TRAVEL
Mountains are just perfect for hiking families

BY LYDIA AISENBERG

THE vast Carmel mountains are a natural magnet for hikers, bikers and families seeking to spend quality leisure time with nature.

Families usually schlep a large supply of picnic nosh.

On a recent sunny, but cold outing with the family, an already deep appreciation of the work of JNF-Keren Keyemet LíIsrael was further enhanced after walking trails suitable for the extended family were undertaken, conquered and thoroughly enjoyed.

To be honest there was a bit of kvetching expressed here and there as we took on a beautiful area of the Hof HaCarmel Forestís scenic route.

However, with an abundance of on and off the beaten track rest areas with drinking fountains, tables and benches and glorious views over the agricultural communities and beautiful beaches of Habonim and Dor below, an extra glass was raised in honour of JNF-KKL.

Stunning views from the none-too attractive chimneys of the Hadera power station and magical Zichron Yaacov to the south all the way to the outer suburbs of Haifa impressed even the youngest among the Aisenberg and Luz families, most of whom are Israeli born.

But, being extended Israeli families, the older generation hailing from Iraq, Romania, Russia and this writer from Wales, we are as much a mixture, but just as well integrated, as the natural Mediterranean trees and bushes are with the massive numbers of their man-planted green neighbours all around.

At its highest point, Mount Carmel doesnít hit more than 550 metres above sea level.

However, the beauty on the western side, overlooking the coastal plain and breathtaking views on the eastern side over the Zevulun and Jezreel Valleys have been upheld as a symbol of beauty since Biblical times.

Memorial groves, trails and picnic areas one comes across while walking the highways and byways atop the afforested Carmel heights are often named after special people who lost their lives serving in the Israel armed forces, or were exceptional leaders either in Israel or the Diaspora ó or brutally mowed down in terror attacks in Israel.

An open book for remembrance, and for the older folk out and about enjoying nature with the younger generations of their families, an opportunity for not just remembrance but also reflection, discussion and explanations to the younger generation about those special people, places and events that should never be forgotten.

The trail we took is situated in one of the oldest parts of the forest and known as the Ron Trails, created in memory of Reserve Colonel Aviel Ron and his children, Ofer and Anat, who lost their lives in the Hamas orchestrated suicide bombing of the popular Arab-owned Matza restaurant on the outskirts of Haifa in 2002.

Aviel Ron was one of the developers of the Merkava 3 tank and was awarded the Israel Defence Prize a decade before he was killed.

At the time of his death, he was director of the Ministry of Housing and Constructionís survey and mapping department.

A second memorial in the familyís name is situated near Kerem Maharal, a moshav situated inland, nestling between undulating lower hills of the Carmel range and visible from the Ron Trail above.

A sign at the entrance to Kerem Maharal informs visitors that the moshav was established in 1949 by a group of Holocaust survivors from Czechoslovakia.

The moshav is named after legendary 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalal, who is also known by the Hebrew acronym of Maharal ó Moreinu HaRav Loew, that would translate as Our Teacher, the Rabbi Loew.

A walk in the Carmel National Park also became a history lesson in wooden signs and stone.


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