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.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Three days in Lesotho is insufficient, especially when we have hardly touched on the sights of the country. However, three big hikes put us to the test and once again we were thrilled. It was a period of tranquility mixed with rugged beauty and physical exertion, complemented in conversing with nationals from England, Scotland, America, Germany, South Africa and locals of course.
We began the walk after passing through the South African border post (with passports). When we arrived at the top after gaining a little under 3,000 feet over 5 miles, the immigration officer wanted to know whether we were arriving or leaving. Perhaps it was he who did not know whether he was coming or going. Although we have done this hike a few times before, we love it each time. In addition, we enjoyed some new challenges once at the top of the pass, one of the highest in Africa (nearly 10,000 feet). The pub is considered the highest on the continent, whatever that means.
We discovered that there are some incredible hydro-electric projects in the country and our intention is to visit them, too. We met two tour guides whom we had had conversations with the year before. It's always nice to resume contacts even if it's for a short while. The banter between us tends to raise the spirits even further notwithstanding the wonder of reaching the heights of Lesotho.
Looks like the boots are worn out as we approach our new home, expensive but very basic accommodation
at the top of the pass.
Absorbing the stunning Drakensberg, a mountain range with many facets.
Sunrise over South Africa...at least, KwaZulu Natal, viewed from Sani Pass top.
A section of Sani Pass road towards the top.
We returned to Himeville, the closest town on the South African side of the border because we love the region. However, there's another important reason. We could not visit South Africa without looking up Elsa and Derryl, two delightful women who run a lodge in the town. We feel like family. We spent one night at the dinner table with them joined by Sharon and Aldo, two people whom we also find fascinating. Aldo is able to spot animals and particularly birds, with ease. Sometimes we believe he can anticipate which tree a bird will fly and perch itself. Since meeting the couple last year, we think our birding techniques have improved considerably. Then again, we began from a very ignorant base. Aldo and Sharon transported us to and from the border post, respectively.
The weather at 10,000 feet is as expected, variable. However, the constant is that the nights and early mornings are cold. With a roaring fire in the rondawel, we enjoyed warm sleeping conditions—duvets helped, too. Even when cold in the early morning, it's not easy to beat the view of a sunrise while standing on the peak of a mountain. Seldom do we reach such positions in time to watch the sun appear.
A little after 6am, cold but exciting as the sun goes through the morning ritual.
Weary after the hike to the pass, unwinding before sunset.
"Jump on three, I promise you won't fall. By the way, you have too much eye-liner applied, this morning."
We met this elderly wood-gatherer once again (one of us is bored, the other tired). Each time on Sani Pass, we've crossed this man's path. He lives a very tough life, then again, so do many citizens of the world. Nevertheless, he continues to hold out for an exorbitant price for the blanket.
Jen looks down the canyon, enjoying the golden moments late into sunrise.
"...and how come those two dumb rock doves get a showing before us?"
Facing away from the early sun as it lights the ground-cover.
Jenni may be lost as she circles through the 'hairpins'.
Sunset in Lesotho, first night.
Lesotho border post: "Anyone home? I need a towel, my back's wet from perspiration...paper towel at least?
Don't let me have to put the editor onto you border guards."
Part of the road a little after sunrise.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Continuing scenes from Kruger National Park.
Cape Glossy Starling unless Aldo contradicts us.
Caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The buffalo mudpack reputed to enhance a delicate skin. See buffalo hide for results.
Enjoyed the zebra scenes very much.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
After walking, mainly climbing through dense forest along a 'goat trail' for more than an hour, we reached a jeep path. We made the right as suggested by the lodge guide which turned out to be the wrong way. We retraced our footsteps and made the left turn which took us to the top—although to be fair, the path gave us no assistance. We sat on the jeep trail, removed our brunch from the backpack, including utensils. Moments before we began to eat, the editor rather nonchalantly remarked,"Wouldn't it be funny should a car come roaring up the mountain?" Very funny, indeed!
Within less than a minute, we heard the approach of a land rover, our first sighting of fellow humans on the trail. They were employees of the timber company that owned the land. The timing was amazing. We had to move the dining table, chairs, kitchen sink and other appurtences we carried up to show the correct degree of appreciation to our delightful editor for her culinary skills.
Heading for Hog 1, one of three sisters, after an hour through the ascending forest.
A little color on the trail as we cross the jeep trail.
A typical breakfast might include fresh...
as well as very fresh...
Editor gazes down into the valley from part-way up the Hog.
The previous day, we met Michael of Scotland, on a trail in the Auckland Forest. He was traveling throughout the country over a three-month period. We swopped ideas and had a good conversation. We suggested he visit the Northern Drakensberg, perhaps the central part but at least settle for the southern, if his schedule allowed. We parted. Seven days later, Jen and I had just returned from a double climb of the twin Mount Hodgekin Peaks and decided to take a drink in the highest pub in Africa, that is, the bar in Lesotho.
Sani Pass, where we sat, is at nearly 10,000 feet altitude and five miles from South Africa, reached using a winding jeep road. We'd walked up the previous day. Our position (in the bar) was also about nine-hours traveling distance by car from Hogsback.
Michael walked to us while we were sitting in the pub and quietly said, 'Hello'.
We have had many coincidences over the years but this one really got us excited.
The path from the top of Tyumie Falls is perhaps one of the steepest we have ever descended.
Moving up the mountain, the editor captures the action and becomes our number-one photographer. As Barry Kassar
questioned the other day, "Is there anything the editor doesn't do? Is there anything that you (Jeffrey) do? Great questions."
Following an earlier photo, the editor continues the 'plod to the Hog'.
The hike was long, steep and rough but a superb experience. We found an alternate route for the way down which proved less rough than the ascent but for the part along the waterfall. This turned out to be one of the steepest descents we have experienced. Statistics are not a priority in South Africa and therefore, we would estimate an elevation gain of close to 3,000 feet and probably 9 miles of distance covered.
Returning from the Hog (notice the 'blue dot').
Editor pleased with herself although ends the day understandably weary.
Multiple cliffs abound.
Jenni and Jeffrey
A few peeks from the Kruger National Park:
It would seem the appropriate animal to portray in this blog.
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic...impala, too.
Mother and child make the crossing after we had anticipated their route through the bush.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
26.16 Hogsback, Eastern Cape: 'Madonna and Child Falls' and other loops: An introduction to Hogsback and Lesotho before undertaking some hiking.
In the Maloti Mountains, ignorant of the classifications but always enjoy the beauty.
The pictures of the climb of the rather tough Hogsback Peak 1 will follow in the next blog. In the meantime, we thought we'd display a little of the color about the country. In this instance, we focus particularly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal/Lesotho region. We continue to meet many people, both locals and foreigners, who provide a source of amusement, education and a plain ol' good time but more importantly, reveal the good side of humanity. We enjoyed a couple of coincidences, one in particular, which we almost disbelieve ourselves. We'll relate it on our next tough trail.
Getting down, deep and dirty...actually, cleansing ('Madonna and Child Falls', Auckland Forest.)
Kenmo Lake before sunset, Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal.
We met Serge in a coffee bar after some hiking. He told us he had just returned from a session of bungee jumping. Serge hails from the Congo but is living in Cape Town and going 'crazy' at Storms River. While he was born black in color, he looked quite white. This he told us was a temporary phenomenon because he'd never been as frightened in all his life as when he stood on the ledge while fellows to either side helped him over the edge. After a little banter, we asked whether he would do the jump again for a million dollars. He admitted he would not. The jump takes place from a position under a concrete bridge that spans the N2 freeway near Nature's Valley. The sight of this engineering feat is worth a visit in of itself.
Catching a view of a prism from the scrambling side of the falls tucked away
in the forests of Hogsback.
The season is changing, not only the times.
In the Maloti (Drakensberg) Mountains: "At least I kept my head...The wind got knocked out of me...Hey, where's the beef?...
Some days, I get that hollow feeling...I think that's probably my last mating season, the rams are too horny for me. Some
of my best friends are (were) vegetarians."
We've no idea why the skin, head and limbs were kept and stored on the top of the home. Someone suggested it's to attract the vultures or to keep out of reach of dogs. Nevertheless, a sad sight.
"Okay, okay! You made your point. My turn to carry, Heehaw." (Homes in Lesotho)
On the Friday after completing the Otter Trail, Nora, the owner of the lodge at which we stayed, told us that she had just returned from the site of an attempted suicide. There are a number of bridges in the region and suicides are not uncommon. A police officer rescued the poor man with the help of some civilians. Fortunately, a relatively happy ending. Nora and her friend, an ex-policewoman, related a number of stories from that area of the Cape. Perhaps, the least impressive but one that would create interest is that the authorities try to discourage suicide jumps from some of the higher bridges. The recovery of the body from these difficult positions puts a strain on their budgets.
This guy gave the editor 'lip'...need I say anything further. He thought he was going bungee jumping.
'Madonna and Child Falls' cascades strongly.
Sunset in Lesotho.
Jenni and Jeffrey
The cable-car station on Table Mountain from Lion's Head, Cape Town.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
If the birds tan to be dark on Clifton Beach, why not in Tsitsikamma? Results seem more effective here.
What's not to like?
After this hike and a further day in Storms River, three more days than planned, we left the coast. Sunday we woke in Storms River, Monday morning we woke in Queenstown, Tuesday through Thursday it was Hogsback, Friday Maclear and Saturday in Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal. The other places are in the Eastern Cape. It was a tough week of driving, some great hikes too, but we needed to make up traveling distance...and we did. Our next stop would be three days of hiking in Lesotho.
The contrasts within South Africa as we passed through some of the poorest towns nestled in beautiful surroundings never cease to amaze and at times, sadden us. It truly is a land in which millions have very little while some have much and the leadership continues to enrich itself. It's not unusual though; we've lived long enough not to be surprised by human behavior. Nevertheless, we found ourselves in towns and villages surrounded by, at times hundreds if not thousands of locals, never fearful but completely out of place. We should add that on a Sunday when we stopped to fill the petrol (gas) tank in Fort Beaufort, Jen elected to wait to visit the bathroom rather than take her chance in what appeared to be a very foreign environment. While many speak words of liberation and harmony so eloquently, we wonder how many of those orators would be comfortable in the environments we have visited and passed through recently. 'Apartheid', in our opinion, exists strongly in this country much like in most parts of the world. However, it is a socio-economic separation rather than racial.
Finally, in every place we have stayed, we have been treated well and have enjoyed hospitality and friendliness that has made us feel so welcome and at home. Thank you to the many for your warmth and kindness.
Life is a narrow bridge. I wish she'd turn around and signal that she's okay.
Phew! She seems fine.
A walk on the rocks, a wonderful experience.
The end of the hike results in this view towards Storms River Camp.
A 'beachbuck' we do declare...not something we're used to spotting at the coast (bushbuck).
The Tsitsikamma mountains we hiked on the trek of the same name some three years before.
Editor goes boulder hopping.
More swinging bridges.
Stadig oor die klippe...a little cautious around the bend.
The Storms River approaches the ocean.
You don't say...I would have thought that was obvious.
The protea, a Cape feature, a national flower.
Jenni and Jeffrey
And onto Hogsback, Eastern Cape.
Our home for three nights (left) while the sun makes magic on our wet clothes.
Doing some serious shopping in the town of few people and millions of trees.
Elsa and Derryl, two very special women in Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal. They treat us as family.