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.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
May not be the 60's, but it's real flower power.
We were stunned by many scenes such as this.
We tried to catch a troop of baboons unaware of our presence. "I do believe I've put on
a pound or two," she seemed to be thinking. Perhaps some liposuction...?
We arrived in Kamberg, found the ranch at which we had reserved accommodation, parked the car
and went in search of reception. There was not a soul about but for some cows and horses. In the distance,
we saw blesbokke (antelope) grazing. The property has a large house which accommodates up to sixteen
people and nearby, a cottage. We remembered that we were promised the manager’s cottage so we decided
to off-load our possessions there instead of the ‘intimate’ house. We walked in to hear music playing,
some of our favorites, too. The atmosphere was delightful. Had the editor not held us back, we might
have made an offer for the cottage. Instead, later we made an offer to become the manager so we could
live in the cottage. Sometimes we might be considered impulsive. The beauty surrounding us, especially
Mount Lebanon towering above, did nothing to change our favorable feelings.
With good light, reasonable positioning and some luck, we only needed to press a button to capture the Giant.
One of the many 'hills' confronting us along the way.
Could never feel the same without a view of Cathkin, Monks Cowl and Champagne Castle
but really fascinated with foreground. This is the opposite side from Cathedral Peak.
Once we had settled, we met our neighbors, Mark and Heidi, who are locals on a short fishing vacation.
It seems that fly-fishing is a big thing worldwide. Two days later, Mark asked whether we had
a barometer. We don’t even have a GPS; a barometer is far too sophisticated. Apparently, he felt that as
the fish weren’t biting, it was probably because of an upcoming weather change. We smiled as he sounded
like a golfer who finds problems with the greens rather than his putting stroke. Thereafter, we met the real
manager, Thalia Thain. She's quite a personality, runs a good operation and made us feel very welcome.
We love her name, too. We extended our stay as we enjoyed the Kamberg area vey much.
Giants Castle is overpowering and looks completely different from each angle viewed.
The unique Drakensberg with its basalt and buttresses.
Back to the first day. A few dogs arrived outside the cottage. We decided to introduce ourselves. We’ll
pat you down and you smell us, kind of thing—that’s what happened. That night at 9:30pm, we were working
when we heard scratching at the door. One of the dogs had arrived to say ‘hello’. We’re not that pet
savvy—we didn’t know whether to send her home or invite her in for a drink. What do you offer a dog…Diet Coke
somehow seems inappropriate. Anyway, it was probably not a good idea to bring a female into the cottage after
Jenni had retired for the night.
We have lived in big cities, spent some time in small towns but few stays in rural areas. However, the
rural regions in and about the Drakensberg are a delight. Sometimes, it feels that we are in another world.
It is a surreal feeling. Fortunately, we have many of the regular comforts of the city but the beauty,
tranquility and simplicity of country life. Frankly, it’s an amazing life style; it provides fulfilment
and joy as long as one fills the day with productive activities…whatever that means for each of us.
Jenni stands at the highpoint of World View hike.
South Africa is a fascinating country beset with problems and blessings. It is an African country and
therefore, it works differently from a modern western country. Should one be able to accept the
inefficiencies of Africa, a person can enjoy an amazing life. Security issues, unfortunately, are a
great worry, a curse really. Looking beyond the above issues, there is a quality of life that is, we
think, unique. There’s still a lot of African in one of us and it’s not going away, it seems.
We don't think it gets prettier than this notwithstanding it being rugged.
We had to include this one as he felt left out. He couldn't wait to show off his purple t-shirt.
We entered the park Friday morning and after securing our windscreen wipers from the crows’ fetishes
(see earlier blog), headed towards a kopje that is named the World View. We think we’re fortunate to
have captured on film or should that be disk, some of the beauty of this region. Giants Castle dominates
the one side and our favorite, Catkin Peak with Monks Cowl and Champagne Castle, the other. In between
is Tom Thumb, another peak above 10,000 feet. The hike was on the easy side, gaining only 1,300 feet over
a distance of about nine miles. Once again, there were scenes filled with color that took our breath away.
We think some of the pictures give a fair indication of another wonderful part of the Drakensberg.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
our goals. Perhaps our mantra is that if we don't sweat then the rewards are somewhat dissipated. Nevertheless,
there are times when we wish the Editor would be a little easier on us.
Last Friday and Sunday, we spent many hours in Giants Castle Game Park, another wonder of the Drakensberg.
Pictures and anecdotes will follow a few days after this blog, highlighting the results from another knock-out
set of experiences. Truth be told, too many of these knock-outs and yours truly will be laying on the ground,
Set out below are pictures with some verbiage which we hope will give you an idea of the fun, quirks and
generally, our way of enjoying the precious gift of life.
"I'm sure I ordered fries with that. 'Bloody humans' are good for nothing. And how come there's never
any ketchup. Who eats fries with mustard? And...this really ticks me off...the grub's always cold. Talking
of ticks...Hey, sweetheart! I need you."
As an aside: Note the effectiveness of the animal tamper proof bin.
What can I do? He's a male after all.
"The junk food epidemic is worse than I thought. When he said let's go down to MacDonalds, I thought
he meant the farm...you know Old MacDonald's."
"His mother should see him; she'd turn in her grave. Father? He never knew him, good-for-nothing
"Hold on a minute: Hey Bobbe, throw me a crust, I just had my incisors sharpened.
Okay, where we were? What was I barking?"
The signage tickles us. We covered the windscreen wipers with bark and trash bags.
We've heard of fetishes but this takes the rubber...cake.
We wondered if it's one particular crow with issues or is this specie-wide?
Security issues in the country have no boundaries.
Fortunately, on each visit to the park we have managed to conceal our rubbers safely.
Could an animal rights extremist group try rid cars of windscreen wipers?
With crows' ingestion of rubber: Will it affect those who 'eat crow' or how 'the crow flies'?
Are there implications for the condom industry? We don't know.
Most importantly, are we losing it—one hike too many, perhaps.
Talking of signage, we missed taking a photograph on the highway while passing through the Orange Free State.
It read, "DRIVE CAREFULLY WHEN WET."
This gave us much pause for thought. Are drivers who towel-dry, after a shower or swim, excused from driving
carefully?' Should people be made to drive damp in the interests of safety? Are dirty people better drivers?
Who knows? We spend much of our time puzzled, not only lost.
We got excited when we saw the following advert: “VIEW RHINOS AND ZEBRAS ON HORSEBACK.”
Imagine that. Can’t wait to see a female rhino ride side-saddle on a horse. What a country!
The 100th sleeping position on trail captured on film.
Seriously, we have been awarded a hiking prize which is about to be confirmed,
'The Southern Hemisphere's Laziest Hiker.' We don't intend this to go to the head. We will not
rest on our laurels...hmm!...actually, we will continue to rest until we clinch a similar award
in the northern hemisphere.
We're sitting in warm Harrismith at a petrol station,
Without a chair but have a full tank of gas and anticipation;
We're headed for the renowned and breathtaking Drakensberg,
Rather than homeward bound, we're sure you've heard.
We acknowledge and give thanks to Simon and Gar,
Who inspired our ditty a long time ago from afar;
We'll end our clumsy words by wishing you the best,
And look forward to seeing you upon returning West.
We were coming down a trail after a long hike and this dung beetle was moving upwards.
Jenni wondered to where he was rolling the dung. (Wonderful way to keep the trails cleaner.)
'Let's follow him,' we suggested. We did. His wife, or these days it seems one must say 'partner', came to the door.
"How was your day, Babe?' She asked.
'Different day, same old dung,' he replied.
There's nothing humorous about the following. We understand that there will always be poor people. However,
we are appalled and disgusted when the leadership misappropriates taxpayer funds in furthering their private
lusts while so many live in squalor. Freedom for whom? The reality is ugly.
The only store we saw while passing through this town.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Autumn arrives in Natal as leaves fall. A view from our living room...not bad.
Back on the hike, another look down a gorge as the colors rear up at us.
A favorite scene as we watch the sun light up the area below the Cathkin group, including Monks Cowl.
The trails in South Africa are tough. However, in all our hikes thus far, we have met but one small
group of locals. We don’t know what it means but perhaps they know something we don’t. Could it be too much
biltong, braaivleis and Chevrolet? After four hours, we crossed paths with a Canadian and his African
trail guide. Once again, they were the only two people we saw all day on the mountains. Yet, we are never
lonely. Says something about our editor.
We had left the town of Winterton early in the morning, arriving at Cathedral Peak Hotel where we parked
the car and set out to face this formidable mountain and her sisters. In our rush to get going and
the fact that we had left the cottage in the dark, arriving after first light, we forgot to turn off the
headlights of the car. After one of the most tiring hikes, we set out in search of a jumpstart. The staff
at the hotel were most helpful, fortunately. Jenni did not seem up to the task of giving the car a push to get
started. Clearly, she's not what she once was.
Jenni in the thick of mountains, an exciting place to be.
A scene on the way to Kamberg, the other side of Cathedral Peak. Gone fishing.
The Outer Horn, the same height as Cathedral, protects her flank.
As we get higher, scenes like this one become etched in the mind...we hope. The hotel lies
below the extended buttress.
It was incredible to summit many of the smaller mountains on the way up and face the Cathedral
after traversing three of her neighbors and punching through a gulley. A key point en route was to reach
Orange Peel Gap, a name not out of place in South Africa. Thereafter, one traverses a few more mountains
and another gorge positioned before the final ascent must be tackled. The latter gulley/gorge is very tough,
a rock and rough terrain scramble for what seems an awful long way upwards at an incredibly steep angle.
At all times, the peak seems to beckon to weary hikers to ‘try me, if you can’. Jenni summarized it
concisely when she mentioned after some rest, “I did not realize I had so many body components that could
hurt at the same time.” Two days later, she felt better but was still stiff and hurting in a few spots.
The line-up in this part of the Drakensberg.
Returning after deciding that life is too precious to risk it, just above this position. As an aside,
might or might not be a lesson in the art of shoe lacing.
A field of dreams on the way to Kamberg. One for Kwa-Zulu Natal.
An added touch would have been to see antelope again but there were none on view—we did notice a couple of
baboons de-fleaing each other, though. In addition, we viewed birds and on one occasion, nearly jumped out
of our skins when they flew from a low bush-nest, squawking as if we were hostile. This occurred on a narrow edge
and certainly made the adrenaline flow a little quicker through the body. We passed a trout hatchery early on and
in a gorge, came across a ‘friendly’ snake. Our definition of friendly is one that has no hostile intentions.
By the time we got close to ‘home’, the trailhead, if an elephant had passed by, we might have snubbed it. Although
we were not too tired, the rocks and stones played havoc with our feet. Thank goodness for the visuals as they had a
soothing and distracting effect for our worn bodies.
A hop, skip and jump over the mountain behind, the editor comes down in one piece.
Another of this well-received position, high, colorful and deep.
A last look at a very intimidating sight as we bid farewell to the Cathedral after coming out the
gorge positioned below on the right.
We took more than our usual amount of time on the hike which added to the experience. It turned out that
we ate breakfast overlooking a waterfall after commencing soon after sunrise, lunch staring at a dam many miles
distant and closing with an early sunset. Dinner was a more formal affair in our diner aptly called, The Purple Cottage.
Our editor hiked all day but continued to provide her usual high standard of cuisine...veggie-burgers...cuisine?.
Jen turns to look down into the gorge from the Orange Peel Gully after arriving a 'little weary'.
A tough one but easier than the next one following 2kms hence.
What an experience, what a region, what a mountain range!
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Early morning, walking from the hotel towards Cathedral Peak, 7 miles distant and over a mile high.
Apprehensive but in for a surprise. (Right of middle at rear.)
Much later, getting closer as we admire the 'manicured' grassy slopes. Peak is right-rear.
We often find ourselves in interesting situations. We remember when we were in Jindabyne, a small town
in Australia, staying at a lodge. The Innkeeper, an English woman married to a local, knocked on our door saying,
“It’s been a while since we’ve been to the movies. Would you mind if we went out for the evening?”
Of course not. Direct inquiries to our room, we told her.
Sitting on the patio late Sunday afternoon after the proprietor of the Purple Cottages had mentioned they were going
fishing, seven sisters with their families (poor fish), we continued using our computers and watching for passing
traffic, all of three or four cars per hour on the main road. Shortly thereafter, a man approached and wanted to
know whether we had accommodation available. He was obviously Chinese in origin, speaking in broken English, and
so we asked as we are sometimes inquisitive, where he was from. We expected to hear ‘China or Taiwan or
even San Francisco’. However, when he answered Johannesburg, we smiled inwardly and realized we were caught off-guard.
We were able to offer some help but are now thinking of hooking up with a credit card company and taking deposits
for accommodations, if not commissions.
Jenni steels herself in a gorgeous environment for the final stretch.
Looking back through a gorge into the valley. (Camera has feature to highlight vivid colors.)
After 3,000 feet climb, the target becomes a reality and pretty scary.
Captivated by this scene. At rear is Cathkin Peak and friends in late afternoon.
Last year when we visited the Drakensberg, we were misdirected when inquiring where the trailhead was
for this formidable hike, Cathedral Peak. Something took hold of us demanding that we attempt to reach the
summit so we have returned. The statistics are daunting—over a vertical mile in elevation gain plus 13 miles
roundtrip. Jenni surprised us when she asked how high the climb would be. She normally knows these things as
she does most of the research. We stuttered and stumbled a bit before admitting that it was about 5,500 feet.
Our highest climb to-date in a day is a little over 6,000 feet but that was in two parts. This is slightly
different, being one solid upward movement, trailhead to peak.
'Minding the gap' between Cathkin and companions in early morning haze (see above photo).
Jenni appears a little apprehensive amongst the vivid colors. Probably, one her finest efforts. Without her,
I would not have been inspired to continue this very trying hike and climb.
A place that's not only for the birds. Obviously been to the chiropractor as she twists her neck 180 degrees.
The magnificent Dragon Mountains or as they are known locally, the Drakensberg are unbelievable. When we
live dangerously, it usually means we are being controversial. Although Jenni disassociated herself from this
paragraph, we would say the natural wonders of Cape Town and the surround are superb. However, the Drakensberg
is a ‘little more superb’. We await an attack from the Capetonians, Swiss, always from Peruvians and
New Zealanders, to mention just a few.
The mountains of Switzerland, remember we are mountain admirers, are amazing as are the rest of Europe, too. However,
like a beautiful woman who does not need makeup to show her beauty, the Drakensberg without snow in summer, is
still outstanding. We struggled today on a very tough hike but were at all times surrounded by the most beautiful
scenery of all time. Bear in mind, there was no snow, little water and yet we were mesmerized. What a place and
it's just one section situate in the central region. To view the amphitheater comprising varying sized and shaped
mountains is remarkable.
A weary boy preparing for the final but eventually, aborted ascent.
The editor never let up as she ascended a mile and nearly whined for a mile down.
The Outer Horn, a sister to The Cathedral.
Approaching the top of the gulley, below the peak.
The hike, from the car park amounted to 13 miles, gaining a vertical mile in elevation and of course,
another mile down. Man, it was tough going. The path was rocky, narrow, on edges and ledges and exposed
to the panoramas at all time. Two sessions in a gorge, both up and down, stretched our limited resources enormously.
It was one of the top hikes of all time combining some skill, a lot of energy and filled with beauty. The sad thing
is that with less than 400 feet to climb we failed to reach the impossible looking peak. The basalt was wet
and extremely slippery. With great reluctance and more wisdom than we normally show, we turned from a treacherous
climb and headed back. After 9 hours on this fantastic range, we failed by just a little to summit. What a letdown
after considerable effort. The excess time was spent taking many pictures and absorbing the wonder.
Approaching Orange Peel Gap, four miles from trailhead and 3,400 feet elevation gain, over 2,000 still to go.
The sun appeared just on time as we catch the Cathkin gang making a late afternoon appearance.
See you next time...
To be continued...
Jenni and Jeffrey
Saturday, April 19, 2014
'Don't fence me in'. From a few feet, this white lion (the new South Africa?) is most intimidating.
We've never wanted a Humvee more than then.
It’s been a quiet period in which we have enjoyed rest and a wonderful time with family and
a few friends. We took the opportunity to visit the Lion Park outside Johannesburg, a quasi-game park—much
more than a zoo but a lot less than the wilds. Nevertheless, it is a taste of Africa and might be more
meaningful to those who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting this mysterious continent, more specifically,
the southern part.
We are preparing to travel to KWA-Zulu Natal, the home of the Drakensberg Mountain range.
The mountain forms a natural boundary between this country and Lesotho. Some of the hikes require that one
takes with a passport as trails cross in and out of each country at altitudes of over 10,000 feet.
South Africa has a multitude of mountains but they do not reach much higher than the Drakensberg.
Back to the park. One of the rules is to keep the windows of vehicles closed. After a fully grown white lion
approached the car on Friday, stopping two feet from Jenni’s side of the car, the regulation took on a
whole new meaning. At one stage, it appeared that this great beast was going to walk right over our
little car. We’re considering mentioning to the authorities at the park to suggest car doors be
locked, too. Grizzly bears or lions, is that our only choice with which to come face-to-face in the wilds?
'Hey, baby, hold still a minute. I think I spotted a pimple.'
'Hey Leo, see if you can catch me, you overgrown pussycat. (The little guy complex in action.)'
We don't have many relations in the Western Cape so we've become less fussy these days.
'I like my man big and ugly, fatso, so you fit the bill.'
'I never thought I'd appreciate a fence until I saw my cousins next door.'
'Come on over, son, I want to give you a big hug and inform you of the facts of life.'
'Contrary to what people may say, there are no flies on me.'
The Cango Caves revisited.
The last from the caves close to Oudtshoorn and under the Swartberge.
Jenni and Jeffrey