LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT

Some environments make a person 'happy'. A scene along the major body of water of Hungary, Lake Balaton.

'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."

"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.


Friday, June 15, 2018

36.08 Croatia: Four highlights before the details, after a splendid visit.



Most of our experiences
in Croatia will follow over the next few weeks. As we complete the Hrvatska segment and head for Hungary, our stay close to the Paklenica National Park revealed much about Croatia and ourselves, too. After two major hikes (twenty-five miles and 6,700 feet elevation gain ) and an additional lesser one, only ten miles, we realized should we not depart on our own accord, it's quite possible that we would have to be carried out. The park is not for the faint-hearted, soft undersoles, or hikes less than 7-8 hours per day. Cliffs, drop-offs and much rock climbing will lead to the inevitable. We'll return though—there are some real big ones for which overnight stays on the mountain are essential. All-in-all, a fascinating experience in a country we enjoyed although did not understand.



Jen "climbing the wall"





Having climbed about 2,800 feet by then, the reward of sitting in such position and absorbing the sights is phenomenal.




Away from the crowds, we climb above the lakes and glean rewards, Plitvicka.




"Mountain high, (head in the clouds), river deep."



Cheers,

Jenni and Jeffrey

Thursday, June 14, 2018

36.07 Croatia: City of Senj, an improvised steep climb and haunting castles.


Nahaj, the 16th century castle, a symbol of the city of Senj viewed from a half hour into our hike up the front mountain.



The harbor and part of the town.




We meet so few South Africans on the trails that should we wish to see more of them, we have to travel to South Africa or remain in San Diego. It changed last week when we met three women, great-granny, granny and a friend, in Plitvicka. It was most pleasant chatting with them. Like many South Africans, they live outside the motherland. It was a first meeting of ex-patriates from the Isle of Man.

A week later, we completed a rather bold hike and returned to the supermarket to restock. As we walked up the to the revolving entrance door, we noticed a couple of mountain bikes against the wall, one with a South African flag displayed prominently. That was even more novel. We decided to hunt them down in the market, prepared to lobby cabbages and tomatoes at their feet should we have felt they would not stop to talk with us. Should they resist further, I was even prepared to grab a frozen salmon from behind the counter and whack the male—such was my resolve. Down the aisles we treaded cautiously, seeking out probably two or more funny speaking people who might even appear strange, too—it’s been said of us, why not them? As we passed the cereal section, but not quite reaching fresh eggs and freezers, we spotted two cyclists dressed in the appropriate gear although looking scruffy. I asked Jen to approach from the rear and block or cut them off in the event they were shy and bolted. It turned out to be an exaggeration as they were like most, friendly. We spent twenty minutes conversing which conversation resuming at the cash register after we had parted the first time, and then again outside. Coincidentally, I would give odds that cashiers in Croatia have not served two sets of South Africans unknown to each other in sequence, ever. The De Decker’s, Mary and her husband are incredibly fit and strong and have the correct amount of craziness, maybe even more then the prerequisite quantity. They began riding in the south of Croatia and are continuing north. They hike as well but ride more often. Their children have done some incredible ultra-marathons with a son being one of few finishers in his section of the ‘Yukon bonanza’ recently. Vrystaat! Actually, they are from George, in the Western Cape, a place we hiked a couple of years back over two visits.

Anyway, after our third tangle with lightning, rain and first with hail the previous day, we read the weather report more carefully and stayed in town. Because there are only short hikes in Senj proper, we tackled the mountain that overlooks the city. We walked well over 3,000 feet at which stage we pulled out breakfast and ate it at lunch time. Our second most difficult task of the day was finding midday shade—who says life is without its challenges? Along the route, we followed the progress of a beekeeper. Interesting what life presents each day. At one hive, the bees were buzzing outside the man-made hive. Fortunately, we were at least twenty yards from them. The thought of an attack for Jenni's sweetness was frightening.


An hour up the mountain.




At over 3,000 feet above our commencement point of sea level, looking toward Rijeka up the coastline.




A view from our top with the telephoto.




The castle from distance and height with telephoto.




At midnight.




Big water.




See opening text for context. (Fashion setters.)



Cheers,

Jenni and Jeffrey


The next 'night' we watched the 'day' end.




The land of castles and earlier wars.




And many beautiful scenes as we hike back from the top of a ski slope.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

36.06 Croatia: Sjeverni Velebit: An electrifying hike to Veliki Zavizan and other walks.


On the way up, the editor claws through the bush. (Better than what occurred on the way down.)




A view from the top, quite gorgeous, Adriatic sea and mountain islands.




The views were stunning...probably still are.



(Scroll down to skip over the text and continue with photographs.)

When we arrived at Velebit National Park, the country’s newest addition, Jenni pointed out a few dark clouds that appeared somewhat low in the sky. I thought we were safe from a storm, although hadn’t given it much consideration because we would be hiking early. We notice the rain seems to attack, and it’s not an exaggeration, usually later in the day. Over a two-week period, we found ourselves in 3 serious thunderstorms, the latest being a rather vicious one. Being on the peak of a mountain as it struck did not augur for a comfortable feeling although we looked like pretty good targets to the elements.

It took us an hour by car to reach the parking area from our apartment in Senj. In all our travels, this apartment is clearly the best and most cared for we have come across. The landlady, Maria, is a delight and she keeps her suites in immaculate condition. There are 4 or 5 units and each is furnished, including linen, in a unique manner. It will not be easy to leave this place although we’ll give it a fair shot. The views alone from our balcony and bedroom, of the islands, mountains and the Adriatic sea are at times, stunning. It’s a real blessing to live in a world that, just when you believe you’ve seen something remarkable, another scene confronts a person and one realizes the beauty is almost infinite.

Although Velebit is a national park, and quite gorgeous, we were the only hikers on the trail. Two other cars were in the park but we saw no one else other than the keeper of the hut who sold us tea after returning from the peak. We set off for Zavizan Peak, a short hike by usual standards and reached the summit at over 5,500 feet. It was a steep trail making its way through thick shrubs and trees. The whole region, not surprisingly, is lush green. The views from the top are magnificent, providing inland views of other mountains as well as the sea and islands off the coast of the country. One feels like a cartographer as one observes the outline of the mountain-covered islands surrounded by various shades of blue water, some 5,500 feet below.

Within a minute of us reaching the peak, large raindrops began to fall. We put on our raincoats and waited. When lightning struck, quite frightening at the time as we were completely exposed being on the highest point in the vicinity, Jen made her way down a few yards to search for shelter. The rain turned hard and cold and this was followed by 4 different bouts of ever-increasing hail stones. So much so that it hurt each place struck. Unfortunately, the storm did not let up for at least twenty to thirty minutes and then resumed after taking short pauses. By that time we were wet, cold, a little sore from the hail blows and wondering how to make our way down a path covered in ice, obviously a slippery surface. We had huddled together next to some thick bushes which gave dubious cover at best. Unfortunately, with cameras tucked in bags and raincoats covering same, not to mention the adverse conditions, we only managed to take a couple of shots toward the end of the storm. I doubt whether Jen cared an iota for pictures. At that stage, she closed her eyes for each lightning flash and enjoyed a modicum of relief when thunder followed which meant, of course, the bolt missed us.

Prior to the storm ceasing, we decided to make our way down rather than be stranded on high ground without knowing whether conditions would improve. Who knew how long the storm might persist. It seemed correct to take our chances then rather than hope things would improve. Fortunately, we made our way down and back safely but wet and cold. A cup of tea warmed our insides at the main hut and the sun returned to help our covering. Our original intention was to return home for a hot bath and some respite. Instead, we hiked up to another peak, Velika Kosa, short but with great views, too. Notwithstanding the violent storm, it was an exciting morning which we complemented by tackling the other peak, giving us a warm but wet feeling. Two days later we returned but this time at least a couple of hours earlier, prior to park official opening. We outsmarted the weather. Big deal!



The contrast of the blue water and whitish mountains, dolomite and limestone, left an indelible impression.




After the 3rd storm, respite for a few minutes and lovely mist forming.





Another view.





Some hail, rain, lightning and the odd bit of sun every now and again to cheer us.




Between storms but after the two big ones, Jen makes her way down a treacherous slope covered in hail. Her husband prefers to wait for the rescue helicopter.




Although down from the top, still some distance to go. It rained a few more times but we still took the opportunity
to visit the peak of Kosa





Captured our imagination as cartographers as the light hits the big island and a corner of the other.



Cheers,


Jenni and Jeffrey



A view of Senj, the old city in early evening, from the 16th century castle.



Goodnight!


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

36.05 Croatia: Plitvicka Lakes, part 1 and sundry.


'Perhaps,' we thought, 'Here's one of the paradises we often see on Earth.





We asked the engineer to open all the spigots.




One of the fascinating events which occur quite often in our lives, surprisingly, is that of coincidences. Had we been detectives, then of course, we would not believe in such phenomena. Sometimes we do have to try emulate detectives, especially when we can’t remember where we put an item or whether we did do something we thought we had. Then we try logic to figure it out and on occasion, we succeed. I digress. Sunday a week ago, we reached a mountain peak in Austria, a little outside Bruck an der Mur and noticed another peak across the way. Why not? Two peaks in one. Off we went, followed by a local couple. When we reached the top we greeted them but never engaged in conversation. We separated and off we went.

Two days later, we were in our car searching for a trailhead in a village above the peak, Schiffall. When we found the commencement point, we failed to notice any parking spaces. Therefore, we travelled back through the village in search of somewhere to leave the car. Hard to imagine in a hamlet of a few dozen people, it’s a struggle to find a parking spot. Anyway, driving through the quaint village, I noticed a woman standing in her garden, a little to the side of the road. “Hey, Jen?” I said, “Isn’t that the woman we met at the peak on Sunday?” Jenni thought I was just looking at a pretty woman which of course is an unfair thought but nevertheless, probably true.

We found a parking space only to be told by a gardener handling a weedeater close by that parking next to the chapel was ‘verboten’. Fortunately, he suggested we park across the way. I have not reached the ‘coincidence’ part yet although I’m close to losing my train of thought and readers, too. Aha! Pays to be a detective. I remember where I was. We walked back through the village in order to reach the trailhead. On the way, I greeted a man who was standing in his garden. He looked at us and in reasonable English, although with a heavy accent, remarked something about Schiffall. I looked at him more closely and realized it was he who we had met at the peak two days before. His wife had obviously been the woman I spotted earlier.

We think that’s another great coincidence, one of many. Besides the chance of seeing someone in these two places as we did, we both had to reach the peak in close proximity on the Sunday and two days later, he had to be standing in his garden as we came walking by, many miles from where we had first met. Not such a coincidence? Okay, we’ll tell you another one…when we remember it.


Followed by some tranquility to reflect.




And we reflected some more.




"Gentle on our minds" - Mr. Campbell.




Finally, we took a step back.




...and watched the big finish.




And we moved onto another town, Senj, and watched the sun set in Croatia over the Adriatic sea.




The following morning, we left early for a hike.




Cheers,

Jenni and Jeffrey


"You know I wouldn't do that, Mom, it's a national park." (Someone else's grandchild.)




Couldn't resist one more.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

36.01 Austria, Bruck an der Mur: Hike to Peak, Rennfeld.

Having reached the summit, a little further to go to sit on the small peak ahead.




Still trudging upwards as the storm approaches Bruck an der Mur.



We resigned ourselves to not hiking today. We tried hard but could not find the trailhead although we did see a few mountains—not the same thing. We try to persevere because as we have said many times, the harder we try, the more success we enjoy, not to forget the odd pain or two that accompanies the effort. It was going to be one of those days. We had slept most of the previous day, a day planned for an opening hike. However, surfacing at 3 in the afternoon and walking around the apartment dazed does not augur well for a drive to the unknown to walk up-and-down a mountain. Obviously, we were tired. Little sleep on Monday night before the trip, none the following evening on a plane as we flew east will do that to one or, in our case, to two. Instead we went shopping at the Spar supermarket in the late afternoon. We always go to a Spar (if available) when in Europe as it is a nostalgic opportunity reminding us of our South Africa years. Talking of the Spar, we stood near the ATM and watched a local make a cash withdrawal. Interesting. Although we were tired, it did look odd to watch the fellow put his credit card back in his wallet and leave the cash in the machine for us—what a generous guy. Nevertheless, Jen made sure he got his money.




A telephoto of the city as a storm begins to move in.




Editor stops for brunch, the other partner hunts for meat (and potatoes) or is it yoghurt and fruit? (What a whet!)



An idyllic setting nestled high on the mountain taken from the top with a telephoto; perhaps not for everyone though.




Let’s get back to the hike. We left Graz and headed for the tourist office in Bruck an der Mur. We were looking to collect some maps and hiking guides. Our GPS narrator told us we had arrived when we reached a McDonald. It’s incredible that she knows when we need tea or coffee but struggles to direct us to the intended location. We believe she hates hiking trails and will do anything to mislead us. Anyway, we parked and went into an office and asked a young lady, (Sprekken Anglais?) if she knew where the tourist office was. Turned out it was next door but superbly hidden and without any indication of what it was. We found this most ‘unGerman’. Another pleasant young woman gave us what we sought but printed in German. We returned to McD, tea-for-two and to undertake research. Armed with new-found information, we proceeded to get lost, returned and got lost again. We found two elderly Austrian men who spoke less English than we speak German. However, we thought we heard “left, under, left and left.” We did not have anything better to do so we did just that although I nearly missed the third left. The editor was sharp (for a change). We eventually found ourselves on a mountain road, traveling through deep forests and getting nowhere near a trailhead. We had spotted a sign identifying the mountain peak which was most encouraging. At that stage, I suppose, had they pointed to Mount Everest we probably would have been equally encouraged.



We're moving toward the storm, but quite low by this stage, although it has commenced raining and the lightning is consistent but not too close.




"The House on the Hill". Bleak and about to bear the full brunt of the storm as we begin to trot toward our car but not before taking just one more picture.




“We need a walk, some exercise,” we both uttered simultaneously. So we parked the car on the side of the road when we found a suitable spot which took at least another mile of travel. We put on boots, hoped the car would be safe and out the way, and began to walk. After 30 minutes of steep ascent, we arrived at a trailhead. Aha! We knew it all the time—we just wanted to tease you. From there we followed the trail and enjoyed a wonderful hike to the peak. It was a stiff climb. When we add the additional distance to the actual hike statistics, we gained more than 3,000 feet over a relatively short period. For our return, we cooled down nicely in rain while listening to ever-increasing, melodious sounds of thunder. Usually, Jenni's 'favorite' occasions. All-in-all, a wonderful finish to the hiking day.


Some delightful color from 'down the road' in Croatia, … Plitvicka Lakes.



Cheers,

Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

36.03 Austria: Barenschutzklamm, Mixnitz (Mixed nuts, how we remember the name), 2,500 steps toward Heaven.


This is the third of four hikes undertaken in Austria. Truth be told, each one has been tough; alternatively, we're less strong than we think.


An unhappy editor is forced to 'walk the plank'.




Sometimes the pressure is just too great...a need to let it out or through.




We're most grateful for crazy people in the world. They create excitement, challenges, amusement, danger and keep one on the toes (or in peril). Why would anyone wish to build a type of ladder extending through a gorge accumulating over twelve hundred feet of elevation gain following an earlier walk of fourteen hundred (2,600 total) to reach the beginning of the gorge? Beats us but it sure provided a wonderful experience. The power of the waterflow was stunning, the sights and colors extravagant, the surprises terrific and the exertion level, sweat breaking. And typical of much of Europe's alpine experiences, there's usually a restaurant or refugio to provide a bunk or refreshments or both to the weary hiker. In certain ways, The Europeans sure know how to live...then again, they've been doing this for a long time...between wars. We mention the latter as we have come across memorials all over the mountains. In addition, it's clear to a viewer to realize the religious fervor of the old Europe—the mountains and other places contain many religious symbols and relics. Modern Europe is all about the Euro and hand-held gadgets.







Some perspective: More than halfway up and looking in and toward the top of the gorge.




Standing within 15 feet of the flow, we felt the raw power.





Tears from all angles.




In our second visit to Austria, the first to Seefeld, now Graz and the surrounding towns, one can't help notice and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and land. Frequent rain keeps everything so green and lush. The freeways and roads are in good condition, the suburbs neat and tidy and the flowers, nicely cultivated, give off color, beauty and fragrances. The birds are forever chirping but with such thick foliage, who can ever spot them. One final point: When walking along bridges, over precarious edges and holding onto support rails, it makes a difference knowing Germanic engineering is supporting one.



In the first stage of climbing some 2,500 steps, the editor goes above a waterfall, holding on to slippery supports.





Upon reaching the top, we think we're back in Africa as we spot an Ibex or two. Nice bonus. It's a glorious feeling sharing the environment with the wild animals compared with being in a vehicle or at a zoo. Helps when they're not hungry predators.




'Smell that Spring air. Gotta love it.' If I can just rid the air of human odor, life could not be better. Alternatively, he might be reaching to scratch his back.




Had to be a young male showing off.




She continues to rise...still no happier.




Let the flow, flow.




Let's put the waterflows to bed now.





'Tea for two'. After a more than 2 hours steep climb, to find a restaurant at the top of the mountain is a wonderful thing. Tea never tastes as good. Particularly in Europe and often in South America, the refugios are a delight to find on mountain tops. Another thing we find terrific, in fact, it tickles us in a manner of speaking, is walking into different countries after cresting mountains. It's a feeling hard to explain; nevertheless, wonderful.



Cheers,

Jenni and Jeffrey

We remember, in fact, we won't forget cousin Basil who passed from this world recently. A vibrant and dynamic man, he suffered terribly this last decade. We cannot believe he is no longer with us but hope he is in a better place. May his soul be elevated.



Bye.