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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

33.11 The Rainbow Nation: A handful of 'color-blasts' far from the coast.

'For your eye only'. Are the colors real?

The Beloved Country is indeed as colorful as a rainbow. It's rich in diversity in many facets although we focus on the natural wonders...the human wonders tend to get us into trouble when we offer comments. Nevertheless, it's an amazing country with potential beyond belief. However, it seems that the formula to realize that potential is for people to work toward a set of common goals rather than self-enrichment. Didn't take long to get into trouble, did it?

One of the solutions to the country's and in fact, the world's problems is to remove those problems. Original! Seems obvious but impossible. We were thinking of rounding up the universal political class and lobbyists and transporting them elsewhere. Surely, the exploration of outer-space was undertaken for such higher purpose.

The pictures below, and once again, just a few of them, illustrate a tiny bit of the treasures in South Africa. It goes without saying the editor and writer are excluded from such description, although a nice sentiment.

'I'm equally beautiful on this side'.

The only sun of the day was at sunset; it was a sight to behold. (Note the mist and clouds above the buttress at Golden Gate Highlands which covered the region all day).

On the Rhebok trail, the sun again performs superbly.

Big game hunter and tracker hike in the Karoo, a desert in the Cape.

Change of scenery as former big game hunter climbs the Brandwag buttress. (A rather cumbersome way to cross the busy road.)

Cave man returneth from his new home. Forlorn look: apparently, the power was down. He had to take the stairs.

Different stage and position of the sunset.

Eating brunch at a peak, the flora set a wonderful tone.

Rock formations in the region are stunning. The particular sandstone (not in picture) makes one think one could be in Arizona, Utah or Nevada.

Gemsbok in Karoo National Park has two 'heads', second reflected on his body.

If not haunting, it certainly made an impression upon us as we returned on the Rhebok trail.

A colorful bunch. We were on a trail toward the peak in the background, which took us past a viewpoint. Passengers from a mini-bus alighted and asked to take our picture. Strange. Perhaps we do look like wild life or at least, we are game. We in turn obliged, hence the shot. After the hike (and showers), we went to the lodge for tea and met up with the tourists by chance. It was a nice few minutes of conversation with the group from Lesotho.

Glen Reenen camp, Golden Gate Highlands, how apt a name.

Steenbok in the Karoo getting ready for bedtime as the last rays warm the body.

"Did you just see what I saw?" Back on trail we got sidetracked observing this pair from a distance.

Two cave dwellers in Mosemane, Free State. (We had to try the self-timer on the camera; the trails are very quiet.)


Jenni and Jeffrey

Friday, October 27, 2017

33.10 Free State Province: Moolmanshoek, the home of Visierskerf (peak) and so much more.

The view of Visierskerf from the verandah of the lodge.

Resting approximately 600 vertical feet below the summit which is to the right.

"Vrystaat". One happy boy.

It is an axiom, I’m sure, or our understanding anyway that should you not push yourself then a person will not move forward or up but in fact, may slip back down. We do try and make each day on the trails count and the rewards, when we succeed, are incredible. One distinct advantage of mountain hiking and climbing is that success or failure can be measured on the day. It means after each hike, the feeling, usually a high, occurs then and there. It’s the positive aspect of instant gratification. Unfortunately, soon thereafter that glorious feeling dissipates. It’s most fortunate that it does otherwise there would not be the need, even urgency, to move onto the next challenge. Life, even with its negative aspects, has been well thought through and makes ‘real sense’.

We arrived in Ficksburg with devised plans to accomplish but were confronted with certain restrictions. Many of the great trails are on private property so one cannot arrive at the gate, pay the fee and continue. We found what looked like a good hike, called ahead to the private reserve, received permission, agreed the fee and set out for Moolmanshoek, a private nature reserve outside Ficksburg. We were met by Michael, a young Free Stater, a true gentleman. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore. He suggested we undertake the relatively flat waterfall hike. Our priority is, of course, mountains and so he provided a sketch map for us to follow, with a little hesitancy.

The land contains a lodge which looks terrific, is filled with game, has a number of mountains within its boundaries, a waterfall, swimming hole and beauty that creates a tranquil atmosphere. When we looked toward the mountain identified for the hike, reaching approximately 8,000 feet, Visierskerf, some of the tranquility dissipated. We intended to follow the Sphinx trail through the animal area and then make our way up the stiff climb to reach the peak. It’s normally undertaken with an overnight stay at the hut somewhere out in the distance. We set out after Michael rather nervously asked when we thought we might return. It’s becoming a problem these days as people judge us to be past our expiry dates and so tend to encourage us to take the easy to moderate hikes. They probably don’t have a helicopter available so rescue is most inconvenient.

Nevertheless, we set off heading toward the mountain and soon found the path diverted to add distance to the 10-mile trip with an elevation gain, after the various ups-and-downs on the ridge and wrong turns, amounting to well over 3,000 feet. We did not do well in the map reading department and ended up taking a few wrong turns. This increased the distance as well as added to the climbs. We also went off trail and followed animal paths including free movement through the bush. It was, to understate it, a tough day but exhilarating, challenging and unforgettable. The opportunity to pass and stare- and be stared- at by zebra, ostriches, springbok, hartebeest, gemsbok, wildebeest and others was fantastic. We have mentioned how much more we enjoy walking among the animals than observing from a vehicle. I would rather not see predators for the opportunity of observing the game prance, frolic and run. It is another incredible experience—being with the animals on neutral or on their territory.

We found the animals extremely shy; they did not allow us to get as close as we would have preferred. However, to watch the antelope spring through the air and step smoothly on the uneven surfaces is nothing short of poetry in motion. Even at distances, at times, of over 500 yards, we noticed the various groups kept their heads facing us—always alert. We are either two fascinating people to animals or the strangest sight and potential monsters—take your pick.

Back to the trail. One of the issues we faced was we only reached the lower level of the main upward commencement (The Neck) after nearly 3 hours, which included eating breakfast. It was also the hottest day we have experienced in South Africa. Once we found the correct trail, we proceeded on some very narrow edges and arrived at the boundary fence, the ‘Neck’. From there, it was another 1,000 feet up with two major declines along the ridge of probably 2-3 hundred feet. The fence is made of barbed wire to keep the animals from wondering off the reserve. This creates an obstacle for a human too should one need to grab onto it for support. We followed the path along the ridge toward the mountain peak and found ourselves doing much climbing and rock scrambling. The latter third was steep and at times tough. It was like mountain climbing without equipment.

Unfortunately, the heat brought about a thunderstorm, so we were caught high on the mountain facing lightning and rain. Being at least two hours from formal shelter becomes a nice thought but academic. Jenni is particularly fearful of thunderstorms and so shortly below the peak, she took shelter between some rocks. Her courage was admirable and I did discourage her from finishing, more from the storm perspective than the difficult climactic ascent. I left her and continued up and found myself short of breath a couple of times. This was surprising because I usually only start to feel that way at above 11,000 feet altitude. A couple of times, I thought perhaps I should turn back. I had good excuses to do so as I felt a little bad about leaving Jenni but good that she was nearly ‘out’ of the storm's grasp, the lightning was a worry and the climb was tough and I suppose it’s not a good idea to be alone. They were, of course, merely excuses but for lightning. However, a voice kept telling me that ‘a winner never quits and a quitter never wins’. Our good friend, the late Harold Shapiro, was talking to me and I learned a long time ago that when he does, I should listen. So Harold got me to the top of the magnificent mountain which has temporarily become my favorite. What an experience. I often hear that the Free State is basically flat and only good for maize farming. We have seen some beautiful and mountainous regions and the day's hike reinforced those facts superbly.

I re-joined Jenni, fearing I would be summarily dealt with but to my surprise, she was relieved and not any more 'angry' with me than usual. We sheltered for a while, out of the storm, amongst a few rocks with rain blowing into us. We sat with a poncho-covering and thought how lucky we were to have undertaken such an adventure. Bringing rain gear on such a hot day was one of our smarter moves. We knew that getting back was going to be a bit of a problem as the signage was not good enough for our poor judgment on the day. Some days it works like that. Of course, we did return but we made some rather novel moves through the bush and unfortunately, added about another 350 feet onto the elevation gain. Our moves through the bush, following animal tracks and virgin territory provided another dimension to the day, a very nice one, too. Lately, we have done quite a bit of bush whacking.

When we first looked at the mountain from the verandah of the lodge, we knew it was high but probably a reasonable challenge. When we sat back on the verandah with one of the employees, on our return, we wondered how we ever got to the top. It really is quite a climb but rewarding and fulfilling. The views down on the other side of the mountain, with the added attraction of observing the storm, enhanced the beauty. In addition, there was some wonderful plant life to see as well as birds. After a lesser, second storm passed, we caught the returned-sun casting its beams on the flora and mountains, giving us fresh views. Wow! It doesn’t get much better than that.

The gemsbok seem comfortable with us...surprisingly.

Close to completion, we enjoy the flora enhanced by the sun.

Looking from close to the top toward the ridge and the neighboring property.

The charge of the 'Light Brigade' or the 'Magnificent Seven'...who knows? I felt quite comfortable facing this
mob as Jenni shielded me.

Jenni making good time as she reaches a fairly level part of the ridge

Looking toward the storm over in the neighbor's property.

'We are only good friends.' In the 'old days, we called it necking.

'and so are we, including our buddies in the distance.'

Provides a little perspective as we have a long way to get to the 'Neck'. Ridge left, peak right, Jenni bottom left.

A couple of albino bontebok in the crowd. (We think.)

Jenni's climbing up on the way 'down'.

A view from on high into the valley and beyond.

Comfortable in a shelter as storm passes.

A shot through the fence...perhaps a fencing parry.

Springbok on the run...very nervous of us...we must look like Kiwis.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

33.09 Mountain Peaks reached in the Western Cape including birds' eye views.

We still have a few peaks to attain, actually a number of them, but decided to list those we have reached this trip by providing a different slant. All peaks or trails shown are originals (photos). The slants that we negotiated were mostly tough. So try these, if you will, from the comfort of ...whatever is comfortable:

Beginning of flight, a little gem that took a long time to occur.

Karoo National Park: Sun shone on the elongated neck quite nicely. Earlier, we had undertaken a bush hike and
spoke to a guy who was kicked by an ostrich. He spent a week in hospital...the guy, that is.

Heading toward 3 Sisters Peak, Kleinmond.

In the reeds.

Twelve Apostles route to Table Mountain.

Open wide. Mother performing a beautiful deed.

Perdekop, Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus. 'Feet on ground (sort of) while reaching for the sky'- David Gresham.

We have a liftoff...I think.

Devil's Peak via Newlands ravine, Cape Town.

Karoo National Park: Grass stem in beak, mate leads the way.

Du Toit's Peak, Mont Rochelle Reserve, Franschhoek...always windy.

Not easy to get all the ducks in a row particularly when there are no ducks.

Hermit Trail, Pat Busch Nature Reserve. Couldn't help singing 'Are you lonesome tonight'.

'Forget "I thought I saw a puddy cat routine..." It doesn't cut it; we've got eagles in this reserve.'

Indian Venster to Table Mountain top...breathtaking views from narrow and steep paths.

Shouldn't have swallowed that orange whole.

Early on Middelrug Trail, Pat Busch Nature Reserve. Jenni tempts me to try the local high diving board.
I may be dumb but I'm not stupid.

'Hey, little guy, you need a hand...I mean a wing?'.

Perdeberg edge, 3 Sisters, Kleinmond. The long drop alternative. Perhaps 'stupid' mentioned earlier wasn't that far off.

Montagu Mountain Park, on the way up.

"Don't look now. I think we've company...the ol' geezer with the funny hat."

"Watch it, wise guys. I'm serious. Ask Mark Michaelow." (See later blog as we go on a bushwalk with 'three arms'.)

Perdekop (early on the way up), Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, Franschhoek.

'This may be an ideal position to drop a load. Wait for him to press that button.'

Platteklip Gorge to Table Mountain, Cape Town.

It's not a yellow's a patch, dummy.

Stellenbosch Nature Reserve, reaching a peak.

"Yes, you. Who else do you think I'm pointing at?"

Tierkop, opposite Brandvlei Dam and Worcester, less than half-way up.

It had just taken to flight, giving the viewer a close look at what the 'coal face' really means.

Heading to the highest point in Pat Busch reserve, via Jeep track.


Jenni and Jeffrey