Today has been a fantastic day, maybe my favorite one so far. Beautiful hiking (I saw a gazelle), meeting another special hiker, and staying with the ultimate trail angel.
They say you meet Dartmouth alums when and where you’d least expect, and today that couldn’t be more true. I saw a hiker with a big backpack coming the opposite direction, and asked him if he was a thru hiker. He said no, but that he was training to hike a portion of the AT. He saw my Mount Moosilauke shirt and asked my connection to it, and I told him I went to Dartmouth and everyone went there on freshman orientation Trips. He replied “they have a lodge too, don’t they. How do you think I know that?” He was a class of 1981, back when it was 2/3 male, freshmen could legally get pitchers of beer in town for 75 cents, and SigEps would climb on their roof and launch water balloons at President Kemeny’s house. To top it off, I had taken my earphones out while talking to him, but halfway through our conversation, Happy by Pharrell, a song I will forever associate with Dartmouth, came on. Wow.
Last night I stayed at Kibbutz Tzova, and they had a room just for hikers, and a guestbook dating back to 2008. The room was on the outskirts of the kibbutz and there were several other rooms, full of other people roughly my age. Most of them were on a sort of gap year; apparently there is the option to defer the mandatory military service, and spend a year working on a kibbutz and volunteering in the area. I had a delicious dinner in the dining hall, for the equivalent of about $3-4. Take that DDS!
I’m now staying at the home of the author of the English guidebook. He’s obviously an expert about the trail and has given me a lot of very useful advice. We had a great dinner of rice, chicken, liver, and veggies. I even got a Heineken. Tomorrow he will drop me off on the trail again and I will start hiking towards Beit Guvrin. It is supposed to rain so unclear how fast I will go, but I called ahead to another trail angel.