Off-Roading in the Lower Galilee



We own a ten year old Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado). Israel is a wonderful place to go off-road. There are many superb trails that range from beach front sand to rocky mountains. On the holidays, we put our family in the truck and pick someplace interesting. This year, we took a trip to the Gilboa mountain and the Yisaschar River. The news reported that it might rain lightly in the morning, getting hotter as the day progressed. Perfect weather!

We missed a few milestones on the Gilboa, mostly because it took us some time to get used to the guide book. Once we understood that indeed, 300 meters is 300 meters and not 5 minutes, we were able to find the correct turns and enjoy the scenery. The Gilboa at the end of the summer is brown and dusty, but the views of the Jezriel valley were very very nice.

Our next step was to cross the valley and pass over the Yisaschar River. Now most of the time, this river runs dry. Since there was some light rain the night before, there was a few inches of water at the base. To get there, we needed to drive down a hillside. About a third of the way down, it started to drizzle. No problem, we said. Its just a light drizzle.

Half the way down, the drizzle turned to a hard rain and the mountain became slick. The car did not want to stop and we basically slid about 20-30 meters down the hill. (see the picture for the skid-marks). We decided to wait it out. The rain stopped within 5-10 minutes and we all got out of the car. The hill was still to slick to drive on. We surveyed the rest of our hill and the way up the other side. The river stayed steady, but we do have to worry about flash floods in this area.

After about 15 minutes, the ground had started to dry out, and we were hearing thunder over the hills. The sun was out, but it looked like the clouds were coming our way. I felt that if we didn't get out of there soon, we might indeed be stuck.

The passengers all went to the other hill (no sense putting all your eggs in one basket) and we slowly skidded a bit and then found traction. The river was easily fordable, but there was a 4 meter incline on the other side. It was mostly rocks, so it should have been less slippery that the loose soil that we had just passed.

Our first attempt failed. We could not get enough traction to pull the truck up the hill. For the second attempt, I backed it up and made a run for it. We got farther up the hill, and I kept the wheels turning. We slowly pulled our way up. The rest of that hill was easy.

At the top of the hill was a mesa, with loose soil and small rocks. The rain held off for another 15 minutes, until we found a partially paved road. Then the skies opened up. Torrential rain on a hilltop in the galilee means very strong winds. The rain was blowing sideways. Once again, we waited it out and within about 10 minutes, the rain subsided. The fields were white with standing water.

We took the paved road to an access road and went home.

We love off-roading and this trip was lots of fun. The excitement and tension certainly added to the experience.

Have a happy holiday,
Elliot and Leiah

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