INT: the first 140-ish miles

Hi wonderful people! I get bored of formatting my blog posts the same way over & over, so for this first iteration of my Israel National Trail adventure, I’m going with a FAQ-style post. It feels self-promotional & a little ridiculous, but if the trail has taught me anything so far it’s that efficiency is QUEEN & repeating your story (& your steps, if you get lost!) can be exhausting. So there you have it. FAQ it is.

What the heck are you doing? Attempting to walk 600+ miles (1000+ km) north to south from the Lebanese-Israeli border to the Egyptian/Jordanian-Israeli border along the Israel National Trail (INT). I started in the north @ Kibbutz Dan & will end in the south in Eilat.

How long is this crazy thing going to take? Probably 45-60 days depending on how many rest days I take & how much I walk each day. Right now I’m averaging 15-20 miles per day, but not all those are “trail miles,” some are extra miles because I got lost, had to walk to & from town, or was tourista-ing at a stop along the way.

Won’t that be, like, really hard? The trail is no cakewalk & walking nearly a marathon each day is not easy, but it’s pretty remarkable what the human body can do. Ten days in & my “trail legs” are starting to come through for me, carrying me up & down valleys, ridges, mountains, etc. far more smoothly than they were a week ago. (Though not gonna lie, I’m taking a rest day today & it feels like I got hit by a truck).

Are you doing it alone? Kind of, but not really. I started the trail with Michelle, a 22-year-old American that reached out to me thru the INT online forum. We didn’t know each other before we began, but went up to Kibbutz Dan together & started the trail together. She only had time to hike for a week, so, unfortunately, our time together was short. Impossible to know who I’ll be hiking within a week (or month!) but there are so many good people on the trail & friends are made quickly. I feel so far from alone.

Where do you sleep? Most nights we stay at the home of a trail angel “מלאך” (a person who lives along the trail & opens up their homes to hikers “shvilistim”). Sometimes this means sleeping in their guest room, other times it means sleeping on the dead grass outside a kibbutz pub…but it seems to ALWAYS mean meeting incredible people. The generosity of strangers continues to awe & humble me.

What do you eat? Tuna, tahini, halva, dried fruit, nuts of every kind, rice crackers, (melted) chocolate, rice, oats, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, peaches, SO much coffee & tea, & everything else we can find along the way (popsicles, pomegranates, mangos, wine, burgers, homemade meals from trail angels). Hiking 15-20 miles a day turns you into a food-consuming machine. I’m probably eating 3000-5000 calories a day & am still hungry. All. The. Time.

What does it look like? Check out photos on FB or Instagram. The north looks a lot like Napa/Sonoma/Los Altos Hills. Rolling vineyards, winding rivers, epic vistas, & small forests.

Are you safe? Contrary to the media’s portrayal of Israel, the state is as safe as can be. I always feel exponentially safer here than I ever do at home.

Best moments so far? Meeting & getting to know so many people (mostly Israelis), especially Michelle & Eran. Cruizing along the Lebanese border at sunset in a Jeep. Swimming in the Kinneret & ancient Roman springs after long days of hiking. Drinking coffee & watching the sunrise over the Kinneret. Taking an afternoon break at a winery on the trail. Experiencing the serendipitous, wonderful way that the problems I encounter on the trail work themselves out if I give them time & patience.

Not-so-great moments so far? Losing the trail in orchards. Reading the map wrong & having to back-track up steep sh*t we just climbed down. Sleeping in areas w/ tons of noise & light. Trash on the trail in urban areas.

What’s next? Right now I’m taking 24 hours to recuperate, sleep in my “own” bed at our family friend’s house in Ra’anana, get some psudo-parent time from Dorothy & Nim, celebrate Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) tonight with their family, swap out gear, do laundry (I smell like an elderly sheep or something disgusting), & put on a face mask (#bougie). Tomorrow I’ll head north to where I left the trail yesterday & continue hiking towards Haifa & the Mediterranean.

Anything else? Nope. Trail life is simple & wonderful & consists of endless days of being fully present, exhausted, frustrated, joyful, hungry, & fulfilled. Onward to the next 100 miles!

XO Cass

P.S. Photos can be found on FB & Instagram. I’m available via my Israeli # on iMessage & my American # on WhatsApp. If you’d like my Garmin link to track my hiking each day, reach out & send you it.

 

 

2 comments

  1. Nancy and Jim · September 30, 2019

    Like I said ,you are one amazing beautiful
    Young lady, I can proudly say I know you and have raised Orion with you and your family,

    Would feel safer if you had a dog with you🐾🐾 🐾🥰

    Like

  2. Pingback: INT [belated] gear review | earth to cass

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