LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
Free State, South Africa: Mount Everest Game Park, the mountain of the same name.
'WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HIKE-ABOUT?'
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."
Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications each time, VIP's excepted.
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The easy beginning from the car park viewed from above.
Jen walking toward the Sentinel before getting close to its top. (Unfortunately, the powers that be have decided to pave the trail, not ideal. You'd think they'd pave the road to the trailhead instead so that people could reach it. What do we know?)
The weather is and was consistent for some of the period we spent in the Drakensberg, the day of our Sentinel hike fitting the pattern only too well. The sun would ‘awake’ at 4:40am, warm the region and provide early, soft lighting to enhance the beauty of the mountains, lakes and flora, even further. Early afternoon would see the build-up of clouds followed by lightning and thunder but not always culminating in rain. The wind would arise quickly and provide an eerie feeling and portend the coming of a vicious storm. Fortunately, on many of the days, this show fizzled out and the promise of always-needed rain failed to materialize.
Jen read the weather reports each day, often a few times a day, as her fear of lightning is real and of course, valid. On the day of our hike up the Sentinel, the storm was due to hit the ‘Berg’ by 12pm, rather early. As we could only obtain a ride to the trailhead at 8:15, it would mean that we would be caught in the predicted storm. Our car could not travel on the road between the lodge and the trailhead—it’s not a tank. We decided to hike the seven or more kilometers to the trailhead at 5am in order to avoid the dangers of a storm. This additional distance amounted to a tall order. Thinking about it further, Jen asked whether the lodge would run another shuttle at 6am. Nelson said he’d arrange transport. We answered we’d find others to join us for the ride up, thereby covering the additional costs, and we did. A former South African of German descent, Bettina, now living in Germany with her husband, Hans, rode up and back in the shuttle. We supped with them that night, too. We enjoyed their company and hearing of their experiences. It’s fascinating meeting so many varied nationals and of different ages, too. It gets tiring being close to the oldest around. Our memories recall the days when we were the youngest.
We began the hike at 6:30am, at a good pace and spent an hour at the top. We could have stayed for a day. As we reached the chains on the return, Jen pointed to the sky. The black clouds were forming. Unfortunately, the forecasters were having a good day. Fortunately, the lightning seemed to be striking the area we had left. Instead, we got some rain to cool us and hail to knock us into shape. Just before we reached the trailhead, the rain ceased and the mountains looked refreshed and seemed to stand even more prominent and proud.
While we waited for Bettina and Hans to return, we noticed workers back at their jobs once the storm had passed. It was sobering and sad to see some of the women using shovels and picks to dig up the gravel road. Call me what you like, but as an old-fashioned male, it’s not appropriate work for females—it’s not fair. We ended up taking over from them, if only for a short while, to give them an opportunity to rest. And yes, it may have been to relieve our consciences temporarily; and yes, I understand that it’s a job and pays a wage but nevertheless, it does not sit comfortably. I wish we had better solutions.
This was our fifth visit to the Sentinel and its surrounds and once again, it exceeded our expectations and previous visits.
Jen stands above the vertical walls over which the Tugela river and its tributaries flow. (Earlier blog shows perspective with regular lens.)
Reaching a highpoint although only a speck in this gorgeous atmosphere.
Not surprising this is one of our, if not the one, best places in the world.
Earlier that morning.
One more of the main member of the chain gang on the first chain.
A view that's hard to exceed. The almost dry Tugela River below as we stand at the top-edge of the falls.
The dam is in view for most of the hike.
A dry Eland Falls.
The top of the Amphitheatre, with the Devil's Tooth prominent.
The slow flow of the Tugela Falls, the world's second highest. A prism attempts a quick appearance.
Telefoto brings the Thendele camp in Royal Natal National Park into focus (taken from the trailhead, not the top.).
I have been accused often enough, lately by Colyn and Jonna, of my choices as to best hike, experience, region, etc. I plead guilty on all counts although given the correct forum I could provide a good defense of my feelings. Although there are objective criteria in reaching decisions of this nature, a good alternative is one borrowed from an American justice of the Supreme Court. When asked to define pornography, he answered, "I cannot define it but will recognize it when I see it."
The region surrounding the Sentinel and the Eastern Buttress is one such easily recognizable place of 'Heaven on Earth'.
We entered into conversation with these two. Suffice to say, it was neither intelligent nor successful.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Early summer brings forth the young ones. This little guy was trying out his legs...successfully...with baboons and birds not appreciating the achievement, domestic bliss.
Sunday, December 9, 2018
37.28 Serbia: Rtanj vrh Siljak, a special occasion. 37.29 Serbia: Sokobanja, an explosion of color in the mountains and at the Fortress.
The hike was fairly long, we forget the distance, but well over 2,000 feet in ascent on an eerie-like day, especially at higher altitude.
Farewell, to Eastern Europe, a region that has suffered much turmoil but such history is not reflected in the beauty of the natural elements...and they are indeed beautiful and rugged.
After a short walk, we enter the forest which looks delightful.
Becomes a little eerie.
Out of the forests, into the clouds.
'All on our own' in a big, wide world on a mountain-above-a-mountain.
Church remnants of destructive forces on a windy summit.
View from summit of the first plateau high above ground-level.
Down memory lane?
A painting, we think.
A different perspective from above Soko Grad.
Jenni and Jeffrey
38.06 South Africa: The Drakensberg, Champagne Valley: The Spinx and Verkykerskop from Monk's Cowl Park.
One may run out of words but never challenges, beauty and stirring sights in the Drakensberg. We mentioned to Sharon and Colyn, Bernice, Jeff and Jill, Joanne and Lionel and Stan during our short stay in Johannesburg that we had to emigrate from South Africa to discover the magnificence and mystery of the natural wonders, places and features of the country. It took a while to realize how we mostly travel between the major cities and miss all the fun that lies between the concrete jungles.
'There's a (w)hole in my bucket'.
Gorgeous views as we rise.
Always the struggle...always the satisfaction.
Some Drakensberg icons above and to the right, color stripes below.
Champagne Castle resort from on high.
A Belgian couple pose for post-wedding pictures. We had some fun with the couple as we passed them, including the accompanying photographers. (I don't think the fellow appreciated Jenni's advice on how to improve the quality of his 'shots'.)
Jen takes in the unusual growth formations.
Uh Oh! Well, you signed on for it.
Jen finds her niche amongst some giants.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
38.05: South Africa: Exhilaration, thrills and no spills (phew) on and at the 'Berg'—a brief selection.
During 2005, Jen thought fit to insult me, not with malice though, just a good-hearted put down. Some thirteen years later, I obviously have not forgotten it—not that I bear any grudges. Insults can be character building...hmm...or perhaps, destroying...(continues at end).
Jen would not let me have the upper-bunk so I had a tantrum at Meandering Hut instead. Can't say it was satisfying.
Jen goes rock climbing at Mount Everest game farm. (Between you and me, so proud of her.)
Stunning replica of an eagle at Eagle Mountain. Is there a way up?
Apparently so. The 'eagle has landed'.
'Razor Edge' at Vergezient, Drakensberg Retreat.
A strenuous climb mainly because of the terrain, positioned below Mount Horeb, Clarens.
A glorious position above the Tugela Falls. (The white hat, at least, thinks so as it's tied to a chin.) When looking to the right, the sights are breathtaking. Actually, wherever one gazes, it's a treat and privilege.
I think I'm taller on my right side following that stretch.
A different perspective at the Sentinel, taken right above the vertical wall (first set of chain ladders).
Platberg, Harrismith. We've been eyeing this mountain each time we travel through the town. Today we reached
the amazing, flat summit, although this picture is only part-way up. (Real men stand on rocks of this nature.)
Scrambling in Witsieshoek. The chalets and bungalows are below on the right. The road winding to the left, further up, is arguably one of the 'worst in the world'.
I can't recall a more stunning place to reach, steep but over a relatively short distance.
Jen takes 'a leap of faith' below the Eagle.
The 'real men stand' insult had to be countered so he ran back to do it.
There we stood on Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona, heading up toward the top, still a long way to go. We sat for a while on a rock which gave us an unhindered view downwards. It makes a difference to the 'fear-level' because there was nothing in front of us but air. After a while, I began to get dizzy, my mind started talking negatively with the result I became a little overwhelmed. It felt like I might fall off the rock, a drop of a few hundred feet. It seems when one stares from height towards the ground, it's as if a force is compelling one to jump—and that's not only gravity at the helm. I did not mention earlier I considered myself weary of heights although not a person with a phobia for such fears.
It got to me. I stood, told Jenni rather forcefully, “I’m outta here”, and moved down as fast as I felt I could. She followed on my heels. However, she passed a comment that we both remember only too well.
“You’re a ‘wuss’," she said. (Basically, a pipsqueak or baby or worse.)
“So be it,” I answered, “I don’t need to feel frightened when I’m supposed to be enjoying myself.”
After making my way down for a while, still closely followed by ‘the shadow’, I decided to turn the tables and reverse course, taking her up a steeper section. A challenge had been issued or a dare arose from within. We arrived at the top in good time, if not quicker than average. Along the way, I kept hearing this voice beckoning, 'Slow down, wait for me.’ I was having nothing of it until I reached the destination.
I’m pleased to write that since then, I have trained myself to take on more-and-more high place challenges. Of course, there are situations that scare (terrify) me, but most pinnacles are within my comfort zone. I look forward to attaining height these days. Indirectly, I have Jenni to thank for motivating me to overcome that fear. I only hope she will help me with numerous others of my non-exhaustive list.
Glorious Giants Castle, 'climbing the wall'.
Jenni and Jeffrey