Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hiking Mount Carmel

After a night full of small naps, I got up to another beautiful day.

Haifa is full of steep streets. The key to any good walk is to start on top of the mount and head downhill.

Alot of wildlife was up and outside already. Besides the cats, there are dogs running around everywhere.
Just like the Phillipines, except they are more friendly here.
Here is the only picture of a dog I've captured - they usually are always on the move but this one stopped in the street for a photo. Almost was tagged by a bus, too.

The crows here are just as big and loud as the ones in the Pacific NorthWest.
Different markings and coloration, though.

This morning I headed downhill toward the Sea.
I am suprised that most in Haifa I meet on the street don't speak much english, but at least the signs do.

Just before I hit the Sea, I ran into the steep cliffside of Mount Carmel.
I was really worried I'd have to backtrack uphill a few miles, since it doesn't look like a way down from here.
I was headed to see "Elijah's Cave" - where the Old Testament prophet hid from wicked King Ahab and Jezebel, and where he prepared himself to take out the 400 priests of Baal.
There is a cable-car here, but it wasn't running.
So close, but so far from the water.
You can see the weather is beautiful, but it is hot! Hiking back uphill did NOT sound appealing after the half-hour to get here.

As I wandered around the hill, I noticed what look like old stone fences and foundations of homes in the brush and trees.
This land is so old with so much history, it fuels the imagination.

As I looked around, I found a small trail heading out onto the hill. It was covered with trash - there is ALOT of trash around in the bushes and streets here.
So of course I had to see where it went.
There was a small outcrop ahead.

I was trying to be careful where I went, as there is a radar station or something on the hillside above the trail.
I've only seen 1 soldier in the 30 hours of being here but it is best to keep your nose clean and not be foolhardy around anything military.

The outcrop of rock showed another trail to an old chapel, and two machine-gun nests that were abandoned.
Another trail led downhill from the bunkers, and had large, old stones for stairs.
Maybe this can get me down the cliff!

This old trail led through numerous caves. It was very exciting thinking about the Old Testament stories and seeing actual places the old ones went about their travels.
All of these caves were difficult to get into - very overgrown and of course full of trash.

This trail did take me down - alongside cliffs of stone with much older stairs carved and worn into their sides.
So far, headed in the right direction! If I have to turn back here, it is a tough hike up!
Note to self - bring along water next time...
Where are the kids and their waterbottles when I need them!
Soon this old trail hit a dense wall of trees and brush. Nice to get out of the hot sun.
Still headed in the right direction...
The old benches left and decaying along the trail were at least 30 years old. Not much (if any) maintainance since then.

Finally, just above the highway at the base of Mount Carmel, I hit a service road.
This was a great hike - very exciting and of course I was all alone.
Very fun to contemplate all of the history around me, and the beautiful views of the Sea.

And finally, the trail dropped me to the door of Elijah's Cave!
Perfect - in fact I doubt I would have actually found the place on foot if I hadn't dropped down the Mount's side.

The cave was very interesting and definitely worth visiting if you are in the area. I spent quite a bit of time in its cool shade, enjoying the visitors (a whole class of 8 year olds changing prayers).
Being this close to the water, I next hit the beach.
More ferril cats prowling the waste-bins... but very few people enjoying the area.

Here's a nice photo showing the side of the Mount I hiked with the beach below.
The cave is just left-of-center at the base of the Mount.
The breeze was wonderful, and the water inviting. Except for all the trash.
Definitely a place to explore further in the future.