Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hiking in the Carmel Mountains

There were many things going on in Jerusalem yesterday such as the Jerusalem March, which my son likes to attend because the marching Evangelical Christians who love Israel and the Jews dish out candies and souvenirs from their countries to the children, who line the sidewalks, more to get the goodies than for the reciprocal joy of seeing the marchers in their kitchy biblical or interesting native costumes.

But I decided to go hiking instead and get out of the soon-to-be-crowded city. It was organized by an English speaking group called ESRA (English Speaking Residents Association). The hike was classified as being "moderate" but I'm always nervous about heights and those extremely narrow and seemingly dangerous hiking paths that one slip off can land you down a cliff. And there are no railings to hang onto. What is moderate for some people can be awfully difficult for others. As the bus picked up more passengers from Raanana, Hadera, Netanya, I noticed most were older than me - in their 50's and 60's - and some even in their early 70s. I no longer felt frightened of the "moderacy" of the hike and figured it HAS to be on the easy side for these people.

I was quite wrong. These people outpaced me for most of the hike, as I lagged behind among the 1/3 lagging behind. We continuously climbed over rocks to get up the mountain in Wadi Bustan, dodging branches overhead and thorns on our sides. I felt the Fall season as I tread on brown leaves beneath my feet. The Fall season was something I always missed (however briefly) from Canada. I missed walking on these giant fallen multicolored maple leaves. These leaves weren't maple leaves - I think they were mostly acorn leaves, as there were an abundance of acorn and carob trees on our paths. At the end the path was steep and narrow I quipped that only an anti-semite could have drawn up these JNF (Jerusalem National Forest) trails. Three hours later we were on top of the mountain, having our lunch, me looking longingly at the luxurious Carmel Forest Spa across from us. Man - what would I give for a nice dip in a jacuzzi. It was hot and we were all sweaty. The view of the sea was magnificent from the summit and I felt my feet giving way, but fortunately for me others did too. The guide wanted to go another two hours. We had already hiked five. We asked him for a shorter route. That would take an hour. The way down the mountain was more pleasant and I was jealous at these sixty-something men whizzing by me effortlessly. The guide told us a story of Beit Oren kibbutz which loomed high in the hills above us. In 1947 they assisted in getting Jewish detainees out of the British Atlit prison camp on the coast. Hundreds of them escaped, some hiding within Beit Oren.

Later that evening I finally showed up at my door and my eyes were terribly bloodshot. My teen kids danced around me excitedly hugging and kissing me and laughing - "Mommy's smoked a joint! Mommy's smoked a joint! YAYYYY!!!" that I thought if I had taken out an ounce of weed out of my backpack, nothing would elate them more. But I had no such goodies for them or for myself for that matter.

Whatever happened to getting excited over going out to eat at Burger King?


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