A personal account of hiking the Israel National Trail

The centerpiece of the Nifgashim Beshvil Israel project is a hike that spans the entire length of the country from Eilat on the Red Sea in the south to She’ar Yashuv, 1000 kilometers to the north, and the site of a 1997 military helicopter crash. If you do the entire hike it takes two months. It attempts to follow the path of the Israel National Trail, which has been listed as one of National Geographic’s 20 most epic trails, a hike that in itself is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

However, the Nifgashim project is much more than just a hike; it is a “traveling kibbutz” and a “walking seminar.” It brings together a disparate cross section of Israelis for an extended dialogue on fundamental questions the country faces while hiking in the most nurturing setting of all –nature.

The great news is that the sweeping panoramic views of the Negev were truly exhilarating. The normally barren desert magically explodes each spring into a miracle of color, blanketed in red poppy anemones, bursts of electric yellow buttercups, and regal purple lupines.

The Nifgashim project brings the middle, reasonable segments of the populace closer, generating hope as they explore ways to unite, not divide, the country.

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