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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

27.20 Pic Coma Pedrosa: Reaching a high in Andorra, couldn’t be in a better state…or state of mind.

It's appropriate that the penultimate hike was a climactic one although the final mountain wasn’t ‘shabby’ either. Fortunately, we reached many pics (peaks) over the month, not forgetting a large number of alpine lakes, the former all good but some exceptional. It’s worth mentioning a few so we won’t forget the names although we’ll always remember the experiences. They include Pics- Casamanya, El Pessons, La Serrera, Cubil Petite, Besali, Tristaina and Pic Coma Pedrosa (Valley of stones). (text continues after first set of pictures...)

At sunrise outside Refugi Coma Pedrosa, we prepare for a special day while the sun hits the spot.

A little perspective: A view from close to the top, quite remarkable...actually, it was a 'wow'.

A view of the peaks we had to pass to reach Coma Pedrosa, (taken from the trailhead).

The refugi where we spent the night and Estany (lake) de les Truites viewed from somewhere on the front ridge.

Smiling? First of five incrementing peaks to negotiate on the ridge before reaching Coma Pedrosa.

The last push before the peak. Estany (Lake) Negre below.

Exciting times, terrific scenes.

An exciting position although a little unstable...the rocks not the climber...well, maybe both.

Feels like the top of the world—Pic Coma Pedrosa. Three of the peaks in the background were climbed in previous weeks.

More perspective: The birds showing off way above the mountain skyline.

Peering through a colorful gap.

We reached the peak, first of the day, followed by Manell who obliged us for posterity.

Editor heading down via an alternate route and then we changed direction.

Color, mountains and a lake.

Editor reaches peak before anyone else...and what a position at 9,710 feet. The views were to 'everywhere'.

Finally, reaches the peak.

We have mentioned, light-heartedly, that the locals evaluate difficulty of hikes in a cavalier manner. They are ‘green’ -easy, ‘blue’, ‘red’ and finally, ‘black’. Pic Coma Pedrosa is rated ‘black’ which means it is long, dangerous and difficult. While we agree with this rating, danger is apparent but manageable, by applying a degree of caution and not closing the eyes frequently.

The editor was magnificent on the day (and other days, too) which prompted me to utter I considered her a better climber than hiker. Not knowing what to anticipate, the smile was the only answer I required. Apparently, I don’t always get it wrong. Just so we don’t become complacent, the editor in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic Games, has arranged for us to try to summit Mount Olympus in the founding country of the games. You have to like the irony—we’re too ordinary for the Olympics so she has arranged our own for October.

We approached the hike to Andorra’s highest mountain a little differently this time. The previous Friday, we hiked a steep mountain to Refugi Coma Pedrosa, the well-managed ‘guest-house’ at the base of the mountain with the same name. It’s about 2,200 feet from the carpark to the refugi plus another 2,400 to the peak. The distance is not large, making the gradient steep, which happens to be how we like it except on days when the editor prefers to whine. As she is wont to say, sometimes I give with the one hand and take with the other. Heck, I never promised her a rose garden...actually, not even a one-bedroom house. Will you get back to the track!

We were so impressed with the set-up of the shelter, the surrounding mountains and the tranquil atmosphere, (aware how easily it could swing around into a storm) plus the lake next door that we decided it was essential to undertake the climb. In fact, it was technical in many parts with the last part being along a ridge that entailed climbing up and over, gaining height on an incremental basis on four peaks and finally, reaching the goal peak. There were a few positions along the ridge that made one consider what life was all about or question one’s sanity, particularly when the wind gusted. Take your ‘pic’. Fortunately, at the peak it died (wind) making the time at the top, some 4,600 feet of elevation gain, most pleasurable.

An interesting feeling sometimes passes through the system on the trickier climbs. When things begin to look a little 'hot and spicy', one wonders whether one should continue. Then another stage is reached, both physically and in the mind, where there can be no turning back. Finally, one passes over a final mental hurdle in which one knows the peak will be reached. No doubts, no questions.

We mentioned that we were attracted to the bowl below the towering mountains. However, we also learned of high metal content in the rocks and that there might be an electrical storm on the afternoon of the outing. Therefore, we decided to get to the refugi in the early afternoon, sit out the storm and climb to the peak in the early morning and complete the two segments down to the trailhead thereafter. It was a big day but could have been even more strenuous. It worked out as planned and proved to be another spectacular day of hiking, climbing and taking in the stunning views of Andorra. The sights as we gained altitude, not only because of the early sun, were perhaps some of the finest we’ve seen. The addition of clouds covering and exposing mountains across the way kept us spellbound. The lakes below appeared to change color and their shapes, viewed from above, revealed sharp and distinctive edges. The colors of the different rocks and stones set in sand plus the grasses growing on the mountain walls all combined to show us the magnificence of Andorra including the vistas into EspaƱa and Franca. No wonder we’re crazy about the principality and so many other regions we’ve visited.

Our day began by rising early and taking in a sunrise. Watching the sun light the mountaintops while struggling against a strong fog in the east, reflecting off the lake surface and finally showing us the intimidating ridge bathing in clouds was a sight to behold. We brought brunch with us as is our usual custom, a wonderful one, and headed up towards Lake Negra, a turquoise and at times, emerald-colored body of water. How it got the name ‘black’ seems to be someone’s idea of a joke.

The previous afternoon, we had a slew of conversing companions as Kevin Young of Santa Barbara ate with us and slept in a bunk next to me. An Englishman together with an Irishman (this is not a joke) arrived for a drink, a chat and then headed off on the HRP trail, across Spain, France and Andorra. Kevin was on his own crossing Spain on the GR11. There are all sorts of people doing ‘strange’ things all over the world. I hope we are also strange although some strange things we’re happy to give a miss.

We mentioned earlier that we were due to leave Andorra for Spain on the Thursday. However, after being under Pic Coma Pedrosa and its ridges the previous Friday afternoon, and knowing we wanted to meet the challenge of Andorra’s highest, Spain was summarily dropped and we stayed a further four days, the maximum we could without missing our return flight. I tried a few tricks to extend but the editor knows my weakness. She mentioned two names, Ellie and Benny or even better, Elsie and Benno.

While talking of breakfast and food on the trails, we received a much better understanding of the definition of brunch. The phone rang the other day which was strange as it is ‘locked’. We stared at one another wondering what the familiar but out of place sound was. It dawned on us that we should answer it and could not have been more delighted. It was our granddaughter Ellie, towards whom we are unashamedly biased. At seven years old, she is developing her own wisdom, soon to surpass her Papa. She was instrumental in us obtaining a ‘smartish’ phone because she likes the idea of ‘face-time’ rather than the boring voice-time only. Her Gaga asked her what she was doing that morning. “I’m going out for brunch, Gaga,” she replied.

“What is brunch?” We wanted her take on it. She thought and hesitated for a few moments and gave a reply.
“You see, Gaga, when you wake in the morning, you have breakfast. Then the next meal is lunch. But if you get hungry and it’s not lunchtime yet, then you eat brunch.” We liked the explanation although we hope her mother doesn’t read this.

Weren’t we writing something about Pic Coma Pedrosa or was that an earlier blog? Well, let’s share one more story from the tales of wisdom of Ellie. A year or so ago we were having a particularly exciting time when I exclaimed, “Are we having fun or are we having fun?”
Her reply, “Papa, I don’t know the difference between the two ‘funs’.”

Anyway, there are another seven hikes still in the wings or remaining on the mountains as we’ve been hiking more than we are writing and displaying pictures. They’ll follow later.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Supplementary photographs which link to those above:

The sun lights up the back range completely.

While on the eastern side, the weather worsens and we wonder what's in store for later.

A view from 'home' (refugi), half-way up in elevation, with clouds blocking the front ridge.

An impressive place, perhaps a great understatement.

The sun breaks through the clouds.

Estany de les Truites, near the refugi, at dawn.

Viewing Pic Casamanya in the distance. Two weeks before we were caught at the peak in a thunderstorm.

'Bogey' coming in low. The peak to the right is Pic Tristaina, reached four days earlier.

Apparently a new technique of crossing the legs on scree.

Editor heading down to pass Lake Negre, the colorful lake that's supposed to be black.

Some more than interesting moments on one of many cliff edges.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An early morning visit to Mount Woodson, Iron Mountain's neighbor: Walking through the clouds.

Mount Woodson is a regular local and favorite hike. We have been fortunate to view superb cloud scenes on each occasion that we've hiked in Poway recently. It's hard to accept that clouds blanket the region and not a drop of rain falls from them.

Weather in a word: "Cloudy". Although above mountain level, clear sky.

Love it.

Before appearance of the sun above horizon.

'Not all that glitters is gold'.

Iron Mountain to the side, degrees of cloud density between the two.

In the center of the picture, a tree on a smaller mountain just protruding above the clouds.

This picture selected for the partial mist covering of trees in the fore ground.

Woodson's 'cube' shines at sunrise.

An ocean to the west, a sea of clouds below.

A quote from last week: "There's much smoke but no fire." Hmm! Perhaps that's what she had in mind.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Monday, August 29, 2016

27.17 Pic Tristaina, a personal highlight for us as we go a little outside the comfort zone.

'Let's fill that bowl'. A view from Pic Tristaina, an almost out of world experience. We seldom see cloud covering of this nature in Andorra but frequently in France. Geographically, they are the same place.

Our first peek from the peak into Franca, a confrontation more than a view. (Estany Fourcat, France)

Returning from the peak with 'mucho' caution.

At Port de l'Arbella, a few days before, Andorra to the left, Franca to the right...editor's choice. For perspective,
the peak of Tristaina is behind us. And we thought we climbed substantially to reach the shoulder.

One will run out of energy years before Andorra's pics (peaks) can be climbed. More likely, one may even die trying, rather morbid but realistic. We suppose living in an environment where there is very little level ground, the rating system can put off a keen climber. Any climb less than 2,000 feet is of course relatively flat according to the locals. Up to 3,000 feet is easy and so forth. Yesterday, we climbed 3,400 feet at an average of 1,000 feet per mile. To us, that's relatively tough or to put it bluntly, strenuous. I will add that our time was way below their average so perhaps we are not that 'slap' (slack) after all.

The next day we attempted something that appeared reasonable until we got to the final third at which time it became technical, including some real tough mountain climbing. It was a period during which we experienced fear, elation and much in-between. The climb was a frontal ascent which meant it was more vertical than most regular climbs. Perhaps the real worrying part was it incorporated rock climbing at high elevations which was exhilarating but had us wondering about the return journey. We have become a little wiser as we've aged and realize it is often easier to get into difficulty than out of it. The two-days of hikes resulted in back-to-back elevation gains of over 3,000 feet each. When we began the second day's climb, we were weary but that changed in the latter adrenaline-stimulating segment.

The statistics were interesting, too. It certainly wasn't the highest mountain we have climbed but it definitely was difficult and dangerous as well as without doubt, the most thrilling. The views we will leave to the pictures to interpret. Suffice to say, upon reaching the top, we were stunned by the magnificence. The views were again into Franca and back into Andorra. As an aside, every view we have had into France has been breathtaking. It is made more meaningful as we always seem to be above clouds when looking at the land of the tricolor. I might be off base again, but I would make the statement that relative to my state of mind at the peak, together with the surrounding sights, I have never seen anything finer. Back to the statistics. The altitude at the peak was 9,500 feet. The climb was, including to and from the carpark, over 3,000 feet cumulative gain. It was without doubt, a highlight of Hike-about for one of us. It seems that each new challenge in climbing allows one to test oneself, thus allowing for a daily or periodic measure which also provides an extraordinary element of stimulation.

Finally, we recall an elderly woman complaining that we are fortunate to see such beauty whereas she is prevented from such sights because of her age, health and other restrictions. We empathized with her as it is unfortunate. However, there are many marvelous spectacles in all regions. Sometimes, the problem may be we don't open our eyes or that we build shopping malls, houses and theatres etc. over them. We would also add that many of the finest locales for witnessing beauty require much effort to reach. And maybe that's a good thing in our opinion.

"Sorry, madam, the elevator is out of order...try the donkey."
'But sir, the donkey is busy with his camera.'

A horse with no name watching over the pack below, in the early stage of the ascent.

Meet the family vacationing at Tristaina Lake (number 3). We passed through them earlier, the editor being more nervous
about the horses than the cliffs.

From the peak, peering into Ordino, Andorra as the clouds swirl in from France.

Clouds elsewhere and every where below us in Franca.

As with my late-grandmothers, I don't go anywhere without my bag.

At height, the lake edges are defined and shapely. A refuge/refugi is positioned on the boulder formation.

In the mid-stage, incline becoming acute but still easily manageable.

From the peak, a perpendicular range in France and a little lake peeping.

A quick 'smoke' break or is that a 'Coke' break, so confused.

The two larger Tristaina Lakes, as we come down from the top. Swam in the nearer one last week.

Need one more of these to justify the effort...we'll try any excuse.

Jen in the beginning as we pass the middle lake at water level.

Clouds did not get in the way on this day, Maude.


Jenni and Jeffrey

The day following this hike, we decided to rest. Long story short. We ended up reaching two peaks on the French border again, with views into both countries that were dazzling. This is the editor's idea of a 'rest day'. However, the point of this addendum is that Pic Tristaina was close by. Had I seen it from this position before, I may have 'chickened out'. Hmm!

Pic Tristaina viewed from a peak with an unpronounceable name at an altitude (latter) of 8,915 feet. An intimidating sight for us.
The pass to the lower-right of Tristaina is Port de l'Arbella, the crossing into Franca, for foot-traffic.