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We are by no means out of trouble here in Israel.
Despite a partial withdrawal of troops from Gaza, this war is still in full swing. Every dawn brings new uncertainty. Times like these give the phrase “living in the moment” new meaning. Most days, it feels like we’ve got to grab all of the rays of sunshine we can. We try to enjoy whatever is good about the present. By the same token, it sure is hard to live in the moment when the moment is so dark!
This past week, I had the opportunity to cherish the present – my soldier son had another extremely minor injury and was sent home from the front lines in Gaza. He wasn’t too happy about it. But as it turned out, his unit was set to depart from Gaza only a few days later, so it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. With my son home for a few days, I took the opportunity to plan an impromptu family trip. This trip, of course, included lots of desert hiking.
We’re not normally the type of parents that pluck our kids out of school for a few days of random fun. But it’s been a long time since my son had been able to be a part of a family vacation (it just never seems to work out in the army). And since the war started, I feel the need to make the most of every moment we have together – even more than usual. Spending that time together in nature was just the thing.
So, with some quick shuffling and planning, we headed down to Eilat. There, we could escape the rainy weather and hike some of the most beautiful trails in the country. Together, as a family.
Of course, if you drive down to Eilat, you’ve got to have a stop on the way. I’d recently become more interested in the city of Dimona after reading about it in a book, and right nearby, a 3.5 kilometer family friendly loop trail through Nahal Dimona looked perfect. Not only that, but in the early winter, narcissus flowers bloom in Nahal Dimona, a rare sight on a desert trail. I hoped we could catch sight of them before they disappeared.
Our hike stop turned out to be just perfect – lovely, easy, and a great wintertime trek with the family. Here’s how we hiked this 3.5 kilometer loop trail through Nahal Dimona:
A Trip through Dimona
We began our journey by driving through the city of Dimona, a nice, quiet place. At the edge of the city, we parked in a dust lot and found the beginning of our loop trail.
The sign on the trail gave lots of information about the narcissus flowers that blossom there during December and January. The tale of Narcissus, a man who was so obsessed with his own beauty that he fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water, is usually associated with Greek mythology. But the story of the narcissus printed on the sign at Nahal Dimona described a young shepherd in the Negev desert, who fell in love with his reflection in a gev (standing pool) found within the stream bed between the desert mountains.
We followed the trail, eager to encounter the rare sight of narcissus flowers sprouting in the desert.
Just a Pretty Desert Hike
Together, we hiked through the stream bed, enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. We passed by one group of elderly hikers, clearly on a trip to spot the famed narcissus flowers. And a few minutes later, as we were continuing along, a young couple called to us from just off the trail. “Are you here to see the narcissus?” they asked us in Hebrew, “The last ones of the season are right here!”
We walked over to where they were sitting, and, indeed, many beautiful flowers sprouted between the crevices. There were a few more patches up on a higher hill, but on that mid-January day, the blossoms did seem to be on their way out.
We took in the sights and the heavenly smell, then continued off in search of more flowers.
We continued off through the desert, just enjoying the sunshine and our time together. A short while later, my husband led us off the trail, towards another spot which had been marked for narcissus blossoms on the map.
Turns out that we had arrived just a little too late in the season. The narcissus flowers were all gone, leaving behind just the tall, green stalks of the plant. We returned to the trail and continued our trek through Nahal Dimona.
Surprises on the Trail
From then on, we had just one objective: to find a perfect spot for lunch! On a hike with kids, is there anything more exciting than stopping to eat?
Unfortunately for us, this proved to be a bit challenging, as we soon ran in to a random construction vehicle carving a path out of the desert mountains. We were a bit perplexed – was this middle of nature construction project authorized? We didn’t know, but persevered along what was left of the trail, seeking out a flat patch of rock far enough away from the construction that we wouldn’t hear the noise.
And soon, we found it, a flat patch under a ledge of rocky shade. We sat down, made the kids pita sandwiches, and enjoyed some relaxing time in nature.
Taking it Home
The rest of the trail was truly lovely. We particularly enjoyed all of the green areas that had sprouted where water gathered during winter rainstorms. Low acacia trees grew in the rocks, along with green shrubbery, and some small purple flowers. Seeing this sort of scenery in the desert is always a pleasant surprise.
Eventually, we reached the last stretch of trail. All we had to do was climb up a big rocky hill to exit the valley. This was no small feat for a group of kids who were majorly out of hiking practice. But we made it! And as we emerged from the isolated desert canyon, we were treated to an awesome view of the city of Dimona.
A short while later, we were back at the dust lot where we had parked our car. This easy trail through Nahal Dimona was a perfect hiking stop on the way to Eilat. Nahal Dimona is the place to see beautiful flowers in a unique natural setting.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail through Nahal Dimona:
- This hike is well suited to cooler days in the fall and winter.
- This is a circular trail.
- Please make sure to check for flash flood warnings before attempting any desert trail!
- Wear good hiking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen to hike this trail. The trail is partially in the sun and partially shaded.
- No facilities or water points on the trail.
- To follow the trail - begin by walking out on blue and return on red.
- As mentioned in the post, there may be some construction along some parts of the trail. We were able to follow the trail markers, despite the changes in the terrain, but this may change..
- Use the trail marker gallery and trail map in the table at the top of the page to find your way on the trail.
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!