The Israel Trail part II: a walk to Tel Aviv

by Sarah on October 8, 2012

Israel Trail, in the highway 6 tunnel

{Above: The boys at the end of the Highway 6 tunnel crossing}

“Leave the car in the parking lot and instead go by foot” advised the public radio announcement as we drove home from a multiday trip “You’ll burn calories and nature will thank you.” This Succot, that’s exactly what we did. We walked and walked and walked and walked and walked….. 130 km to be exact.

plants on the Israel Trail

{Above: Left: Hatzav (Urginea maritima ) signals the start of autumn in Israel. Top right: Cotton plants that grow near Road 1 to Jerusalem, Bottom right: persimmons are grown near Petach Tikvah and Tel Aviv}

Our family’s Israel Trail adventure began last March in Eilat. We managed to finish half of the 980 km route during a slightly extended Passover vacation. Reality regretfully called us back to work and school. Our goal now is to finish the trail by the end of the year and this holiday we made a major push onwards. The trail took us over the green wooded hills of Jerusalem and down into the coastal plains of Israel’s most densely populated areas. It was vastly different than the remote desert landscape we had traversed in spring. On Sunday we culminated the six day adventure in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park.

plants of Israel, Israel Trail

{Above: plants on the Israel Trail. From top left: wild pomegranate, sumak tree, olives. From bottom left: jujube fruit, mature almonds and fresh dates}

Contrary to what many might think, hiking in the urban sections is actually much more dangerous than being plunked in the middle of nowhere. We had to sprint like lunatics across multilane highways, sidestep careening ATVs and motorcycles whose drivers where intent on running us down and deal with psychotic humans. In one incidence a deranged man waved his gun at us because we had shooed away his aggressive dog.  The trail led us through agricultural fields, into tunnels, over bridges, and in several places it merged into construction sites leaving the five of us stranded between steam rollers and tractors. This is no idyllic stroll by a bubbling brook, but bare concrete, sprawling suburbs and the chaos of modern living. Even through the grit, there were gems along the way, new discoveries to be made and encounters with inspiring people.

Urban sections of the Israel trail

{Above: Urban sections of the Israel Trail. I should suggest to the Osem food company to become trail angels and give passing hikers some snacks!}

It’s hard to consolidate my thoughts after such an intensive few days. The experience is multifaceted, revealing history, culture, environmental issues as well as things closer to home. While it started as my son’s goal to complete the trail, without the help of family and friends it would have remained a wistful dream.  I feel like spurting a couple of inspiration quotes but instead I’ll just say that with determination, endurance, humor, sweat and most of all the support of family and friends limitations seem to exist only in my head.  

Yarkon at sunset

{Above: The Yarkon River in Tel Aviv}

Finally, kudos to Abigail Ruder who joined us on the trail not for one day but two. She also convinced her Mom, Yael, to come along as well. Most of our friends have never survived that long with us. It was also entirely coincidental that they went out to eat in Tel Aviv the day we made our grand entrance. When they called to check in on us we discovered that they were about 20 meters away at a restaurant called Goocha. What would a bunch of hungry hikers do? Barge in on them of course. We are lucky to have friends who take it all in stride.

goocha restaurant in Ramat Hahayal

Hayarkon Park

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