I know it's a bit late, but here is my take of the Carmel Hike.
On Thursday, some of us met in Zichron Yaakov for a snack before going on to Ramat HaShofet.
After breakfast on Friday morning, we drove to the gas station at the entrance to Ein Carmel to pick up our guide.
From there we drove up to the carmel on route 721. we took the turn towards the Carmel Forest Spa and ended up in Chirbet Rakit. This would be the start of our hike.
The drivers took the cars to the end of the hike and came back so we could start the hike.
At the begining of the hike (after everyone went to the bathroom), we saw the remains of a wine press and a burial cave.
Next we climbed to the top of Har Shokef, which is one of the highest peeks of the Carmel. Along the way we past some cyclists going down the hill.
As anyone knows, what goes up must come down, and we started down the hill. The descent was a bit trickier than the climb. Along the way we past a few European Redbud trees (כליל החורש, Cercis siliquastrum) with their brilliant pink flowers.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, we came upon some cows with calfs.
After a short explanation about how the valley was formed, we made our way towards a large oak tree. The Quercus boissieri usually found at much higher elevations and is therefore unique in the carmel.
We stopped under the tree and had some lunch.
After getting back on the trail, we made our way along Nachal Oren. We passed a few springs on the way.
We also passed a Druze Holy place. At this point the guide explaned some things about the Druze and their treditions.
We ended our hike at 'The Pond'. The pond is a damned section of Nachal Oren that can sometimes be used for swimming, if enough water flows.
We drove back to Ramat HaShofet for a rest.
On Shabat, some people took a walk down to Nachal Hashofet.
Thanx to Craig and Natalee for organizing the weekend.
Pictures from this hike can be seen at http://picasaweb.google.com/gadi.ben.avi/MosaicCarmelMarch28th2008 (Gadi's Pictures)
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8CatmTVs0aNNG (Craig's Picutres)
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2035930&l=c77ca&id=12201107 (Beckys Pictures)