When I woke up to the sound of the 4.40am watch alarm, there was only 1 thing on my mind – last day of hiking! Tomorrow was a rest day. Someone had kindly offered us use of their empty flat for 2 nights and I couldn’t wait to get there.
We had both slept really good, our best nights sleep yet. We hiked off the mountain in the dark, turning off our head torches when it was just light enough to see the path ahead. There was a lot of morning fog which meant the sunrise over the Sea as Galilee wasn’t as good I was hoping, but still worth a glance every few minutes. We crossed a main road and found ourselves in a large town. There was a supermarket that welcomed hikers to fill up their water and to sign a guest book. I had a look for an English entry but it was all Hebrew.
We both brought a yogurt drink for breakfast to go with our usual granola.
It felt strange to be back in civilisation but nice to see people getting ready for work. We followed the trail into a section that contoured around the side of the mountain on a slow incline. The flat path was easy to follow and, with my music on, I picked up the pace, going ahead from Gil for a bit who was engrossed in a podcast. The trees were green, the birds were flying and there was a good breeze. I had a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
I almost stepped on a tarantula but saw it just in time. I’m petrified of spiders so I’m glad I didn’t see this one near where we were planning to camp. Although they cause me to have heart palpitations, they are fascinating creatures!
When we reached Kinneret Cemetery It marked the end of our hiking for the day – it was only 10.30. We had walked fast! 19km in 5 and a half hours. The place we were staying was in a kibbutz that was about 5km away. The only way to get there was walking along a busy road with no shade so we decided to hitchhike.
I stood in the sun as car after car drove by us. After 6 days without a shower I didn’t blame them! A young guy caught my eye and pulled over but then when he saw Gil he changed his mind and drove off again. Just as I was loosing patience, a kind religious man picked us up. I didn’t catch his name as he was talking on the phone for the whole ride which also meant I couldn’t thank him properly. I was so happy not to have to walk along that road!
When we reached the flat, a sweet little studio bungalow, I literally ran straight into the shower. We went for a wander around the kibbutz to find some lunch. This was my first time in a kibbutz and it was really nice. Everything is organised and comfortable, the children run freely and the people were noticeably friendly and more relaxed.
We stumbled across a dining hall where we piled our trays full of food and paid only 15NIS. It was so nice to be fed, although I felt like I was in an old peoples home!
We then dropped our dirty clothes off at the ‘laundry house’ to collect the next day (I could get used to kibbutz life I think) and discovered the most amazing pool where we spent the rest of the afternoon. It was perfect.
Oh to sleep in a real bed!! I was in heaven. My achy legs eased, my blisters healed and I felt, for the first time, well rested.
Gils parents drove for over an hour so they could visit us. It was great to see a familiar face and they brought us food and treated us to brunch. Since arriving at the kibbutz, I had either been thinking about food or eating food so this was hugely appreciated. Gil’s parents made a big fuss of us, saying how proud and amazed they are with what we are doing and it really made me feel better about our tough week.
I spent some time reflecting on the start of this adventure. There had been so many challenges – the heat, our heavy packs, the constant hassle of planning water resupply points, finding camping spots, dry and dusty conditions, tough terrain, feeling isolated, being dirty and tired from wild camping. Living an office lifestyle for years has left my body stiff and really out of shape and my lack of fitness shows itself, especially on the uphill sections. I’m constantly pushing myself and willing myself to go on.
It might seem like it was all bad but, in amongst all the struggles, were beautiful moments of pure elation. Each day I finish trekking, I get a real feeling of achievement and pride that I don’t think I have experienced in the same way before. Pushing yourself brings a sense of satisfaction that nothing else can. I’m spoilt from the sunrises, sunsets and the landscapes that I have for company each day. It’s these moments that I hang on to.
After Gil’s parents left, we visited the pool for a final swim. It was then time to face reality again. We got our clothes ready for the next day, packed our bags and refilled our water pouches. I climbed into bed, trying to savour every moment. My next focus was getting to Zichron, Gil’s hometown where we would take our next rest day. I was nervous about the next week, but also ready.
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!