Peace, love, nature, and a new image for Israel. Those are the modest goals of “Walk About Love” organizer Rea Pasternak, 25, for the second annual three-month hiking extravaganza he came up with during the Second Lebanon War.
During the war, Pasternak, a former combat soldier, was in Australia where the walkabout is a traditional Aborigine way of clearing one’s head. Pasternak decided to adapt the concept to try to change the view of Israel as a war zone.
“I wanted to present Israel to the world in a different light and to bring together people of all different colors from all over the world,” he told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday, ahead of the project’s opening Purim festivities. The festivities begin on Thursday, at the Lighthouse Beach in Eilat. On Sunday, 100 people will head off on the 1,000 km. of the Israel Trail to the northern tip of the country.
Among those 100 will be 20 Palestinians.
“We arranged permits for any Palestinian who contacted us and was interested in joining. Last year, there were two Palestinians, so this is a 2,000 percent improvement,” he enthused.
Part of the idea is to provide a safe, easy method for people to hike Israel. For Israelis and for people from abroad to get connected to nature, the people of Israel and one another, Pasternak said.
“Everyone is invited to join us for a day, an evening, a few days or as long as they want,” he said.
The list of campsites for the entire three-month trip is posted on the organization’s Web site, www.walkaboutlove.org.il. The organizers will also record a voicemail explaining how to get to the next campsite for people who want to join up that day. In addition, lest the idea of schlepping a huge pack for three months deter participants, vehicles will transport the heavy packs to the next campsite and people can hike just with their day packs.
Pasternak stressed the ecological elements of the journey. All 100 hikers will use only two cars and food will be cooked communally out of a few pots so as not to generate a lot of trash.
He also espoused the notion of becoming a walking carbon offset.
“Just think about how much electricity these 100 people are not wasting when they hike. We will have electricity for two hours every night to charge cellular phones and a little on the weekend, but that’s it,” he said. Last year they had solar panels and he hopes they’ll have them again this year.
By bringing along a container of water, participants will be forced to come to grips with how much they use daily, as opposed to what happens at home where it is easy to waste water, Pasternak added.
Organizers will teach the best methods to deal with going “to the bathroom” outdoors. They will also hand out garbage bags to collect the litter left by other users of the Trail.
Mostly, they’ll enjoy being out in nature, Pasternak said, and see a different side of the country with people from all over the world.