LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
Argentina: Iguazu Falls after heavy rain.
'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 2018, the blog contained over 1,000 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.
Friday, May 31, 2013
The sun catches the peak of The Eiger, a wonderful moment. (If we had a den, we'd frame the picture.)
One of the most beautiful spots in Grindelwald, Fiescherhorner
Returning after discovering too much snow tumbling down the mountain; Eiger Glacier separates us
Life is a collection of trade-offs. You want to go hiking at high altitudes, then forego the beauty
of snow-covered mountains. "But Mommy, can't we have both." 'No, Jeffrey, it doesn't work that way.
Now take a hike.' Sometimes when we make a point we tend to knock the recipient over the head. Sorry
for that. Funnily enough, as much as we like, actually love mountains, when you remove the snow, some
can be quite drab. Mind you, not all. However, hiking and climbing them is never dull.
Jenni overlooking the town on way down from Baregg
An awfully wonderful place. In a way, (nearly) lucky to have had so much snow.
It was just yesterday that the locals were commiserating with us over the bad weather. When we saw the
sun break through early this morning, we hit the trails. Unfortunately, the presence of sun does not
mean clearing of the ground for access to high elevations, immediately. Off we went to Pfingstegg, a
cable station and restaurant. To get there, we left our house, walked down steeply beyond the village
only to have to climb another 1,600 feet through a forest. This is one of the few trails that has the
wilderness feel to it. We then continued towards Baregg for a climb of a further 500 feet (our elevation
gain). Unfortunately, the trail was closed but the sign did not indicate why. At first, our thought was
because of heavy snow on the trail. We were naughty again and climbed the gate.
Wetterhorn contrasted with grass not snow-covered, for a change
Shreckhorn looks a complete mountain at level below top; looking further up, the peak twists
through the clouds
Jenni on trail in front of Fiescherhorner. The Eiger across the way, glacier between. Note the trail hugs
the edge much of the way.
Why, we don't know but there was an eerie feeling walking alongside the eastern side of the Eiger with
Fensteraarhorn at rear and Fiescherhorner in front. Maybe because we were outside the law but our sixth sense
was active. By the way, they are truly magnificent sights, especially the latter two. After a while,
we noticed large blocks of stone and rocks on the trail, obviously having rolled down the mountain.
Thereafter, a number of snowballs hurtled down towards us. At that stage, we understood the hazard
was not snow on the ground but the threat from above. Reluctantly, we made the turn. We are enjoying
the beauty enhanced by snow immensely but unfortunately, are being hindered in reaching altitude.
Nevertheless, we have enjoyed incredible experiences at the higher altitudes before today and since.
Notice various snow falls, small avalanches coming down the Eiger (front and middle)
Another picture of our favorite. The snow began melting soon after, changing the look.
Surrounding giants across the way
When we returned from the Baregg trail, we stopped in at Pfingstegg for tea, some 1,600 feet
above the town. We met an English couple who went on to tell us of their experiences in a 'narrow boat'.
It almost sounds like a love story but is nothing of the sort. Essentially, the canal system of England
has a width of seven feet thus only permitting narrow boats to ply the waters. They own one of these vessels
which they use to explore the country. It was an interesting discussion on a number of topics in an easy
language, English. Their point was that they purchased the boat after Robert narrowly escaped death—carpe diem.
Sitting very high above the town and looking into it with the captivating surrounding mountains did not
make it any less pleasing.
Schreckfeld peak 'toys' with clouds, can't get enough of these guys
On our return, down the always steep and very steep mountain trails, we picked up provisions at the
store. With backpacks overfilled, we had one of the toughest walks ever. Up acute inclines, weighed
down by Jenni's cokes and tired from the earlier climbs, we struggled back home, nearly another
250 feet up at the day's end. The accumulated elevation gain was 2,300 feet, the least of three days but felt
greater. That we do this for pleasure makes us wonder, sometimes.
Ebony and Ivory in one package
Milk delivered fresh, 'poured' while you wait, a Swiss drive by. In fact, so fresh, you get a bucket of dung with it.
The team just passed 'our house'. We occupy the ground floor so in theory it's possible to 'pull the lever' oneself.
Just one more before we let you go.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
What's not to like and fear. A 'bloody monster' challenging the heavens.
On my own...
Hold tight, Girl. Jen comes down and readies for a slippery corner
Each country or at least, each region has its hazards. When we first visited New Zealand and Hawaii, the
‘snakeless’ islands allowed us to take our eyes off the ground, giving us more opportunity to watch for
sandflies, a mosquito type of insect. In the Western United States, snakes, bears, wolves, cougars are
potential threats. For South Africa, remove bears and wolves but add leopards and baboons; in addition,
include the most dangerous ‘animal’ of all, the mugger on some city trails. In Europe, besides
the hazards common to all natural areas, it seems that standing in animal dung ranks as a big one,
especially from cows.
What me worry, Alfred?
Breaking principle, publishing a picture from a later hike. Silberhorn, after 3,500 feet climbing,
worth every strain and pain.
Thinking of cows, with nobody particular in mind, we noticed that in Switzerland each animal is marked
as well as carries a bell around its neck. We believe this helps farmers listen for their animals in
case of bad weather or other perils. In South Africa, a twist to this system is interesting. We came
across a large flock of sheep somewhere on the Drakensberg Mountains; only the leader had a bell. This
is very economical. In addition, it also soothes hikers because when the sheep don’t move in unison,
the sound becomes noisy rather than harmonious. Like all good sheep, they learn to listen for the bell
and follow the leader. It seems an oxymoron to have a sheep as the leader, though.
Monsters of rock and ice. Fresh snow falling each day. Summer has been deferred for a while
On way back, looking towards Bort Station. Cable cars running without passengers.
We had a treat today. We left our lodge before 5:30 this morning, heading to Switzerland via
Lichtenstein. The weather was miserable. In fact, it even snowed at ground level overnight and
rained during part of the journey. Unfortunately, we had to get our car back quite early so we
could not afford to get lost—tough break. Anyway, the afore going was certainly not the treat to
which we are alluding.
Meet our new pal, Ol' North Face. We're searching for the clothing factory, maybe somewhere about
What are the chances of meeting a South African-born couple, from San Diego, living in the
same community (at least when we were more permanent), sitting in the foyer of an hotel in Interlaken?
That’s where we had to return our rental car. Actually, the chances are good as we arranged to meet
Suzanne and Brian Marcus there. It was delightful to spend a little time together—it made our day.
When we parted, they headed for Bern while we took the train to Grindelwald, a town of dramatic mountains.
We are grateful to Suzanne for helping carry/pull one of our bags to the station and to Brian for
encouraging his dear wife.
A Winter...um summer wonderland. Trees took a snow dusting overnight
Happy Girl about to complete climb of 3,000 feet, strong and courageous, too.
The weather is problematical as winter is following spring this year in Europe or at least, where we
are traveling. We met two couples on the trail who said, ‘in fifteen years of visiting the area at
this time of year, they’ve never experienced such cold and snow.’ The locals are complaining bitterly
about the return of winter. For his own sake, Mr. Gore (I Invented the internet), should keep away from
here or at least allow a little more global warming. The cold is no problem for us; it’s the snow.
Many trails at high altitudes are closed which is very disappointing.
Glacier or snowfield—we'll check tomorrow
Everyone's a little mishugana
Today, we thought we’d see for ourselves. We left our home, a truly beautiful place positioned under
the Eiger, and headed up to Bort and then onto Schrekfeld. We gained a little under 3,000 feet in
elevation which was amazing as we still had much energy to move higher and wished to advance. However,
thick snow prevented us pushing forward to First. We had no idea who’s on First but the fact that a
Swiss Mountain Restaurant was closed tells you how bad things are, weather-wise. Nevertheless, submerged
in the beauty and the effort required to power up those mountains, made it an incredible start to this
leg of the trip. Our fear, of course, is being hampered by the snow. Once again, we hope the pictures will
tell you the real story of a wonderful day.
Before closing off, we thought of mentioning that tomorrow is our third anniversary of Hike-about. To celebrate
or not to celebrate: That is indeed the question.
Just when all looked bleak, the sun said 'hello'. Overpowering and intimidating, Fiescherhorner & Finsteraarhorn,
a personal favorite.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Suzanne and Brian Marcus in Interlaken, so good to see them
Tree has potential to keep growing. A few feet more and it could surpass the Eiger. Hmm!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
13.06 Leautascher Geiser Klam (Gorge) in Austria and Germany, 'anschluss' so to speak: 13.07 Alpine Hut, Brunnstein Mountain
At the Gorge, on a magic carpet ride
Heavy, low clouds blocked the rest of our views leaving just this one
‘Let’s take a drive into Germany’, we suggested to our editor. ‘Why not’, she answered. We did just that.
Off we went to Geiser Klam, the land of goblins, gremlins and who knows what else. We can’t say we saw any of
these characters in the fairyland that straddles Austria and Germany. We entered through Mittenwald which is
probably an hour from Munich. We did get a little lost but recovered nicely to arrive at the gorge in reasonable
time. Everything is an experience from interpreting signs, trying to read German because our Afrikaans improved
after a recent South African trip—who are we kidding.
At the narrowest part of the cliff ledge, the gang would not let us through. That's when you appreciate
the advantage of 4 legs
The gorge is obviously in a mountainous region, also positioned in a forest, a type of rustic theme park
dealing with the history of rock formations but without Mickey Mouse and the gang. The exciting part was
climbing to be above the gorge and then walking along a steel and wire bridge suspended on the side of a
cliff, for at least a kilometer. Below, a river of ice-blue water flowed strongly. It is very attractive
indeed. Our editor, who is courageous and deals with all sorts of hazards as a matter of course in her
daily life, doesn’t like to walk on bridges without a solid covering. We had a little fun in teasing her
for all the times she has called us a ‘wuss'.
Editor out of her comfort zone but always game
We recently wrote about our experience in South Africa while we were climbing a chain ladder to the
peak of Mont-Aux-Sources and thinking of affirmative action for reasons of survival. We had a similar
thought today but brushed it aside immediately as we knew we were in the land of engineers and people
of precision—a comforting thought.
The following day we undertook a hike on Brunnstein Mountain, along the border again. For reasons
unknown, the idea of taking a walk/drive into Germany resonates with us. This time our path to the
hut, which is a restaurant, was in Germany although the mountain occupies space in both countries.
Sometimes we find that the hikes are easy compared with finding the trailhead. ‘From Charnitz,
drive to the closed customs station, cross the railway line, continue towards Mitterwald, look
for the farm and then turn left’. This set of directions is not what we have come to expect from
people of precision. The hike actually commenced across the highway, nearly half a mile away.
We’re not complaining. Who doesn’t love a warm-up before a 2,200 feet climb in a very short
distance. We acquired altitude at a rate of 1,600 feet per hour which attests to the steepness.
Editor suggests taking a short-cut to the top. Dodo believed her
'Okay, this is the deal. If you don't get out the way, I'm going to kick you in the rear (if I can get to it).
By the way, get a haircut."
The gorge is a delight; the water an ideal color
Some may ask why we throw out these numbers and statistics from time to time. Besides the need
to fill up space, record it for a later period in our lives, it is objective. Whereas one may
say this or that was a tough hike, absolute numbers do away with subjectivity and exaggeration.
This is a good thing as one tends to believe one’s own nonsense. Numbers, of course, don't lie unless...provided
Field of Dreams
One has to marvel at the Europeans sometimes. They build restaurants on mountains, often without
motorized access. Imagine phoning up your date and inviting her out for dinner. We’re going to
Brunnstein Hut tonight. Wear boots without heels. Tell your folks we might be late in case of
rain, snow, tripping over tree roots, rocks or debris. Sounds wonderful. You should tell her
the elevation gain in case she needs to bring an oxygen tank. Seriously though, we have seen
Germans in all sort of physical shape both here and wherever we have hiked in the world. Yet,
they take to the mountains like goats. We think it builds strength, both physical and mental.
We can understand the Germanic nations being formidable competitors, something we did not
have to mention.
Editor earns a cup of tea after 2,200 feet climb. Price 1 Euro; delivery, add 3 Euros
This concludes the Austrian leg. We now move to a place in Switzerland which we believe is
particularly blessed with natural beauty—Grindelwald.
Jenni and Jeffrey
To Editor: "You keep me hanging on": Sorry, a slow day.
Face off: Language barrier proving to be a problem at all levels
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Standing above Wetterstein Hut, clouds blot out the sun
Similar view but now clouds dissipate
Something one cannot ignore in the hamlets and villages is weather. It changes at the drop of a hat
and with the winds blowing regularly, hats tend to drop off frequently. Each day is different. For that
matter, each hour is, too. Today we were in snow again (at higher altitudes), heavier than the day before
and within twenty minutes, the sun shone and the sky was blue. In fact, the blue was so clear it was as if
it had been washed by the clouds. Thirty minutes later, the sky became grey and it turned cold. This process
repeats itself constantly. It makes for wonderful scene changes but probably is not ideal for tourists. The
locals have no choice but to accept it.
Tranquility after a 'near storm'. Foreground looks park-like but is rather rugged.
Talking of the locals, we spoke to Regina this morning, a charming woman in the lodge office. One thing
led to another and we smiled inwardly when she mentioned how unfriendly the Swiss are. We got news for you,
lady—we hope she doesn’t read the previous missive of Austrian charm. On the hike today, there was one other
couple, at least half our age—we’re being kind to ourselves. We got talking and in another of those coincidences,
Marcus, currently of Munich, Germany was born and lived in Durban until 14. Thus far, we've met two couples
over six hikes, (it’s killing our averages) one English couple and now a former South African. We chatted
and walked together for a distance; many of the hikes which we undertook recently in the old country he was
familiar with, having done them with his local wife, Isabel. Just to be clear, he only has one wife, local
Jenni stands on cliff edge at hut level, absorbing it all...we think...as light snow falls
These scenes reach somewhere deep in our souls
Tomorrow, we’re heading into Germany, another country we have been reluctant to visit for reasons
not logical. We are a mere ten miles from the border. From some of the peaks reached, we have peeped into
that country and liked what we have seen—more mountains. Today’s hike was identified from Hohe Munde,
Sunday's attempted climb to the peak. We looked across the valley at the amphitheatre formations at the
time and were impressed, definitely worth a try We followed the trail to the Wetterstein Hut and then
further on and upwards. As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, the weather played another important role
in creating outstanding scenes even though we got a little wet, cold, snowed on and finally, hot. As we sat
down to eat on a rock, with the marvelous scenery about us, it began to snow. We left after eating part of
the meal as the weather looked nasty. It made sense to get to lower ground, some 2,500 feet lower. Within
ten minutes we turned to see the sun shining brightly, the rays bringing out the best in the rock face of
You have to love the editor. It's snowing and we are told to smile for a 'shot'.
(Two sets of huts below)
In another spark of genius on our return, we said to the editor that we should try an alternate
route using one of the steep, rocky paths. Unfortunately, the problem is we are not genius material.
After overshooting the car park, we had to walk uphill for half-a-mile to find the correct junction
so that we could walk down again. This is going to cost us dearly which was exacerbated by the editor's
sweet forgiving attitude—if only she'd thrown a tantrum.
A little amphitheatre on the Wetterstein Mountains, bordering Germany
Often, while hiking, we'll come to a halt, look about and be amazed where we find ourselves,
what we observe and how insignificant we are in the greater scheme of things. It is truly special,
uplifting, humbling, invigorating, tiring and sometimes, a little nutty. However, you do what makes
sense even when at times, it doesn’t. We think we acquired a little altitude sickness, some snow on
the brain, over exhaustion of body parts and tremendous pleasure which binds it all together. This
could be why we seem somewhat confused. Always climbing, never getting there!
Jenni and Jeffrey
Meantime, back in the village:
A view from a hill above the village: Man's structure forefront, nature's in the rear
A little color in Seefeld
A village nestled under snow-capped mountains