Thursday Feb 18th
Something eerie was in the air last night in Ein Yahov. Even the animals felt it. All night long, dogs were barking, sheep were blatting, roosters crowing. And to top it off, a pack of coyotes were growling and howling not twenty feet from our tents. They weren’t growling at us but we were a little spooked all the same. And then a car pulled in and sat there with the lights shining on us, and then left. It was just one of those weird nights. When morning finally came we were both tired and rattled and wanted to get back to the trail.
We packed up and headed north on the little used road. I packed all of the road scavenged peppers, plus 2 eggplants, an avocado, the oranges, a grapefruit, the tomatoes, the onions and the cabbage. I know… totally nuts. (I sometimes wonder if I was a starving street urchin in some other life to account for my sometimes over the top “waste not, want not” philosophy).
Even though the little road was called “the peace route”, the scenery was uninspiring. We ditched the idea of walking back to the trail and caught a bus instead; now we are happily back hiking the Shvil. Within minutes, we were totally immersed again in quiet isolation. We have enough water for three days so we are good.
This area is completely uninhabited. We have not come across any thru-hikers (yet on the trip so far) and we have not even seen a day-hiker for ages. We did pass a herd of camels. We thought they were wild until we saw a couple of surly looking young Bedouin boys ride over the hill on their donkeys. When they hopped off not far from us and started cruelly beating one of the donkeys, I was horrified and wanted to go over and say something. But I didn’t. I figured they could see that we were two old ladies on the shvil and I was acutely aware that we could be easily findable later if they chose. I didn’t want to give them any reason to want to find us. We just left. I don’t know if I was being cowardly or smart. I felt very bad for the donkey and kind of disappointed in myself. It made me remember that while we feel
completely safe and all the Israelis we met have been wonderful, we are in an area surrounded by conflict and people with very different values. It’s easy to forget here in this beautiful land. I was happy to be far away from those mean boys by night time. We are settled in for the night somewhere in the desert. It is peaceful and quiet and I am breathing easy.
Friday Feb 19th
It was an 11 hour hiking day. Tomorrow we will push the last 18 kilometres to Arad as we don’t have enough water to make another day. Jennifer’s toes and back are better but her knee has really been giving her a lot of pain. It’s slow going with a bum knee but she soldiers on.
At one point, in the heat of the day, she was resting under a rock ledge. I was sitting across the wadi writing in my journal when 4 wild dogs crossed right in front on me, leaped up to the ledge close to where Jen was resting and trotted on their way. They didn’t notice or bother with either of us, though it did get my heart beating a little faster, regardless.
The terrain is changing. There is more green scrub and the rolling landscape in this area actually has the feel of the Scottish highlands. For several hours we picked our way through kilometres of a rock strewn wadi in gale force winds, our eyes scanning the wide expanse as we searched for a trail marker. They are easy to miss and a couple of times today we lost it and had to rely on the compass. I never thought seeing a little orange, blue, and white strip of paint would make me so happy.
When Jen’s knee could go no further and darkness was imminent, we happened upon a cave. At first Jen was nervous as she had read that one tenth of the caves in Israel are infected with some sort of bat transmitted spores that cause a lung disease but there was no evidence of bats and no suitable place to pitch a tent. We decided to hunker down for the night. It is a small cave with a big opening at the front. As we cooked our supper, cozy and warm, with the wind blowing stuff all around outside, we began to love our little cave.
The peppers are all gone but I have to say, eating 20 peppers over the course of a couple of days does interesting things to your bowels.