We write to you hairy, muscular, and exhausted from our end destination of Kibbutz Dan (pronounced “done” not “dayn”). Last night, we were sitting around a campfire on a farm outside of Ramot Naftali enjoying some fire-roasted veggies and chestnuts (not as simple as the Christmas jingle — our chestnuts came out black ash) when Nava had the idea, “Why don’t we just finish the trail tomorrow instead of taking two days?” This meant instead of having a relaxing end to the trip, we would be cramming it all into a 36 kilometer day. “Sure,” Yoella answered. And that was that.
We awoke at the break of dawn (even earlier since apparently the roosters who were bunking with us like to set there alarm way, way before sunrise.) After 12 hours of hiking, we made it. Limping and smelly, but we made it.
We expected it to be a challenge to get back to hiking after Purim since Purim in Israel is a huge affair. We celebrated the whole weekend and Shushan Purim making the whole ordeal a four day event; it took our bodies a little getting used to getting back to the trail
After getting back on the trail, we tackled Mount Tavor, swam our way across the Kinneret (the Sea of Gallilee), climbed up to Tiberias, and carried our load in four days from Tiberias all the way past Kiryat Shmona to the finish line at KIBBUTZ DAN!
Being so close to the end gave us crazy motivation to complete the hike. On Monday this week, we were hiking from Tiberias to Kderim but because of school groups ahead of us and friendly tourists along the way, we did not make it as far as we planned. We were stuck in Nachal Amud so we climbed up a hill from the rocky, narrow riverbed and set up camp.
We shut our eyes to the sound of jackals howling (can be confused with the sound of high school girls squealing over JB). This left us with the issue of getting food and water, usually something that we take care of the night before the hike. We were woken up by a local riding his horse. He asked us why we were sleeping in his fields and we apologized and said we were on the way out. We asked him for directions and he told us about a “shortcut” and gave us a bottle of water covered in horse-hair. So we took his instructions and found ourselves walking through shoulder high weeds for half an hour until we met back up with the trail. Still unclear whether he tricked us to punish us for sleeping on his land or whether he really was trying to help.
Once making it out to the main road, we were too stubborn and motivated to stop by a store to load up on food and water, so we marched on hoping for miracles along the way. We had very little food, but at least our tehini bottle was full. Nava must have created a very high connection with the heavens since behold, we came across the miracle we were looking for. Not one, not two, but ten juicy (borderline rotten) grapefruits were left abandoned for us along the trail. That day we had grapefruit tehini sandwiches, it was great.
We don’t normally we eat off the ground; we usually eat like queens. You may be familiar with the term, don’t go into a grocery store hungry; yeah, well we do that everyday. Since starting the trail, we have become more and more generous with treating ourselves as we go along. We used to finish a tehini every two weeks and now we finish a bottle in two days.
Beer and ice cream is a form of payment for Yoella’s psychological services for Nava. After hours of listening to Nava’s repetitive jabber about Jewish idenity and life plans, Yoella is paid with half a liter of Goldstar (the best beer in Israel). This week, Yoella got double pay because Nava exceeded the allotted period of time with boy drama. A few weeks ago, we met two boys hiking and Yoella immediately determined that one of them was destined to be Nava’s b’sheret. All is going as planned and wedding invitations will be posted soon. Nava agreed that if they get married, their children will be named after their favorite stops along the trail. She also agreed that since Yoella pushed this whole thing to evolve that SHE GETS TO BE THE FLOWER GIRL IN THE WEDDING (Yoella wanted this to be recorded just in case Nava goes back on her word).
Spending three months doing the same strenuous, physical hike is not simple (as many that have joined us have realized for themselves). We have had to be very creative to think of ways to occupy our minds so that it would not turn into mush mush most of our prized possessions along the Shvil. So here are a few examples that we suggest you try at home, with strangers on a bus, or head out for The Israel Hiking Trail yourself and see how thought-consuming these games really can be!
1. The Story Game: A word is chosen (ie. button, pink, pajamas) and the chosen participant must share the first personal story that happened to them involving the word. It does not have to be as clear of a connection as you would expect, but the word must be used at least once throughout the story.
2. Think The Same Thing: This is a two-player game. Count to three and both players say a random thing that comes to their mind (ie. coasters, landing on the moon, etc.) Then the players take both the said words and interpret what they have in common. Repeat counting to three and then say the connection between both words (ie. protection, oxygen). Continue counting and saying the new word until both players arrive at the same connection.
3. Beatles Marathon: Each player belts every Beatles song that they ever knew. When passing a fellow hiker in the other direction, ask them for help to list any other songs you may have missed. Once completed, look up online a list of all the songs you missed and then player 1 makes player 2 guess all the titles. Proceed then to belt these songs as well.
After walking 1,000 kilometers, finishing at least 30 containers of tehini, losing multiple hats, and making tons of new friends all over Israel, we are finally done. Our last hour was definitely the hardest of the entire trail. Feeling so close, but still so far is an excruciating feeling. We went through all of our body parts labeling what hurts and how much. We passed the time by calling some of our favorite new friends along the hike to let them know we were finishing, shout out to Daniel, Eli, Lison, and Shelly!
So thank you for being a part of our journey, it was a pleasure to entertain you. We hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences, now go out and make your own!