Segment 21: Mitzpeh Modiin to Latrun
My emails, phone calls and conversations over the past few weeks produced a group of 17 people ready to roll on the Israel Trail this morning. Here, then, is my account of our first hike:
6:45: Quick introductions in the restaurant parking lot at Latrun, regrouping into 3 cars, and shuttle to Mizpeh Modiin in Ben Shemen Forest.
7:29: The GPS (“the Garmin”) starts recording.
7:33: We misread a trailblaze and turn off the main road onto a footpath in the forest. It’s not a serious mistake, and actually takes us on a more pleasant route through the woods for 5 minutes.
8:08 (2.4 km): After climbing and descending several hills, we emerge from the Ben Shemen Forest. We head through the olive groves.
8:15 (3 km): We are moving at a good pace. I call out time and distance according to the Garmin. As we cross through the wheat fields, I see that people are mingling and chatting, and becoming acquainted.
9:00 (5.8 km): We reach a hilltop, Hirbet Regev. We enlist a passing mountain biker to take our group photo. He gets a great shot!
At this point we have hikers who are hungry for food and those who are hungry for more kilometers. Those in need of nourishment win the debate.
9:05 (6.1 km): We make our breakfast stop in a shady pine grove at Hirbet Bet Anabe. A 20-minute pause. Just right. We head down and across Nachal Anabe, under the new railway and highway 431 bridges, and hike alongside a ramp under construction that leads into Ishpro business center. Not idyllic, but we’re talking-and-walking and simply pay less attention to the visuals at this point.
10:15 (10 km): We pause at Hirbat Neches. Great vista point. We can see the Latrun Monastery in the distance. Avner pulls out a harmonica and a few sheets of lyrics, and we enjoy 15 minutes of music and harmonizing with nature and each other. Leora passes around a bag of Bamba. (I understand she made a special shopping trip to get it once she and Yoram decided, only yesterday, to join the hike.)
10:45 (11.6 km): The trail puts us on the road leading to Kibbutz Shalavim, but soon turns onto a dirt road (a Keren Kayemet “Derech Nof”) that takes us through a pleasant grove of pine and eucalyptus trees. At this point Leah’s back is hurting and she slows down. Yuval and I, Yoram and Leora slow down to wait for her and Shlomo. Meanwhile Avner calls to say he and Saraleh have held back to connect with friends who joined up with them near Ishpro. The pack is well ahead of us.
11:30 (14 km): We are pleasantly surprise to find the pack waiting for us in a shady spot. I assume they’ve been there for 10-15 minutes. Within minutes, Avner and Saraleh arrive with newcomers Reuven and Ziva.
11:40 (14.8 km): We cross under Highway 1, and then walk alongside it for about 1.5 km. As before, we walk-and-talk and ignore the non-picturesque aspects of the trail at this point. On our other side is an expanse of farmland in which melons are starting to grow.
12:00 (16.3 km): We begin the final, easy ascent towards Latrun. We reach the reservoir.
12:10 (17.2 km): At the junction, we elect to take a shortcut back to the parking lot rather than going around the Armored Corps Museum and down to Route 3 before returning to our cars. (We’ll do that piece next time.) The pack goes ahead while I wait for the tail-end to arrive.
12:20 (18 km): I come up to the picnic area where our hiking group has assembled and announce “17.8 kilometers”. But after downloading the Garmin data to my computer, the software shows a total of 17.97 km.
Aside from Leah, no one seems to have had difficulty with the ascents, descents or distance. Nor did anyone verbalize any complaints. So I hope that means everyone enjoyed the hike and was satisfied with the pace and the company.
I came home, showered and took a good 2-hour nap. Wasn’t really hungry until dinner time.
Please add your comments, in Hebrew or English.
נא הוסיפו הערותיכם, בעברית או אנגלית