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Begins: Oct 17, 2016
Date: Mon, Nov 28th, 2016
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Trip Distance: 638.0
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WATER IN THE NEGEV
*CAVEAT: I hike 35k+PER DAY AND I KNOW HOW TO MANAGE MY WATER
IN THE DESERT. NOT EVERYONE CAN WALK THROUGH THE NEGEV WITHOUT
CACHES. DON'T BE STUPID AND DIE. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. I COULD HAVE MADE
A MISTAKE. A FAUCET COULD BE BROKEN. A SPRING COULD BE DRY. YOU
COULD MAKE A MISTAKE. DON'T BLAME ME!! USE THIS FOR HELP BUT ALSO
DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK.
The following is how I did the Negev without water caches. This includes no
use of private caches or taxis or spending any $ $ $ . The guidebook goes
through this in the preface but it's a bit confusing to me as it goes by
days, not mileage and obviously we all hike at different speeds and miles.
Also, it incorporates private caches or taxis and also doesn't mention a
couple springs which run year round and have clean water.
If you can hike about 30k a day then you can easily do the Negev without
caches. Literally from day 1 of my hike people were warning me about having
to cache in the desert. Eventually to get people to leave me alone I would
lie and say I was going to cache. No one believed you could hike without
caches including the other hikers I met on trail. I'm not the first person
to hike without caches, it's been done by plenty of other hikers. But to do
it comfortably I think you'd want a light baseweight and be able to cover
30k a day. It's still doable otherwise but you'll be carrying a lot of
The one nice thing is that every source, except 2 natural "bonus" springs,
are faucets so water is guaranteed. There's no guessing if water will or
won't be there. To me, this meant I could arrive at the water source with
very little to no water left. There was no risk that there would be no
water like say on the Hayduke or Arizona trail where you are making an
educated guess at times as to whether the natural source will have water.
Then I have to carry a bunch of extra water to the source in case it's dry.
I thrive in the desert (versus the cold where I don't do as well) and
typically carry much less water than most people. The maximum water I
carried between sources was about 5 liters. You may want more!!! Don't base
your needs on mine. This excludes many times when I walked out of a water
source late in the day and carried my maximum capacity of 7 liters and
camped a few K's later. That way I had plenty of water overnight but
started hiking with just 4-5 liters. That's why I say I only carried a
maximum of 5 liters. The extra water was just at the end of the day when I
only had to walk a half hour with the max capacity.
Weather-wise I had reasonably warm temps and also very nice moderate temps.
For several days leaving Arad it was 85F+ and quite hot in the direct sun.
Later in the hike it was mostly in the 70sF. I'm assuming you are not
hiking this in the summer.
Lastly, don't bother with any sort of water treatment, it's basically dead
weight. Other than the 2 bonus springs which are natural, every other
source is a faucet.
Note: The numbers are the KM markers per the GPS track I used. These may
change as the trail gets tweaked, but the distance between should be about
the same so you can tell how far each carry is below.
598: Arad - Big town with everything
621: Be'er Efe Quarry. This is about 2k off trail down a high grade dirt
road. It's possible you could get a ride from a worker. The water is a
spigot INSIDE the fence/gate. If you plan on arriving on the weekend
(Friday/Saturday) I've seen conflicting information as to whether the gate
is opened. The guidebook author tells me that it is open only weekdays from 8-5.
659: Small crater camp, military base. You'll see the base from afar with
its high antennas, circle around on trail to the short access road and then
walk up the road to the small installation. There is a small water tank for
hikers, this was empty when I arrived. I walked to the gate and a military
kid came over, took my bottles and filled them all. There are always people
on duty here so if the tank is empty you still should be able to get water.
There is actually a huge sign on trail pointing to the installation for
water so I believe they will always fill your bottles whether the tank is
full or not. The guidebook author tells me that the soliders have been ordered not
to help hikers and to not rely on help if the tank is empty. This seems a bit strange
since there is a big sign pointing to water at the military base but who knows.
680: Oron quarry. Water from spigots, picnic tables and shade shelter.
Outside the gate and available 24/7.
711: 6k off trail detour to Ben Gurion (village). There appear to be 2 main
routes into the village. I took the northern route which worked and was a
pleasant enough walk. I walked out the southern route, took the green trail
into the Reserve and hooked back up to the INT that way. It was very nice.
The village is nice, everything is in one small cute plaza. The small
grocery had everything and was reasonably priced.
723: Ein Shaviv - This natural spring was flowing out of very dense
brush/trees and therefore people couldn't get at it to ruin it. This srping is not guaranteed to be running.
I easily filled up with clean water from the tiny running stream. The spring before this one (Ein
Aqev 715k) was flowing off a small cliff face into a small pool and the
only way to get clean water would be to swim across the pool and get it
where it flows in. People swim in the pool, I wouldn't want to drink from
the pool but if warm enough you could easily swim across and get water, however the Hebrew language forum says the water is salty and not drinkable. Ein Shaviv is good still.
759: Mitzpe Ramon - Large town with everything. Grocery is pretty big and
prices are good.
782: 2.5k detour off trail to Beerot Khan camp. Technically I cached water
on trail here since I was with a friend from Mitzpe and we drove by
sightseeing so I didn't have to walk to the camp. I've been told the camp
has a spigot and is guaranteed water. There was no need to cache water
other than it was convenient and saved me 5k roundtrip.
819 & 826: Sapir and Tsofar, respectfully, both small villages. Sapir is
closer to the trail (about 1k off) and you can walk in the back gate
through a pedestrian gate. Sapir had a small grocery where you could easily
top off your resupply. Prices were more than a big grocery but not bad. I
didn't go into Tsofar but it's a village with a small grocery and water.
848: Paren (village). This was the one hitchhike I did for water. I got
rides both ways within minutes. Highway 90 is about 1k off trail to hitch
from. Paren had a small grocery where you could easily top off your
resupply. Prices were more than a big grocery but not bad. There were no
other shops in town. This hitch broke up a 60-70k stretch without water
which is why I did it.
889: Shitim but it's really the Desert Ashram. About 1k off trail. Water
here and they serve meals. I was there for lunch. It was all you can eat,
35 shekels, vegetarian and delicious. I don't know the schedule of
mealtimes. Cool place to chill for a while, everyone was hippy and super
friendly. Their website requests that you don't enter with any meat, tuna, etc and definitely don't take it out of your pack if you have it hidden.
903: Shizaton junction. Water at the restaurant. Food was typical for
Israel. There's really no grocery here as I had read. The restaurant sells
wine, olives, homemade ice cream, pie, expensive stuff like that. I asked
about a grocery in nearby Neot Semadar and was told there isn't one.
924: Shaharut. Tiny kibbutz is just slightly off trail. In the center is a
shade shelter with spigot. The guidebook author says that the villagers
have requested that hikers do not come into the village for water and instead
get water at the Camel rider place 1k north. Apparently there have been
issues with the number and behavior of hikers in Shaharut.
952 & 958: Timna park visitor center (952) and restaurant (958). The
visitor center had free wifi and was nice. There are ice cream bars, soda
and snacks for sale. The guidebook says that if you arrive when it's not
open you can't get water. Not 100% sure about this. The grounds are not
fenced off, you might find a running spigot or something but I didn't
check. The restaurant at 958 free wifi and has outside spigots which I
would assume are accessible 24/7.
965: 3k detour off trail to the village of Be'er Ora. I didn't go but water
available in the village. Also supposedly a small grocery.
988: Year round spring which feeds into a concrete trough. Water was clear,
cold and good for drinking. I don't want to know if people wash their socks
in this but I was happy to have the bonus water.
1,002: Eilat. End/Start of trail. Big city with everything.
Israel National Trail
The 620 mile Israel National Trail stretches from the waters of the Red Sea to the Israel-Lebanon frontier that offers a chance to discover Israel's people, history and culture on the country's less-traveled paths. Learn more: www.israeltrail.net
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