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Aug 17, 2015

Tiyulim in Eretz Yisrael. Tzafon 2015

As I posted on Facebook at the beginning of our recent camping trip in northern Israel, "And God said "go north, in August", and the people did as God said..."

Northern Israel was packed as the people of Israel went to enjoy a hot summer vacation up north, perhaps in part making up for last years "missed" vacation due to the war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge...

We went, with some other people, up north for 3 days and 2 nights of camping. We stayed in the campgrounds of Dagei Dafna.

Dagei Dafna is a trout farm of sorts where people can go fishing or eat in a fish restaurant. They are located a few kilometers away from Kiryat Shmona, next to Shaar Yashuv and Kibbutz Dafna, and across the highway from Chorshat Tal, sometimes known as the Hilton of campgrounds.

Dagei Dafna has a campgrounds close by as well. The campgrounds is nice and clean, with bathrooms and showers. They do not provide electricity and also prohibit music. This is nice in the sense that campers do not have to deal with teens and young adults having late night parties, as happens on other campgrounds. They do provide phone charging stations and some other amenities one might find necessary. Dagei Dafna also has a pool they empty and fill daily (from the river), along with a section of river.

While normally we tiyul sort of on the fly deciding what to do as we go along, based on everybody's moods and abilities, even choosing activities far from our home base, this time we stayed in the immediate area for all our activities. Everything was decided on the fly, but we spent far less time in the car driving to far away hikes or activities.

So here is what we did:

Day 1 (really half a day as we spent the first half of the day driving up north and settling in):
We enjoyed the river at Dagei Dafna for a bit while eating lunch. After that we planned to go to Nahal Snir, which is 3 minutes away. Unfortunately we got there only to discover the place was absolutely jam packed and staff were warning people that it might not be worth paying the entrance fee.

We decided to turn around and find something else to do. We settled on something that we had no idea what it was - we figured we would check it out and see if it is something that would keep us busy or if we should do something else. We had seen people parking lines of cars up and down the road outside an area with a sign that said "Nabi Yehuda" - Judah the Prophet.

We went and found parking. Sure enough it was an extension of the same river and a beautiful water hike. We hiked in the river against the current. The water was not high - the highest we experienced was waist high in a few brief locations, but the current was relatively strong. The water was ncie and cold and provided great relief from the heat.

At the end of the enjoyable hike, against the current, we ended up on a pooled area called "Chorshat Hanoflim". The kids enjoyed sitting around there and swimming. In one corner there was a rope swing set up hanging from a tree and everyone enjoyed swinging and flying into the water.

At some point some of us walked out to the road and decided to walk back, outside of the water, and go get the cars and those of us who had not wanted to hike all the way up. Some mistaken navigation had the walk taking longer than expected, but eventually we made it back with the cars. After some more relaxing and davening mincha, we made our way back towards Dagei Dafna, with a stop next door at the Helicopter Tragedy Memorial.

The memorial memorializes the 73 fallen soldiers in the helicopter disaster of 1997 in which two Yasur helicopters crashed on their way to Lebanon. The memorial is tasteful and interesting, with the names of the fallen displayed, and part of the memorial being designed from grass and trees and the flowing river in an abstract shape of the Yasur helicopter.

After the memorial we went back to the campgrounds for barbecue dinner and finishing off the day. The kids went splashing in the river while we prepared dinner, and finished off the day.

Day 2:
We started off the day going to Kfar Blum for "kayaking", which is really rafting. Kayaking is always fun, though I think we might forgo that activity in future trips and just bring our own inner tubes and have practically the same activity, for free, in other parts of the various rivers. This took a while, as some of us did the longer, more challenging and adventurous route.

After Kfar Blum came lunch, and then we had to decide on an activity for the rest of the day. We chose a tiyul someone had told us about. This was another river hike supposedly very similar to Nahal Snir, but also free like Nabi Yehuda.

We went to Nahal Hermon, in the section that flows near the village of Sde Nehemya. We went down to the river, and hiked, again against the current, upstream. Nahal Hermon, at least in this section was refreshing and with a pleasant current. It was also not high - most of the time ankle or mid-calf height, with the occasional waist high depth. We hiked upstream very calmly. Eventually we hit a spot with a great rope swing and everyone had a blast taking turns swinging over the water, getting splashed and jumping in.

Eventually we hiked back downstream and out of the water and went back to the campgrounds to finish the day.

One of the things we did differently this time was to not try to bring enough food for the entire trip, but mostly just for the first day. We planned on refreshing out supplies daily in nearby stores - in a supermarket in nearby Kiryat Shmona and nearby makolets. Wednesday night we drove into Kiryat Shmona and bought some food and drink for dinner and for breakfast and tiyulim the next day.

When we got back from shopping we prepared dinner, with the kids splashing around in the river. Eventually eating, showering and collapsing.

Day 3:
Thursday morning we went into Shaar Yashuv for morning services, due to the need of a Torah, rather than making a minyan in the campgrounds as we did on Wednesday. Shaar Yashiv has set up their shul during this period so that there can be multiple minyan of campers from all over the area, on the lawn outside the shul, and each minyan takes its turn going into the shul when it comes time to read the Torah.

At the Shaar Yashuv shul, we saw many others from Bet Shemesh, in addition tot he many we saw in Dagei Dafna and on some of the hikes. After davening we took advantage and bought some fresh bread in the local makolet, also sort of saying thank you for use of the shul by spending some money locally.

After breakfast we decided to pack up as we would be tiyuling and then heading back to Bet Shemesh without returning to Dagei Dafna.

Nobody was int he mood for more water hikes, so we chose some easy and low-key activities.

We started with driving to nearby Kibbutz Snir for geocaching in the old abandoned zoo called the slimy zoo. The zoo was dismantled about a dozen years ago, though there are still a couple of peacocks that hang out there and "refuse to leave" (in the words of one of the locals we stopped for directions). The spot is also the location of an old cave and grave that had been used by the Romans as a burial location.

After Kibbutz Snir, we went to Kibbutz Dan to see the fish ponds they raise trout in. They allow the public to walk around, for free, and see the different ponds. We went from pond to pond and saw how each pond is filtered and the fish in each pond are a certain age and size and with each pond that increases to eventually pretty large fish.

After this, in the brutal heat, everyone was kind of tired and nobody really wanted to do anything else. We started to head for home with a detour to Tzfat for a pizza and ice cream lunch to close off the tiyul.

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1 comment:

  1. The beautiful memorial for the 73 soldiers is IMO a failure to everyone but the families. Playing the water, having a picnic nearby, making use of the area would be such a great benefit for visitors to 'enjoy'. IMO, except for the actual grave, Jews in Israel rejoice and look to make a rising of the spirit through 'active' memorials like seudot, hillulot, and donating equipment, even sponsoring events. Instead, this memorial, again, impressive as it is, is meant to just see, remember, and leave.
    Disclaimer: Three of my army buddies died in that accident.


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