New Zealand 2017: Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe.


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 often.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

27.15 Canillo: Estany de Cabana Sorda 27.16 Out-and-about on a few other hikes in a marvellous environment.

In overcast weather, the coloring developed when we moved to a different set of positions.

Another Andorran lake positioned at over 7,000 feet altitude.

Catching the rock walls reflecting.

This is our second visit to the little principality surrounded by its protectors, France and Spain. There are obviously many visitors from these countries and we understand why. Ostensibly, we come to the country, more particularly, Andorra La Vella, the biggest parish of the seven, to purchase duty free items like perfumes, liquor and I forget what else. While we're here, we usually decide why not have a hike or two to fill time. Last year we were supposed to visit for five or six days and stayed and extra five. We wanted to stay longer but then it would have meant missing our flight from Barcelona. It was a close call. This time, we decided on twenty-nine days, a nice round number. For the end of the trip, we had reserved four days in the mountains northwest of Madrid. Last Friday, while climbing 2,500 feet to Refugi Comapedrosa, we realized we have so much to do in the principality that following the hike, we cancelled Spain and extended Andorra. Now our duration is another round number of 33 days. (By the way, we avoid staying in Andorra La Vella, the capital.)

Funnily enough, when we arrived, we wondered whether the stay would be too long and whether the landscapes and hikes would be similar and thus lose the novelty. We believe the question is answered adequately. I have tried to tone down my enthusiasm for the mountains, lakes, trails and general way of life in Andorra. I'm pleased to admit I have failed miserably. I feel sorry for Jenni in a way because I find myself wandering about the trails and mountains mumbling, exclaiming and occasionally shouting out loud words like, 'amazing, unbelievable, did you see that?' I suppose it can get painful for the editor but I find it hard to suppress enthusiasm when confronted and surrounded by scenes unimaginable. I will add that Andorra makes a person work hard for the delights. The climbs are steep, many are strenuous and others difficult. By the time we return, if we can get out of this 'town', we'll be exhausted. We mentioned a few weeks ago that the effort is the reward, the more we sweat, the more satisfaction. This brings me to a I hear a cheer?

I often mention paradise and heaven in trying to express my feelings about a region. Who knows what these concepts are really about? We know some people have weird understandings. Nevertheless, my thought is that paradise or heaven may be a place or concept where a person is rewarded, perhaps exponentially, for his/her efforts. However, the system is fair in that it is a measured reward and that there are never injustices. Should you have reached this point, I will stop here and thank you for indulging me. Now you know what the editor has to deal with in beautiful Andorra and many other places in a world filled with treasures.

Rocky and attractive as we spot the refugio while ascending toward lake surface.

The guy's at a loose end.


We returned 'home' quickly to catch the morning light on the trees, outside our apart-hotel.

"I'm sitting at the railway station, got a ticket to my destination..."

Jenni is able to swim and hike simultaneously.

One of the things noticeable in the Principality of Andorra is the abundance of water. From our experience, it rains frequently although we have had two dry periods in near on a month. A dry period may be defined loosely as a period of three-to-four days without precipitation. Besides this source of water, the melting snow causes the rivers and streams to flow constantly. Waterfalls are in abundance. Wherever one treads, one is like to be close to a river or stream. At times, it seems water is bubbling from the mountain walls or from the earth as if springs exist throughout the land. In fact, it may well be the case that water spews from the ground as the norm.

When we stayed in El Tarter, streams flowing down the mountain were diverted between our buildings. As we write this missive, every time we raise our eyes, we view the river flowing strongly before us and watch it make a left turn before our building, crossing the quiet highway and continuing south. The sound of water bubbling and gurgling is apparent wherever we have hiked. Each of the many waterfalls we have seen or spotted, or at least, most of them, have a lake source. Once we notice the flow of water down a mountain, we know where we need to head in order to find a lake.

Jenni reaches the end of the line.

One more of a reflection that had us staring for a while.

Somewhere in Spain, Jenni identifies a shady spot for a picnic. I didn't want to be a wet blanket but...

"Explain to me how we ski from here to those snowfields without snow in between?"

Living in a castle was most becoming...until we were deposed.

Delivery of clean (and collection of soiled) linen and fresh vegetables to Refugi Comapedrosa at an altitude of 8,700 feet. We were obviously there, last Friday. Next week, we intend to hike to the mountain above the refugi, the highest peak in Andorra. The atmosphere or, lack of it at that altitude, surrounded by mountains, a lake alongside and views to everywhere, was surreal. Andorra is truly unique for people who favor the outdoors.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Thursday, July 28, 2016

27.13 Andorra ('Andorable'): Grandvalira sunrise with a full moon and sleepwalking editor. 27.14 A mix from other, later hikes.

We had not seen a sunrise in the principality because it takes place very early (huh!) and with the high mountain ranges close by, the sun is blocked easily. We identified a place not hiked previously that we considered might provide the sights sought. After waking at 4:40am, we traveled to Grau Roig, a hotel and parking lot in the Grandvalira Ski area. Our car was the only one in motion until we reached the boundary where we were joined by another vehicle. The plan was a good one or so it seemed. However, as we were unfamiliar with the land and we would be walking through the wilds (no trail), it being dark did not augur well. I may be the dummy but why was the editor following me?

(We'd like to welcome the Russian viewers to our blog (the largest viewing block, recently): "теплый прием приветствия"

The theme of this hike was a sunrise in Andorra, the Grandvalira Ski area. Time approximately 6.25am at peak.

Grandvalira at about 5:30am one fine morning. The full moon was a pleasant surprise. We reached the mountain top on the right last week; the one on the left the previous week.

It took us over an hour to reach the peak, making the sunrise by moments.

Over the years, we have also learned about twilight, sunrise, dawn, nautical and civil twilights and so it becomes quite a business to judge the best time to reach a peak while walking in the dark or almost darkness. Of course, we did have flashlights. It was at that stage I realized that if one is always logical (a great attribute), it's possible to miss out much in life. Often, one sets out on a course and by following it and introducing variations, one often discovers things that would not have been envisaged in the original plan. Naturally, it provides thrills and spills and unintended consequences along the way, both frustrating and uplifting. In the end, one takes a chance and often, one is rewarded. Over the last ten days, planning has been undertaken but many decisions have been made 'on the fly' while in the wilds. This has put us in 'unusual situations' and yet all have provided incredible opportunities. Some risks, nevertheless, don't work as we would like.

Editor goes walk-about at a ridiculous hour in the dark resulting in a ridiculously wonderful experience. Of course,
at the time she did not know that. These things take a little time to sink in.

The miracle of light reveals the big mountains of Andorra and Franca.

'Butter fingers'. The editor 'drops the ball'. How often does one get the opportunity to hold up that big star?

She fails with two hands but makes an effort with only one hand. Give her credit for thinking 'big'. Looks like
the photographer has a lot of work to do.

Today's climb up a steep mountain side over wild terrain looked a little rough at first and it was but the rewards were magnificent. We made it in time to watch the sun rise above the horizon, illuminate the mountains on the east side and bring light to the region. Watching the land come alive in the initial soft light, observing the cattle and horses begin feeding while following the sun proved to be another more-than-worthwhile experience. It also lit both mountains we have climbed recently on the western and southern sides of the bowl.

We returned to the commencement point and then headed back to El Pessons Lake, a favorite position of ours where we breakfasted on a rock alongside the lake, before partaking of tea on the restaurant patio. (No picnics allowed, states the sign.) Although we were more tired from lack of sleep than physical exertion, sitting and watching the birds, the reflections off the lake and being thankful we did not wish to climb El Cubil a second time, brought a feeling of tranquility and peace again.

Yes! It's the smoothest path. We made our way up the mountain 'freestyle' and arrived at this incredibly steep section. Truth be told, the whole hike was steep and over untamed lands.

The 'shepherd' calls on her 'ram' to follow from the wilderness. The mountain on the right is El Cubil Petit, last week's climb. As we used to say in Texas when we lived there for a short while, "How's dem slope on the right?"

Oh that! Just some colors thrown together. Nothing really other than a daily miracle.

Brunch after coming back to 'ground' and then climbing a further 600 feet to the lake, a favorite spot.

Welcome to another day of light. (Thank you!)


Jenni and Jeffrey

The whitest and quite attractive cows and calves we've seen. Obviously, we have not been indoctrinated at a sensitivity
training school, not taking into account the feelings of ordinary black and brown cows.

On an extraordinary climb a while ago, we noticed vultures circling and made a detour. It's distasteful to witness
but is natural behavior. Then we thought further and pose the question. Do humans act differently? Just asking.

"I know exactly what that itch feels like, big fella." 'Hey son, give mom a scratch...a hoof.'
Truth be told, the editor told them a horsey joke and they played along with her, rolled on the ground giggling.

Trail Roc de Castel after dropping down a thousand feet from the summit. The high peak in the background is Pic de Casamanya, the focus of the last blog. This is linked to the picture below.

Pic Casamanya: The previous picture was taken a few miles to the right of where Jen (her left) stands...and 'a few feet' lower.
(Current altitude over 9,000 feet plus another 5'2").

Lake Tristaina, at an altitude of 7,600 feet, my coldest swim ever. Last week's at higher altitude was less freezing.
The lake colors, (later blogs), are heavenly. Temperature controlled, chlorinated, jacuzzis, or plain ol' lagos, llacs or an estany : Take your pick.

Monday, July 25, 2016

27.11 Pic de Casamanya, Andorra: An 'electrical' experience, both 'shocking' and uplifting. 27.12 Pic de Casamanya revisted, just for fun.

An essay of this exciting experience follows after the main selection of photographs:

Seventy minutes up the trail and a splinter of light shines on the back mountains.

Nature was becoming a little wild and erratic, the town of Ordino below.

'Life couldn't be better', so portrays the editor's face. Weather great and the peak just ahead.

One of the finest sights that we've seen, following the first hail storm at the top.

Earlier, before 'losing' a dear partner and less valuable editor.

A view from the peak looking mostly south. The town of Ordino is visible but about to be pummeled. Guess who else?

Earlier, the editor called for a 'smoke' break as the first of five false peaks appears ahead. Heck, I miss the Cokes.

A view from the peak toward the south, weather not 'improving' although the trail looks clear.

In case editor asked, needed proof of reaching peak. Still optimistic about a breakthrough of the sun...eventually.

The editor's choice, no arguments on this one. From peak, looking north and into the valley.

Beginning the descent.

Things looking a little might say.

Bleak, yes, but some amazing scenes and coloring yonder, seen earlier.

The big and bold, typical of Andorra.

After at least nine hikes in Andorra this trip, we took pleasure just in thinking about a return to Pic de Casamanya, the first repeat from a previous visit. We deliberately delayed the hike until we felt we would not be able to contain our enthusiasm and that the weather would be reasonable. On Friday 22nd of July, the hot weather would be returning to Andorra, or so the forecast predicted. Thus far, in four weeks of hiking in Spain and Andorra, we had yet to be soaked other than a couple of sprinkles on an occasion. How long could this streak last? Dumb question.

The revised weather forecast called for thunderstorms from about 3 pm. No problem. We arrived at the trailhead at 8am, leaving from our new apartment in Llorts, the northwestern part of the country. Previously, we stayed on the northeastern side, in a town called El Tarter. The weather looked a little bleak but knowing how quickly it changes (for the better), we set off to reach the peak at an altitude of over 9,000 feet with an elevation gain of over 2,500 feet, including reaching both peaks which would then add more gain as there's a valley between them. Man plans and God laughs. In horseracing parlance, the ‘going was good’ and we made great timing as we ascended this steep mountain. The distance was short, making the rate of elevation gain fast and furious, at an average of 1,000 feet per mile.

After 80 minutes, lightning struck. The editor, correctly fearing the phenomenon, decided she wanted to return to the trailhead. Before we could enter into meaningful discussion other than my requesting her not to run, she turned and began to run down the mountain. I can be most persuasive. I was left stranded and in a sense, conflicted. ‘I should return with Jenni,’ I thought. However, I foresaw the storm passing, I needed the challenge and, knowing the editor is correct about lightning, she’s also more sensitive about it than the average person. I’m average so that puts me in a different position from her. The trail was well demarcated so I did not worry about her losing the path but the thought of a fall on this very steep slope was a deep concern. There is another aspect. A person has to meet the challenges one sets for oneself. An issue is that it is easy to lower the ‘bar’ and kid oneself that one is meeting such challenges notwithstanding the standards are being lowered, often subtly. Enough with all this, Hamlet.

Jen continued down and I watched her for a few minutes. A short while later, I turned to continue upward and noticed the mist or fog had moved in so quickly that I could no longer see the mountains. By the way, there are about five false peaks before the real top. I waited for the mist to lift and it did. I continued up and after about twenty minutes, the sun shone through. All that time, I was wondering whether Jen was safe. ‘You should have turned around…no, you need to go on and she should do that which makes her comfortable.’ I made good time and was able to see sights that for me were unique. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen views more formidable, enticing, intimidating, breathtaking, uplifting…The clouds covered the mountains and every so often gaps formed between the two which allowed a little sunshine to filter through creating shadows and sunspots on the mountains and the town below . Heavy black clouds descended onto the lower white formations, and at times, blue sky appeared as a bond between them. The town of Ordino, reappeared and disappeared every few minutes, depending on cloud and mist movement. In fact, at one stage, it felt like nothing existed wherever my eyes focused. It was black, white and grey masses of ‘nothingness’.

The wind picked up, little icicles began to fall which was followed by rain. It then ceased, allowing me to reach the peak and see more amazing sights and vistas. A heavy hailstorm had almost covered a mountain yonder and the contrast of the partially green and purple grass provided a sight I found stunning and was fortunate to capture on camera, multiple times. Other contrasts of shiny rocks, mountain walls in red, bronze and brown provided a kaleidoscope of colors and images that stunned the senses. Meantime behind me, the clouds turned black, a few were dark blue but all were ominous. White and grey-shaded mist peeked through every few minutes, creating colors and sights that were bold and daring. At times during the period, and most other times, too, one feels the power of nature: its brute and raw force contrasted with the insignificance of self. This was another of those frequent occasions. I continued to observe and absorb the magnificence occurring about me knowing that a major storm was imminent but I was reluctant to break the spell that had developed between me and the powerful, natural forces.

My senses felt sharp and alive. I felt different from most other times on a mountain peak. I wondered what that was all about. It was only later that I realized a couple of things. Firstly, I was the only one on this large mountain in an electrical storm. I understood the inherent dangers of such a situation but I felt little, if any, fear. Furthermore, and perhaps this was the what struck me as the difference. I was seeing and yes, feeling sights that I had never experienced before. It was powerful, awesome and the feeling stayed with me much longer than usual, in fact, for days. This is in itself unusual.

The forecast was correct should one ignore it occurring six hours earlier than scheduled. I knew I had to leave (a lot sooner) but was drawn to the miracles, wonders and action that abounded on these mountains of Andorra. Then it happened. Strong winds gusted, heavy hail fell which was followed by rain with lightning and thunder thrown in for good measure. At that stage, I was at the furthest point from the trailhead of the hike. Great!

I began the descent while being pounded by hail which hurt wherever it struck, soaked from the rain and trying to anticipate the lightning. Unfortunately, there was no shelter. The rocks contained iron oxide, I thought. This is not exciting as metal attracts lightning. Just when I thought things could not get worse weather and track-wise, I noticed the trail was covered in ice—from the hail. This, of course, created slippery conditions. Add in the rain and it got worse. I never want to fall, obviously, and don’t often. However, I slipped in mud at the end of a dangerous hike last week (safe the whole way but for a silly part near the trailhead) so I was nursing a possible broken finger. I could not afford further damage. A further complication was that it was so cold at the higher elevation that my hands were freezing. Trying to tie bootlaces that loosened because of the rain became a major and uncomfortable task.

The trail, as mentioned, is steep but terrific—we love this hike. Unfortunately, there are two sections with jagged rocks to be negotiated. Normally, that’s great because one gets a good grip on such surfaces. However, with ice and water sitting upon the sharp stone, it’s not as pleasant as some would say a dash of whiskey brings to the cold liquid. Slippery as all he.. I then noticed white clouds covering some of the mountains contrasted with pitch-black ones and the occasional dark blue sky beyond. I could not help but stop for the shot even as a bolt of lightning reminded me of my foolishness.

An advantage of the rain was soon apparent. It began to wash away the ice in places, allowing me to jog at times. Lift the feet to avoid protruding rocks, keep the eyes open, ignore the beautiful sights while in motion and hope Jenni reached the car before the storm or at least was safe. That was my mantra. Well, it worked.

Jenni was fine, although a little warm in the stuffy vehicle. Instead of breakfast on Pic de Casamanya, we ate in the car while awaiting the storm to pass. She had three things to say:

1. "I knew you'd be sensible and turn around when the weather deteriorated." 'Oops!'
2. "I was angry that you did not have a rain-jacket." 'I have my windbreaker with me.' I still don't know why getting wet was an issue but I realize I'm a dumb male.
3. And the one that made it worthwhile. "I'm pleased you're back. Give me a hug, you big lug."

Will we do this hike again? Let us put it this way. Health permitting, we don’t think a thousand horses could drag us from Casamanya. Three days later, the editor 'persuaded' me to return which we did. Wasn't a difficult 'sell' and anyway, there weren't many horses.


Jenni and Jeffrey

A different angle, equally stunning.

The return of the editor to the peak, three days later.

Contrast the background without the ice, rain and light of the previous occasion. (The peak at rear with some snow on it
is Pic de la Sererra, one we climbed the previous week.