Tag Archives: hiking

Going at my own pace

23 Mar

Shalom from the Mifar Gvanim night camp! So far I’ve walked 91 kilometers this week. After Moa we headed to the very very very small town of Sapir. We stayed across the way from Sapir in a “Bedouin” style night camp…I use the word “Bedouin” lightly since there was a large restaurant there we could eat anything from a hamburger to pizza (Israeli style of course). I opted for shnitzel. Oh and there was cold drinks! My apologies to those who are on the east coast experiencing more snow. It’s been almost 100 degrees here everyday and anything cold feels magical.

From Sapir the trail (and us on it) headed west for Mitzpe Ramon. I write to you one day away from reaching Mitzpe one of my most favorite places in all of Israel!

I think one of my biggest lessons this week is to be ok with going at my own pace. I hate feeling “behind.” My Mom has often reminded me I was a late adopter of walking in general. I think I didn’t start until I was almost 2. But she also tells me that once I started I never wanted to stop. So here I am walking Israel!

Over the past week some of the people who were keeping my pace left the group so I had been pushing myself to keep up with some of the faster hikers. I even left one morning so early with them I didn’t drink coffee. Big mistake. I was miserable trying to keep up and also miserable without any caffeine. Not to mention that it was a challenging day on the trail in general.

So I finally decided I needed to empower myself to feel comfortable to go alone and be at my own pace. So I ripped out all the pages I don’t need of my trail book and started to study the pages I do need. I got more comfortable reading the map and how to know who is before me and who is behind me. Most important not to day dream when I’m alone so I keep track of the shvil signs.

I’ve had two glorious days going at my own pace with meeting new folks and not making myself crazy to get to where we are camping and sitting around for hours. I’m enjoying being with the trail more and my much stronger arms and legs as opposed to worrying about keeping up.

Today as I result I got to see a little small pool of water in the desert, which is like finding gold and spent a nice time chatting about parts of the Haggadah and permaculture with an ex religious man who has recently joined our group. And going at my own pace also means I still have some energy at the end of the day! Erev tov (good night) from Givanim night camp!

Body and Soul

16 Mar

I’m about to complete my first week on the shvil and as I was walking this morning I reflected that I spent a lot of time this week worrying about my body. Could my body really handle 10-12 hours of walking and hiking 6 days a week? Will my knees hold up? (I’ve had two knee surgeries on my right knee.) And lucky me this first week was also my time of the month so there was all of those logistics as well. (Hope that wasn’t too much information.) A few things pulled me out of my worrying this week.

First, a member of our group shared that it was good to take off your shoes and dig your feet into the sand. This allowed my sweaty feet to not only dry, but also he suggested it teaches my feet where I am…thus, informing my whole body where I am and what I’m doing. I loved taking the time to really feel the earth below my bare feet. The desert sand cradling their aches and cracks as well instructing them how to manage the ground.

Second another member of my group gave me some essential oil to rub on my knee, but he said I couldn’t just put it on without intention. I had to slowly rub it in and spend sometime loving my knee. This was a challenge since all I wish was for my knee to work like a healthy knee, but I finally opened myself to the ritual. I rubbed the oil and said thank you to my knee for holding me up while I’m on this journey. I also asked it if it could hold it together for the next several weeks. 😉 (And beyond!)

Finally, yesterday (Thursday) I decided to give my body a break and take a rest with a few others from my group and do a bit of a shorter route to our camp that night. So I stayed back and as a result two hikers not from our group appeared at the campsite and it turned out to be the author of a book I read about the trail in the fall. Whenever I meet an author of a book I like or an actor/actress I love I always get a little giddy…ok a lot giddy! So I met Judy who wrote, “Walk the Land” and her husband John. More about them here. I chatted with Judy about her story and her process for writing her book. And definitely I thought it was beshert (meant to be) that I gave my body a rest.

John and Judy gave a group myself and four other women a ride to road 90 where we caught a bus for a couple of kilometers to Kibbutz Yotvata. I didn’t have any chocolate milk (Yotvata is the chocolate milk capitol of Israel), but I did have a cappuccino and a sandwich. 🙂 Then we took out our map and forged our own way to the night camp and the Israel trail. Five hours later…(so maybe it wasn’t the easy day I had hoped for) we arrived to the Israel trail and then the night camp feeling incredibly proud of ourselves. Along the path we forged we saw amazing views and crystals amongst the rocks (perhaps one might be coming home with me even thought I know you are not suppose to take rocks from the land.)

I think I’ve come to realize that there is only so much worrying about my body I can do and focusing on nourishing my soul actually takes me out of the worry. Being open to beshert moments, sending love to my body, connecting to the ground I am walking is soul work which I think ultimately leads to a good and healthy body.

And also…while at Yotvata I picked up some Advil. 🙂

This afternoon we head into Shabbat. We will camp by two streams and I will have traveled around 90 kilometers by foot. If you are following me on the map I will be just north of Kibbutz Neot Smedar.

Shabbat shalom from the shvil!

Beginning the Journey

14 Mar

Shalom from the Israel National Trail (Shvil Yisrael)! So far I’ve walked or hiked (cause the trail is definitely not flat and paved) from Eilat to Timna National Park…around 56 kilometers or around 36 miles. The first few days have been beautiful and challenging. I’m not one who loves “first days.” As one of my best friends reminded me we didn’t become friends until the second day of college. There has been much to get used to…no bathrooms, no seamless, no bed at the end of a long day, and a whole new group of people to get to know and learn how to give and receive help from.

Now a few days in I am used to a lot of it and developed routines. I know now when to take my first break after starting the trail in the morning (about two hours in), who from the groups walks at around my pace, and what I need to do to keep my little tent from blowing away at night in the desert wind. One night I did loose my camping chair to the wind, but luckily found it the next morning and now I know if I’m not sitting in it something heavy better be.

The walk itself so far is gorgeous, magical, and definitely hard. There have definitely been moments where I basically have been rock climbing and then there have been moments where I am surrounded by the most magical enormous mountains who feel intimidating and full of strength and comfort all at the same time. I have been singing the words of Psalm 12 often.

I find the downhill the hardest, which I have realized makes sense for life in general. When things are going downhill that usually means things are not so good. So here are a few tips I’ve learned:

1. Walk sideways – sometimes it’s better to take it slow and zig zag as opposed to going down with the path.

2. Keep a soft body- when you tighten up it feels like the trail does too and instead of flowing with each other it’s as if you are opposing sides better to try and relax into going down.

3. Face the mountain – when you are on the side of a steep downhill facing it is better and makes it way less scarier.

4. Trust the downhill- I’ve come to realize my body does not want me to fall so I try and trust that it knows what to do to keep me safe.

Lastly, this group that I’m walking with is called “Walk About Love.” To me this has come to mean I’m doing a walk about love for Israel and I try and keep that love in my heart as I walk so that I remind myself that my feet are on holy ground.