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.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
A big sky (clouds) over Mount Woodson.
A hazy evening: Balloonists at dusk, in the distance. Clouds cover the ocean.
Life is filled with tradeoffs. Expressed differently, we face decision making situations continuously.
Once a person decides to follow a course of action, it usually precludes taking an alternative. Sounds heavy
and mysterious. Hardly. However, to bring some relevance to the topic or as our editor might state, get practical,
Jeffrey, we offer the following simple analogy—a hike to explain a facet of life. Simply put, if you want to see
a sunrise or sunset from a mountaintop, a person has to either walk up in the dark and down in the light or the
reciprocal for a sunset, up in the light, down in the dark. There are no other options unless we have
missed it—always a possibility.
Sunrise on Iron Mountain.
Sunset from Iron Mountain, looking towards the Pacific Ocean. What a long day!
'Looking at clouds from both sides now'...with sun in the eyes.
We did just that. Last Sunday morning, we left home at 4:30am so that we would be waiting for the sun
while sitting on a boulder at the peak of Iron Mountain. We were not disappointed because we find that each
occasion is unique. We touched on this once before. It is less about the place and more about the time. We might
add in the factor of dimension too, which could be construed as a person's mood or frame of mind, at the time.
Although we are very familiar with the route and parts of the mountain, on each occasion we experience something
different. Besides being an interesting phenomenon, it might tell us something deeper. Surely, if one is having
a different experience on each visit, one should never be bored. In fact, it might teach that boredom occurs
when we don't open our senses to the surroundings. Perhaps boredom might be considered an internal problem
rather than too much familiarity with external factors.
Back to sunrise on the mountain.
We cross to Mount Woodson to enjoy spectacular views as we rose above the clouds.
There is a need to maintain a balance in life, we think. Our contribution to this idea was to approach
Iron Mountain four days later but this time, hike up in the late afternoon to enjoy a sunset. We arrived at
about 6pm and headed to the peak loaded with dinner to enjoy after the sweat. En route, we witnessed a rainbow
towards the east which was both refreshing and surprising. Later, there was a sprinkling of rain which was even
more refreshing. Both those occurrences are unusual in the region, particularly during summer. We believe the
pictures illustrate the beauty of the setting at the time the sun weakened while clouds filled the depressions
and touched and flirted with the mountains. It was another outstanding occasion as well as being something we
haven't seen before. Similar, we admit, but unique.
Some days, one can only gape in wonder and try absorb what occurs about us.
Looking towards Iron Mountain as the clouds form a link.
At sunrise, a few yellow rays stray over the valley with very little clouding.
Clouds are another phenomenon that, besides being the source of water (and protection), provide
extraordinary beauty in their colors, form and reflections. Once again, every cloud formation is
unique—each day the views are different. Now that we have touched on the idea of their flirting with the
mountains, perhaps we should approach our mountain-editor and shower her with affection.
Island in the sky
Sun, mountains, clouds and a rainbow thrown in for good measure at the 'Iron'.
We feasted on the clouds this morning at Mount Woodson.
We came across a group of hikers who appeared, at first glance, to be a movie-crew poised
over a subject, flashlights focused pointedly. Until we got very close, we had no idea what had captured their
attention. On the path, at the side, lay a rather large and long rattle snake. Each time, it's different. Sometimes
the editor is not so big on 'differences'.
A room with a view.
An eruption in the sky
Following the two hikes to Iron Mountain, we needed to rebalance so we hiked up Mount Woodson, early Sunday morning.
Weather, crowds and aesthetics make it imperative to arrive as the gates open. Unfortunately, this is only a little
before sunrise, preventing us reaching the peak for the 'fireworks'. Nevertheless, the heavy cloud layers were
nothing short of spectacular making us feel we were in a wonderland.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
One of Our Best Hiking exeriences, we think, Mount Kristinartindar, Iceland. (Previously unpublished photos with an essay).
Looks like it's smoking or at least steamin'
Occasionally, someone might ask which has been your best hiking experience. In fact, it happens so seldom that the subject should be declared null and avoid. However, because I qualify as a somebody or at least, a person and I ask the question of myself frequently, it’s valid. How do you like that bit of rationalization? Should you empathize with it, continue reading as there's more coming down the pike. I also have a few things to do in life so I decided not to write this piece to fill space or perhaps more accurately, not just to fill a screen. Rather, I was intrigued about a particular hike we underwent in Iceland that began slowly, picked up the pace and then went onto a chilling climax followed by a long conclusion in near-whiteout conditions with a steady rain to keep things cool. Actually, in Iceland, conditions are mostly cool during summer so the rain is superfluous as a cooling agent.
We spent the previous evening in our tent, packed in the morning at a leisurely hour and made our way to the eastern part of the island, traveling along the southern side. We were headed towards the National Park, Skaftafell. Upon reaching about twenty or so miles of its boundary, the mountains rear up and display themselves proudly. Some are covered in glaciers while others are a harsh rock partly covered with snow. In places, it looks as if they are showing off to passing motorists. Whatever the case, the distinctive tinge of blue and in some cases, much more than just a hint of azure, the glaciers provide remarkable sights. The closer one approaches, secrets of these amazing formations reveal themselves. The patterns of the surface-frozen rivers become clearer. They are in fact dirty, often covered in mud, rocks, stones and debris. From a distance, it looks most attractive because it forms interesting patterns with the bright white and hints of blue dominating clearly. Upfront, almost like an aging actress who is only attractive because of the application of make-up, these phenomena look a little different, still attractive but less so than from distance.
The National Park of Skaftafell.
Approaching the national park.
Walking on glaciers is never easy and in fact, uncomfortable. Not everyone feels that way, but for us, terra firma is more satisfactory. Nevertheless, the sight of these vast fields of snow and ice sitting on and above water never fails to fill us with awe.
By the time we arrived at Skaftafell National Park, midday had come and gone. We checked into another campground, chose our plot and decided to pitch tent. Our thinking was twofold. Should it rain later, we would not have to perform the task in the wet—a good idea. The second reason is that we preferred to set up while we had energy. We anticipated being tired after the hike. With this in mind, all preliminary tasks completed, we set off for the trailhead, a short distance from our tent. Unfortunately, the name of the hike was not on the board. We were sure we had the correct position but decided to make certain. Back to the tent, collect the hiking book and we set off again. Whenever we do something like that, we are proved correct. When we don’t and take a chance, we are usually wrong. You’ve got to love it.
By the time we hit the trail, we met up with a number of people who were doing the easy loops about the campground. Most of the hikes commence from the same position but branch off in different directions. When we began the rather sharp incline, we were a little weary. We generally find that we have more energy in the early morning so it pays to set out soon after sunrise. Of course, it requires one of us to motivate the other to leave the comfort of bed. Perhaps sleeping on the ground is good motivation for early risers. The strange thing was that the more we slept close to the earth, the more comfortable we became. So the apparent incentive to wake early and get off the hard surface diminished so that there was hardly a difference. This is a long way of mentioning that we did not have a high energy level. Meantime, the gradient was steady and quite steep, showing very little mercy for two below-peak hikers. However, another type of phenomenon tends to occur—the hump. If one just keeps pushing, refrains from giving up, a second wind blows in. Together with a sweat and renewed energy, one becomes energized and is able to recapture the equivalent of the early morning energy level. Well, we did just that and lo and behold, our pace improved and we began to eat up the trail. I suppose it helps if one is hungry and not fussy what one eats, too.
Finally, a break in the clouds.
The trail thinned, people wise, after a few hundred yards until there were only a handful of hikers towards the end. The first part was an incline through thick vegetation on a good trail. Thereafter, we walked between two massive glaciers, rising with them towards where their tongues joined with, I suppose, their mouths. We had the pleasure of keeping an eye on the trail while the other focused on the glaciers as well as the spectacular, snow and ice covered peaks. Alongside the glaciers, the land displayed strong and bright colors of brown, green, yellow and orange. The contrast was remarkable. The eyes could rest on the blues and whites or the more earthy tones. Whichever way we turned, we feasted on the various shapes and ‘scapes in all sizes and of course, colors.
By then, we were chugging along, enjoying the hike and wondering where and when the crescendo would occur. We knew it was a long hike—some twelve miles with elevation gain of 3,700 feet should we make it to the peak of Mount Kristinartindar. Well, why not? What’s happened to our self-confidence, you might wonder. It varies from time-to-time. However, hold that thought until we approach the final ascent. Onwards we kept going, always rising. We came across a group that was being guided by a professional. We asked for some directions; we could no longer see a trail. It appears that it becomes a bit of a hit-or-miss in places, over the passes. We continued along the path, fortunately, getting more hits than misses. When I’m hiking with my wife, which is most of the time, I’m trained to avoid both types of misses. We ploughed up higher and noticed a sign indicating that we had only 1.5 kilometers to go. ‘See, Jen, our perseverance is rewarded,” I mentioned to Jenni, trudging a few feet behind. “We need to complete the climb around that mountain face and we’re probably going to reach the end before we know it.” Famous last words.
Coming down the very steep slope, we noticed a young man. We stopped to greet each other. I recognized him from a meeting a few days earlier. We had both camped at the same ground. This fellow, a German, was searching for coins so that he could take a shower at the campground, not on the mountain. The camp was one of those that had that sort of requirement—painful, to say the least. It was fortunate that we were able to assist him and then coincidentally, met him on a rather steep trail. He gave us a quick rundown and concluded that the last few hundred meters were ‘a bit steep’. Okay, we can deal with that. He seemed quite proficient in English but we soon developed doubts.
We came over the second pass and thought we had reached somewhere close to the end. After all, we had just negotiated a very steep section. We looked up and noticed an even steeper section. We put our heads down and continued. However, by that time, the sunshine we had enjoyed earlier for a couple of hours, disappeared. This is a frequent occurrence in Iceland. One cannot tie the sun down to a routine—it’s rather temperamental in that part of the world. Onward Christian…Jewish soldiers, up we go. We made the turn which was the final bend, something one discovers only after completing it. Confronting us stood this ridiculously high and vertical rock peak. The Americans tend to use a phrase, ‘in your face’. Perfect! The last time we felt lacking in confidence was the first time we confronted Angels Landing in Zion. Both then and at Mount Kristinartindar, it did not seem possible that one could scale what looked like a cliff. That’s when the rationalizing process kicks into top-gear. Every excuse, many of them quite good, surface and make a lot of sense. I was adamant that I would not be going further. It had been a good hike and we were effectively complete—except we weren’t. After testing all the reasons why we should turn around there and then, I decided to ‘man’ up. That, I think, means something like quit whining and crying and get up that cliff. It had been a while since I felt that intimidated by a mountain.
Just then, we were stopped by a Dutchman and his American wife. We talked briefly and he decided to join me on the last section but not before deciding against it and reversing his decision again. For sensible reasons, Jenni had decided to wait at the base, braving the cold and wondering whether I was about to make a great escape from her or what would happen if I did not return. At times, she is quite brazen and direct, asking for the car keys and the will…actually, only the former. As the campground was close to the trailhead, the keys were not necessary. Off we went, the Dutch fellow and me. However, after a short while, he decided to end his bid for success. I continued on and upwards while I watched the fast changing weather. The clouds and mist were dropping over the mountain. By the time I reached the peak, visibility was very poor. I took a few photographs on the way up anticipating there would little to view as I moved upwards. Upon reaching the narrow peak, I signed the visitors’ book. It seems a strange term, visitor. Can you imagine saying to someone that you went up that dangerous precipice for a visit? Anyway, I commenced the descent soon afterwards, feeling cold and uncomfortable with such poor visibility. It turned out that there were two of us remaining on the mountain.
I remembered on the ascent that there had been only one directional marker; it proved to be critical. Miss that beacon and a person could end up anywhere. With the clouded mountain, the thought was a little intimidating. Unfortunately, I forgot about the beacon but luckily, noticed it again on the way down. It happens when one is focused on other issues that an important factor like the marker could be overlooked. Finally, I reached Jenni who was in good spirits notwithstanding the circumstances. We gathered ourselves and decided to return a different route which we knew to be longer. I wondered about that. However, Jenni felt comfortable with the decision. We headed down a steep and rocky decline in failing light, heavy clouds continuing to move towards us, and light rain, falling. We were happy to see that the Icelanders anticipate bad weather—they get a lot of it. The trail was marked with beacons. Nevertheless, we made sure that at all times, or nearly most of the time, we could see indications of markings ahead. This became even more critical as we experienced a near whiteout for a short while.
The mountain keeps calling...we're coming.
We kept moving and eventually passed the Dutch/American couple we had met earlier. We moved steadily and noticed as expected, at lower altitudes the weather showed an improving trend. After the 12-mile round trip, we arrived at the trailhead and close to home, our tent. Unfortunately, the rain continued for a further twenty-four hours, making things more difficult than we would have liked. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable as our tent kept us dry although we got a little wet following the shower, after drying ourselves, as the ablutions were a distance from ‘home’. We woke to rain which was a little miserable, making it uncomfortable breaking camp. Fortunately, we had a car without leaks which proved to be most welcome. No amount of dampness could affect the upbeat feeling created by, perhaps the finest hiking experience we can remember. Truth be told though, our memories aren’t what they once were.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Please don't feed the monkey!
Details of the eruption in the vicinity of the bench and table:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
18.18 Mount Eisenhower, a hike in the general's direction 18.19 Mount Liberty, a finale that exceeded high expectations. 18.20 Guilford, Connecticut.
Jenni next to the peak of Mount Liberty.
The weather looks ominous but no time for shortcuts.
The previous three hikes resulted in an elevation gain of a little under 13,000 feet. We don't mention
this to boast...well, maybe a little. Actually, to many strong hikers this might seem pathetic but to the old
editor, it is worthy. She has been strong and well since her knee made a miraculous healing. Unfortunately,
with nothing to whine about, she kicked a rock and now has an awful gash on her shin. She does not understand
that she cannot push the earth around like she does her husband. Of course, we thought we were doing extremely
well until we lost our footing and went for a spill that could have been ugly. These things occur in a
split second. Just to show it wasn't a fluke, we enjoyed another fall on the following hike. We often think that
in a typical day, we take well over twenty-thousand strides each. The chances of not missing a step seems
impossible—sobering to write (type).
Jenni rushes towards the marvelous Washington Hotel of Bretton Woods.
The other side of the structure from four miles distant plus nearly 3,000 feet higher. We're thinking of
buying a crow so as to obtain more accurate measurements.
From peak of Mount Eisenhower, the mist arrived and took away some clarity while improving the editor's beauty. Ahem!
We took a drive to the Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, a few miles down the road. Of course, this is the
sight of the famous Bretton Woods conference of 1944 when the world's financial system was overhauled and
the IMF formed. Nothing but the best of settings for the political class. It is positioned below some of
the Presidential Mountains—in fact, it looks most presidential itself. We sat on the balcony, stretching
what seemed like a mile, and drank tea for which we were able to raise a loan in advance. Little did we
know that on the following day, we would be viewing this majestic structure from, just below the peak as
well as on the peak of the General—Mount Eisenhower. Our camera was amazing as it captured detail from many
miles distant and three thousand feet above. Again, we take so much for granted. To think of the ability of
a camera to reproduce such authenticity is mind boggling; furthermore, it is just one of many inventions that
make life so much easier and comfortable...or complicated?
It's really time to leave, Jen...perhaps she's 'frozen'.
A different view, above the canopy.
Looking towards Mount Washington, perhaps it's getting ready to blow its top.
When we reached the peak of Mount Eisenhower, after climbing some 2,800 feet over 7 miles roundtrip,
we wondered why he was behind the introduction of the Interstate Freeway System in America and couldn't build
a smooth path up his own mountain. Go figure!
Two days later, we headed for the Liberty Trail to reach the mountaintop of the same name. The forecast was
expecting thunderstorms in the afternoon. We set out early in the morning hoping that we'd outwit the weather.
After all, two heads are better than one. Well, we are the exception that proves the rule. A couple of strikes
came close but we were fortunate. The canopy of the forest kept us reasonably dry, a less important aspect in
a thunderstorm though. We left the peak while things looked clear and only a little ominous but were an
hour-and-half shy of the trailhead when we spotted the first flashes. When we had reached the top earlier,
after climbing steeply for 3,000 feet, the whole of New Hampshire seemed covered in low clouds. Fortunately,
a few minutes later, it cleared—talk of good fortune. The roundtrip distance was about eight miles. As an aside,
because of the terrain, we estimate that some of the trails (most) feel a third longer than the typical trails
we usually travel.
After brunch, the editor relaxes and enjoys the magnificent surroundings not realizing
a thunderstorm is imminent.
A finale in the thick, wooded, greenery of New England. From Guilford looking towards Hartford on the left (CT).
As we hadn't eaten at time of peaking, we sat down to enjoy breakfast at which time the mountains suddenly
appeared in front of us, behind, too; the valley opened and we even got another sighting of the Washington Hotel.
We viewed glorious sights as far as the eye could see. It's difficult to say where the best views of the
White Mountains are. However, in seven outings on this range, we were overwhelmed each time—Liberty might be
the favorite. What added to the experience was the opportunity to have a little fun exploring and jumping over
the boulders. Well, you had to be there.
Cheers from the top; we just noticed the Surveyor-General's mark next to our feet.
We said our goodbyes and thanks after Iceland which turned out to be premature. So thank you again for
your interest. We loved having you travel with us and look forward to the next time.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Saturday, August 9, 2014
18.17 Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette, a wonderful pair via Falling Waters and Old Bridal Path, a loop.
Viewing Mount Lafayette from Mount Lincoln, some 4,000 feet elevation gain. The mist and clouds hid
some mountains but compensated with wonderful scenes.
That's it. I refuse to carry a battery with us from now on. Should the editor need a charge,
she should kiss me—rumor has it that it's electrifying.
We wondered how Lafayette made it into the presidential range but we believe names of prominent men of
the 18th and 19th centuries have been included in the prestigious White Mountains. We have been overwhelmed
by the range and region. It is calm in the towns and valleys below but exciting, volatile and most attractive
on the summits. The tough parts are getting to the ridges via the trails through thickly wooded forests on
paths and trails over rocks, boulders, stones and tree roots, usually with flowing water to keep the boots
and feet ‘nice and cool’. There is an intricate system of paths linking the peaks to each other including huts.
Another outstanding aspect of the White Mountains is that they are host to the world famous, if not the
preeminent, Appalachian hiking trail. It is approximately 2,200 miles beginning or ending in Georgia and Maine.
In our infinite wisdom, we decided against attempting it as a day hike. We have hiked parts of it each day and
met people undergoing the endeavor.
Resting at the col before pushing on and upwards.
The editor rests on the peak.
The editor on the ridge between the two peaks, heading for Mount Lafayette.
That brings us to Hannah and Sherene, two young women we mentioned in the previous blog. In the Madison Hut,
after coming down from the peak for a drink, we asked a woman if she was drinking coffee. We had heard someone
say that only tea was available. She replied in the affirmative and that we should get our own. She also
mentioned that we would not like her mixture as it had much milk and sugar in it. From her work experiences,
she knew foreigners like it plain—black with little sugar. She was very spunky, so interesting.
“How do you know we’re foreigners?” We asked. That led to another conversation.
One of many climbs on the 'trail' to reach the ridge.
The mist and clouds provide some wonderful opportunities for viewing. On a Sunday in good weather,
it proved to be a busy trail. The ridge is part of the Appalachian Trail.
I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of swimming upstream, my little salmon.
We asked her where she and Sherene lived when not doing the Appalachian Trail. They were beginning their
fifth month in the bush and mountains. She replied, ‘San Diego’. Hmm! Further discussion followed and we
left. Three days later, we stopped into a McDonald’s to catch up on work as we were between hikes. From
previous experience, we knew where the single power point in the restaurant was. We headed directly there
only to find people occupying our position. Sherene and Hannah were in town replenishing their food supplies
and charging their ‘phones. It was indeed a wonderful surprise and the opportunity to have as serious a
discussion as hikers can. As always, the views and thoughts of others, particularly the young, give us an
opportunity to discover much, whether wacky or otherwise. These two young women were erudite and courageous.
We know we’ll bump into them again.
It's lovely to see the clouds 'sit' on the mountaintops. We suppose they have to rest somewhere.
On the way down, we stopped at Greenleaf Hut for refreshments and a pep talk.
You might gather we loved this scene, between the two peaks. (You might notice hikers on the peak.)
The hike was another 9-miler but it felt slightly more comfortable than the Boott Spur, Mount Washington
adventure. The elevation gain amounted to 4,000 feet, always a substantial hike. Once again, the views
were spectacular, enhanced by volatile clouds covering parts of the mountains before moving on and then
returning. On the way down, we stopped into the Greenleaf Hut, positioned very nicely, high in the
mountains but well below the peaks. We were quite surprised to learn how expensive the tariffs are—they make
Europe look cheap. They do provide breakfast and dinner which makes us smile when one thinks of the service
provided in the high wilds. We wonder if Dominoes delivers.
I'll pass on the jump. A 4,000 feet drop exceeds my 'comfort' level. Okay, I'm a wimp. But wait...
Okay, my 'bomber' jacket is on and feeling confident; the freedom of flight appropriate on top
of Mount Liberty.
Jenni and Jeffrey