On Wednesday, the first day of Pesach Chol HaMoed, we took a (partial) family trip to Tel Dan, an ancient city on a nature reserve way up in the Upper Golan. Belonging to the Tribe of Dan, this northern city was known under a variety of names throughout the generations: Laish, Leshem and Dan. Located beside Banias, the Dan River park is quite lush and green, coupling it nicely with the ancient ruins.
Melted ice flowing down from Mount Hermon, together with gushing cold water from underground springs, the Dan River joins two other small streams to form the Jordan River. Within the park itself one sees a trickling spring transform into a rushing stream, perfect for rafting and kayaking.
We took the long trail, which included stops at the Israelite Gate and the “High Place” where idol worship went on during the kingship of Jeroboam ben Navat, who ruled the first Israelite Kingdom of Israel for 22 years, following the split between Israel and Judah. Bringing along a new camera, this one featuring 21x optical zoom, I was keen on photographing plants and animals which come out great with a DSLR camera. Being that I was in a nature park, the opportunities were abound.
I also played with zoom and focus, using the great landscape to capture deep photographs. Here, a lichen-covered rock, belonging to an ancient wall in the Israelite Gate, and the rolling levels of trees in the background:
When we approached the High Place, a man came up to us and asked us if we knew the history. We chimed in as he began to tell over the despicable tale of the Israelite king introducing idols into the area, slaughtering animals to the idols just feet away from where we stood. He was royally miffed and was pleased to know that we too knew the tragic Biblical tale. Here is a cistern from beside the altar which may have been used to hold blood (from the sacrifices) or wine (from the libations):
In more modern times, the area was used by the IDF to secure the northern area of the Golan. Here is a shot of the nearby Lebanese town of Arab el-Luweize (I wonder whose cows those are…):
With the Lebanese to the north-west and the Syrians to the north-east, a bunker was built into the hill beside the “High Place”. Here the trenches can be seen, with odd frame pieces every few feet. The peak in the distance is Mitzpe Ramta, with Mount Hermon on the far side (not visible):
And here, thanks to the 21x optical zoom, a rusted Syrian tank from the Six Day War in 1967 can be seen, way off in the distance:
Descending into the trench, I entered the bunker and crouched behind the mount for the .50-calibre machine gun, looking out at the lush green fields:
After a nice picnic beside the alter, we continued on with the hike, turning back to the Dan River. But first, a shot of the Israelite Gate area, not too far away from a stone throne:
Back at the parking lot, I found a large ant which became my model for macro-photography. This ant was very elusive and nary a good photo was taken of the minuscule beast. This is the best shot, I hope to capture better and more in upcoming adventures.
Day 2 of Chol HaMoed (next post): Castra and the Atlit “Illegal” Immigration Camp!