by Heather Hammerling, MITF Netanya
During a heat wave in May- my roommate Annie and I decided to hike the yam l’yam trail. This is one of the most popular hiking trails in Israel-it crosses the country from west to east, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. The trail is typically done in 4 days, however we only had 3 days free to attempt it! We did not finish the entire hike, however we came pretty close and had a really great time in the process. We started walking at around 8:30am each day and ended at 5pm on day 1, 7pm on day 2 and 2pm on day 3.
Since neither of us owns a tent, and our decision to do the hike was a bit last minute we had to think quickly. Luckily, a family in our neighborhood had a six-person tent available for use. Our original group was 3 people, so we thought it wouldn’t be too crazy to carry a larger sized tent for three days. However, after our third person left-we realized that the heavier tent was maybe not the best choice. It turned out to be fine, and we were quite cozy in our “mansion.” For food, we packed trail mix, dried fruit, apples, dried oats (which we successfully learned how to rehydrate), peanut butter, pita, crackers, wraps and hummus and veggies. The hummus and most of the veggies had to be eaten by day 1, leaving us with mainly peanut butter, wraps and nuts for the remainder of the time. Since we were constantly moving our bodies, it was really important to keep ourselves hydrated and well fed. We had enough food to get us through, however by the end of day 3 we were down to the wire. Since it was extremely hot and our only options to refill waters where at the end of each day, we had to pack close to 6 liters each. Our packs where really heavy, but got lighter as the day went on as we ate more food and drank. Packing for three days of hiking with very little experience is a challenge, and we learned a lot of important tips for the future!
Day 1: Akhziv beach through Khziv river to Abirim
We began in the city of Nahariya on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast. We took an early train that morning and began walking around 8:30am that first day. It was extremely hot that day; luckily we came across a beautiful spring (Ein tamir) where we took a nice break and could cool off a bit. Afterwards, we had a bit of a climb towards the road, which led to Abirim. Luckily we made it, met some nice people along the way who helped re-navigate us and refill our waters! We arrived at our campsite by 5:00pm, pitched our tent, ate dinner and went right to sleep.
Day 2: from Abirim, through Elkush bridge to Hirbet Hamama
This was the hardest day of the trip, due to the terrain, the heat and our bodies already being pretty tired. The trail markings where very confusing at the beginning of the day and we had a brief encounter with a boar, however we made it out ok! We had the option to stop at a gas station in the middle of the day, which was great because it allowed us to get some Air conditioning and refill our waters. The most difficult part came at the end of the day, when we had to climb toward Hirbert Hamama. The area was near a spring, so there were tons of flies and we literally had to climb up rocks to reach the top. We pushed through and found our campsite at Hibert Hamama. We reconnected with some of the families we met along the trail, ate dinner and rested our weary bones!
Day 3: from Hibert Hamama, through Meron Peak
We started our day with a climb to Mount Meron Peak- the second highest peak in Israel. It was a pretty pleasant climb, and the view from the top was amazing. Since we knew we were not going to make it all the way to the Kinneret, we decided to pick a reasonable stopping point after we got to the top of Mount Meron. From the summit, we began to descend and passed several Hotas (caves). We stopped for lunch at the Ein Zeved spring and made our way to a camping/parking site called Henyone HaPitul. This was where we finished our hike.
While this hike was mentally and physically challenging, Annie and I had SO much fun. We would have loved to have made it to the Kinneret, but being novice hikers and not having a fourth day made that goal a bit unreasonable for us. We were very happy to have accomplished what we did! Being outside for three days and being surrounded by the gorgeous Israeli landscape was truly magical.