Jesus Trail, Israel
Day 02 (Cana to Arbel)
I woke up early today at 06:00 (I had to get an early start since I had a lot of kilometers to cover today – I was originally planning on hiking the Jesus Trail in four days, but the trail was in such a dismal condition with all the mud that I decided I didn’t want to spend four days on this trail; so I cut it down to three and today I hiked what I had planned to do in two days), got ready, filled my camelback with water, packed my bag, and then exited the guesthouse at 06:50. I then hiked through Cana and out to the olive groves east of the town. I then entered in to some lovely woods, though only briefly, before coming back out in to pasture lands and rolling hills (this is not without beauty, but I enjoyed the forests more). As I hiked down to Highway 77 near Tur’an (not sure if this is an Israeli name or a Vulcan name), I lost the trail (I had been following the red-marked trail with an orange dot to signify that the Jesus Trail followed the same path; I kept on following the red-marked trail and didn’t notice that the orange dot had disappeared). After realizing my mistake, I continued down the highway and then walked east on the side of the road before seeing the Jesus Trail again; I then crossed the guardrail and a ditch before coming back on the trail. At this point, the trail had become very muddy again. I continued on the trail, passing Highway 65 and a stream that obviously had been polluted by gasoline, before coming near a gas station (no doubt the cause of the stream’s pollution). As I neared the gas station, so much mud was sticking to my sandals that they doubled in size and had risen a few inches; the left sandal’s back-strap’s velcro had already become useless and now the right sandal’s back-strap had given way. Once I reached the gas station, I made the decision to switch to shoes (this turned out to be a great decision) and I tossed the defunct sandals in the rubbish bin. While at the gas station, I also had a small lunchtime meal of candy bars and beer. When I was ready to continue on, I rejoined the trail, walked through some beautiful forests, and then crossed Highway 77, coming in to farmland. I hiked by a Jewish cemetery and – after leaving the crops behind – the trail actually became a trail (I was no longer hiking on roads). This trail was a nice change for a short while, but it too was muddy and overgrown with vegetation; also, there were tons of caterpillars feasting on the vegetation and these caterpillars were covered in spines (thus making the move to wear shoes a very wise decision). I had no choice, in many parts of the trail, to walk through the caterpillars and on top of them (they were everywhere). I continued on the trail and soon reached the Horns of Hattin, a volcanic hill where a famous Crusader battle took place, when Saladin defeated the Cruisader forces in 1187 AD. From the Horns of Hattin, I had a great view of the Arbel valley and could see the Sea of Galilee (though the view was still pretty hazy due to the lousy weather). I also encountered a family of hyraxes perched on top of the rocks and ready to flee if I got too close (i.e. within fifty meters). I then hiked down the Horns on a steep, muddy, slick, and rocky trail (I was very cautious in my descent). I then reached a road and passed by Nebi Shu’eib (the most important shrine for the Druze religion; it holds the tomb of the greatest Druze prophet, Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, whom the Druze believe to be the father of monotheism). I continued on the road for a while before reaching a muddy dirt road with many pools of water. I followed the road, past more olive trees and past some land with concertina wire and signs posted warning people that there are unexploded ordinances there. The road followed the Nemerim Stream and then the Arbel Stream for a short distance before breaking away; I had to cross a number of runoffs from these streams and at one point I placed my foot down on what I thought was solid sand, but it sank right through, about a foot and a half deep; I imagine that this sand could be classified as quicksand and I was lucky it was only a small batch. The trail then climbed up the hillside and soon I reached the road just outside of Arbel (finishing the trail for today, 30.5 kilometers worth). I hiked in to Arbel and ended up staying at a great guesthouse located on a family farm. I was shown to my dorm room (I had the place to myself, which was nice), I took a much needed shower, dressed in clean clothes, and then relaxed in front of the television before dinner. For dinner, I had a grand feast (probably the best I’ll have in Israel) and spared no expense. The meal was prepared by family members who manage the guesthouse and it tasted fantastic; I had bread with five dips (green olives, black olives, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted peppers), beets, a salad, a mélange of fruits and vegetables, lamb casserole with vegetables, a small pumpkin filled with rice and surrounded by tomato stew (this was on the house), a halva mousse with French-vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, and a small glass of homemade sherry with cherries in it (this was also on the house). Throughout the dinner, I enjoyed a bottle of Galilee Merlot which was a fruity wine that tasted of raspberries, strawberries, and plums. Finally, for a nightcap, I had a beer. After dinner, I settled the bill and the son of the couple who own the farm told me which route to take tomorrow to get back on the trail. I then retired to my room and watched a good chunk of ‘Her’ (a great film) before going to sleep.