I was expecting to be woken by the occasional motorcyclist, passing the dirt track nearby, but, I’m pleased to say we had an uninterrupted night. It was really muggy and the tent was covered in dew – we hadn’t put the outer of the tent on which was a mistake as it would have prevented the inner from getting so wet. Our sleeping bags were soaked and, when Gil got out, I got showered with all the water that was dripping from the roof.
It was nice to be back in nature and in a valley that hid us from the ‘real world’. Although it was still only 6am, we were both sweating loads. It’s so humid. Once out of the valley, we crossed a road and into a section that went through olive trees and farms. The day was mostly flat, until we reached Mount Carmel, a 600metre climb. We walk this sections really fast though, about 5km per hour, so we were making good time and chatting lots in the process.
For 3km we walked through a town, Kfar Hasidim, that I thought looked a bit like Miami with the large houses and palm trees. Mount Carmel sat in the distance.
Gils family all live quite close so we sent a text telling everyone our plans to camp at the top of the mountain, without hesitation, his parents, Auntie and Uncle said they would be there. I was excited to see them all.
I thought Mount Carmel would be a tough climb but 5 minutes in and I got into a rhythm. My legs just didn’t want to stop. I was sweating like crazy, but I really wasn’t finding the climb that hard. I wrapped my bandana around my head, embracing the Rocky look, to help keep the sweat out my eyes and just enjoyed feeling on top of the hiking for a change.
We did the whole climb in 1 go and with ease. I was finally starting to see my fitness improve.
We found the perfect spot next to a picnic bench. Dried out our sleeping bags, attempted to get clean in the public toilet sink, hand washed some clothes and cooked couscous with stock for lunch. It was still only 11.30am and it felt good to have time to catch up with the blog and rest.
Gils parents arrived…with food of course! They had even brought their new orange juice squeezer and some fresh oranges taken from their garden. We chatted and exchange stories and later Gils Auntie and Uncle came…with more food! We showed everyone out tent and hiking gear and absorbed every moment of the company and support.
Some huge wild boar came close, rummaging around for food. They’re small stumpy looking creatures but their tusks are big and I wouldn’t fancy one charging at you. We decided to hang our food in the tree as I was worried one might try and make its way into our tent for some dinner! Soon it was 7pm, we were yawning and it was time for everyone to go so we could sleep.
I used to suffer from insomnia that caused me weeks of torturous sleepless nights. I’m better now but occasionally I have nights when, no matter what, my body just won’t let me sleep. I had one of those last night. I went for a walk, read, sat and watched the wildlife (foxes, jackal, boar, birds), wrote in my journal, meditated – nothing worked. I was so desperately tired but I knew there was nothing I could do but relax and not get frudtrated.
I did eventually sleep – an hour and a half before the alarm went! I was still feeling great from the day before so I ignored my sleepiness. In 2 days we had a rest day in Zichron. I had an idea that maybe we could combine 2 walking days into 1 and get there a day earlier so we could get 2 full days. We had lots of personal admin to do and emails to answer, plus Zichron has the best ice cream shop in the world – so the extra day would be massively appreciated. I didn’t know if we could do it but we decided to give it a go.
When we set off in the dark we could see glowing eyes, catching our light beams, all around us. They would appear for a few seconds then, suddenly, they were gone.
Once off the mountain, we carried on up a hill and when we got to the top were treated to our first view of the Mediterranean sea.
The trail went through a reserve, winding around the mountains, with steep sections up and down. There were lots of large rocks and scrambling, plus a few caves to peer in along the way.
We passed through Ein Hod, an artists village – basically everyone who lives there is an artist. It’s such a cool concept and the place has loads of quirky sculptures everywhere and endless galleries. I felt too smelly to look around but Gil promised to bring me back here when we finish our walk so I can have a proper look.
We made it to the end of what we were supposed to do today. It was 1.30pm. We still had 16km to Zichron and I wasn’t sure I could do it as my legs were tired from all the climbing, but we agreed we would go as far as we can.
The trail continued on the uneven path – up and down, up and down. So much climbing today. I felt strong though and decided to call my family for a catch up which turned out to be a great distraction.
8km in and we passed a memorial for a local soldier who had died in a helicopter crash. His son, who had followed his footsteps to become a helicopter pilot, died of heat stroke during training. Gil had gone to school with him. When I saw their memorials stood next to each other, I felt such sadness for the woman who lost her husband and son to the military. The army is a bitter but true reality for Israelis have all have to carry out national service.
My energy levels were dipping but we didn’t have time to stop and cook something. All I had eaten today was some nuts, half a pitta and a granola bar. The trail now was mostly downhill (at last!) except for a couple of small hills and a short scramble. We had 7km to go. My feet were bruised but there was no way we were giving up now….I could smell Gil’s mum’s cooking from here!
The terrain was awful, the worst type possible, uneven loose rocks. We tripped and stumbled our way on. It hurt the soles of my feet which were starting to feel bruised.
Just when I though the path would never end, I spotted the best sight I think I’ve ever seen…Gil’s family car!! His dad was waiting to collect us and bring us home.
I sat in the back of the car, my legs pumping, with a massive grin on my face that didn’t leave me all evening. We had walked 40km! I never could have managed that 2 weeks ago.
I only managed to stay awake for 2 hours, just enough time to shower, do some much needed laundry and eat the most delicious meal I think I’ve ever had. At 9pm I made my way upstairs and don’t even remember getting into bed.
2 full days to rest. I can’t tell you how good that felt!
I am walking 1000km the full length of Israel. Part of the reason I have taken on this challenge is to raise money for Africa’s Children in Education. Each time I receive a donation it is a HUGE morale boost…please donate!