Bulgaria: The peak of Kutelo, via Vihren north slope plus Koncheto ridge, words fail us.


Hike-about is an adventure that commenced June 2010. After storing our household movables, ridding ourselves of a house but retaining our 'home' together, we set off with the purpose
of hiking in different parts of the world, not forgetting the home country, the USA. Our primary focus is hiking to mountain peaks but any challenging hike will do just fine. Extended stays
allow us to enjoy and experience living in various places amongst differing cultures. Hike-about has evolved into a way of life. It's also a process of discovery, both the world and ourselves.

We work and live 'on the road' but return to the city in which our grandchildren reside, every couple of months. This provides us the wonderful opportunity to be with them as well as a
child or two,
even three and of course, friends.

By December 2017, the blog contained over 900 hikes, each a set of pictures with stories and anecdotes from the trails. An index to the right allows the viewer to identify earlier experiences.

Finally, we are often asked about the journey's end.
Our reply, as accurate as we can state, is: "When we are either forced to cease through health issues or the enjoyment level no longer reaches our aspirations, we will hang up the boots."

"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains.

Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow

Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications regularly, VIP's excepted.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

37.18 Bulgaria: 7 Rila Lakes, a world renowned reserve, a UNESCO site.

In another wonderful part of this country, a person can walk and climb for miles and take in the open lands, fresh air, animals and upon climbing to a reasonable height, although not essential, gaze at the Seven Rila Lakes in all their splendor. We spent many hours wandering in the area, did much ascending and felt weary at the day's end. Big surprise.

Overlooking two of seven lakes, Kidney and Eye.

Then six together, where's the seventh?

The hills are alive with shades of light and sounds of music.

Aha! There are seven together.

Or catch, not the elusive 'butterfly of love', but other funny specimens viewing lakes from all angles.

Jen goes on a daredevil climb that felt vertical at times, so she says. I wouldn't know...I took the elevator.

The beetle-style fringe did not make her look any friendlier.

He qualifies for four only.

...whereas she gets the full complement.

...and two from the high-top.

The lake we climbed above which gave us a few palpitations en route.


Jenni and Jeffrey

A repeat of reflections at a lower lake on the long way back.

Colors getting better and better (as we enter Serbia.).

37.17 Bulgaria: Pirin National Park: 'Quick Pic 6'-Perspective of two incredible positions on which we stood.

There are times a person feels she has gone the extra mile (it sure feels more) and a person either knows it for a fact or kids oneself. There are signs, overt for sure, but far more important, is the little noise emanating from the mind that informs of the truth, harsh as it may seem. As we have mentioned frequently during this trip, many of the hikes/climbs have tested us and the voice has been quite active, vociferous really, in keeping us in check.

Well, what does this all mean? We suppose, not a whole lot other than on the day following, we were basking in the afterglow of a Bulgarian wonder. In a later blog, we'll go into more detail, focusing on some of the spectacular scenes viewed on the way up-and-down in a 3,300 feet elevation gain. (Showing-off and afterglow now officially over. The latter fades quickly, the former has to be knocked out of the system).

Subsequent to the two big hikes to Mounts Vihren (left) and Kutelo (right), we climbed the steepest ski-slope we think we've ever done and viewed this magnificent sight from the east. The saddle and the edifices continue to take our breath/s away, both literally and figuratively. We have to admit it adds to the feeling knowing one has reached those positions. The higher peak is at an altitude of 9,616 feet. Which is higher?"

A view from our second apartment (extended stay) in Bansko (6th floor), magnificent for those who love this type of landscape, shows the two edifices from the north. (Kutelo through the gap, Vihren to the left rear.)

Returning from the highpoint along the ridge, an amazing hike, fascinating positions if not a little scary at times. It's far narrower beyond the guy in the black jacket, tapering to 1.5 feet wide for a section.

Mount Vihren from peak of Kutelo. It's hard to believe the altitude difference is only 6 meters. It looks like
hundreds of feet and yet the earlier pictures seem to indicate Kutelo as higher. Gary Sneag will explain optical illusions far better than we. (How's dem slope, Cowboy?)

Even the biggest Walt Disney fan has to ask what the heck is 'Minnie Mouse' doing on Kutelo Peak. The town of Bansko below.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

37.16 Bulgaria: The peak of Kutelo, via Vihren's north slope plus Koncheto ridge, words fail us. "A Quick 5 summary."

Part of Koncheto Ridge, at 9,600 feet altitude.

On the way down from Kutelo Peak, including a walk along Koncheto Ridge, Jenni remarked, “Can you believe what we’ve just done?” I didn’t have to give it much consideration as I, too walk around each day in awe of the tiny, tiny bits of the world we are privileged to explore. It would be unfair to single out any particular country or land. However, as we are currently in Bulgaria, having spent three weeks in Rila and Pirin National Parks, it is not difficult to offer an opinion in which at least one of us considers, particularly the latter forests and mountains, to be one of the most beautiful, moving, exciting, rugged, varied, tortuous, foot-killing, difficult and back-breaking places we’ve visited. We stand in awe each day as we struggle and sweat up-and-down the mountains, along the ridges, above the lakes and everywhere the rocky paths take us, making us climb most of the time. And when we rest our weary bodies and aching feet at the day’s end, we know how fortunate we are.

Looking left to a slightly higher Mount Vihren, climbed last week.

Jenni posed before reaching the far more treacherous part of the ridge.

A view of Kutelo from Vihren, after last week's ascent to 9,616 feet as Jenni seems to take a model's pose. I was stunned by both the 'model' and the view.

Returning from the other side of the ridge.

With all the happenings in the US these days, Jenni and I decided to have a DNA test each. It turns out she is 150th of a percent Sherpa. Apparently, I have goat blood in the mix which makes me happy—I've always wanted 4 legs.

Scroll down to see this week's main posting.


Jenni and Jeffrey

37.15 Bulgaria: Rila Mountains, Malyovitsa Peak or the country's Matterhorn, a wonder of an experience.

Reaching 9,006 feet in altitude and climbing 3,300 feet on a rugged trail, mostly rock scrambling in an incredible environment with some of the great views nature has to offer will create a feeling that one has completed the best hiking day or close, of all time. Don't take our word for it, take a trip to's worth it.

An intimidating sight...we suppose you had to be there.

After nearly two hours of hiking and climbing, Jen faces a steep climb to the ridge. Me? I turned around, no steep ridge in front of me.

Wow! We were handed a beautiful world, natural rather than developed. Who would have thought that Bulgaria had so much beauty? Of course, closed-minded people would not expect much from countries outside their ambit of periodical thoughts. We too only thought of the country as having been part of the former Soviet Union and its satellite states. In our defence, the one thing we can say is that over the years we have always differentiated between natural and political borders. A further point. Although we love nature, we are not extremists in conservation. The world is for all to use and enjoy and of course, there is an implied understanding of treating it with care and respect.

Without this preamble, it would seem odd that two of our best all times experiences have taken place within six days of each other in the Republic of Bulgaria. Instead, thinking globally, we spent two great days on our planet. Focusing on Bulgaria, we’ve found the trails very rugged, often or mostly, rocky, long, steep, tough and always amongst beautiful scenery with spectacular sights. It’s so difficult to rate hikes, both these were climbs and rock scrambling, but had all the ingredients making for days of awe. Of course, one of the important concepts Jenni and I have come to understand is that when we struggle and sweat, the satisfaction and reward that follows is without equal. Unfortunately, in fact it should read ‘fortunately’, the feeling wears off quickly and has to be replaced with the next challenge and accomplishment. We believe that is one of the great aspects of life—simple but real—nothing worth much comes easily. Perhaps that’s why some say be careful of what you wish may receive it...(Continues at end.) Further insights from the trail, check out (and click) our book: A Life Experience as No Other.

It was worth it (multifold). Jen stands on one of the lesser peaks on the ridge a short distance from Malyovitsa.

Looking down into the cirque.

'I think I'll hang around here and wait for you,' a possible thought.

A sobering moment before we begin a tricky section, honoring those who died getting to/from the peak.

Passing the alpine lakes at 8,100 feet above sea-level.

Relentless climb of 3,300 feet, 'orange backpack' approaching the ridge.

A favorite. As we reach decent height, we take in the sheer vastness of the distant mountain ranges. A tiring Jenni has the head down but the heart is up.

In Bulgaria, especially Pirin, the footing has been tough, rough and sharp. You don't believe us, talk to our feet.

Here she comes...closing in on the ridge.

The famous Rila Monastery, far below.

View of the lakes from 9,006 feet.

No matter what country, it's special to reach, and stand for, the flag.

A big moment for us on the peak, but a 'meaningless speck' in the context of the world.

When we reached the peak of Mount Vihren, our other favorite, besides taking in the amazing sights, we noticed a couple approaching from another direction. Their accents were clearly German for the guy and American, the woman. We entered into discussion with Jan and Emily. The young woman of twenty-four was in perfect athletic shape—superb. (Turns out she is an Iron-woman athlete). She asked where we lived. We answered the same place as you. She replied, "I know." It puzzled us. Why would she make the leap from hearing our South African accents that we lived in the USA? Clearly, her accent led us to believe she was American.

She continued, “Which part of South Africa?” It did not make sense. Here was an American addressing two people who live in the United States but clearly don’t sound American while she speaks with a US accent yet she believes we live in South Africa. Why would she think that? There was a logic issue. It turns out she is a Zimbabwean, studying in Idaho, hence the accent. Our accents revealed South Africa to her and so when we said the same country she made the correct presumption.

When we visited the 7-Rila Lakes district, two young men approached us after we had come down from the high ridge. They had arrived late and asked for advice on what they should do within their limited time available. We had a brief discussion as well as a joke. The following day, we hiked in a region below Musala Peak. As we returned to the trailhead, about thirty minutes away, we engaged in discussion with a local. He wanted to talk and so we halted for a few minutes. This gave two young men who had been following us down an opportunity to reach us. As they passed, I shouted to them, “Hey, you can’t just walk past without greeting us?” Jen looked a bit perturbed at my seemingly rude outburst. After all, it’s not mandatory for anyone to greet us although it’s nice.

I had recognized them from the day before. Two young men, one from Croatia and Serbia, Marko now living near Lugano and commuting to Berlin, the other an Englishman, Alex, working in Berlin were the two fellas we’d met many miles from the current location. We joined together for the next thirty minutes exchanging thoughts and got so carried away that we missed our path. This happens frequently, both coincidences and missing turnoffs. But the chance meetings add to flavor of life.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Saturday, October 13, 2018

37.14 Bulgaria: In and around Eastern Europe, after a few hikes and a 3,000 foot gain to below Musala Peak (on a rest day).

Traveling through the small towns of Eastern Europe, actually anywhere, is revealing and at times a treat. It's like being transported to another era, an enjoyable experience. As an aside, the internet in all but one place we have visited has been superior to that of the average United States establishment. The only worthy comparison has been that of Iceland. Da!

After having re-crossed into Serbia from Romania, we began to wonder whether we had made a wrong turn and arrived in China (minor).

It's not what you think. Helping a little old lady cross the road with one of her heavier items, an extremely small town in Serbia.

Unsweetened bottle water on this occasion after a hike above Buseni, Romania.

Can't remember whether it was the "Pony Express, Federal Express or UPS"...memory problems in Zernesti, Romania. At least we had comfortable sleeping accommodation that night including a spare mattress.

On the way down in some cold and foggy weather, a dog adopted us, in Borovets, Bulgaria. Natalie probably thinks we're joking that we are bringing the dog back for Ellie and Benny.

A signboard in English in Borovets, Bulgaria. What a win. The other day on the trail we stared at the board which was in Cyrillic as most are. With a map in English, we were stymied. We needed an understanding of hieroglyphics to convert the letters to our alphabet. Jen had written a few notes and so we had to take letters from some words and try reconcile them with those on the board and identify our various destinations. No wonder we get lost from time-to-time.

Any bets the woman on the bike is not Mrs. Cohen.

3,000 feet elevation gain will do it to a person at Markudjik, Bulgaria. Jen gets very loose with her camera. Beats a straitjacket. This is the top of a ski-slope

We reach the top (see above picture) and don't know whether it's us or them that are 'bonkers'. Most of the huts are closed this time of the year although they will take credit cards, but not American Express. (More English in Bulgaria.)

A long story but we found ourselves in a beautiful city park in Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria.

Not forgetting it's a hiking blog, somewhere in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria, one of the most beautiful places 'one of us' has visited.


Jenni and Jeffrey

37.13 Romania, Brasov Mountain: A short but fairly steep hike to view the city.

An enjoyable town hike on a travel day.

Moving up the snaking trail, the town comes into view. The cables are for the gondola.

The distinctive look of the church caught the eye...telephoto does it justice.

Is this what they mean by urban sprawl?

We visited Brasov for the holy days and were surprised by its size.

Taking a hike and reaching the top before fasting...something to look forward to.

Looking into the square. What's the time, Jen?

Never mind.


Jenni and Jeffrey