In Which I Fall Head Over Heels. . .

into the rocks of a mountain in the Shomron, that is.

On the first day of Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the Sukkot holiday), we went with friends on an organized hike through Nachal Shiloh. We hesitated about the security, the length (four hours!) and the possibility of rain, but decided to go ahead. Being invited to our friends’ sukkah for a barbecue afterward didn’t hurt.

The hike began in the settlement of Peduel with 136 people, divided into two groups. From Peduel we hiked down to a nachal (creek, dry in this case– I’m not sure of its name), then up to the ancient city of Tzredah, and back down to Nachal Shiloh and the road, where a car awaited to take drivers back to Peduel.
The hike was rocky and slippery. Even though it had rained in the morning, the sun was hot and there was little mud. The kids enjoyed seeing this turtle:

Near the top of the hill an Arab man drew water from a well, using a rusty bucket. The guide said the water was safe to drink and at least one person refilled a bottle.

We sat under some trees and the guide told us about Tzredah. Tzredah is mentioned in the Book of Kings as the hometown of Yerov’am ben Nevat and in Pirkei Avot as the hometown of the sage Yossi ben Yoezer. Tzredah means the middle finger and the rock formation above the city juts straight up into the air. She advised that children not go over there, because of pits. My husband elected to stay with the two small ones.

The guide explained how archeologists who had come from the wrong direction had missed the distinct topography, and mistakenly placed the settlement of Tzredah in the valley below. But the shards found in the valley turned out to be non-Jewish and from a different period. Then a second archeological team, coming from another direction, identified the spot correctly.

Evidence of settlement in Tzredah
The guide introduced us to a geologist who happened to be on the tour. He explained that Hitler failed to capture Yugoslavia, out of all of the countries of Europe, because the topography was identical to that of Tzredah. The geological terms used to describe the landscape come from Serbian. Whoever rules this area cannot easily be defeated; the geologist referred to it as “topogarchy.” (I could not find any mention of this term on the net.) Tanks can’t ascend, nor horses — even donkeys even have a hard time. Goats manage fine, judging by the amount of excrement.

In order to capture as much water as possible and prevent soil erosion, the ancient and not-so-ancient peoples living here built terraces on the hillsides.

We stopped in this cave before starting down.

On the wall of the cave:

Nachal Shiloh

It was a long way down. The guide warned us that it got a little tricky after the beginning. It was more than that. At one point about halfway down there were large rocks with gaps in-between. I tripped over something, banged my leg into a rock, and tumbled over on my head into a gap. I called out but no one heard. I knew my husband and four-year-old were not far behind, along with a few others. When they caught up they helped me stop the bleeding. After resting a few minutes we all continued. Our friends, who were already down in the creek bed, saw we were having trouble and directed us to an easier descent. There was no path and the rest of the group was already at the end. Eventually we made it to the road and my husband was ushered into the car back to Peduel.

Your injured correspondent couldn’t resist this last picture:

With a half hour lag between the first and last arrivals, and more than one possible path, someone should have been appointed to stay in the back. Had I fallen down unconscious, I might not have been missed until everyone got to the road.

On that cheerful note, I’ll save the rest for another post.

Continuation: Sukkot in the ER


  1. Yikes! Glad you’re OK. When I lead hikes I always have a co-leader who actually leads while I take up sweep. Not only do I get to go at a nice leisurely pace, but I’m there if anything happens.

  2. Yikes! I’m glad you’re alright. I’m really surprised they didn’t have someone at the back of the group to make sure everyone got down safely.

  3. Lion in Zion says

    water from a rusty pail. yum.

  4. glad to hear that you’re okay. sounds like an interesting hike.

  5. looks nice. but what was that on the wall that you took a picture of? it is not a clear picture…

  6. That sounds scary. How are you feeling now?

  7. Yikes! So much for an “organized” tiyul. Next time stick to this place:
    We had a blast there yesterday and the most dangerous thing that could happen is you can get lost in the shrub maze or bump into a butterfly.
    My husband was very impressed with how organized and unimprovised it was. To quote him: Who said Israelis can only do “chaplap” things?

  8. Oy, how scary! Glad you’re OK! At least you got some good pictures from the experience đŸ™‚

  9. Thanks for the good wishes. YOu can read the continuation in my newest post:
    Sukkot in the ER”>Sukkot in ER
    Abbi, when I looked at that site all I could think of was how much water it must take to maintain it.

  10. mother in israel says

    Rafi, there were unusual rock formations in the walls and ceiling of the cave.

  11. Actually, they have a lot of signs about water recycling all over the place. I don’t think it’s that much more water than running a zoo or a cucumber farm.