It is day two and right now I am having dinner outside of El’ad, an ultra orthodox city. While looking for a place to camp I ran into an Israeli couple having a picnic. They gave me tea, salad, and cake, which was awesome. Earlier today I also got some free ice cream from a woman driving by me on the trail. It was very hot outside and that really made my day.
Yesterday was the first day on the trail and I thought it went pretty well. I met up with another hiker, a woman from California who was starting at the same time from Tel Aviv, heading south. The full trail goes from Dan (north) to Eilat (south), but I decided to start in Tel Aviv. Starting in the south would mean doing the desert first, and starting in the north would be cold and rainy in January. She was a very devout Christian and quoted bible verses all day, along with giving me a flyer with what seemed like a Jews for Jesus (Google it) message.
We ended up hiking about 15 miles, starting in Yarkon Park. For most of the day we followed the Yarkon River, and the trail was incredibly muddy. We passed orange, grapefruit, and persimmon groves and of course grabbed a few oranges to go. It wasn’t too hot of a day but today was worse.
Last night we camped at a Baptist village that contains a guest house for Baptist pilgrims and not much else. There were also several baseball fields, and we camped right by them. I was tempted to break in to the field and camp in left field (where I play/used to play) but opted not to do so, so I could have my tent closer to the public bathrooms by the fields. I also didn’t want to drive a bunch of tent stakes into a baseball field.
Unfortunately by the first night the other hiker had realized she could not keep going. Basically, hiking daily with a heavy bag was a lot more difficult than she had predicted. The gardeners for the Baptist guest house gave her a ride to a nearby town, and she is planning to keep traveling Israel, just not on foot. I was not as sore as I expected to be this morning, and I set off on the trail again without her.
Tomorrow I will continue hiking and will be staying in Modi’in, where I have a first cousin twice removed (I think that’s it). I am going to stay with him and his wife, and of course I am looking forward to a solid dinner and a shower there.
Here are several pictures from the last two days. The orange/blue/white blaze you see in a few of them is the trail marker for the INT.