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Jesus Trail: Nazareth to Lavi Forest


Route I hiked this day

Route I hiked this day

I grabbed a few hours of sleep riding overnight buses from southern Israel — where I crossed over to visit Petra— to Nazareth, the start of the Jesus Trail. It began at the Church of the Annunciation, the traditional site of the Angel Gabriel telling Mary about her miraculous pregnancy. Reading through the Gospel account while here was inspiring. The supposed location of Joseph’s workshop was conveniently nearby too.

Myself at the entrance to the Basilica of the Annunciation, the start of the Jesus Trail

From that church I then started walking the Jesus Trail, forty or so miles to Capernaum. To leave Nazareth the route immediately went through a market, although on Sunday morning all the shops were closed. So I basically walked through deserted alleys. The stalls probably would have been very similar though to all the other mainly tourist markets I have seen around the world, so I was not too disheartened. From the empty streets I climbed many steps which led up, out of town. Atop along the ridge were some nice views. The path then descended through a neighborhood and a construction site. It was not the prettiest way to leave town, but it at least showed what a regular part of Nazareth was really like.

Then next stretch went through agricultural land, with a lot of trash alongside the trail. Soon I was at Zippori National Park, which encompasses the ruins of an ancient city. I did not explore it though, because I was running very short on shekels, did not have much time, and had seen enough old ruins for the time being. Afterwards was a nice stretch though a forest and past the ruins of an ancient Roman aqueduct.


A flask of the type used in the water to wine miracle

Next up were the cities of Mashhad and Cana. The modern cities may or may not be in the same spot as the Biblical one with the wedding, but that did not hamper the construction of several churches and many more souvenir stands. The Franciscan Wedding Church had an old period water flask as from the water to wine miracle. I never realized truly how big they were, even after reading the 20-30 gallon Holy Footnote (TM) in scripture. The vase was very thick as well, to support of the weight of all that liquid.

I then followed the streets out of town, with many kids waving at me for some reason, just like in Africa. On the outskirts I met a local who was curious as to where I was going. Explaining hiking is hard enough to native English speakers, so something may have been lost in translation, but he seemed horribly aghast as to what I was doing, especially alone. He cautioned me about danger, although I did not pickup if that was from people or animals. He seemed a little dumbfounded that I did not speak any Hebrew or Arabic either. He eventually gave up on trying to figure me out, and I continued on blissfully. I had nice views of Tur’an while passing through many olive trees. It was harvest season and people were picking the olive trees by hand.

Lavi Forest

An olive tree

The afternoon dragged on as the trail made an annoying detour around a military base, and I was getting concerned about having enough daylight to reach my planned destination of Lavi Forest. I hurried through this last stretch and arrived as the sun was slipping behind the horizon. I unfortunately could not find the campground indicted on my map. For some reason that did not worry me much, so I headed to nearby McDonald’s for dinner — not a bad way to backpack. After eating I returned to Lavi Forest, but despite the lights from the highway and a GPS, I never found an official campground. So I instead just found a quiet spot out of the way.