Three days of riding. Three days being out in nature. Three days of camping. Check on all three and off we were for an awesome trip around the Sea of Galilee. This was my first multiday trip with everything on me since that first trip across Israel over 10 years ago, so excitement was high trying to remember that trip.
This was definitely not fast expedition as I was clearly not going into this a touch heavy after looking back at the gear I was taking along with me. Well I’m slowly but surely moving away from the mindset of getting somewhere as fast as possible on the bike and rather looking at the view along the way. This is what bikepacking really means to me, along with the sense of adventure of finding off the beaten track places in my backyard. Although there might be an HLC or bikepacking race thrown in from time to time.
As with most things when you start a new project there are a few bits and pieces that might not go exactly according to plan. Well the first one happened right out the gate as we set off. Luckily it was a mistake that was pretty cool and we ended in the same place we were supposed to in the end. As you might of guessed it was a navigation faux pas. I had started the course on the GPS but we had started a bit before the start. When we got to the “start” the GPS finished, so the course I thought we were following was actually the single track heading out of Tiberias. As I said, it was a happy mistake.
So with navigation sorted it was time to actually get onto the trail and get around this historic lake. For those of you wondering it’s not actually a sea but rather a big lake. This was one of the great things about this route. You see how far you’ve gotten all the time as you look back across the sea, so not only a great view but a awesome sense of achievement you don’t normally get doing point to point rides.
As I mentioned the views really are beautiful and the history of the place is not lost as you pass churches and ancient sites along the way. I really love history so for me this added such a great dimension to the ride. There are stories all along the way you could weave into this ride. We took our time and drank it all in. I am also thinking of rather developing routes around these historic sites. When in Rome as they say.
Summer seems to be holding on with a death defying grip and rain has been sparse. The landscape is still pretty barren and that add’s to the ride I felt. You have the dirt track with the golden brown dry grass dancing in the wind. Silence only broken by your tires crunching over the gravel track. The best thing was that is was still pretty warm which helped as I tried to get my dusty body into the cold water after the first day of riding.
Day two would prove to be the difficult day as we climbed out of the basin holding the lake into the mountains on the eastern side. The route takes you up an old asphalt road so luckily the climb was easier than expected. You climb past the ruins of Hippos, in hindsight I would actually have done the little climb to the site and walked around exploring.
What goes up must come down as you return to the Sea of Galilee. You do pass through a spring where we stopped to have lunch. There is a pool of water but it was just a bit too cold to get in. As you arrive to the northern part of the route you ride along one of the tributaries feeding the lake, zigzagging to get to our last camping spot. We ran out of daylight so decided to camp under some eucalyptus tree’s. They had cleaned out the are so there were branches and we even had a fire for the night adding to the special atmosphere.
The final day was highly cutup as I was uncertain about certain parts of the route so we cut out certain parts on the road. I would also rather next time or recommend to someone else to start with this as day one as it is definitely not the most interesting part of the route, although we skipped the Arbel pass so I might be a bit off here with how interesting it could have been.
All in all for a first trip it went really well. No technical’s helped that end and the weather really played it’s part wonderfully. The conditions were perfect for riding and in the evenings wasn’t too cold. The route I feel could be improved a bit but all in all KKL has done some great work creating a track like this around a beautiful setting.