Day 59: Ramot Naftali to Kfar Gil'adi

Day 59, April 27: Already very hot in morning. Full view of Hermon for first time. Hard rock scrambling in wadi and bathrobe battalion. Feeling sick and no urge to hike more. Will rest a few days and play the last 2 weeks by ear. Tons of section hikers out just as it's getting too hot to hike - all religious dudes. Hot and very humid. Helpless penguins tried to speak Yiddish to me. Got to Kfar Giladi - hummus and shoko. Camping on lawn. 12k to Dan. Can't believe it. Still feel wiped out and will go to Nazareth to rest some.


The second to last day of the hike. It was starting to get so hot I realized I didn't want to hike anymore - it was feeling like the previous summer when you could barely step outside. I was taking frequent breaks - basically whenever I found any shade - and the hike was becoming a slog. I think this may have also been due to my year-long trip coming to a close at the same time as the hike.

Bizarrely, I met a huge troupe of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) hiking down a wadi as I went up. These guys are the pastiest, whitest dudes you can imagine; put them in different outfits and they would not look out of place at an anime convention. Not only did their physiques give away that they hadn't been outside in forever, but they were decked out in their normal outfits of bathrobes and formal shoes even while scrambling over rocks and through thickets. In retrospect, it would be easy to believe I'd begun hallucinating from the heat.

Later, it got even weirder. Another posse of them showed up and started trying to ask me stuff in Hebrew. This wasn't working very well, so the guy, hearing that I spoke German, tried some Yiddish. I had never really heard much Yiddish spoken before, but in this case at least, it was utterly indecipherable, regardless of all the German and Hebrew I knew. It seemed these guys were looking for some friends, and, going ahead and assuming this batch belonged with the other batch, I tried to gesture "your buddies are over there!" One of them borrowed my cell phone (it seemed like he was the only one that knew what he was doing with one) and yelled at his friend on it for a while. They finally took off, looking totally lost and helpless.

They didn't even have a map or extra water! This is actually no joke - apparently ultra-orthodox kids die on a somewhat regular basis because they head off trying to hike in the unforgiving middle eastern climate, and they don't bring enough water and end up dehydrating. Education is needed...but then, any education that isn't directly Bible-related would be of pretty great benefit to these cult-like groups.

I finished up close to the end of the trail with a short day ahead of me. I splurged and got some hummus and Shoko (chocolate milk in a bag - better than it sounds, and Israelis love it) for dinner, where the restaurant staff merely displayed a jaded act of being impressed by my journey. I guess they're used to people having walked all the way from Eilat, although I think people that have done it pretty much in one go are a lot less common (Israelis take advantage of how close home is, and take breaks from the trail liberally, as I found out along the way).

In one last classic Israeli moment, I was told I could just camp out on the front lawn anywhere I wanted. While laying in the hammock that night, I wrapped up the Book of Malachi. Reading the whole Hebrew Bible on the trail - almost as good as finishing the whole thing, I guess! I later finished up Revelation while sitting in the churchyard at Tabgha after hiking a bunch of the Golan Trail.


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