New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.


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.
ur 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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

22.17 Sani Pass into Lesotho (part 2) 22.18 Begonia Falls and Lone Tree in Little Switzerland.

Although we had hiked up to the top of the pass last year, we were even more excited to repeat it.
This time the editor insisted we sleep at the Sani Mountain Lodge on the top, thus allowing us to undertake
some hiking in Lesotho in the late afternoon as well as the next day, before descending. We reached Mount Hodgson,
the lower peak, leaving the higher one for our next visit. What a wonderful idea! Why couldn’t I think of that?
And she doesn't even earn the big bucks…for that matter, nor do I. What she did forget is that we required
big backpacks, almost full. It made a difference.

The road to the border post is so bad that only a four-wheel drive can make it. We organized a ride to
the commencement and fortunately, a return lift. Aldo was there to collect us at 4pm the next day (see below).
The road between Lesotho and the South African immigration office is in better condition but with many very
poor segments. I am of the opinion, and I would love to try it, that I could beat a motor vehicle, carefully (slowly)
driven downhill, in a race. It would tell more about the state of the road than my prowess. Barry Jahn, are you game?
We should rephrase that. If you’re ‘game’ in the South African context, you could be fired upon.

(Continued after pictures...)

Just completed the hike, returning to border control, South Africa for fourth passport stamp.
Should we do this hike a few more times, we'll run out of passport pages.

A normally dull rock-face comes alive with a full-on sunrise.

Jen heading for the Pass, a little way up...okay, a lot.

Another perspective of dying flowers and a fading sun. The daily occurrences place one in another realm.

The sun looks warm and that's an illusion at 6am.

We kept an eye on the elderly Basuto as he lagged behind upon reaching the very steep ascent. Also kept
a 'couple of eyes' on the rolling hills and dramatic buttresses.

Afternoon stroll on the Twelve Apostles.

Rock climbing and views into the deep valley.

Reaching the peak of Mount Hodgson, a mountain on top of the pass

Views of the snaking road fascinate Jenni more than most.

First step of immigration process: Get yourself the national dress: A blanket, Linus. Shot taken
inside the bungalow.

On a hike from the top of the pass to Mount Hodgson, we are approached (barked at) by a dozen dogs
while master remains indoors. On the way back, the editor used the wind to avoid the dogs. Beats sending
me out in front to negotiate.

The early morning sun changes the look of the valley and its surrounds.

Highest Pub in Africa—he looks tipsy although it's coffee in the cup.

A road to the sky, another perspective.

Another of sunrise, never tire of them.

An early morning view as the sun lights the summits.

We took a ride to the border post with Aldo, a highly educated man who has retired to the area with his
botanist wife. We were fortunate to receive a wonderful education on birds, plants and the mountains
while observing the great beauty and enduring the lousy road. The talk is that in ten years it will be
a blacktop…perhaps, hardtop is a better word in the local context. Ten years in Africa can be a long time,
often a multiple of the number. Aldo also pointed out another interesting factoid. He indicated to
a steep path on a section of the mountain as we bumped, jerked and swayed to the border. ‘That is
a dagga (marijuana) trail’. We thought better of asking him how/why he knew that. We’re becoming
more tactful as we age.

Although our accents are deeply American…um, a little American…well, we’re working on them, the soul
is still South African. Clearly, as we wrote before, there are some deep-rooted issues in the country.
Nevertheless, there are also aspects that are so wonderful and unique to this land that cannot be duplicated
elsewhere. Probably, the attribute lacking in most whites or westerners is that of patience. Should you
not be in a hurry for anything, the country might be suitable. It is not reasonable to expect electricity on demand,
for example. We believe ‘maƱana’ was stolen by the Spanish from Africa, those meddling Spaniards.

Final shots and narrative from Little Switzerland:

This zebra has issues. Had he been born in the USA, he would at least have had access to therapy.
Each day he stands before the chalet and charges anyone approaching. We're talking aggression not money.
One has to hope the allocation of a chalet for the night is not the 'striped one'.

Sitting on the hotel patio looking into Africa, Drakensberg style.

Typical route through to the waterfall, not shown.

It’s not too often we get excited about luxury accommodation. Perhaps one of the reasons is that
we seldom spend time in upmarket venues. A hut, a tent, the back seat of a car—teenagers again—and of course,
lodges, motels, inns and many more types of accommodation are our usual haunts. Actually, the funny thing is
that luxury places don’t suit us in many aspects, the reasons are not necessary to explain in this narrative.
Here in the Drakensberg, a national and in fact, a universal treasure and rated as a World Heritage Site,
we found Little Switzerland.

We stopped for a cup of tea at the restaurant situate along the highway a few hundred feet below the hotel.
We were early so we decided to acclimatize slowly. Once we entered our chalet, we were, not for the first
time this trip, mesmerized. Firstly, the unit had two bathrooms and hot water. Wow! What a treat. We passed
the second bedroom on the way up to the main suite. Was this to be shared accommodation? Who knew? It had
six beds, a full kitchen, lounge and two patios and a grassy patch leading off the lounge patio. I could
see Jenni measuring in her head whether there was sufficient space for our tent. Since our trip to Iceland,
she’s ‘flapped out’ about tenting. I wonder what her late parents would think.

We continued up a half-flight of stairs to the main bedroom. This is not to be missed. Once through the doorway,
the width of the room, which was rather large to begin with, had a framed wall of glass plus a sliding door.
Through and beyond the glass, the Drakensberg, or a major section of the mountains stood boldly before us,
to both the left and right. These towering, overpowering icons stare one in the face just as the viewer does
the same in return. Of course, the addition of clouds and mist provide variety as the scene was constantly changing.
By the time one reaches the patio, additional sights come into view. One looks down into the hotel gardens,
filled with trees, shrubs and ground covered with grass. The lawn-mowing gangs, consisting of horses and zebra,
can be seen keeping the lawns in trim. Beyond the immediate hotel grounds, are the rugged and natural flowing hills,
small mountains, rivers and streams. A wonderful waterfall is way below but out of sight. We know its depth because
the editor dragged us down to see it—thank you. The tended gardens meld nicely into the wild. The region is covered
in chirping birds, cattle grazing below, cowboys on horseback moving the cattle, sheep in the distance and
the occasional stray animal grazing on the patio below or from the lounge, right next to it.

For those not tired after hiking, there are pools, bowling greens, tennis courts and if one still has some energy,
a bar. The hotel patio overlooks a pond, the sprawling valley and only thirty or forty miles of mountains, maybe
more but who cares; there’s enough to get the picture. A favorite, Cathkin Peak, is on the extreme left. The trick is
to switch off the alarm clock, keep the curtains (drapes) open during the night and allow the sunrise and
the mountains to wake one. This occurred for two beautiful mornings. On the two following days, the clouds
nearly spoiled the effect for they were too dense.

We undertook a few hikes during our stay and while the conditions of the trail or veld were rough, the scenery
and climbs were incredible providing spectacular views and a few thrills, too. At times, we walked across
the veld (plains) in the tall grass and weeds, got completely covered in ‘black-jacks’ but had wonderful times.
We came across baboons, sheep, cows and even had the opportunity to once again see a newborn calf. The mother
was still cleaning the afterbirth off the little one. Just as in the Kruger Wild Game Park recently, where
we saw a newborn buffalo calf and elephant, we added this little fellow to the list of newborns. We were most
surprised not to have come across snakes in the tall grass. However, on a hike when we were walking along
a jeep path, a puff adder crossed our path. We both feel better that it was exposed than in its home territory,
the long grass through which we walked much.

We are clearly not a promotion board even though it sounds like an interesting position. However, we would
suggest that anyone wanting a luxury holiday in an environment that allows you to go ‘native’ between martinis,
should consider visiting Little Switzerland, at a fraction of the cost of Big Switzerland and twice the fun.
Should you be shy and need company, just call us…better still, send us an email and we’ll join you.

Finally, we would like to invite our Russian viewers to drop us a line, sort of introduce yourselves.
Many Europeans are following the blog but last month, the Russians reached that of American viewership.
Anyway, Russian comrades, ‘dobro pozhalovat'.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Kenmo Lake, an unusual and spectacular place in Himeville.

We arrived in Himeville, stepped into a coffee shop to say 'hello' to Bev, the proprietor we had met
the previous year. She certainly has a memory for customers as she pointed out where we had sat during
that visit. Tactfully, she did not say anything about the mess we probably left under the table.
Thereafter we headed for Kenmo Lake and viewed the small but exceptional body of water, surrounded
by trees, each one in a different stage of its autumn period.

Later that afternoon, after checking in at Elsa and Derryl's Yellowwood Cottage, we returned again, in
a light rain, to view sunset at the remarkable lake. We were not disappointed as a combination of soft
and fading light, still water and the incredible coloring provided a treat that can only be expressed
visually. Try it out but just before scrolling down, we'd like to mention these two special ladies again.
We had not decided what our plans were until the last moment, that is, whether we would head to Lesotho
or not. What a great decision because, as mentioned before, we can't remember a better time in our lives.

Anyway, after sending an email to Elsa and Derryl inquiring about accommodation, we received a reply that
stated we should just arrive at their place, (they would be returning later), select a room and make
ourselves at home. They had also arranged transport for us to be taken to the border post as well.
Some people are just most kind and nice.

Two women who have cared and loved me for over 62 years, lucky boy.

Bird on the water, a 'little color', too

A great growth industry, security tipping. Notice the African method of respect when holding
a hand/arm towards a person.

Mist settles above the water surface.

A meeting of minds with Samson at the Witsieshoek Lodge, another memorable hiking and life experience.

The best hostesses in Himeville, Elsa and Derryl...the best in KwaZulu-Natal, too.


Jenni and Jeffrey

22.16 Howick and Umgeni Environmental Centre, two walks/hikes that made Howick worthwhile.

We spent a restful short period in Howick, before heading to Lesotho. Nevertheless, we took a hike in the
Umgeni Environmental Centre followed by a walk down to the Howick Falls. In addition, the walk in the
park (literally) provided an opportunity to view the falls from an unusual angle rather than the common
over the top sighting or our other destination, a favored view from the bottom of the falls. The 350 feet
falls with a strong water flow barreling over the top provides the viewer with quite an experience. We also
meandered into the thick brush below the falls down river and achieved some unusual sights. Perhaps the best
of all occurred because of the position of the sun; it created incredible reflections off the pond below the
waterfall as well on the river.

We did a little exploring and found the vegetation as 'thick as concrete'. (Editor was sharp as
she picked up great reflections.)

Howick Falls, more than just a waterfall.

Howick reflections.

A little wild, a little blue.

Editor spots an opportunity in the Umgeni Park and sucker lines up for the usual.

A little recreation a few feet from the ledge of a waterfall in Umgeni Park Falls.

A view of the Falls from a distance in Umgeni Park to the east, not a common sight.

Pretty impressive and not even at full strength.

The pamphlet produced by the park management mentions the many species of antelope, giraffe, zebra, baboons
and a host of other animals on view. We looked forward again to facing these animals on foot while observing
them in their natural habitat. After spending two hours roaming the park, crossing a couple of waterfalls and
covering most of the area, we managed to spot a few zebra. Perhaps it was a holiday and the animals were away
or our eyes are failing.

In the close-by wild park, we only 'met' zebra. If we were redesigning the animal, we might consider a black
stripe in the appropriate position so as to make it 'half-decent'.

Reflections sometimes more attractive than the original.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Thursday, April 23, 2015

22.15 Sani Pass and above, a two-day period of elation that was almost frightening. (part 1)

The trip to Sani Pass was more than a hike—it was an experience. As the title suggests, we were walking
on air for the two days it entailed. The realist in me, sometimes known as the negative side, hinted that the
‘coming down to earth’ would be a little tough. Nevertheless, we’ll take these highs every day of the week with
the anti-climaxes that are sure to follow to keep us grounded. Truth be told, Hike-about has provided periods
that are without doubt, highlights of our lives. In fact, the last time we felt so good was quite some time
ago—when our eldest child, now a man, slept uninterrupted through the night. We remember it clearly because
it was soon after his 12th birthday (sorry, Gav!). To provide balance to life, no matter how beautiful it is,
it’s not a bed of roses. After all, even beautiful roses stand each day in manure.

(Continued after pictures...)

At the end of journey, Jenni approaches Immigration and Customs. Declares to the officer: "I'm tired."
Nearly spends the night in jail resting.

Sun hits the clouds at dawn.

Big sky, big sunset, mesmerized little people.

We think that's stunning and will look even better when we are above it.

We would have to exclaim, "Wow!": The sunrise presents exciting surprises along the winding road/path.

A few good Apostles out of twelve. This range is in view the whole way up. That afternoon, we
went walking along the edge and were rewarded with images in the softer light.

Enthralled by the scene, frozen from the weather and feeling as if in 'Heaven'. The amazing
thing is that this is available in one form or another to all of us, at little cost.

Inviting fellow walker for lunch upon reaching the top. See story for more detail.
He was the only other person on foot that day, building a comradeship.

'Obviously that's not the bus stop, Jen.' Sometimes you have to wonder about the editor. A late
afternoon walk to cool make that to warm up.

Fire in the heavens while we observe sunset at the pass, some 10,000 feet altitude.

Approaching the Sani Lodge after walking along the edge of the Apostles. The patio is in front;
the highest pub in Africa through the doors. The atmosphere is superb and we believe this is enhanced
tremendously by the hike.

'Hey You! Would you throw the rope, please.' (At least she asked nicely.)

'Hey fellas, anyone want to carry a bag down? No...? Okay. Sorry I asked.' (Passport control Lesotho.)

Returning from exploring walk as sun prepares for evening spectacle in front of bungalow.

'The long and winding road' or is it, "My bags are packed, I'm ready to go"? Final verdict:
It's 'bloody' steep towards the climax.


Jenni and Jeffrey

On this trip,
like others, we have met a number of people. Most have been very interesting, just for
openers. George Viljoen and Carl Momberg in Howick were uplifting. George is engaged in many activities,
one is running a B&B on the side. Carl operates the website: CapeInfo. Com. Gill and Peter, both
educationists added to the social aspects. Peter is the headmaster of Hilton College, one of the elites.
The climax though was returning to Himeville and staying at the Yellowwood Cottages, owned and operated
by Elsa and Derryl. We stayed with them last year and were treated very well. This time, they outdid
themselves and made us feel like royalty. What a wonderful duo.

Many people we meet make us feel blessed. We’d like to think we make a contribution too but who knows.
Anyway, we headed up the 3,000 feet pass toward Lesotho after passing through the South African passport
checkpoint. This is one of those hikes that one needs a visa and passport. In our case, we were exempt
from visas. About a third-way up the 8 kilometers walk, we passed an elderly man wearing a traditional
Lesotho blanket, carrying a pile of firewood. The area on top of the pass is at almost 10,000 feet and
understandably, without trees. Later we found out he walks this route often, in order to sell his wares
for a dollar a bunch. We invited him to take lunch with us upon reaching the top. Unfortunately, he was
about an hour-and-half slower so instead, we gave him some old-fashioned stuff to be used at his
own convenience. To witness him struggling up the pass broke our hearts. Of course, what we gave him is
nothing but a ‘band aid’ but what else does one do.

What really saddened us, although the three of us were the only walkers, was the fact that taxis and cars
travel the route and no one offered him a ride. We found this callous. At the ‘Highest Pub in Africa’,
the top of the pass, we approached the waiters and asked why no one helped the old man. Then we heard
a different story. Firstly, he never accepts rides. But secondly, he is also a poacher as well as carrying
wood up the pass is illegal. One is not always aware of the whole picture and this was one of those
instances. Nevertheless, as a fellow hiker (struggler) to another, we’d do the same thing over again should
it reoccur. In the end, the man also did not appear to be well mentally. We hope we always err making those
types of mistakes.

One immigration officer in Lesotho exclaimed when he saw our passports, “I want to go to America
to meet Obama.” This left us with an opening for a number of replies which we chose not to offer.
We could think of a thousand reasons to visit the country but could not see that would be one of them.
We suggested it might be less costly to pop in and say hello to Mr. Zuma across the border.

When we were shown to our bungalow, perhaps the most expensive price we’ve paid in a long time but cheap
for the experience, the employee suggested we shower before 7pm. We thought that a little rude as Jenni
hardly smelled despite the tough walk…well, maybe a little. Freedom in the country is great but manners
are essential, too. It turns out that at that altitude, the water freezes once the sun goes down. Oops, sorry.

The room also has a large container of water provided for washing in the morning in case of frozen pipes.
Electricity is by generator which is shut down at 10pm and comes on for an hour and a bit in the morning.
That evening, there were six guests at the Sani Mountain Lodge and none the following day. However, during
daylight, many local and international visitors, either, drive or mostly take a tour up to the top, eat
and drink before returning to South Africa. Lesotho taxis operate daily runs between the two countries,
always filled to capacity.

On our way down, we jogged for two-thirds of the way, the occasional wiseguy stopped to offer a ride
and comment. It provides additional atmosphere especially talking to people we had spoken with at the pub.

(to be continued…)