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.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Mount Woodson peak in the clear; the valleys covered in cloud...like a fairy land.
We're on vacation after a high-exertion Hike-about 23. We continue to exercise and undertake a hike or two but
the tempo is far more relaxed. No doubt that once we get back into equilibrium, it will be time to increase the
pace which will bring us to Hike-about 24. Where we capture scenes that we consider meaningful or worthy, we'll
continue to post them to the blog. Our early morning visit to Mount Woodson, a place we hike frequently, provided
scenes we found unique, hence this blog.
A week before, we undertook the same hike on a day in which the sky was cloudless. Although the exercise was
invigorating, the high temperature, even in the very early morning as well as an absence of mist and fog together
with dry flora, made the visuals quite dull. Scroll forward a week and we believe we saw some of the finest sights
in San Diego County. It gets back to something we have said ad nauseum: Each day, each moment, differs.
Taking the gap.
Soon after sunrise, we catch some stray rays. We've heard "Walking into the sunset" but sunrise?
The Mountain's shadow on clouds; rocks reflect.
Facing east in the morning means color on the horizon.
At an early hour, we have the 'Potato Chip' to ourselves.
Something new at the peak; a chance to show some old-fashioned respect.
Mountains and trees swamped by clouding.
Finding a way down through the gap.
Mountains, clouds, sunrise and sunbathing boulders.
At about 6.20am on Mount Woodson Peak.
The 'Thin Blue Line' on the western side.
Jenni and Jeffrey
And one more...:
Boring through the boulders.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
23.24 Tristaina Lakes, Ordino-Arcalis, Andorra. 23.25 Percelena-Les Fonts, Arinsal, Ordino. 23.26 L'Armiana, Canillo.
Jen makes her way around the cliff to position herself to reach above upper lake.
'Be careful, my Jen, you haven't prepared our dinner yet.'
And this concludes a 7-week trip to Spain and Andorra including a walk into Gibraltar to pay our
respects to a rock, two walks into France from Andorra, one from Spain and a walk from the Principality
to the Spanish border, all but Gibraltar, crossing the Pyrenees Mountain range. We have the great fortune, at least
so far, to find that each trip seems to exceed the joy of the previous one. On the other hand, it might be that
we have memory lapses or selective memories. Whatever the case, our hope is that this exciting trend continues.
From lakes to snow fields within minutes. A person can swim or ski in the same region. We elected
neither having not brought swimsuits or skis.
Another ski station, another massive mountain—in the early stages of the Percelena hike.
The three Tristaina Lakes, glacial lakes at an altitude of over 9,000 feet.
We had no idea of what to expect before embarking on the hiking adventure. We were cautioned that
our lack of Spanish would result in a less than a satisfactory outcome. Then there was the thought that
seven weeks would be too long in one country although Andorra was part of the deal. We have discovered
over the years and more particularly, the recent years of Hike-about, most times we create our own stumbling
blocks. As a person mentioned to us: "I could never live out of a suitcase". What we have found is that
many of these issues or discomforts only become uncomfortable should you wish them to be. When we look
at the various components as part of the whole, suddenly potential problems dissipate. We have mentioned
from time-to-time that we deal with the less ideal issues of life probably as many do. While adversity
or difficult situations are not welcomed, sometimes they do amount to growth experiences. When we realize
how much benefit we gain from the hiking, challenges, travel, people and places, the freedom and discovery
and many other factors, the small impediments are a tiny cost to bear.
Editor's new plan: Will look better by focusing on background and blurring foreground.
(It's a plan, I suppose.) Local hike, L'Armiana.
The early part of the hike was a steep climb across the way from the town of Ordino, (Percelena).
A peaceful scene in the glacial bowl at the conclusion of the outward bound leg.
Refugi in the distance.
The ledge was a little narrower than anticipated as he leaped to cross a gulley. Clearly, lining up for
a bit of the usual.
Have to admit that I enjoyed the jump across. Only do it at the Editor's urging...mostly.
We were mesmerized by the beauty of so many places visited in Spain. The few views into France were
captivating and the experiences in Andorra topped it all. We have little doubt, things going well, our return
to that part of the world is on 'the cards'. While it would be nice to speak the language or at least, wish
there was more English spoken in that part of the world, there's an international or human system of communication
that at times, transcends language. Nevertheless, our focus is outside the cities and towns, the wilderness to be
specific, which is truly universal.
Editor goes 'over the top' near Canillo. Searching for a tree and...relief.
'For my next trick'...yes? Jen settles to return to trailhead which is a few hundred feet
below the lakes.
From 1,100 feet, we view ski town of El Tartar, next one up from Canillo.
Finally, we would like to thank all those people who viewed the blog and took the time to write to us
over the period. It's always appreciated but more so during the initial period of the trip when we were unable
to converse with the locals. Once we mastered both Spanish and then Catalan, we noticed our English ability
dropped tremendously—in the end, we began to even think in the local languages. So we apologize for our latter
lapse in communication skills.
We would like to invite the many Russian and Europeans that are following the blog to write to us—it would
be nice (We obviously have no way of knowing who you are). Russians seem to be the largest segment
of readership following Americans, with the gap closing. Thank goodness the 'cold war' is over.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Saturday, August 15, 2015
An uncertain Editor: One foot in Andorra, the other Franca. What to do?
“Guess what?” Our editor began the conversation quiz-like. “Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense.
We’re out of fries.”
“Oh no! You’re not thinking France again?”
“Yep. However, this time we are in Andorra and so we call it Franca.”
“Big deal. France seems to be all over the place. We hiked into it from Spain, got close to the
north-eastern border last week from Andorra and I suppose you’re thinking of the northern border
this time. You’re becoming a right Francophone these days.”
“Yes, indeed. We’ll leave from Sorteny National Park, head north, climb over the separating mountains
and go down on the other side, entering Franca just before Lac Blau (Bleu). All-in-all, it will amount
to 2,500 feet elevation gain and more than 7 miles, not too bad this time. The lake is positioned at
an altitude of 8,000 feet, give or take a few inches. We will enter France at Port Siguer. Fear not.
Nobody will be around to check us in or search our backpacks and remove water bottles and emergency
knives. You can keep your boots on, too.”
"I'm greatly relieved."
Perhaps one of the most outstanding sights we have witnessed. We hope the photograph captures
the essence of this glacial valley. Standing in Andorra and looking into France before crossing
Being in France, one finds a more relaxed atmosphere. I feel nothing about going topless for a swim.
The Editor's mumbling something about me being a male...sometimes she's difficult to understand. Like I
don't know I'm a male.
Some mountains just have it.
Once again the editor proved to be correct. She meant it wasn’t as high as a previous crossing but it was
steep as much of the incline was confined within a short distance. The valley in Andorra through which we walked was
beautiful, the lake in France gorgeous but the glacial valley or basin into which the runoff from the lake flows
was breathtaking. Standing above the border, we looked to the right at the glacial lake of stunning blue
surrounded by mountains, segments of bright, lush grass, a waterfall in the distance and pockets of snowfields
at the higher altitudes. In the valley, there were goat tracks, streams of water wending as the flow took
the line of least resistance thus forming imaginative paths. Once again, one could do little but try absorb
this scene, formed years before by glacial flows and movement. In each hike undertaken, the surprising aspect
of the Andorran experience has been that the features and trails are so different from one another. Generally,
whenever we are in a particular area, multiple hikes seem to have commonality. We think there is enough
differentiation in this region to make each one unique. Besides, wherever one is, the mountains are so overpowering
as they reach for the sky, in American parlance, from the ‘get-go’. It’s no wonder we are so taken in by this land.
If a body meets a body coming through the rye.
'Color our world,' sang Petula Clark; Andorra and Spain oblige.
Another look into glacial basin. What a world!
Andorra has been inhabited for many centuries (officially since 988). It is not difficult to imagine that many
trails, paths and tracks were formed during times when transportation was by foot and animal. These trails are
extensive and seem to cover the country very well, obviously modernized and maintained regularly. Although we
did see snow at high altitudes, most of it had of course, melted. Although hiking in cold and snow covered
mountains is not what we seek, the sights must be magnificent. An ideal situation would be to find ourselves
in Andorra when the snow has melted but for the summits. Snow-capped peaks ought to be breathtaking. The more we
think about it, the more...'What have you planned for next Spring, Jen?'
Lac Bleu (Estany Blau) and a fellow in grey, contrasting the bright with the dull.
We did not take our eyes off this mountain too often as we rose on the opposite side.
Jenni rising from canyon floor.
We mentioned in earlier blogs the language barrier. It’s interesting that although we and they let each
other know that neither spoke the respective languages, it never seemed to prevent the parties from talking
with each other, perhaps communicating on another level. As an example, we arrived in Barcelona mid-afternoon
from Andorra. The former became a transit city instead of the original plan of a five-day stay. While some
will question why we would prefer climbing on mountains to visiting a reputedly exciting city, we would respond
that’s what ‘makes a market’, different perceptions and tastes. Another digression.
Anyway, we pulled into a gas station in Barcelona to fill the tank for its return to Hertz. A young man came
out of the office to offer assistance as the credit card did not function. He had piercings including a nose ring
and warm smile. Having mastered Spanish before entering Andorra, we forgot the language while trying to learn
Catalan. Stuck again. In between him helping other customers, we spent at least ten minutes communicating,
shaking hands, slapping backs and actually having a warm feeling about it all. Eventually the gas, credit card
and pumps issues were settled (quite complicated in the end) and we left feeling a relationship had been established.
Should you ask each of us what we spoke about during that period, it would be hard to say. Go figure! We are fortunate
to experience many incidents such as the one mentioned. The world is a far better place when people find
reasons to like each other rather than separating because of differences, real or perceived.
Taking a breather before the final push: Short distance equates to steep ascent.
Shadows and reflections in Franca.
First, the red heifer. Then we joked about white cows. Half-way down the mountain, we noticed these.
Although our eyes could not determine what the animals were, they did not have the movements and tails
of sheep. The telephoto did the rest.
Jenni and Jeffrey
A pensive editor 'captured' on a peak a few days earlier.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
23.22 Pic de la Menera-Portella from Encamp (parish), a hike ending at border of France, Spain and Andorra, fascinating concept.
Some flowers and tame pansy bring color into the wilds, heading down to refugi from earlier peak.
From the peak, France and Spain behind, Andorra to the west (directly ahead).
The 'kid' peaks and is surprised after quite a trip upwards.
Notes from Andorra follow. The blog before the previous dealt with parking difficulties in the Principality.
Notwithstanding the parking issues, we were due to be in the country for 8 days. However, we extended this
by shortening our stay in Barcelona considerably. We also found a another parish to move to in order to provide
a different environment, certainly a quieter one. We are getting ready to move between parishes after our
first rainy day in Andorra. As we mentioned, the rain soaked us silly including backpacks and contents therein.
Naturally, on a day such as we experienced, without a burning sun to dry out the clothes and other items, we were
stuck or at least, wet. Normally, should we have access to a washing machine then we will use it. Most places
hang dry, at least all those we have visited during this stay. We’ve become adept at that. I climb up a pole
and Jenni leaves me to 'hang dry'—works most of the time. When we are without machines, we hand wash daily which
avoids an accumulation of laundry as well as allows us to travel ‘clean’. Without sun and having the additional
wet items today, we were in a bind. Then we remembered something about ‘Wiffy’, the local pronunciation for ‘WiFi’.
We needed a hot spot. When we opened the one closet in the apartment, it seemed inordinately warm—we had discovered
a ‘hotspot’. If nothing else, when on the road, a person has to improvise.
Reflections: At about 700 feet above the trailhead, we come across this lake next
to a refugi/restaurant. 'Middle of nowhere' in a stunning setting.
Telephoto from peak of La Menera 'catches' the lake and restaurant 'unaware'.
Jenni rests on the peak, focus on the dark, attractive background. Lake nestled in background.
It's so difficult to say much about the people because of limited communication. We converse at every
opportunity and have had some nice moments. When we were about to peak at Casamanya the other day, we passed
four elderly men. They were friendly and when they reached the top, we spoke for a while. I then made one
of my misjudgments, something I’m trying to avoid. They looked worn out but because of their ages, I wanted
to congratulate them on a fine effort. It was a tough hike over a short distance accumulating 2,500 or so feet.
I asked how old they were expecting a range in the mid-seventies. Two were a little older than Jen and me by
only two years; the others were younger. I had to joke the situation away by calling the sixty-year old
the ‘baby’ of the group. No more age issues for me.
A view into Spain from La Menera Peak.
From the same position, a view into France.
Jenni moving up on this rather tough but wonderful trail.
Just below the peak, we think we found the highest latrine in the world...pardon me, a little leeway, please.
We got on very well with the ‘old men’ and left to climb the sister peak. It meant going down a few hundred
feet and then climbing again, finally returning to the peak at which we met them--they had since left. We headed
down to the car, arriving seconds behind the group. We shook hands again but this time a flask of wine was presented
to us to share in the joy of the day. We are spoilsports so we had to refuse but enjoyed the gesture. Over the years,
we have realized that being teetotalers is sort of antisocial. On our part, it's a choice and not a stand against alcohol.
We'd hope people understand but not all do.
Many years ago, I was playing league golf in Johannesburg. After each match, the three teams would meet in the bar
and do what is normally done by males in such circumstances. When we walked into the bar, a team colleague and friend,
Geoff van Lear, took the order for the visiting team members present. It went something like this: "Six beers,
three whiskeys, two brandies and...a chocolate milkshake for Jeffrey. Some friend! The sad thing though is one can't
get a milkshake in a bar, chocolate or otherwise.
Taking the gap. We crossed the mountain in front as we climbed to the fourth peak
in the range.
Peaked! Fellow thinks he's 'fit and strong'. If nothing else, he has imagination.
A big aspect of the tiny country of Andorra.
The trail was an interesting one that gained over 2,500 feet of elevation, took us through and over a marsh,
scree and forest while passing lakes in another wonderful environment. Did we mention a number of mountains, too.
After leaving the trailhead and gaining 700 feet, we came across a restaurant. Seemed strange. Some of the photographs
include pictures of the 'refugi' both from close by as well as the peak. Upon returning from the summit, we sat
at this strategically placed structure overlooking the lake below the overpowering mountains. It is a stirring
environment, tranquil as well. The Europeans have a knack of placing buildings in the most unusual places that
fit well. We decided upon an ice cream and finally were able to order coffee (regular cup filled for a change)
that tasted like something drinkable. We did this by approaching one of the customers and asking her to explain
the contents of her cup. Sometimes, one has to be brazen. Later, the woman came past our table to ensure I was
enjoying the contents of the cup. No complaints!
Glass and mirrors without the smoke...nature's difference..
Jenni and Jeffrey
The ski village of Pradollano, (without any houses), Sierra Nevada, at the base of Pico Veleta,
400 feet up from lower village, 4,100 feet below the peak.