Day 41: Zichron Ya'akov to Ein Hod
Day 41, April 9: Nice walking through woods on Carmel but some more trail-marking issues early on. Map jerking me around before end, promising bathrooms where there were none. Mosquitoes also out early. Many have told me mosquitoes are not a big problem here. BULL SHIT. North of Nahal Mearot, trail vanished into what I realized far too late were waist-high STINGING NETTLES. Unreal. I am going to hunt down the members of the Israel Trails Committee and kill them one by one like a horror movie. Day ended with quality microbrews in Ein Hod and a good night in the hammock.
On this day, I entered a world of pain. The trail ran along the eastern slopes of the Carmel and was tough to follow - lots of the trail signs were hidden by brush or otherwise invisible, and there was often not a clear path. I found myself a good distance ahead of Joyce and, due to my fairly neurotic aversion to backtracking and stopping, I resolved to instead find the correct path, then call her phone to help her find the way.
We got separated and she wisely bailed out for the nearby road, and then...well, I wandered into stinging nettles. The onset of the pain was delayed enough that by the time I realized what was going on, I was already deep in the mass of plants. I pushed through (felt like wading through a lake of fire) and found a fence to hop onto a dirt road surrounding a banana plantation. For the next period of time (I don't know how long) I unleashed a truly legendary stream of profanities, and then decided I had to destroy something, so I kicked over a flimsy-looking banana tree. This was surprisingly cathartic. Sorry to whoever's banana crop I damaged!
The pain eventually went away (leaving no marks but a bit of redness) and, having met up with Joyce, we wound up in the famed "artists' village" of Ein Hod. This was a nakba'd Palestinian town which, after '48, came to be inhabited by all kinds of artsy, hippie types, and has some quirky restaurants and galleries. The brewer in town asked what I liked and, upon hearing "stouts", claimed his stout was the best in the world, but it was out of stock. I vowed to come back for some, but never managed to.
We started to see signs here of the massive forest fire from the previous December - whole sections of forest were black and orange instead of green and brown. During that fire, Ein Hod was one of the towns evacuated as the fire had come right up close to it.