked a few weeks ago, completing 16.5 kilometers of The Israel Trail.
It is always hard to leave the tranquility of the trail behind and enter into the rush and swirl of speeding traffic. But we are happy to have discovered that just below those overpasses and tucked under wide highways is a secluded trail that stretches as far as your feet will take you.