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INT: Kibbutz Dan to Jerusalem

    This trail is hard. Really hard. If you don’t get roasted by the sun or run out of water, there are enough memorials along the way, who will made you really depressed.

    Go to a bus station, an intersection, gas station, whatever, and ladies and gentlemen in green remind you all the time, that you didn’t choose the most peaceful land to hike in – you will find even empty clips and still working bullets right along the trail. Insects and thorny bushes will make you look like a junkie in no time.

    And this is just the beginning.

    If you plan to do the trail in groundskeeper style, this is of course possible. You just need like 1k of friends, a fleet of heavy garbage trucks, let’s say 50 of them, a transport helicopter, capable of heavy lifting, would also be reasonable (there are car wrecks, furniture and so on directly on the trail).

    Some of your friends need to have a special formation in the area of trash recovery, otherwise you and your friends can get poisoned easily. If you earn your money in recycling, you will walk around with the dollar sign in your eyes. With the “wild catch” of trash alone, you can fill massive recycling plants for years.

    Need some tons of recycled paper base? Although some people have a special relationship to their land around here, even in religious ways, LNT is unheard of. To be fair, the American way to practice LNT is impossible here. To bury your poop, you would need one of these – not really practical for hiking.

    So people just plant white blooms. Everywhere. The JNF invests probably 100s of millions every year, to improve the landscape. They plant entire forests and build really nice pick-nick areas. And then the public trashes them. But it goes even further. People here plant white blooms even around remembrance sites – for victims of the shoa or fallen soldiers. To walk through white blooms to read the name of a victim of the holocaust is a real troubling and sad experience.

    The trail is used by entire groups of youngsters. Apparently their teachers/guides do not enough to teach them LNT. There is a solution: Use water to clean yourself instead of toilet paper. With an organization so well equipped like the JNF, it should be possible to raise awareness. My personal idea would be to include a “poop-kit” for free with every purchase of a tent, sleeping bag or other outdoorsy products. This would at least address the problem of white bloom.

    As a long-distance backpacker, if you get caught in the US while littering, you nearly have to flee the country. Everybody will hate you, good luck if there is a picture of you on social media. Here you feel like an idiot when packing out your trash.

    The landscape itself and the trail are just breathtakingly nice. If they manage to get the trash out of nature, they will soon need a permit system like on the JMT. Before somebody has the good idea of fingerpointing: There is trash everywhere, regardless around or in which community.

    People are also really nice. It is possible, that you get picked up on the street while on your way to a shop and abducted to a nice home, where they offer you all the services you need.

    Camping is also no problem. In the north I asked the security guards, if I can camp outside their fenced communities. Now I just put my tent up in pick-nick areas –  nobody shows up during the night in the bushes – of course, leave it better (but again, if you don’t have 1k friends at hand, you may have to work for one week or so until you see a difference).

    It is a good idea to read some books about the second world war prior to travel to Israel. You will understand the circumstances here better but no, you don’t need to have your personal solutions to the conflict here.

    To put it mildly, neither the IDF (Israel Defence Forces or as activists named them: IOF, Israel Occupation Forces) nor the Palestinian armed groups (or what is left from them) will get a special price for their exemplary conduct according to Geneva conventions or the land war treaty of the Hague anytime soon. This has consequences in every aspect of life here, although at the moment the situation seems to be more relaxed than five years ago – armed security guards at the bus stops are busy studying their smartphones.

    Seen from another perspective, both sides could improve the security of their people simply by introducing and enforcing traffic rules. Everybody here drives like a Formula 1 driver, bus drivers included. The lonely planet wrote this years ago.