LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
California: Death Valley, hiking along the ridge above Golden Canyon.
'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, July 29, 2015
One bird after another. Jen is forced to hide as we approach peak.
Jen posing before bird-attack after stage three of the hike. Major climb still ahead.
'Brain' hasn't explained to 'face' what's coming.
Bird ceases attack after noticing an even more ferocious husband than itself. Instead, 'shows
us the wing'.
What a great hike and experience. With views over the Bay of Biscay and by extension, The Atlantic Ocean
to the south and exceptional sights of Picos de Europa, (the peaks), our day was made. We were fortunate that
the apartment manager took an interest in us and came up with the suggestion. By the way, what a guy.
From the car park, we followed a trail through a forest that could have been in Oregon. The fragrances were of spruce
and pine but we could be wrong. It was easy on the glands until the strong smell of dung superseded it. We came across
horses with their foals, large herds of cows and calves, sheep and of course, the odd bull or two. We can’t say
for sure the bulls are odd but our minds think they are inclined to be dangerous. The trail then levelled off as
we got our first glimpse of the bay.
After an hour we see our destination. It always looks closer and lower than it is. Unfortunately,
we have to go further down before rising again.
Clouds cover Picos de Europa partly as we stand to the side on the peak and applaud silently.
Meantime, Editor enjoys the flowers rather than an extremely steep ascent off-trail.
Across the way from the peak the material composition differs.
When the clouds moved across the land, parts of the surface was blocked from view but all the peaks
were protruding while the rest of their ‘bodies’ remained hidden—it was another of those spectacular sightings,
and of course, better to be there. Using a bit of imagination, the sights were heavenly. After the level off section,
we faced another three segments, steep, steeper and even steeper which took us to the summit. The feeling from above
was different—it seemed so far from the ground. Actually it was. Some 2,600 feet higher. Either we are getting old
(older definitely) or, over in Europe they count height differently—it sure feels that we are climbing higher than
the statistics inform. Now that we think of it, don’t they say: "Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
The interplay of clouds and mountains gave us enormous pleasure. Love the separation of
mountaintops from their bases.
Meantime in Spain, there seems to be a lot of bull around us. We say (beg), 'Share the road.'
"What did you say, Jen? Squeeze him where?"
Jenni stands at the peak with the Bay of Biscay behind her, the mountains in front.
When we hiked in the Picos de Europa region (above), we had not previously seen the Pyrenees. We thought
the area fabulous and world-class. We still have the same feeling but having visited a little of the Pyrenees,
we are, figuratively speaking, ‘knocked out’. We won’t even begin to talk about Andorra. Wow!
Time to leave, heading down a steep slope towards animal farm below.
Could not think of a better place to celebrate my 50th...okay, 63rd. Who's counting?
Wild horses could not drag us away from this mountain. Oh dear, they're waiting on the spine
to drag us away.
We often stand in the wilderness and try to absorb it all. Impossible. There are so many conflicting
feelings and, complementary ones, that as funny as it seems, it can become frustrating. Watching nature work
its magic, both statically and dynamically, is sometimes too much for a person to comprehend. So standing,
usually on a mountain, gazing into the distance that stretches for what seems eternity, one small human feels
lost in the abundance of open spaces. Usually, we are alone which at times allows us to enjoy the tranquility
while on other occasions, the feeling is of an empty world in which no other human resides. Each day the feeling
changes, influenced by one’s mood but often because of the settings and dynamic movements whether it be the sun
and the other stars, the moon, winds, clouds, water or the results of bits of the earth having erupted, never
forgetting the myriad of shades and colors. What an incredibly fascinating place in which to live.
Could not ask for better clouding over the Bay.
Similar but different...Huh!
Jenni and Jeffrey
Haunting but not scary...until you're lost on that summit.
The colors and clouds were (are) a treat, the Bay of Biscay. (An extra for Maude Alge).
Getting ready for Andorra, a gem sandwiched between its protectors, Spain and France.
Reflections in the East.
Looking into Andorra from La Menera Peak (Andorra), on the eastern border with Spain and France, remarkable.
Don't mind him. He needs some height to blow off steam on the adjacent peak to Casamanya. The latter
peak is the opening blog cover picture.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
as action shots, for a change. Please excuse the abundance of self-photographs but they are useful
in 'fleshing out' the narrative and setting the scene for this section of the Pyrenees Mountains.
The night before, it looked like we could enter Heaven by taking the gap.
'Tip-toe through the tulips'; maybe stay on the whole foot, or four if you have that many.
We realized while lying in bed on Wednesday night what a day we had endured, more likely, enjoyed.
However, what really struck us was the level of danger we faced. We had an eerier feeling thinking of
the earlier risks as we dozed than the actual fear felt on the cliffs. These periods of risk creep up on
one incrementally until something in the mind says ‘enough’. Is that the time to exercise caution and perhaps
wisdom or is it a time of being courageous and continuing? Who knows because it is a matter of judgment rather
than an exact science. Should one feel fearful but succeed, does that mean the continuation had been the correct
decision or the wrong one but with a successful conclusion? It's easy to rationalize most things in life which
we suppose is what makes wise judgment the prerogative of few.
A side view of Tozal de Mallo, with still another 1,500 feet to go.
(See story of our ascent.)
A great view from above of Jen returning along a path, as bright sunshine arrives.
Don't fence me in. These are walls so it's okay then? Heading towards the turn to see what
surprise awaits us.
For once, we believe a signpost rather than our judgment was misleading and so our decision to follow
one direction proved to be wrong but ended up creating much excitement. We climbed up rocks, through ravines
and around low flow waterfalls to arrive at extremely narrow ridges. We felt ‘high in the sky’, a tingling
feeling but on occasions quite scary. Many times, it is one thing to climb to heights but quite another challenge
to return down. Having realized we had taken a wrong turn, we tried another route and discovered some interesting
and worthwhile trails and sights—although trail may be too flattering a word. When the editor began to shiver
in the warm weather, we sat down to evaluate our situation but not before partaking of our usual trail breakfast.
Jen is on a fairly 'wide path' in the context of the hike, some 2,500 feet above the ground
before going up another 500 feet.
Using a telephoto lens, we gaze down at a group that is at 2,000 feet above ground-level, the height reached on
that hike, one we did two days before.
The cliffs are alive with the sound of...fluttering hearts. We went up to examine the technical
climbers' route. Impressive is a word that comes to mind. Notice a 'blue speck in a sea' of some
of nature's best.
Returning from the technical climbers' route, we head for the junction to rise another
few hundred feet.
Breakfast proved to be a stabilizer and we gave it one more try. This time we found the correct path
and climbed to within 300 feet of the peak of Tozal de Mallo. After climbing part way up the pitons, we made
a decision that too much adrenaline had flowed through the body by that time. We failed to make the final
push—a sad moment but there are days when one feels less confident than other days. So after an ascent of
something approaching 3,000 feet as well as exploring a number of different avenues, we put our failure aside
and checked a box in the brain to note we have ‘unfinished business’ in Spain.
A view into the valley; also showing the angle of ascent we took.
Some free climbing as we search for the path.
Jenni loses her shine in a 'dark' moment.
We spent a week at the national park, Ordesa y Monte Perdido and surrounds. It is a truly remarkable place.
In a sense, it reminds us of elements of Zion National Park in Utah. However, it differs in that it has fewer visitors
and they are only hikers. There are no roads in the park, only trails, rivers and of course, mountains. During the busy
summer season, access is by bus or on foot only. From the quaint town of Torla, one rides the bus for a fee but without
charge to enter the park. Of course, there is a restaurant at the terminus as well as refugios (huts) dotted about
the park. We have little doubt that another visit to Spain will bring us back to Ordesa. Like many other parks both here
and in other parts of the world, it is a national treasure.
On the way home although not ready to breath sighs of relief, Jenni negotiates
a steep descent but the camera fails to illustrate it.
A great place to contemplate the meaning of life or at least, how to get down efficiently.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Not bad considering the view is from the bathroom. And Jenni wonders why she can't get me
out of there.
The old and very old. The end of the hiking day in the town of Torla, close to the National Park,
Ordesa y Monte Perdido.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Just follow that sign to France, Lady.
The 'Rising' in sun and shadows.
“We’re out of French fries,” our chef announced. Besides being an intrepid hiker and adventurer,
she also cooks, edits, seeks hiking opportunities and directions, occasionally losing directions, too.
You can’t have everything.
“We’ll buy some more at our next shop stop,” I answered, admittedly not a brilliant response. We have
mentioned our restrictive diet over here in Spain. Potatoes and chips (fries) are one of the staples.
“While we’re so close to France, why don’t we hop over and buy the real thing,” she answered.
“You can’t be serious. I’ll settle for the local spuds…they’re fine.” The editor fancies herself
as a comedian, too. Who ever heard of people taking a flight to buy French fries.
“Flight? We’re going walking for them.”
“Yeah! France is next door Spain. We walk out the back gate, up the hill, cross over the Pyrenees Mountains
and before you know it, we’re there.” A regular Hannibal is our editor. Until she mentioned the walk, I thought
she’d lost it. The walk entails a return journey distance of ten miles, a gain of 3,200 feet to reach altitude
of about 7,500 feet. The path is a good one although very rocky and stony. One’s feet don’t talk to you for
a few days after this type of track. The Pyrenees, at least the parts we have hiked, are spectacular and
overpowering. We walk around in awe. Even after a number of years pursuing, whatever it is we’re pursuing,
most days we wonder at sights, situations and our good fortune in this process of discovery. The last few weeks
have extended the feeling, not to mention, pushed us considerably.
This is a mountain that strikes one between the eyes...in a manner of speaking.
An early morning start gave us the 'shining'.
The editor reaches France...Vive le Francais...or something like that. No, no: Viva España.
Then we decided on a different tack. “How about an assault on France rather? Let’s liberate the country,
for a change.”
“But,” retorted the editor, “the war’s being over for 60 years.”
“Not to everyone,” I replied smartly, “There may still be pockets of resistance in the south, tucked way high
in the mountains.” With no reply to my clever comment forthcoming, the editor had no option but to join
the expedition. “Let’s re-enact the scene. The Allied forces will arrive in Normandy by sea. We’ll come over
the Pyrenees by foot—it should be a big surprise.”
“For whom? Them or us.”
“I don’t think I appreciate your sarcasm.”
“Okay. So we’ll be coming from the far north of Spain into the deep south of France?”
I was puzzled. “This is the part that confuses me,” I answered forthrightly. “If we are in the extreme north
as we enter France, the second we put our feet over the border, surely we’ll be even further north. It makes
no sense. Look at it this way. From the north of Spain, we cross this border, by say a foot, moving further
north and we’re now in the south. Nonsense.” Sometimes, I have to be very patient with the editor when I teach
her these concepts. It’s fortunate I have the dual attributes of patience and intelligence, always
with an abundance of humility.
There those power lines following us up again under colors and shadows.
Lunch anyone? This is after all, France. (Bon appetit.)
With an hour to climb, we view what looked like initially, icicles. I realized then of an age issue
creeping up on me. Fortunately, the editor is still young.
Finally, we reach the snow field before the final push to 'free the French' of fries.
Anyway, we set off to cross the Pyrenees hoping not to get lost and find ourselves in Germany. It might
be tougher should we come across Germans still fighting the last war. The editor remarked, “I hope you have
lots of space in your backpack besides ‘assault weapons and yoghurt’.”
“Why do you ask?” I replied starting to lose some of my abundant patience.
“To carry the packets of French fries back with us, silly.”
A double favorite.
Hi Honey, I'm home. Rough day in France...good to be back in Spain.
The idea of walking into France from Spain was exciting. In fact, the reality met our highest
expectations. We thought we might obtain a glimpse of Paris from the top but the editor of course, forgot
to bring binoculars. It’s been a year during which we have climbed from South Africa up into Lesotho
and run back, taken a simple walk to-and-from Gibraltar and now culminating in this amazing experience.
Fortunately, the year is still young.
On the way home, a rather steep path that gets vicious as we pass the next curve
below trees on the right.
Jenni walking somewhere over one of the summits. Could it be another favorite?
When we sat down to brunch in France, a number of people were walking from a nearby car park,
about a mile away, to take in the views of Spain, we suppose. While few people in Europe normally greet us,
every French person passing wished us ‘Bon appetit’. We think we have found the formula to friendliness.
Mind you, we did not offer, or even think of offering to share our yoghurt, fruit and cereal—we had not
obtained the fries, yet. (As an aside, the people living in the same establishments with us are proving
to be most friendly, varying greatly from those on the trails.)
It ended up being a day in which we commenced early with a cup of tea in Asin de Broto, Spain, had brunch
in France and dinner back in Spain, in a matter of a few hours, without mechanical transportation. We’d expect
the French to have been horrified had they known the contents of our meal.
Then again, we are not partial to the legs of froggies or the entrails of snails.
Early morning light softens these rather harsh but exciting mountains.
How green are your valleys, how overpowering are your mountains, hence, the daily siesta.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wow! The Pyrenees, at times terrifying but at all times, magnificent.