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, March 31, 2018
From the peak, a view of what we thought at the time to be a massive lake, Nahuel Huapi, until we came across much larger ones.
'If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big (colorful) surprise.'
Over the years, we've experienced many coincidences. They provide a twist and most times, if not all, are very pleasant occasions. During Hike-about, we've met few Welsh people, in fact only three, the one being on a peak in Bariloche and a young couple on the Routeburne trek in New Zealand, some two years ago. All three were delightful people. After spending hours hiking in the rain on South Island, we gathered around a table in a slow-warming hut and engaged in conversation with the Welsh couple. The woman reminded us so much of our daughter, Natalie, in form and manner. After talking a while, we introduced ourselves to John and...Natalie. That was quite something, especially as she looked much like our daughter.
Fast forward to Bariloche in February. We met a young woman on a peak and engaged in conversation. She had an interesting outlook on life and we enjoyed listening to her. Before leaving, we belatedly introduced ourselves. What was her name? Ellie. The same name as our granddaughter and of course, Natalie's child. We thought it a wonderful meeting.
'Queen of the castle'
'King of the Sky'
The last stretch was extremely steep without much support in case of a slip.
Illustrating the gradient and casual laziness.
Another view of a captivating body of water.
One of the peaks reached.
Some rock scrambling in another gorgeous region.
One more and cheers.
Jenni and Jeffrey
35.3a Argentine: Bariloche: Challhuaco - the unpublished detail. 35.12 Cerro Otto, a steep unofficial hike under a cableway.
A few yards short of the peak after a very steep incline, particularly the last kilometer.
To the west is the city of Bariloche, Lake Nahuel Huapi provides the blue.
Earlier volcanic action provides a new landscape and colors.
Height always enhances the views.
"Did you hear the one about the Argentinian, Frenchman and an old African-American?" We met these two terrific employees operating a restaurant at the trailhead. The Frenchman has the 'floor'. I was so happy to rest after completing a tough hike and still having a long walk to the car. We had tea with the 'boys' and then they presented us with Argentinian chocolate pastry. The kindness of people we meet on the trails and road, not all of course, is so uplifting.
The wind was strong at the peak (what's new?) while on the other side of the mountain it was calm. Also, we had the whole trail to ourselves. The road in the park was so poor that we damaged the windscreen of our car as well as testing our patience and driving skills. We left the car some 2 kilometers from the trailhead thus adding a further 4kms to the hike.
A volcano, looks close, but is some distance away.
Cerro Otto, a steep unofficial hike under a cableway.
On a day in which we did not think the weather would allow us, we went out and were rewarded. It's often the case.
In dull weather, the sights were fantastic.
Unfortunately, we had to use a road trail. We stepped into a refugio on the down, always a nice experience to have a hot beverage after effort expended, especially in cold weather.
Another fascinating one.
Jen approaches the top.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
On a long and meaningful day-trek, we peer through the forest and catch a glimpse of Cerro Fitz Roy and to its left, Cerro Torre near El Chalten.
The remarkable Iguazu Falls of Argentina (and Brazil and Paraguay.)
At the Devil's throat, the water barrels over the top.
We arrive at the end of a challenging hike (Laguna De Los Tres) near El Chalten to be greeted coldly but nevertheless, spectacularly.
More to follow in due course...
Jenni and Jeffrey
'One for the money, two for the show...' looking across the border to Brazil. (Apparently, the drought is broken.)
Monday, March 26, 2018
Summing up three weeks in San Carlos de Bariloche...(text at the end).
In trying to supplement our income, I joined AA of Argentina, car service not alcohol dependency.
Looks like neither my compact brain nor bulk meets the requirements. Felt like it, too. A fellow
from Seattle ran down his battery, the third person we've come across from that city since
our arrival in Bariloche. Unfortunately, I'm learning so much about the aging process and it confirms
a lot of what I've heard. However, it beats the alternative, they tell us.
That's the exact point of aging. Look how she struggles down that acute slope with her walking stick.
(It was really steep; the picture is most deceptive).
These sudden downpours sure can isolate a person. Actually, chunks from Perito Moreno glacier
collapsed into a lagoon causing the water level to rise and strand another 'turiste'.
"Say fella, I'm looking to buy a beach umbrella...come to think of it, I'm looking for a beach, too.
By the way, did they also sell you on the 4-wheel drive concept? Really, yours came with paddles? Great idea.
Maybe we should have considered an outboard motor."
'Hey Gringos, don't trump on our space.'
'And the seagulls name was Nelson...Jen, I told you we were heading too far east.
I suppose that's two countries for the price of one.'
"Is that Swan Lake?" I thought Jen asked. 'I don't think they have a ballet company
in El Calafate,' I replied. 'However, often wrong,' I conceded.
Humor in English, surprisingly, or maybe we're the most troublesome. Picture taken
through window at Refugio Lynch (notice Anglo name) as it was closed. It's positioned
on one of the peaks, a hike of over 3,500 feet if you don't cheat by taking a gondola.
Home after a steep hike to Bellavista. Our apartment is on ground floor
and 'Blacky' welcomes us back...in a fashion.
On an off-day, we go walking toward downtown. Enjoying the artistic murals
and steep gravel road as we keep an eye on motorists.
We tend to give the impression we work very hard on the trails.
Well, you can't fool all the people all the time. We paid a lot to have this photo
suppressed...apparently, not sufficient.
We found a short-cut through the suburbs into downtown but still got a bit
of a climb on the way to McDonalds for beverages and local culture.
This was a double-dare as he tries to reclaim his manhood following losing it at the AA.
He could only reclaim his balance. Sometimes it's better to find the 'trunks from the the trees'.
Saving the best for last. Signage throughout the world interests us. We are also
grateful to countries that go out their way to use English, really spoiling us. The issue
of not parking a car under trees or in a forest, after having walked 9kms on narrow trails
through forests and over mountains to reach this point, tickled us. Personally, we would
not 'hang children' anywhere, no matter how naughty they prove to be. (Pardon!)
We published a short essay after a week in Bariloche and so decided to complete it after three weeks—supposedly, we are more informed of the region. We certainly enjoyed wonderful experiences as well as some of the baggage that accompanies good times.
As our young landlord remarked from time-to-time, “This is Barlioche”, sometimes with a big smile, on other occasions with a typical Latin shrug. It’s a town with the most beautiful lakes lapping the shores, providing spectacular sights of the water from above. Each moment of the day, the color of the water changes from bright blue to silver, depending on the position of the sun, clouds, velocity of wind or dust in the air, not forgetting where a person stands and faces. It’s surrounded by incredible mountain ranges which have rugged but well-designed trails, allowing hikers to feast at refugios, both literally and figuratively, positioned all over the high wilds. Add in early snow now covering many of the mountaintops and it’s almost picture perfect. It’s supposedly a tourist mecca if one judges by the fortune of accommodation available along the lakes and in the small downtown area.
So why does Leandro sigh about his beloved city. As Jenni remarked, ‘She doesn’t think she’s seen such beautiful bodies of water’. Talking of bodies,
Imagine dressing for the day, or a special occasion, and having to reach your car or covering by foot distances over dust and mud-covered roads, pathways and driveways. One of our peeves was driving the car to the entrance gate, alighting from it to open the lock while Jen would hold the gate steady to avoid it swinging into the car because of wind, driving through and repeating the exercise of locking it, avoiding dust and mud, always greeting Blacky, the dusty dog, and finally making it into the apartment only to get a whiff of a gas odor. Repeat occasionally on a day and one can understand the invention of the garage-door/outside gate opener and tarred roads. Nevertheless, we got used to it and like all things, became a routine hassle but well worth it. It’s also good to have inconveniences from time-to-time—they help in appreciating the great comforts in which so many of us live.
‘What’s with the wind, Leandro?’ We asked. It blows and gusts frequently. We’re not sure if he meant what we heard but Argentinians are not only big meat-eaters, but they partake strongly in healthy diets comprising beans. At various times of the day, their consumption surges and we therefore deduce that accounts for gusts. Let’s move on before we’re blown away.
Dogs are an important aspect of street life in at least three cities we’ve visited. Many limp around as they patrol the roads, some sprint amongst the cars for reasons difficult to fathom. We would guess the limps come from failed attacks on wheels and fenders. Things can be dangerous for people walking about in certain places especially in a situation which occurred the other day. Three dogs were romping in a road, playing tag or the equivalent canine version when a stray joined the crew. He looked a nice enough fellow and before one could bark out ’be careful’, they were nearly under our feet and in aggressive mode. The new arrival thought better of playing along and sprinted away closely followed by the crew which looked ferocious and out for a kill. It seemed pretty dangerous at one stage as the leader went for the neck but the straggler ran for his life and managed to escape. And Jenni worries about grizzly bears.
The drivers in the city are aggressive. Most of the people we’ve met or spoken with are friendly and helpful. However, it appears when behind a wheel of a car, the persona changes. They drive aggressively and without care, it seems. Most of the intersections are unguarded and after three weeks, we still don’t know who has the right of way. Many take the initiative and play a game of ‘chicken’ which is far from a game. Taking the gap or entering a main road from an intersection shows daring (stupidity) beyond belief. Much of the time, driving our rental was fine and of course useful in getting around but there were days when one could easily despair.
I asked Jen while driving one day which road to follow at a fast approaching fork. She replied ‘12th of February’. I did not find it particular useful as I had to make a decision quickly as the road diverged. Besides, the information was out of date as we were nearing the end of February by then. When she repeated the information I became irritated, understandably I thought, until she explained it was the street name. We noticed a similar style of name with July. Each city commemorates revolutions and independence in that manner. Latin America certainly has had its share of despots, and republics, often named for a certain fruit.
Finally, perhaps because we tend to seek mountainous regions, the weather has been erratic, tending toward cold and windy over the latter period. We remind ourselves that it’s supposed to be summer but that’s neither comforting or useful. Similarities exist with Iceland which is located close to the north pole while we are equidistant or perhaps even closer, relatively speaking, to the south pole. Being such a large country, the southern tail extends very far south, hence, the weather conditions. In fact, with Chile adjacent to the western border most of the way, and we being in Patagonia, no wonder it's like chilly.
And then we reached El Chalten. Hiking, scenery and simple town life went from terrific to outstanding, remarkable...
Jenni goes 'walk-about' on the wild side, a delightful but weary hike toward the great mountains
of the region, El Chalten. (Solo)
Jenni and Jeffrey
35.10 Bariloche, Argentina: Catedral Ski Resort to Refugio Frey, a long journey to a delightful setting.
"Red, red wine...Blue, blue water".
Many people undertake the hike with the intention of spending a night at the refugio and then moving onto another or returning the following day. We decided to return on the same day, making it a tough stretch of 16 miles. Although the elevation gain was in the mid-2000's, much of it was during the final push to reach Refugio Frey, a period when we were obviously more tired than at any other stage of the trek.
We met a few Brazilian youngsters at the top. Jonny, the most vocal of the group, shared his philosophy of life with us which we found interesting. It seems many of the younger generation are tending to place less emphasis on material well-being than earlier ones. This is hardly a scientific survey but something we have discerned over the years. While our generation seemed to be highly focused on education, pursuing jobs and business opportunities and family life, there seems to be a different ethic with the younger set.
We also met our first American compatriots, a couple from Seattle. I forget their names but the man whom we spoke with had just retired from Boeing and was partaking of his first holiday experience as a 'free man'.
Perhaps the most touching part of the day occurred when we asked the manager of the refugio for tea-for-two. He obliged and when we took out money to pay for an enjoyable refreshment, he refused payment. He said it was his way of welcoming people to his 'home'. That's never happened before. Heck, even our friends charge us when we go visiting. :-)
As we come around a bend on the mountain trail, the gap is filled with this sight.
The trees (dormant or dead) rather than the water was the attraction of the scene.
Jen begins the serious climb for the next 1 km.
The lago (lake) alongside the refugio, delightful.
Probably not contemplating a swim just yet.
Sun lights the top to where we are headed.
From a different angle at the top.
Jenni and Jeffrey
A rough looking 'pile of rocks'.