Rob Roy Expedition 18-19/4 2006

After reading the excellent book written by John McGregor " the Rob Roy on the Jordan", a one man in a canoe, 150 years ago, we decided to follow his route. His goal was to discover the sources of the Jordan river. His Canoe, named Rob Roy, was paddled in rivers and waters now in Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He describes lakes surrounded by papyrus, bridges over the river controlled by Turkish soldiers, Arab hunters and fishermen, some hostile some friendly, locations of biblical sites and villages.

Our kayak club Dor Kayak, decided to follow his route as close as possible to the original, taking in account political and nature changes over the last 150 years. We could not do the Lebanese and Syrian parts, the Hule, a large swamp lake north of the Sea of Gallee, has been dried up in order to gain farm land. The river has been channeled east of the former lake, bridges have been destroyed and some others have been build.

But in general we followed his route for two wonderful days paddling in placid and rough water ( grade 1-4 ).





The Team:

Liran - wave sport Z
Adi - dagger RPM
Shachar - wave sport X
Guy - wave sport ACE
Shlomi -piranha Innazone
Gosta - wave sport EZ
Tomas - wave sport X
We drove 2.5 hours to the northern border between Israel and Lebanon, right by the upper part of the sources of the Jordan River, today called Hatzbani, and by John McGregor Hasbaya. The river gets its water from the Hermon mountain and the hills in south Lebanon. Other sources of the Jordan rivers are the Dan the Banias rivers and the Yarmock rivers( the Banias was paddled last year). A short breefing and into the water. This upper part of the Jordan River is a beautiful area, surrounded by maple trees, birds and turtles. The river runs quite fast in the beginning and then calms down to finish with a nice drop. Here we made a lunch brake while getting ready to paddle along into the lower quite part of the river.
After a short while we were stopped by a huge "manmade" drop with big stones, logs and debris that made us decide to portage and not to take chances to run. In return we got a nice friendly rapid further down stream, Adi flipped over but a quick roll saved him from swimming. All this way was run by Rob Roy with various adventures such as being captured by locals forcing him to give presents in order to be released and continue his journey.


By evening we decided to make our camp by the water. Earlier shopping of fish, pasta and salad plus some wine made us feel relaxed and sleep came early after sitting by the fire under the supervision of Shlomi, waking up early, light breakfast and on to day two.
The day was divided into placid and rough water parts. Rob Roy ran the Hule lake but since it has been dried up, the river is funneled through a straight channel, 18 km long with slowly running water. So we paddled on and suddenly met a thick metal pipe crossing the water with 20 cm open space between the water and the pipe. Liran showed us how to cross up side down rolling, Tomas tried and got stuck up side down but eventually made it through, the others were smarter and climbed over the pipe.  
After a while we spotted a Stork stuck in the mud totally wet. Saving the Stork became our occupation for the next hour, and our faces smiled when we saw her jumping away on dry land. Paddling on another two hours while doing some exercises in paddling techniques, getting ready for the rougher parts of the river. Along we met Gosta who joined us from here on to the end. For Shachar and Guy the run was a first run with lots of butterflies in the stomachs.  
We reached the Ateret, an ancient water mill, here starts the real white water river graded 2-4. Rob Roy portaged this part carrying the boat by horse and wagon. The rough part of Jordan River is divided into four parts, the turbine, Kfar Hanasi, Dodot and Arik bridge. The first and last parts are easier. The river has lots of rocks and bends and requires total commitment in order to finish the run safe and with all equipment along.The last part has fast water with waves but then calms down and becomes a delta among the reeds, choosing the right line is tricky. Finally the whole group made it to the end at the shores of lake Kineret ( sea of Galilee), tired but content to having completed the expedition.  

Some details:

Total distance paddled :
40 km,out of that 12 in rough , 10 in medium and 18 in slow moving water.
Elevation from 200 meters above sea level to -200 meters below sea level = 400 meters drop
Total paddling hours 5 hours on day 1, and 8 hours on day 2
Equipment on boats helmets, throw-lines, spare paddle, water bottles, fruits and energy bars
Equipment in cars tents, sleeping bags. cooking stuff, food and the Rob Roy book
Literature The Rob Roy on the Jordan, by John McGregor, published by The Long Riders Guild Press in UK