The last time we stayed in this moshav, we had a number of feast days wherein we would stroll the afternoon away wandering through the neighborhood. We have not had so much time this visit… until today.
Last night as we discussed what we might do today, we decided to drive to Ein Kerem to hike a trail that I spotted yesterday as we came home. Then, around noon today I asked about doing that and Marie, the experienced member of the team, having lived in Israel for 8 years, said, “No, I think the Israeli Trail passes by the front gate. Maybe we just walk out there and see how far we can go.”
So, we loaded up with water, strapped on shoes or boots and set out on another adventure!
At the entrance to the moshav, Marie veered off to one side and found a very nice sign with a regional map and information, which she already knew from multiple hikes in the region, on trail markings! Interestingly, the trail is called the Trail of Holy Ones. My mind immediately started rolling around the above verse from Isaiah 35. Only after I read it in full context and understood that the trail begins at the northernmost border of Israel and runs all the way to/through Jerusalem and on to Eliat that I realized the potentially great significance!
So we began to follow the trail while I made a mental note that if we had the energy when we got back, I wanted to hop the fence to an abandoned hotel across 395 from the moshav entrance that has not been completed since the late 90s. Something about that property intrigues me….
So we began walking on a trail that seemed well marked and wound right through vineyards, orchards, deep woods and, at points, quite rugged terrain.
Just yesterday, we ran into Glenn and Amanda in downtown Jerusalem. They attended the 3rd Congress where we initially met them and in conversation both there and in Jerusalem they talked a bit about their hike through Israel on the trail that in many places has obliterated or nearly invisible trail markers. Maps exist like the one Marie had in her pocket, but the markers are nice comfort to keep hikers on the (not so) straight and narrow.
As we walked, Marie pointed out many different things with her broad knowledge and experience in the Land and among the people. Once she introduced us to the trail markers, we took pleasure in finding them as we went. A major construction in one part had removed the markers for then Trail of the Holy Ones, but a side trail led us on with a different set of colors. Because we were not headed to a particular destination, the switch in trail was fine and we kept walking.
Once we were a great distance into our walk, we decided to turn around and head back. Near that point we stopped to discuss a spur that went steeply up hill, guessing that it was a short cut that would lead us back to 395. We consulted Waze and Marie’s map before taking the plunge. The farther we went up the hill, the more narrow and rougher the terrain got, but it drew us on until we could hear cars. We pressed on choosing at each fork the way we though most likely to get us back then suddenly popped out at a large gap in the fence surrounding the back of the abandoned, or seemingly so, hotel!!
We wandered around part of the hotel until we figured out there was someone working back there. We were not sure what his role was, but suspected watchman for the equipment and numerous piles of building supplies on the site. Maybe someone is going to do something with the place though our host claims it has changed hands multiple times in the last decade with various parties who have big plans but never finish… we felt compelled to stop and pray for the place as a possible site for Ephramite presence in the future. Marie made the interesting observation that the graffiti on the walls is like the labels others try to put on our unfinished ‘building.’
After praying, and more pictures, one of our group noticed a car pulling up to the gate. We suspected that the watchman had called someone, so we headed toward our entry point. As we scooted along, Marie spotted a very small hole in the fence which we quickly scrambled through and found ourselves almost at the entrance to the moshav, next to where our hike began!
We strolled back through the neighborhood excitedly discussing the walk, events and spiritual connections. The whole walk, about two hours long, was good exercise and a refreshing connection with the Land in a manner quite different than driving through to get to the light rail or other parts by car.
Glenn, if you are reading, you and Amanda have an idea with potential serious Messianic implications!! The Highway of Holiness indeed needs to be well marked!