Mosaic Outdoor Club of Ontario is taking its show on the road.
Mosaic members take a break during a hike in the Cheltenham Badlands, near Caledon, Northwest of Toronto. [Photo courtesy of Lynne Morris]
From May 12 to 21, as many as 30 devotees of the outdoor life will hike, bike and camp in Israel – miles away from their usual stomping grounds in southern Ontario.
The Israel trip is being organized in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which is handling logistics and accommodations in Israel and providing access to some of the country’s more interesting natural sites.
The trip will take participants off the beaten track. They will forgo the usual five-star accommodations associated with JNF missions, in exchange for “an infinite star hotel,” camping in the open air, said Lynne Morris, Mosaic’s events committee chair.
Participants are expected to be in reasonably good shape to be able to handle the vigorous itinerary. The trip will include swimming, hiking, biking and cooking.
Cooking? On day two of the trip, the participants will be in the Negev Desert, and, to quote the itinerary, they will “wake up and make breakfast.”
After breaking camp, the group will climb on board mountain bikes for a trip into the Tzin Valley to the Akev Spring, where they will trade their biking shorts for swim trunks.
The night will be spent at the traditional home of a bedouin family.
Other trip highlights include a hike in the Mitzpe Ramon Crater, swimming in the Dead Sea, climbing Masada, a walking tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, hiking in Gamla (near the Sea of Galilee) and overnight stays in the Kibbutz Hagoshrim guest house.
“It was a natural to partner with the JNF, as they are the primary charity protecting and improving the parks and environmental infrastructure” in Israel, Morris said.
Ben Prossin, executive director of JNF Toronto, agreed that hosting a Mosaic mission was “a natural fit. The proposed trip encompasses nature and an appreciation of nature.”
JNF, he continued, plays an important role in keeping Israel green, developing aqua culture, planting trees, conserving the environment and preserving Israel’s flora and fauna.
“They’re going to see rural Israel” as well as cities and villages, he said.
The Mosaic mission is quite a departure from the usual JNF missions from Canada, though JNF offices in Britain and Australia have sponsored similar outdoor trips, Prossin said. “We hope this is something that may be held biannually.”
Morris said the club, which is active all year round, “felt we wanted to do something more meaningful” than its regular hiking and cycling tours around Ontario and the United States. “We have a number of Israelis in the club who said there are great outdoor activities in Israel. Let’s do that… The fact it corresponds to Israel’s 60th anniversary is serendipity,” she said.
Her friend Mitchell Shnier, who is involved with JNF, suggested linking with the environmental organization. So far, 17 people have committed to participate and as many as 30 can be accommodated, Morris said.
Information evenings have been held to publicize the trip. The next one is scheduled for Feb. 19.
Cost is $1,450, which covers the land portion of the mission, not including gratuities and some meals. Air fare is an additional $1,300. Prossin said a somewhat longer JNF mission runs around $4,900.
For more information, visit www.mosaictoronto.org.