One Sunday, we left the hustle and bustle of the city and drove in the direction of the village of Yahsoush, North Lebanon, to explore a lake that has always sparked my curiosity, Lake Chouen. I had been waiting for a long time to discover this natural attraction.
As we drove off the highway passing by Nahr Ibrahim, a river that flows between the mountains into the Mediterranean, I was overcome with a sudden and immense feeling of bonding and oneness with nature. As we drove up the winding roads, green and breathtaking mountains engulfed, as did a delicious refreshing earthy fragrance. In Yahchouch, we stopped to ask for directions to the village of Chouen.
We continued past rows of village houses to a church in the middle of a small forest, where we decided to park. As we walked down to the riverbank we passed by old chairs and wooden benches hidden in the dense bushes overlooking the river and covered with bamboo sunshades. This unobtrusive venue serves as a resting point. A word of caution however: this trail is not child friendly. Be cautious, walk away from the cliff and follow blue signs on the rocks. The trek to the lake takes one to one and a half hours. The hike is magnificent but the terrain extremely narrow, at some stage one side is a sheer cliff overlooking the lake. We came across a handwritten sign in Arabic “al bouhaira” meaning the lake.
We then wandered through a natural shady, bushy and sometimes rocky trail before going down a footpath to cross a little downhill stream. It was serene. One could hear the sounds of nature. Gone was the commotion of the city. As we continued the trail took us past bushes that seemed to reach the ridges and peaks of the surrounding mountains, then instinctively, I turned to my left and my heart skipped a beat as I saw a translucent turquoise glow in the heart of a valley surrounded by steep green mountains. I ran the remaining way until I reached the gently shimmering water.
As I gazed at the scenery around I felt that I never wanted to leave. The water was crystal clear and glistened like a mirror reflecting the green mountains. The white pebbles at the bottom of the lake showed clearly. Near the shore the water was transparent and at the edge of the mountain it was darker, varying from green to turquoise. There were a few people lying and relaxing along the shore. Some were in the water. Others probably came with a little boat that was resting on the shore. Yet, it was calm. Finally, I made my way back to my little family leaving behind a precious discovery that I will treasure.