Visiting the Holy Land: High and Low

July 7, 2011

Mount Hermon is located at the northeast corner ofIsrael.  It has a triple summit, the highest peak of which is over 9,100 above sea level.  That is, far and away, the highest point inIsrael.  It’s so high, in fact, that there is a snow skiing area near the top of Mount Hermon.  The only site on the mountain higher than the skiing area is an observatory which, ever since the Israelis won that mountain after being attacked in war by Syria, has been the location of an observatory which watches everything that happens in Syria—Damascus is only 30 miles away from that peak, as the crow flies—like a hawk. 

The bulk of Israelis hot and dry (the seacoast has more moisture than the rest of the country, but not what you might expect).  The hills in northeast Israel, notably the foothills leading directly up to Mount Hermon, are the exception.  When I was in Israel in 1998, we went further up into the foothills than on our trip this year.  That trip was in mid-June, when most of the country was in excess of 100 degrees in the middle of the afternoon.  When we got off our bus at the warmest time of the day, the temperature was about 60 degrees and the wind made it feel even much cooler.

Things change dramatically, though, as you drive from northeast to southeast Israel.  It’s only 120 miles—roughly the distance between south New Braunfels, TX to the north side of Temple—from Mount Hermon to the Dead Sea, but the elevation drops off amazingly quickly.  The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth: 1,292 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea, which is less than 55 miles away.



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