We woke up with the sun at 6:30 AM but didn’t crawl out of bed until almost 8Am. Surprisingly, legs were a bit soar even though we only walked 10 miles. Thankfully, like yesterday, today is mostly downhill as we continue in the direction of the Sea of Galilee. After making breakfast at our accommodation, we set off at 9:57AM. It is slightly overcast but not to the point where it is dark￼￼￼￼. Mount Tabor is now behind us and was hidden from view for much of the day. Today we are have a very nice hike ahead. We will cross the valley through some farmland over to the Horns of Hattin, where we will ascend the saddle and then drop down to a town called Arbel which is the gateway to a national park guarding the entrance to the Sea of Galilee.
Most of the morning we walked through the Lavi Forest. Israel was mostly denuded during the Ottomoman rule, when a tree tax was imposed which led to felling of most trees. Israel is busy replanting their forests though. Lavi Forest has a farm where 100,000 saplings per year are raised and then people are invited to “plant a tree with your own hands.” Underneath the relatively young forest canopy, wildflowers were out in droves.
After leaving the forest, we crossed a valley/plain used for agriculture. There was a kibbutz we passed along that offered an opportunity to replenish water. The soil is soft and rich and gets a lot more traffic from cows than people, which by the way makes for a very treacherous combination, between the cow patties and the hoof holes. Thankfully it is not raining else the two would become one and we would have to sludge through “sludge” if you know what we mean. It is really nice hiking on a sparsely travelled trail. Most of the great footpaths of the world are relatively crowded. This is a nice change of pace. It will probably get discovered some day, and has lots of potential for further rerouting, signage, etc as happens when trails become popular. Here is a picture of our first view of the Sea of Galilee, the horns of Hittin, and the Arbel cliffs.
From there, we left the gospel trail, which skips the horns and heads straight down to Arbel, and instead followed the Jesus trail up over the saddle between the Horns of Hattin. The horns are a volcanic formation of historical significance because they mark the location of the defeat of the crusader armies by Saladin the Great, marking an end to the crusader period in 1187AD. There is much to the story, but essentially he set fields on fire and the crusaders weighed down in their armor were unable to effectively flee. The nearby caldera is also home to the tomb of Jethro, the holiest site of the Druze, an Islamic sect that lives in Israe and is waiting for the Messiah, who will be born to a man. Since no one knows when it will happen, the men wear pants with dropped seats to catch the baby if he is born to them. We skipped the tomb. From the top of the horns, there was a really nice view showing basically the whole trail. To the left of where Porter is standing below you can see the Northern end of the Sea of Galilee where Capernaum is located, and on the right off in the distance is Mt Tabor (barely visible) near Nazareth ridge.
When we were in the plateau right between the two horns, we left the Jesus trail and ascended the Southern horn, which is the taller one (never pass up on an easy summit) and made our way down to a marker on the other side which has a possible location of the sermon on the mount (the traditional one is on the Northern end of the lake at the mount of beatitudes).
After making our way back up and over the summit, our gentle downward trail became a steep descent towards the Arbel cliff. We met back up with the gospel trail and followed a road right into town where the guest house we are staying in is located. Shortly before arriving, Cheerio awoke from her 4 hour nap riding in the backpack. Maybe she is jet lagged still? It literally began raining the moment we entered our room, a few minutes before 5PM. God is good!!
Hike the Good Hike,
Sherpa and Porter (and Cheerio)