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    Senior Member jbphilly's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    Israel National Trail

    I'm about 80% of the way through a 2 month trek from Eilat to the Lebanon border with Israel. I'd consider this a world class trail; in 1000 km it's got massive, isolated desert, biblical hills, dramatic mountains like the Carmel, Meron and the area around Jerusalem, coastal seashore, rolling hills and valleys in the Galilee, and the great rift valley (here, it's the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley). In spring, it's mild weather with green grass and brilliant wildflowers everywhere (well, not in the Negev). For the non-desert part, there are towns near the trail every day, so you never need to carry more than a day's worth of food.

    Anyway, just thought I'd spread the word about the trail since I've enjoyed it so much. Hammockers may despair at the fact that 40% of it is in a desert where hammocking is impossible, but I've successfully hung on the other 60% and I didn't mind sleeping under a tarp for three weeks in the desert.

    Selling points - it's a beautiful trail, which takes you through hugely different landscapes in a small distance, challenging but doable by most people, in a first-world country that's still quite exotic (besides all the religious and historical interest, and the variety of cultures and religions you'll encounter along the way), and quite safe - it stays within the borders of Israel proper and out the occupied territories, and the only real hazard is getting injured or dehydrated in the desert, which is easily avoided if you are prepared.

    Mostly it's Israelis hiking it, but I've run into about half a dozen other Americans - including four grizzled old AT vets with 9 pound base weights (though they found it a bit rough carrying 5-6 liters of water through the desert I think). I'd go with a group if possible since you may feel left out if you're the only gentile and non-Hebrew speaker in a group you find here, but you'll meet fantastic people for sure, including "trail angels" that let hikers stay in their homes for a night (or sometimes in cabins they've prepared in their yards!). Two Americans I know who hiked it solo said they rarely slept outside, as people they met invited them to stay for the night so often.

    Anyway, a few hammock-related pictures from it...

    This was the only place in the desert part of the trail where I could hammock. Unfortunately we didn't camp there. You're only supposed to (and should only) camp in designated night camps in order to protect the desert's fragile ecosystem, and none of the camps have trees you could use.

    Camping on Tel Azeka, near where David killed Goliath...

    In the north, tons of these forests have been planted to "reclaim land" and beautify the place. It's politically shady and environmentally sort of disastrous, but they make it easy to hammock when otherwise it could be quite tough. In fact, the two easiest types of trees to hang on are invasive species planted for poorly thought out reasons - these pines, and eucalyptus. I've also hung off olive trees and other native plants, but less often.

    Anyway, check it's a great trail to hike!
    Last edited by jbphilly; 04-15-2011 at 10:01.

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