LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
Tonto National Forest, Arizona. Climbing 'very junior' Weaver's Needle (also known as baby-steps).
'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 enable 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 2019, the blog contained over 1,100 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 and special occasions.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tomorrow’s a travel day so we decided on one more hike before the rest. “Go easy on us,” we pleaded with our editor. She selected what appeared to be an unknown hike of relatively short distance near Lake Hawea. “Apparently,” she informed us, “it could be a little steep but short.” After a late start, we reached the peak of an incredible hike with some of the best lake views we have seen. The climb was also was one of the steepest we have undertaken in New Zealand. We would rate it as simply ‘great’. Our muscles were a little sore at the commencement but truth be told, we ‘ate’ that climb as we powered through the forest, broke the tree line and then almost vertically, assaulted the peak. It was one of those exciting, strenuous and fulfilling days, B’H.
Should a person wish to gain perspective then meet an elderly couple on the same route. Over the duration of the hike, we came across two young couples from Germany and France followed by the Dutch pair who are seventy years old. Coming from the lowlands, this is a treat for them, we would think. We liked one of their comments. “We are visiting New Zealand with our children but decided to take the day off and hike.” They chose this little monster for their rest day. Some say it is close to 4,000 feet but we think less than that—information is scarce—nevertheless, steep and high. After meeting them, any whining we felt like venting, we held in abeyance. We find that if one delays the whine, it makes it so much more enjoyable to let go in the comfort of ‘home’. You should try it sometime. This instant gratification concept is overrated.
In Queenstown, there is much excitement about the Shotover Jets. We went to see what this exciting pastime is all about on the clear, fast flowing river. Red speedboats hold approximately fourteen people and zig-zag along the surface, also cutting through the canyon with the pilot providing thrills by twisting and turning the boat every which way. Ho-hum! What a thrill. We wondered what might happen should he misjudge the narrow walls of the canyon. ‘We don’t think there would be much damage to those canyon walls’, we decided. We did not give it too much thought because it did not hold our interest for long. We returned to the admissions entrance to see how close our guesses were as to the price of a ticket to sit on the boat for less than 30 minutes.
“$50 per ride,” our editor announced. ‘Too much,’ we replied, thinking about the recession, the entertainment value and using our secret evaluation system. ‘$25 is our estimate,’ we announced with an air of confidence.
We may be losing our touch in yet another field. $119 per person to sit in a boat, hold your arms in the air, squeal out loud and then have a picture taken for only another $ 39 package. Wow! We are now thinking never mind sitting on the boat, we should buy one and sail/drive around offering thrills a minute.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
A good resource for finding interesting and sometimes the best places to visit is fellow hikers. Rob Roy Glacier, part of the Aspiring mountain range, is a wonder we tried to hike some years ago but apparently lost our way. If nothing else, we are consistent. That’s what Jenni says, the ‘losing our way’ bit. However, it seems impossible because Mount Aspiring is at the end of the road. One drives on this highway from Wanaka and it literally ends at the mountain. Simple. The challenge is that for forty minutes, one ‘glides’ on a ‘washboard’ gravel road—that’s tough—which includes cattle grids and fords. Otherwise, it’s plain sailing.
As an aside, we met a charming couple on the Milford Track who are from Sri Lanka but live in Hamilton, that’s on the North Island. Our bias favors (heavily) the South Island over the more populous neighbor. Yesterday, while hiking up to the Rob Roy viewpoint, we bumped into the Rajanayaka’s. Although it seems like something small, it is very special meeting up with people we know, randomly. We crossed paths on the hike and some five hours later, spotted them again while walking in the town of Wanaka.
Last Shabbat, we took a longer than usual stroll along the lake and stopped to talk with an Irish couple. The British gentry visit the colonies on a regular basis to see how things are progressing. Unfortunately, we could not help them with a ride for their weary bones because of the ‘rest day’ but shouted across the parking lot to a departing shuttle that failed to stop. A kind fellow-hiker, obviously intimidated by our ‘tough-sounding’ voice, volunteered a ride. Nice!
We continued walking, met and began conversing with a family from Tennessee. The son is doing missionary work while waiting for the college year to begin. Mom and Dad are here to see how the youngster is progressing. (We should have sent our kids to this country so that we could have visited every three months to 'see how they were doing'.) The father grew up in San Diego.
An English family, we met on Iron Mountain on Sunday, could have acted in a theatre production. They gave us a rundown of their expectations of New Zealand while the son, clearly preferring to be in Queenstown for the nightlife rather than on the mountains, urged them to 'bring down the curtain'. What’s with people who are fixated with mountain peaks. Grow up already! What’s quite amusing for us is that many people want to share something with us, which is lovely; they often recommend favorite restaurants, bars and nightclubs for us to frequent. We have a long list to visit…in another lifetime.
New Zealand is not a ‘one trick show’ as far as the natural beauty is concerned. On the South Island, as in life, all one has to do is ‘look up’. After the weeks we have already spent savoring the delights, how could the Mount Aspiring experience compare. Not too bad, we say. In fact, it is such an awesome and magnificent sight, that it makes one wonder how so much beauty, mystery and spectacles can be concentrated in one place. We focused first on the blue sky, then the clouds, the mountain, glacier, myriad of waterfalls, trees, river, water flow, meadows, surrounding mountains, cattle, sheep, bridges…that was from one spot. The place is alive, dynamic and uplifting.
After a seven-mile hike with only 1,000 feet elevation gain, we were still feeling tired following the previous day's monster climb. Hopefully, our editor has a 'rest-day' planned although we wouldn't bet on it.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Each night in the huts, the ranger on duty practices his or her stand-up comedy routine. It seems to work as the audience is pretty tame—most are tired and dirty or focusing on the meal. Nevertheless, things like safety measures have to be mentioned, eco issues as always, of course and other odd items including a little education. Some of the rangers are funny with humor that is often very dry. On the last night, we loved the comments from Ranger Jenny. “In case of fire, rush out onto the helicopter pad. We’ll have a group hug and then figure out what we should do from there.” We liked that.
We find that we have a new zeal in this country. Okay, okay. We just thought if the rangers do it, why not us. Thus far, everything we have experienced has either been a wonderful physical challenge and/or magnificent beauty—usually both simultaneously. However, there is one negative in the Fiordlands. The sandfly. This is a pest smaller and quieter than a mosquito but just as potent with a population in the billions. Get this. They are actually a protected species. Well, we suppose this is New Zealand. It should not come as a surprise that we could be arrested any day soon for multiple murders of these horrible mites. We do have an advantage over them as they move very slowly. As long as a person remains in motion, the pest cannot keep up. Human weaknesses such as stopping to eat, sleep or relieve oneself presents a challenge. We are still working on a solution.
We mentioned the contingent of Israelis we shared time with in the huts. What decent young people. Actually, everyone seems to be young in these environments. Rotem and Lior mentioned that their grandmother nagged them about Chanukah. So when they came across us, learned of Jenni’s well crafted menorah and that we would be lighting candles, their faces lit and they blurted something about divine providence. It was a special time when three sets of strangers came together and appeared to outsiders as old friends, for want of a better term. It reaffirms how critical it is for the people of Jacob to stand together.
Then there's Yves from Switzerland, Geneva of course, with that name. At twenty-nine, he has hiked extensively through Asia recently and is finishing in New Zealand reluctantly. He is a fascinating youngster who is obviously strong, courageous and adventurous. We think Roey and Yves were the only two that could outpace our editor but then both are less than half her age…or we think she might be starting to slack-off a bit. Yves wanted to join us for candle lighting but we appointed him photographer instead. Life is complicated enough as it is.
The length of the day is coincidentally also twenty-four hours long in New Zealand. However, the light remains for nearly the full day. The sun rises before five and Shabbat ends at 10:30pm. That gives one an idea how much can be accomplished during a summer day. Although we had much time to complete the 18 kilometers of the last day, the boat was due to sail at 2pm. Thus, we allowed six hours to reach the pier at, wait for it, Sandfly Point. The pier is just a small loading position in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. We love this informality in the country.
We arrived at Milford Sound port where we had to take a bus to our car some two hours from that point. Sixty km of walking takes a person quite a distance. We had booked for the later bus departure, which meant that we would have to sit for two-and-a-half hours waiting—a waste of time. We approached the bus driver about accommodating us on his earlier schedule. In a neutral tone, he told us the bus was full. Lior, who was already on the bus, shouted through the window: “What now?” We shrugged and pointed to the heavens while positioning ourselves in the sight of the driver. Lior followed our eyes and suddenly, a light 'flashed' through his mind. Meanwhile, we waited impatiently as the departure time approached and then passed. “You’re in luck,” the driver announced. As we boarded the bus, we received a loud cheer from the passengers who had witnessed the little incident. B’H.
Finally, a fellow who had been standing on the side getting some fresh air, greeted us as a fellow South African now living in Christchurch. As we said in an earlier missive, we are small in number but positioned all over the world.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Monday, December 26, 2011
When our editor pauses, puts down the red pen and uses superlatives at machine-gun rate, then a person sits-up and listens. She is the cool and collected team member not prone to outbursts of emotion like her mate. As she likes to remind us, our favorite hike of all time is…at least ten hikes; our top ten comprise at least thirty, at last count. She makes a good point. On the trail today that reached over 4,000 feet into the sky, 16 kilometers return, strained countless muscles, wore out our boots but lifted the souls while filling our brains with images that will remain burned into our memories forever or at least, until next week, if we can remember.
Every now and again a person needs to express his or her feelings. Hike-about provides physical challenges that both literally and figuratively elevate one to soaring heights. We meet nationals from so many countries who each provide information, ideas, entertainment or distraction for a few minutes or much longer, at times. We see kindness, camaraderie, courage, strength and of course, negative stuff, too. When this is combined with survival in the bush or dealing with ‘civilization' when we reach towns and cities, doing some financial work, studying a little (never enough), davening (prayer), exercise and a few other activities, one wants, as Mannie Edelstein will tell you—carpe diem—to seize the day, seize the moment. In fact, if you think about it, that’s all we are certain of; the rest is out of our hands.
Jenni’s observation of the hike was poignant. At all times, one can see the commencement point, the peak, the lakes and surrounding mountains. At the peak, the view is 360 degrees. It is arguably one of the best hikes for visuals and beauty, most strenuous, including a finish either, on the safe path or the shortcut along a slippery steep edge. Our editor chose wisely, of course—the sandy edge. The complete hike is steep—over 1,600 feet elevation gain per hour. There is, however, a fringe benefit. Watching the behavior of the sheep as they deal with the perceived threat (us) and on the negative, avoiding the sheep manure—it comes at one fast and slippery. Observing the lambs nervously prance around the ewes is a treat.
On the Milford tramp we asked Cedric and Donald a few questions about animal husbandry. “How do you decide which sheep are due for slaughter?” ‘By weight.’
“How many ewes does a ram service?” About a hundred, we think they informed us. Wow! “What happens to remaining rams?” ‘We slaughter them.’ “Is that fair?” we wanted to know. A ram loses out with the ‘womenfolk’, which is a major punishment in itself. As a consolation, he becomes mutton. We’ll never think live is unfair again.
To any rugby enthusiast, we had quite an interesting experience a little way into our descent. A couple approached us, looking very weary, which was not surprising. The man was about 6’6”, the woman, petite. We joked that it was not unusual to be tired after 4,000 feet. “We underestimated the hike and are without nourishment and water,” said this big strapping guy. We gave them our water and peanuts, which creates for us, great joy. Who was the fellow? Peter Whiting, a former All Black lock forward who toured South Africa during the ‘seventies'. We spoke for a while and perhaps wrongly, turned down an invitation to join them for drinks later. As our editor is not a big beer drinker and wasn’t much of a rugby player either, we thought that was the correct decision—probably not.
Finally, we met and spoke a few times on the trail with four Israelis who have just completed their military service. They were all younger than our youngest, Robbie. Once again, it was a good experience to be in their company for a while and swop stories and suggestions for hiking in this beautiful country.
Jenni and Jeffrey