It was my turn to organize a hike for MOSAIC, the Jerusalem Anglophonic hiking group, so I called the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and asked for a recommendation. Since it's summer now, and it was going to be hot, we decided to hike to the Stalactite Cave near Beit Shemesh.
Here's a map of the route to the trailhead I made for the group for anyone interested in trying it on their own. The trail starts at Bar Behar (the bar on the mountain,) where you can pick up an ice cream for a good sugar rush.
The group gets started.
We hiked along the Sorek River (stream really,) which empties from Jerusalem down to the coast.
The Sorek Valley.
It is, in fact, the ruins of an Arab village abandoned in 1948. Some of the most intense fighting during the Independence War was slugged out in the hills between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the "Battle of the Roads," a struggle to keep the roads and supply lines open. Most of the Arab villages in this region were abandoned during the fighting, and today stand as ruin, although a few are still inhabited.
Eventually we reached Dar A-Sheikh, the Sheikh's Tomb.
Asher the guide points at something of great interest and profound meaning, though I forget what now.
Continuing on, we passed over the Jerusalem-Beit Shemesh rail line.
Unfortunately, at this point, we had an injury, so I escorted our injured hiker to be picked up by the ranger while the rest of the group continued. We met up again at the cave, coming next!For some reason, this dog attached herself to the group at the beginning of the hike and started following us all the way through.