Day 33: Tzuba to Neve Shalom
Day 33, April 1: Joyce and Idan's feet are both screwed up. They are both taking days off so I'm hiking alone for the time being. Left Tzuba and went down nice valley with towering mountains - then I had to climb them. All pine forests but nice somehow - also some cypress. I think the mixing in of other trees helps. Some spectacular views of Judean mountains before leaving them. Got to Neve Shalom and was going to push on to Latrun which I can see 1.5k away but there is a good camp spot here and doesn't look like it would be as good there. I think I will cut out (bus/hitch) the section after Ben Shemen forest until Tel Afek - it's all next to a major highway. If I do that I will be in TA on Sunday and go to Ranana that night. Also probably cutting out a section of walking in TA streets/beach which doesn't appeal. All this skipping parts seems a little wrong somehow but I don't think they'd be so enjoyable. Camp: Neve Shalom picnic area.
Physical problems continued for everyone but me. I felt like I was leading some kind of charmed life, but really the difference was probably that I had been hiking a lot for a year and, through shorter backpacking trips, had given my body a chance to get used to hauling all the weight around.
The wadi leading down from Jerusalem, Nahal Kislon (I'm guessing at the vowels, which aren't included on my Hebrew hiking map) was another gorgeous spot. It opens up down onto low hills and the coastal plain, which is where I was headed. It seemed to have a fair amount of biodiversity along with the prevalence of JNF pines; maybe the recent trends in tree-planting in that article I mentioned earlier had something to it.
Neve Shalom ("Oasis of Peace") is an intentional community of Jewish and Arab families, a very unusual experiment and a small counterpoint against the prevailing tide of separation, suspicion, discrimination and downright racism.
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