As a little kid, I remember hearing about the Golan (GO-len) Heights and the war that was going on there.
While hiking the Israel National Trail, I heard about the Golan (go-LON) and how beautiful it was. It's the northeastern part of Israel and it was the scene of a savage tank battle between Israel and Syria back in 1973. Remnants of this war are everywhere and the actual boundary between Israel and Syria is still disputed.
I decided to see for myself by hiking the Golan Trail and I loved every step of it. I started on Mt. Hermon in the north and hiked south to Ein Ofek at the south end of the Sea of Galilee.
I took a million pictures along the way. Here are some of them:
This is the official 'start' picture. This sign is in the parking lot of a ski resort on Mt. Hermon. The entire trail has great signage - often in Herbrew AND English.
The blaze for this trail is the green, blue and white. You can almost always see the next blaze from the one you are at. I carried no map with me and never got lost.
The trail is divided into 15 sections. Each section starts with a huge sign like this. I just took a pic of the map at the start of each section and I was fine.
Lots of these signs, too. Sometimes on both sides of the trail. There were lots of remnants from the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Bunkers, tanks and minefields are all reminders of the violence this area has seen.
Not sure what this was but I did not dance upon it.
A local guy told me that a mine went off here but they didn't know why. These are anti-tank mines. Not to be messed with.
Because of the elevation, it gets chilly in the mornings in the Golan. It felt GREAT.
Bunkers, like this one, surrounded by trenches, are at the top of almost every mountain. You can go inside and explore all you want.
Had to stop for lunch here. How could I not?
There are four Druze villages on the slopes of Mt. Hermon. Very friendly folks.
Cows are not usually a problem on the trail. I just yell and clank my trekking poles together and they move. This giant bull, however, was guarding this heffer and would not move. When he lowered his head and kicked up dirt with his hoof, I went around.
Me with my cool Moosejaw shades. Always in style.
Syrian tank from 1973. It was awe inspiring to look out over the Valley of Tears and imagine 800 of these things rolling across.
Cannibal locusts! There was a road covered with these bugs. When cars ran over them, their buddies would jump out and EAT THEM. Then, THEY would get run over and their buddies would eat THEM! It was a gruesome scene.
Despite the typo, I get it.
I think this was a T-72.
Beehives and windmills.
Looking over the border to the Syrian village of Sha'af El Kabir.
Only 60 clicks to Damascus? Dang...
More bunkers and trenches.
If 'trespassers will be punished', then why does the blaze send me that way?
Sunset over the Sea of Galilee.
I almost cowboy camped on top of this thing. The view was amazing but it was really windy and I was 500 meters up. Didn't want to lose anything.
'Finishing' pic. Really enjoyed this trail.
I admit that I had some trepidation about hiking this trail. I even posted about some of those concerns here. I must say, for the record, those concerns were completely unnecessary. Nothing bad happened. Everyone I met was super nice. The scariest thing that happened to me was that, sometimes late at night, I could actually hear bombs and .50 cal gun fire coming from far away. Other than that, the trail is completely safe, well-blazed and a pleasure to hike.