LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.
'LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT: 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 the end of 2022, the blog contained over 1,470 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."
"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains until the beginning of 2017. It has developed 'exponentially' since then.
Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow
Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Perhaps a ray from heaven
Early morning fire
Jenni waits for the sun to surface
Gentle on our minds...and souls
You might ask what would make a person wake at 4:30am to take a hike up a mountain, part way in the dark. We would say that’s a fair question. Then you might ask, why would that person repeat the exercise two days later. That would be a better question although enough with the questions already. Just last week, we noticed people were asking questions…more than usual. Even at the table on a couple of nights, the youngest child asked questions. Not one or two but four. What’s with all the inquisitiveness going on at this time of the year?
Clouds come rolling in like the tides
Feeling on top of the world as sun 'warms' the back
Blazing sun starts the day in struggle with clouds
Back to our reasons for doing what we did. Firstly, as our friend Sean often says: He believes the early morning is Hashem’s time. Who are we to disagree. The way the earth progresses from darkness to light is truly a marvel. However, the process happens slowly at first, then speeding up and remaining constant for the rest of the day. Perhaps the crescendo occurs, very early, just as the orb appears over a mountaintop, announcing its arrival in a blaze of glory as it spreads its light and warmth to almost every nook and cranny. Here’s our question. Who can resist that?
Impressive cloud formations toying with mountain tops
Male team members arrive after leader, Jenni
Fascinating inter-play of clouds and sun
Another reason for the repeat is that it gave us the opportunity to hike with Joe and Sam Resnikoff, a treat for us. Joe wanted to hike with us but his parameter was not ‘where’ but ‘when’. Being a specialist medical man, he has limited time to fool around like others…ahem. He wanted a hike based upon time focusing on the special period of sunrise or sunset—this made Iron Mountain the logical choice. None of us were disappointed. With his minor son Sam joining us with a miner’s lamp, the path at 5:30am was well illuminated.
Not an easy place to leave
We notice in this world of ours that places may appear to remain the same from day-to-day. However, we submit this not the case. Each day the same place looks different, affected by the sun, clouds…you get the idea. Today was no different. As many times as we go up that little mountain, about 6 miles return, it always provides us with pleasure in a different visual form.
Another of morning fire, quite spectacular
Jenni and Jeffrey
Friday, March 29, 2013
Smoke and mirrors at 6:15am
Sun about to make an appearance
Meantime, towards Mexico, a thin cloud catches the first light
A favorite: Wild clouds dominate
We arrived at the trailhead at 5:30am, which we believe is early, actually, bloody early. In fact, the sun had not thought of rising yet. We have noticed that over the last few weeks, the sun does not make an appearance until after 10am on a good day and later, at other times. Off we trudged, heading east, of course, to try and understand the problem. Is it global-cooling, sun boycott or not wishing to be sexist, girlcott? (Excuse us).
Blue Mountains, East San Diego County
Shadows and prism, Iron Mountain casts its shadow on the clouds
Catching the sun as it peeks through
It looks like we managed to get a better understanding of the issues. All is well with the sun we’re pleased to inform you… phew. The problem is with the clouds. As you might have guessed, we love clouds and the various formations so we can hardly call it a problem. Apparently, the sun is not strong enough to pierce these wonderful formations and so it only lights up the upper altitudes. This means in order to see the sun earlier than 10am, one has to climb above the clouds, something we did today. To do this though, one must first search for a mountain or take a flight. The latter seems a silly option if you have nowhere in particular to visit.
Mount Woodson, a neighboring peak, fighting the challenge of aggressive clouds
A carpet of cloud covers the western side of the mountain
It was a truly beautiful experience. The clouds on the eastern side were light and allowed viewing of mountains and the surface. However, in the west, the thick clouds covered the whole area but for the pinnacles protruding at odd intervals. Iron Mountain cast its shadow along the clouds, always unusual and attractive. As an added bonus, a prism effect arose in one place, a palette of colors sat on the cloud. It was a privilege to view such beauty, once again.
Black, grey and white in color at the dam
Although we had the peak to ourselves during the first half-hour of sunrise, we met Adam and Chrissie and then Ed, all contributing to make it interesting and most enjoyable.
In a period of symbolic freedom, it was indeed a good choice.
Jenni and Jeffrey
A few more:
We'll have to straighten the sign or maybe level the camera
At about 6:30am
Clouds and sunrises, it does not get much better for one of us
Thursday, March 7, 2013
We knew this would be a special day—it began with an early wake-up to watch the sun greet this part of the world—the valley, covered in cloud with wisps of mist rising in the lower front area
The prominent Sentinel stands above the clouds, tinted by the sun
Jenni's favorite view, well earned, too
We read about the Tugela Falls but found very little information regarding it, particularly about getting to see the spectacle. The fact that outside Venezuela, it is the highest falls in the world, certainly aroused our interest. Why, we thought, do so few people talk of it? After all, 2,800 feet of water barreling over a cliff is a big deal. Howick Falls, a recent visit (see blog or two ago), has a height of 330 feet and wasn’t ‘half-bad’. The problem turns out to be access. It is in a very inconvenient position.
We were so positively focused on the hike that our concern was possible disappointment because of the curse of high expectations. The day began with a glorious sunrise above the cloud-covered valley. We knew things would be special when our climb began early, in fact, very early—the lock of our door jammed and we climbed through the window to commence the day.
Somewhere not far from the commencement, already the sights are staggering
Jenni's full of confidence, from the outset
Our journey commenced with the planning and dealing with misdirection from the solicitations we read about accommodation in the area. We are only 20 kilometers from Mont-Aux-Sources, read one, less than that said another. Little did we know that they meant as the ‘crow flies’—there’s that issue we confront often. All well if you are a bird but it does not help the rest of us. The driving time, over terrible roads, would be over 2.5 hours from the hotel each way, near Tendele camp—hardly ideal for a day hike. Fortunately, we found Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge close to the Sentinel parking lot, the trailhead for Mont-Aux-Sources, one of the highest peaks in South Africa, at 10,200 feet above sea level.
There’s one problem though. The final access to the peak is via two sets of consecutive chain ladders, vertical climbs. Once reaching the top of the second ladder, only then can one view the Tugela Falls. By the way, it is so high that one cannot see the last part of the water falling into the river. Two months ago, someone did try look over to see the bottom and unfortunately, got a closer than expected view, falling to his death. On a different note, the mountain is the source of water for five rivers. Finally, the falls is high but the lack of width and flow diminishes the impact.
Sometimes slippery, sometimes challenging but always exhilarating. (First switchbacks for us in RSA)
“It’s moments like these, positioned on this incredible mountain trail that I feel so fortunate to be alive,” our editor commented within minutes of commencing the ascent of Mont-Aux-Sources. We knew exactly what she meant but were quite surprised at her outburst. Jenni is inclined to be quiet and unassuming, tending to keep the glow inside. We think her comment, most apt, summed up the feelings of the day—another one we will never forget. The hike is, including the part above the infamous chain ladders, 1,900 feet and in excess of 9 miles, depending on how much a person walks on the top of the mountain. One can continue into the neighboring country of Lesotho, should one have nothing else to do. It is suggested by some that a passport be kept in the pack. We have enough to carry as it is and we'd rather fly to Maseru.
A little action 'on the rocks', beats whiskey
Our favorite type of hike is of a trail cut into the outside of the mountain, providing exposure to the surrounding views for the full duration. This one is near perfect although we don’t know how it could be any better. From the outset until the top, one is always on the edge of the cliffs. The path is good although there are a few areas where rock scrambling is necessary, especially when one loses the path as we did at one time. However, it added to the experience. One does not have enough ‘eye power’ to take in the conglomeration of features, each as prominent as the next.
A view from above the one set of chains.
Just a knockout, we think
Although we were the second pair to begin the hike, we passed a guided group of foreigners on the way down as well as another few South Africans—the conversations were interesting and informative. However, the views into the lush green valleys, the surrounding mountains, a lake in the distance and the ever-changing cloud formations enthralled us. Standing on the path hugging the edge all the way to the top gives one a feeling difficult to describe—nevertheless, it is exhilarating. We saw klipspringer antelope so far below we could only confirm the specie when we saw the magnified pictures. Funnily enough, the hike is one in which it's not essential to reach the top if beauty is the goal—(yeah right!). The views from the beginning are captivating. Truth be told, we can’t say we have ever had a more enjoyable experience—although the first time we kissed our editor was probably better—very much better.
Craggs in the Drakensberg, a little mesmerizing
Looking down from the peak with magnified lens towards the dam, another very blue body of water
The climax of the hike is the vertical chain ladders, positioned a little below the summit. Once arriving at that point, a decision is necessary. Turn back or continue? The people we spoke with on our return all asked that type of question, nervously. We looked at these imposing bits of metal and wondered. The longer you look at them, the more overwhelming it becomes. On the other hand, a pause gives a person time to ‘steel’ the nerve...
Editor stands next to bottom of first chain, will she or won't she?
...to be continued.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Above the ladders, a view of Tugela Falls, the second highest in the world (2,800 feet), although a slow flow
Jenni begins the climb
Absorbing magnificent sights
Reaching the top of the first section of the chain ladder ('loved' the bend in the chain)
Part 2—the previous blog should be read first
...We decided on the former strategy, that is, rest a minute and get going. Let’s commence immediately, focusing on the climb and less on the consequences should things not go according to plan. The idea being to climb the chain ladders to the summit without over analyzing the situation.
One of the thoughts we had while halfway up the first ladder was on affirmative action. We thought it a good time to pose the question: While balancing precariously on a metal rung on a cliff face, would you feel comforted to know the engineer qualified because of sympathy toward his/her race as opposed to merit and competence? On a personal note, we’re pleased about our hip; it was replaced by a man with great ability otherwise we might forever have to rely on a ‘cane’. Thank you, Dr. Kane.
Distinguished peaks in the high 'berg
Jenni edges up—painting in the background
The experience on the ladders is remarkable. We’re sure there are many techniques to use. Don’t look down, or up or sideways but focus on the rung ahead. One-step at a time and let the ladder lead you to the top. Anyway, the latter was our strategy. Once we developed more confidence, we did look about and of course, were amazed. We also wonder at times if we are quite well but we tend to let the thought drift to the back of the mind. Upon reaching the top rung, a second ladder stands thirty feet ahead. Another thought we had at that stage was of the further ladder to negotiate followed of course, by two legs down. Perhaps the only fear we had was the movement of the ladder at times, as it does not lie flush against the cliff-wall. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.
A side view into the sun but felt good with extra sunscreen covering
How green is my valley
Many baboons make the mountain home. We treated each other with respect and, but for one incident, things went well. We met a father and son on the trail, the Bakers, not their profession, a South African pair, the only locals met thus far on a hike. After conversing for a while at a place where baboons were climbing a sheer rock face, we parted. Within seconds, a rockslide began and fortunately, no one was hurt. However, we saw a baboon scampering away. We don’t know whether the rocks dislodged accidently or he had some issues with us. However, it was a scary few seconds. The baboon had that look on his face that made us suspicious—you know the one you see when your kid has done something naughty.
The Tugela, tucked away in the mountains, a view from just below the summit
We are at the lodge in Witsieshoek, Qwa,Qwa, the Free State, at the end of the road. The lodge, owned by the Chief Minister, is undergoing renovations; we found the accommodation a little challenging as the improvements are yet to be completed. However, its positioning is magnificent as it overlooks mountains and valleys, including the amphitheatre with the Sentinel most prominent. The temporary management, a charming couple, Erin and Vince, American and Welsh respectively, made us feel most welcome. They provided access to the office facilities where we are currently writing and working. Their daughter is nearly as cute as our grandson, Ben. We also met a young woman, Nicola, who is correcting the financial records. She too was most kind to us.
A different view of Sentinel from previous angle as shown in last missive
The road from the lodge to the parking lot is in poor condition. We decided not to use the rental car but rather, hire a shuttle to take us to the commencement point. Eziekel, not the prophet, got us there safely while we kept our excitement in check. For the ride back, Hosiel a gentleman from the old school provided us a first-class ride and interesting conversation peppered with his perceptions. Jenni often comments how much she enjoys these conversations with Africans, learning and sharing experiences. A fascinating point is that many who had the misfortune to be raised during the period of apartheid, in our opinion, still portray the behavior acquired during the period. They appear less free than the younger generation. We might submit that the danger in this society, like many others, emanates from the youth. Perhaps this is too serious and inaccurate but a visit to South Africa is never straightforward, particularly for a South African.
Part way up, Jenni takes a rest under the buttresses
Unique and beautiful look of the Drakensberg
In conclusion, many of the hikes, like this one, combined with dealings and relationships on the road and other circumstances, provide opportunity for growth, excitement and are uplifting, which we believe makes hike-about special but also, not without its challenges.
Jenni and Jeffrey
One more, as he reaches top of second ladder, feeling chuffed and a 'little' vain, too
Trying to view the bottom from 2,800 feet above