Segment 19: Ganei Yehoshua (Park Hayarkon), from West End to East End
Having returned to Israel from the USA just a few days prior to hiking day, I did not know how much rain had fallen in the preceding week. I soon realized that trails everywhere in Israel were too muddy to hike. So I implemented Plan B: instead of hiking from the western end of Park Hayarkon all the way to Hod Hasharon as planned, we would exit the trail at the eastern end of the park, in the Ramat Hahayal high-tech business park.
By the way, Park Hayarkon is officially called Ganei Yehoshua. That is also the name of the company that operates this park as well as the Menachem Begin Park and the Abu Kabir Nature Park on the south side of Tel Aviv. See the Ganei Yehoshua website (in Hebrew only).
Our Israel Trail hike thus became a stroll in the park, on a cool but sunny winter day. For the most part we walked on asphalt and packed-dirt paths. The trail become soft and muddy only at the very end. While the others walked on an adjacent paved path, Cindy, Ruthy and I braved that final section – a narrow path lined by tall grasses and reeds – and briefly enjoyed the sensation of being on a hike out in the country.
Walking through Park Hayarkon on a Shabbat – especially on a sunny day after a stormy week – meant we shared the lanes with throngs of walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists. Certainly we could have walked faster and more energetically, and easily completed the 8 kilometers by 10 a.m. But that was not the point, of course. The pleasure is in pausing from time to time, to contemplate the views and become a bit more intimate with the scenery.
Since this was an urban hike, I found myself focusing on the signs that have been posted to protect nature from humans, and humans from one another. Some of the signs seem silly, but upon consideration, I find it sad that the particular (or peculiar) Israeli culture and mentality warrant the need for such signs to keep Tel Aviv and its population clean and safe. The first sign of the day especially illustrates this point. Alongside the parking lot at the Reading Terminal parking lot, in search of a public toilet, we spotted this sign:
Sign pointing to the nearby Dog Park under Bird’s Head Bridge (Ayalon Highway), so called because an aerial view of the confluence of the Yarkon and Ayalon streams at this spot resembles the profile of a bird’s head.
I guess it was too chilly, or still too early in the day, for “mangalistim” in the park. When they want to grill their kebabs and steaks, this is where they’re supposed to do it. I wonder why someone vandalized the sign. Perhaps it was an animal lover?
A Hebrew play on words. Walking for health. Walking the health trail. Whichever, I certainly agree. These billboards appear to provide useful information, but I’d just as soon not see advertisements (Clalli health fund and Superpharm stores) in the park.
In many places along the trail, pedestrians and cyclists share one lane. While hiking we noted many machos on wheels riding recklessly, showing little or no concern for the walkers and runners, as if the pathways belong exclusively to the riders. Rachel and Miri were deeply engaged in conversation throughout the walk, but managed to stay out of harm’s way.
Funny how a trash bin cannot speak for itself. A sign needs to remind people where to put their garbage.
As we left the trail and returned to our cars in the Ramat Hahayal, we passed the ultimate sign of urban culture – a MacDonald’s restaurant. Noting the M shape of the fencing around the seating area, David remarked how it easy it can make something aesthetically pleasing, rather than ugly – all it takes is a little thinking.
And finally, the best sign of the day seemed to have been arranged especially for me. About 40 minutes into the hike we chanced upon a team of marketeers gearing up for some Ganei Yehoshua promotional activities. I got so excited when I saw their sign. They were so pleased with me, it seems, that they gave me a Ganei Yehoshua cap! While I was busy taking pictures with the park mascot, an orange and unidentifiable creature, Yuval chatted with one of the organizers, who introduced himself as the General Manager of Ganei Yehoshua.
And of course, I was always happy to see my favorite sign:
See the complete set of today’s photos (Flickr).
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