* Good to Be Back on the Israel Trail

Segment 24 – Even Sapir to Horvat Hanot 

On just a week’s notice, I gathered a small group of hiking friends, and took to the Israel Trail once again. We picked up the trail near Moshav Even Sapir, just outside Jerusalem, where we had finished a previous hike some two years ago.

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The autumn day was crisp and comfortable for hiking, and provided clear vistas as we traversed the hills and valleys.

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The first segment of our hike was along the Springs Trail in the Aminadav forest. We passed many springs and pools, some dry and others filled with water. Definitely a place to return to on a hot summer day for a refreshing dip.

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A view of Hadassah Hospital (Ein Kerem) from the trail.

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Playing peek-a-boo in the rock formations.

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Upon reaching Horvat Saadim, a small nature reserve noted for its oak and carob trees, we found the site overrun with several busloads of Israeli Scouts from Jerusalem on an outing. No stopping here. We continued on the trail through the Honorary Consuls Grove of olive trees, and then descended steeply, but just briefly. We landed and continued on a wide and easily-hiked dirt road. But the trail soon turned off and took us down a long and very steep descent that I had not anticipated.

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Descending with a view to the Refaim Valley.

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At the bottom, we stopped for a breakfast break of sandwiches, fruit and nuts.

Moving along, we crossed Nahal Refaim, passed under the train tracks , and then began climbing our way back up, along Nahal Kobi.

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Halfway up the climb, we stopped to catch our breath, and I finally got into a photo.

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Almost at the top, near Ein Kobi, we chanced upon two swings hanging from the trees. Time for some fun!

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More fooling around at Ein Kobi.

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Ein Kobi.

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Leaving Ein Kobi, the trail continued with easy hiking for a while in a pine forest, and then emerged onto the open agricultural fields north of Mevo Beitar.

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We were a bit surprised to discover that the trail indicated on our map was not the same as the one marked by the actual trail blazes. It seems the local  farmers have gotten the trail modified to accommodate their vineyards and fruit groves.
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After several attempts, we finally found a wild date tree whose fruit was ripe and edible.

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Finally, we crossed Route 386 near Tzur Hadassah, and began the final stretch of the day’s hike.

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Horvat Dorban ruins, north of Moshav Mata.

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Descending from the ruins on the hill, we again encountered clusters of Israeli Scouts, and had to weave our way past them. We also had to weave our way through some interesting trees.

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At the palm tree grove at the Mata spring we encountered more scores of Israeli Scouts, from Tel Aviv this time. Shlomo could not resist his natural inclination to play with the kids, and pulled out a magic trick.

Karen, you’re almost there!

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The network of trails from the Mata spring up to Horvet Hanot were so full of hiking Scouts and families that we simply followed the crowds back to our waiting cars.

The hike was longer and a bit tougher than I had expected; I should have done my prep work more thoroughly. But all in all, it was a wonderful day out on the Israel Trail.


See the complete set of today’s photos  on my Flickr site.

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