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Jul 21, 2013

Tiyulim in Eretz Yisrael: The Wet North

Right after Tisha b'Av we went on our annual family trip up north. This year my family did not want to camp out, so we rented an apartment in Tiberias. The apartment had all the amenities a person might require (beds, fridge, freezer, showers, air conditioning, etc.), so it definitely made the trip much easier, albeit more expensive. Staying in the city was much different than camping. We met people in the shul who were very nice and friendly. There was the ability to get fresh bread at the bakery and stock up on some items at any of  the many minimarkets that dot the Tiberias landscape.

one of the homes nearby had this landscaping done..

the view from our porch

We planned all the hike parts of the trip to be centered around water.

On Wednesday afternoon, after settling into Tiberias, we went down to Nahal HaKibbutzim. Nahal HaKibbutzim is in the Bet She'an area, by Emek Hamaayanot, right near Kibbutz Nir David. From the parking lot of Nahal HaKibbutzim, you arrive at the end of the hike - after a 3 minute walk, if that much, you arrive at a pool of water within a stone wall. Right beside it is a beautiful picnic area. You can walk along the dirt path which is alongside the river and decide where you want to jump in to the river and hike through it towards the end. Start as far back as you want, or as close to the end as you want. Oh yeah, entry is free of charge.
Nahal HaKibbutzim

We walked a bit and jumped in. The water was deep and refreshing. The smaller kids hung on around my neck at that point, because it was too high for them to walk on their own through the river. It was a lot of fun, and the river got shallower fairly quickly. As soon as the kids were convinced they weren't going to drown, they ventured to walk it on their own.

There are some points where the river is broken up by a path crossing. The river continues to flow via large drain pipes. these drain pipes have become water slides. They were so much fun, we went through them repeatedly about a dozen or so times before continuing the hike. Eventually we got to the end and then just enjoyed swimming and splashing around in the square pool area.

I thought this was a cool picture..

Eventually we decided it was time to go. We went back to Tiberias for dinner and relaxation. Eventually we decided to go down to the Tiberias boardwalk for a light show and to see what was going on. The light show, Tiberium, which seems to be posted on many websites, did not happen.

However, all was not lost - right on the boardwalk where Tiberium was supposed to light up the lake was an opportunity to do some Geocaching. Checking the Geocaching website, we found there was an item stashed somewhere on the boardwalk fairly close to where we were. After getting the clues, we went searching, in the dark. Eventually one of the kids figured out where it would most likely be, and sure enough we found it! The cache was a small container containing a log of everyone who has found it. We added our name to the list and placed it back in its hiding spot.
the cache

After that we enjoyed the bustle of the boardwalk. it was a happening spot. There was even a Korean song and dance troupe putting on performances (they were not all that good, but it was fun). The sellers were hocking their wares, the tourists were buying, or just looking, and the boardwalk was a lot of fun.

Thursday morning we got a slightly later start than originally planned. We decided to try another geocache that was located in Tiberias. This one was stashed somewhere in a little park. After searching the entire park, eventually we gave up without finding the item. It was getting hot, and we all wanted to move on. Maybe next time.

After some pit stops, it was time to finally do the hike we have been trying to do for 4 or 5 years. Each of the last 4 or 5 trips up north we have planned to hike the Nahal Meshushim, the Hexagonal Pools, in the Southern Golan Heights, but it has proven to be elusive. For whatever reasons, we kept canceling that hike in favor of other hikes. This time it looked like we were finally going to conquer the elusive Meshusim.

And sure enough we did.

Nahal Meshushim is part of the Yehudiya Mature Reserve. There is an entrance fee, but it was fairly reasonable compared to many of the other hikes we have done. The hike is listed as easy for families, and it mostly was. The hike is about 1.5 kilometers down the mountain. The mountain path is cut into stairs, albeit crooked and uneven, making it relatively easy to hike down. Up would be a bit harder. It took about 25 minutes down, and the attendants at the top warned us that by 4 PM everyone must be out of the water and on their way up the mountain.

Meshushim - the Hexagonal Pool

The pool was amazing, with the rocks shaped into hexagons. The edge of the pool was shallow and good for the kids and for relaxing and cooling off. It gets deep pretty quickly though, so don't swim out too far unless you are prepared for and aware of that. I swam out to the waterfall with my older kids. It was tiring, especially closer to the water fall, as the current is strong, but we sat on the rocks by the waterfall and rested up before swimming back. After that we just sat in the shallow end of the pool for a long time and just enjoyed..

Eventually we left and had lunch at the picnic tables near the entrance. We had actually planned to from there to the Majrasa hike, which is fairly nearby on the northeastern side of the Kinneret. Majrasa is another water hike in which one walks through the river. At this point we changed our plan since we had hiked the Majrasa a few years ago anyway. We decided instead to go to a spring at the bottom of Moshav Migdal called Eyn Nun.

Eyn Nun was simple - not a hike. At the bottom of Migdal there is a path right off the road. You can drive along that path right up to the spring. We bought popsicles at the minimarket at the entrance to the path and then went to the spring. It was a nice pool of water. We sat in the grass eating our popsicles and then the kids jumped in and fooled around. There are picnic tables near the pool, if you want to plan your meal there..

After a debate of what to do next, we eventually agreed to try to make a stop at what has become an annual stop for us on our trips up north. Eyn Ayyoub, also known as the Hidden Waterfall.

We had heard Eyn Ayub was inaccessible due to the heavy winter rains, but we wanted to try anyway to see. We drove back up past Kfar Nachum (Capernaum) and pulled over to the side of the highway. We went down the stairs towards the Kinneret. and sure enough the water of the Kinneret was really right up to the edge. The "waterfall" was mostly inaccessible - no more rocks to sit on, pools of water to splash in, and no place to just relax and enjoy - to get there you would have to swim around the brush and swim up to the waterfall.

for comparison - in 2008 there was plenty of rocky coast
between the waterfall and the Kinneret
the edge of the waterfall in 2013 - not easily accessible.
that rocky coast is now the bottom of the Kinneret

We decided to hang out there anyway - we found a spot on the few feet of "beach" and went swimming in the Kinneret. About 30 or 40 meters out in the water was a rusty metal pipe sticking out - we swam out to it and saw that it was part of a garbage can - in years past the Kinneret was so dry that this was a garbage can on dry land - and after our bountiful rainy winter, even two months later of hot summer, the water of the Kinneret was still so full and the coast so far inland that the garbage can was just a metal pole in the distance. Amazingly enough, the entire way out was mostly shallow. Even at the point of the garbage can we could stand with our feet on the floor of the lake, though it was already starting to get deep. We did not go any further, but then stayed more in the shallow end right off the coast.

That was our trip up north for 2013 - the Wet North...

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  1. I like nature bring my feeling...

  2. can you tell me how old your kids were?

  3. they range from 17 years old down to 22 months


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