Day 60: Kfar Gil'adi to Dan
Day 60, April 28: This is it. One year after arriving in Tel Aviv. Thought I dreamt last night that it rained on me a bit but woke up and Bible was wrapped in plastic as I remember doing. Must have actually happened.
Just finished the trail. Spent a while walking in Dan nature reserve and 10 minutes of hiking later, boom. There's one of those info boards, some orange white and blue tires and that's it. Place is a ghost town. Can't believe it - 2 months later it's over. Feeling sick again so now eager to get to Nazareth and have a shower and Taybeh and rest. Rainy weather but views of Hermon at the end. Looking at the map of the whole trail - it's crazy I can look at each part and picture the places and what happened there. And I'm going home in 2 weeks - excited.
The most dramatic part of the day was seeing a sign warning me not to go further because it was the border with Lebanon, and then turning right and seeing a still-snowcapped Mt. Hermon looming above. The giant mountain rose straight up out of the flat Hula Valley, and up there I could see Nimrod's castle and the hamlet of Nimrod where I'd been volunteering back in November.
The entry into Kibbutz Dan was, I already knew, going to be anticlimactic. And sure enough, not a soul around. I just kind of sat around in a weird calm state for a while, remembering all the stuff that had been packed into the past 2 months. Completing a trail like this is really a mental process, and you don't quite know what to do after it's over.
I needed to talk to somebody after finishing, so I called up Taylor (another Jesus Trail volunteer) in Nazareth who encouraged me to come back there for a celebratory Taybeh (that's the only beer brewed in Palestine). I did, and it was good. On the way back down, the people I hitched with seemed underwhelmed by my finishing the trail (at least, compared to what I thought it deserved).
Then, after a brief rest, I headed right back up and started hiking the Golan Trail down from Mt. Hermon, bound south. The first couple days (in the Hermon foothills, and hilly lands after that) were great, but after that, the Golan turned out to be sort of a vast, flat, featureless prairie. I skipped a day's worth of walking, down to the nature reserve and Roman-era ruins at Gamla, in an area where the plateau started to be sliced up by large, beautiful wadis, but at that point two things happened: my Chacos (to which I'd switched after wearing my trusty secondhand hiking boots for the whole Israel Trail) started to seriously hurt me since my feet hadn't had time to adjust to them; and I realized I'd hit my psychological limit for hiking. I struggled my way out of Gamla, feet burning in blistery pain, found a little picnic site by the road, and just strung up the hammock and spent the entire afternoon reading some epistles.
Some young religious guys showed up to do donuts in their car and we chatted for a while, breaking the monotony; then I kept lounging around. Mentally, I was done hiking, to say nothing of the shape my feet were in. I camped out one last night, coming to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be doing the sea-to-sea hike that I'd planned on, and woke up in the middle of the night to find a light spring rain - the last of the season - falling on my hammock. I hadn't even bothered to set up a tarp, but the rain was so light that it didn't matter.
I woke up, pulled my cooking pot out to make breakfast, and discovered a monster-size red and black millipede curled up in it. I'd left my pack open, I guess. This was way too gross to consider using the pot (even in my mind, inured by backpacking to many a revoltingly unhygienic practice), and the pot was just a 15-shekel one from the Nazareth street market, so I just left it sitting on the picnic table. Then I stepped out and took off hitching for the rift valley one last time. My last little while by the Sea of Galilee (the basin surrounding which was all very brown now, well on its way to its summer wasteland state) was spent reading Revelation in the courtyard of the Romanesque church at Tabgha, where Jesus was supposed to have multiplied the loaves and fishes. The Bible finished, I stuck out my hitchhiker's finger for Tiberias and then Nazareth.