LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
New Zealand 2017: Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe.
'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 often.
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Whether it be Cathkin Peak and its buddy, Monks Cowl, or the Sentinel, what does it matter; it's only a few degrees difference of 'love' we have for these massive, daunting, attractive and dangerous edifices. For the purpose of this blog, we decided to show the many faces of The Sentinel and its surround, a place we find as close to a nature lover and hiker's paradise as we envisage.
Should we have only one choice where to absorb beauty, find tranquility and almost contradictory, seek excitement, adventure and challenges, we would probably choose a place where the Free State, Kwa Zulu-Natal and Lesotho meet. More specifically, it’s a location known as Witsieshoek. It attains these criteria and is positioned above Royal Natal National Park, encompasses the Amphitheatre of the Drakensberg and hosts the Tugela Falls, the world’s second highest, Mont-aux-Sources Mountain and so much more. It’s also where the Sentinel, a massive block of rock, acts as the western buttress of the Amphitheatre. More importantly, the Sentinel and so many of its fellow mountains of this range are, for reasons not easily understood, able to move me (us) as well as provide fascination, interest and awe.
We hope you enjoy it and find something that moves you, too. Better still, please explain why immobile mountains move us.
The Sentinel, washed by rain during the latter part of the hike, and hail, too. (Notice hail on the slopes.)
(Continued from previous blog...and see end.)
With a punctured tyre clinging to a wheel hub in the trunk, a flat, left front tyre that looked in a particularly poor state, we called Hertz for assistance. After a number of calls, all very friendly but nevertheless, unproductive, the company decided it would send a tow-truck for the car which we were informed in the next conversation would be at our expense. Unfortunately, the person mentioned, their closest operator was based 150 miles away. 'How about sending a wheel only?'
An early view at Witsieshoek, the retreat below the Sentinel, reminds one about the treasures that abound. (Always loved the outline of the clouds when lit by the early sun.)
On the western (right) side, the Sentinel props up the Amphitheatre. (From Royal Natal Park.)
The chains, west of the Sentinel, but close-by.
An early morning hike presents us with a treat.
An hour later, the lush rolling hills provide further perspective.
Shower time at the top. This was the first occasion in five visits that little cloud cover dominated the scene.
Don't you just dislike a showoff...particularly when she outshines another showoff. (The second of two chain-ladder pairs is shown to the left side and far below.)
Just protruding is 'dear' Sentinel. Taken from Drakensberg Retreat, some distance away. The horses obviously don't share our passion for the range.
Jen stands near the edge of the wall of the Tugela waterfall, a spectacular place...and drop. It's a short walk on the plateau from the Sentinel.
Another beautiful day dawns, below the Amphitheatre, and the rays shine upon the wild grass. The mountains in the distance are many and multi-layered.
The following two pictures were taken when the 'editor' was a few years younger, Sentinel, too.
We cancelled the ‘helpful Hertz service’; it might have been cheaper to purchase the Volkswagen. Instead, we negotiated a deal with a local operator which was superseded by the kindness of the assistant manager, Anthony, from the Retreat. He took the wheels into town, an hour away the next day. Long story short: By Saturday evening, after removing and replacing the wheel, we were still without a spare as the garage was unable to repair it. Although we had four wheels on the car, we felt insecure without the fifth, especially as we had to negotiate the very poor road again in order to depart. Also, Sunday is not the day to seek repairs as all garages offering the service are closed.
Every road we now travel, gets close inspections: we avoid the numerous potholes using extreme caution and try alternative routes where gravel roads exist. Our type of lifestyle makes this difficult though. By Wednesday, we arrived in Mooi River, had the tyre repaired and felt pretty good about our situation but remained guarded, which we still feel today. We look at those trucks and some of the ‘monster’ cars and their thick ‘tackies’ (tyres) with a new respect and envy. Tank tracks bring joy to our hearts, but we are not quite ready for one. During my army training, I was part of the armored corps, something I appreciate more today than then.
One of the positives of these incidents was observing an elderly man repairing the puncture. He was meticulous in the way he went about identifying the issue, applying a solution and bringing the wheel back to practical use. He was a man who obviously takes pride in his efforts. It was a pleasure to witness what appeared to be application of an ‘old school’ work ethic in action. As I write this missive, I ‘ducked’ out the apartment to collect the washing from the line and give the spare tyre a feel. Good so far.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Meantime, back at the ranch, Jen visits a biltong (jerky) farm.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
South Africa has an abundance of birdlife, as is well known throughout the world. While we know very little about these creatures, it does not prevent us from stalking them and mostly, being shunned by these chirping fellas. For every bird we capture on camera, a multiple of five seems to evade us. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable endeavor while we move up and down the mountains and through the forests. (See end for text...)
'Hey, I'm showing you my tail; at least, take a look.'
'Imagine how I'd look with long eyelashes...in fact, any lashes.'
This 'bird' is lucky to be on chains. (One of our favorite places, Sentinel).
You're not serious?
'I'm not as mean as I look...not even close.'
Giving the eye.
The bird is at the top of the Tugela waterfall, the second highest in the world at over 3,000 feet.
A male captured on camera chasing the poor bird.
Not all creatures can be attractive. (Apply caption to the above picture, too)
Only a female can offer that kind of look.
Those two again.
I suppose the typical reaction is, "So cute."
Football coach calls the play.
'Go on, say it. Make my day, Clint.'
Some enchanted evening.
'Nice body but I still like to see a face. I'm not as shallow as the pond.'
That's the weary look: seen it and done it all.
"I don't wanna hear anything about proportion, please."
"It's actually a great back-straightening exercise. Don't try it at home...although I do."
It’s hard to make up some of the stories or the occurrences of the trails and the roads. Most of them range from enjoyable to wonderful and even incredible. Of course, life is not a one-way street and at times, difficulties arise and have to be dealt with, often pushing us into less palatable positions. Some of the adverse situations, even at the time of the occurrence, will become laughable or humorous memories sometime in the future although stressful in the present. Then there are other occasions which are unpleasant from start to finish and will probably conjure bad memories in the future.
Fortunately, and hopefully, they are few and far apart. I think our last such event which we mentioned, humorous in retrospect, occurred in Sophia, Bulgaria when we booked accommodation for two nights and arrived at the hotel in peak traffic only to find our booking was seven nights earlier. We had to find alternative beds in a place unknown to us and in a hurry as we had a small automobile—could not spend a night in it or even a few hours..
In sunny South Africa, we have experienced a somewhat worse situation and are not guaranteed it won’t happen again. We collected a car from Hertz, our second one in four days (for insurance purposes) and headed to one of the world’s premier regions, The Drakensberg. One could write a tome about this region, its history linked to the British Empire, the Zulu nation, the Afrikaans nation and the South African English. That’s even before beginning on the magnificent Drakensberg mountain range and all who and that inhabit it: below, upon, and around it. We arrived at Vergesient and were treated exceptionally well by management and staff. As an aside, bear in mind our bias, the hospitality and respect of South Africans is admirable. With all the upheaval the country has endured and continues to face daily, there is a quality inherent in the people, black and white, that is not matched elsewhere or at least, where we have travelled.
We began by mentioning a struggle we recently underwent. After a hike at the property at which we were residing, the following day we headed for Royal Natal National Park, another marvel. On our return, we noticed the car seemed to be struggling as we approached our parking space at the Retreat. A puncture or as some may say, a flat. We changed the wheel and all went well although I noticed my strength seems to be waning or a gorilla tightened the wheel-bolts previously. So now we were back in action, although with black and brown hands and arms as 20kms of the road leading to the Retreat is of gravel and rocks and in rough condition, leaving its mark/s on the car.
We needed to have the tyre repaired and as the closest garage was an hour away, we thought of doing it the next time we left the property. The following day we hiked locally and thereafter (following day), left early for Royal Natal again. After a tough hike in 95-degree weather, we decided to forego an extra 90 minutes of travelling and take a chance that we would not need a spare wheel. We calculated the risk and felt the odds favored us. We approached the boundary of the Retreat and Jen spotted an eagle close-by. We stopped to view and snap pictures, but the bird took flight. Pity, as it was a marvelous specimen. We continued through the gate, Jen jumped out the car, opened the said gate, I drove through and she closed it and returned to her seat. She knows she has to behave otherwise said driver may not stop to wait beyond the gate. The journey continued slowly and suddenly it felt like the chassis collapsed. Puncture number two in two days. We now had three working wheels which does not cut it. The time was latish Friday afternoon and we were departing from the Retreat on the Sunday...(continued next time.)
Jenni and Jeffrey
Friday, November 23, 2018
38.02 South Africa: The Drakensberg, unique location(s) — further highlights from a number of hikes.
The chirping birds are a sweet alarm in the mornings as they begin their days with vibrancy and good cheer. When I turn to my left, I look through a window that opens my eyes to the world. To my right, lies the editor, not ready to leap from bed or chirp but realizes, at least, she should stir. It’s Monday morning and time for the commencement of the weekly grind as we need to get back into the channel or groove: go for a run, shower, get the kids up, fed and off to school, then into the work rut but not before combatting the traffic. You’ve got to love routine.
Oops, I forgot. The kids are grown up and independent; we’re pensioners and on the ‘way out’ but for what awaits us through the window: Giants Castle, a mountain standing proudly in a region that is not great but rather, spectacularly great. Jen gives the word and we jump out of bed, drink water, wash, dress and head for the pass, Langalibalele. On the way, we see the mountains standing proudly at over ten thousand feet, covered in clouds, and beckoning us to meet the challenge. As incredible as they are, they can be cruel. As for the thick clouding, no problem—something will change, and it does. The sun breaks through the inhibiting mist and the clouds rise and depart, even dissipate in fear. However, this is the Drakensberg and they’ll return sooner than MacArthur. (continues at end.)
Vast open spaces, overpowering.
We spent the day struggling but always elevated and in awe.
Early evening: wisdom, maybe—haunting, definitely.
Blue Grotto on the way to somewhere else.
Sunset at Drakensberg Retreat.
Monks Cowl, Cathkin Peak and Champagne Castle, for reasons unknown, have always reached a special spot deep inside. (Taken from Giants Castle. The mountain on the right is higher than the other two. See below.)
The group taken from 'Verkykerskop', Monks Cowl Park. This is the other side (from above picture) of the range.
As we write this blog, a baboon is attempting to enter our bungalow via the window and now a mother carrying a child, literally, is staring at us through the glass door. Sorry for the interruption as I had to chase the baboon after he grabbed my sweater which was drying over an outside chair. He then jumped onto the car with the garment wrapped around him. I gave chase but he refused to relinquish it. Fortunately, I found it on the ground some distance from our place. What chutzpah!
He stepped back from the glass door as we faced off. He decided to do a spot of cleaning while he waited.
Always prefer the birds.
Champagne Valley: Showing a leg and wing to her mate.
This is a 'real bird' taking off at the Spinx.
A very poor impression of a bird.
The snowwoman cometh or something like that and we also find a hole in the mountain. Maintenance is falling short in the country.
The curtain opens widely and the sight makes us gasp and stand still and admire it. We’re heading that way and are going to walk along the grassy, rolling hills, ascending steadily between bouts of steep ascension. The eyes feast on the magnificent sights including the sandstone mountain faces and rocks leading off grassy inclines. Rain has been good to the area as the grass, shrubs and trees below are all green, a very strong and bright color. The river is flowing, always a good sign. The abundance of birds almost seems unfair that some areas should enjoy such advantage. A couple of antelope really got my goat when we spotted them from about 700 yards and then after we got a hundred yards closer, bolted. What a bunch of whets. We must have smelled really badly because I doubt whether they could have seen us. The wind was to their advantage.
Eagles and hawks were busy patrolling the skies but alas, none had the decency to descend from the friendly skies and unite(d) with us at the lower levels. Meantime we climbed and climbed, adding about 3,500 feet to the day’s tally. Unfortunately, the peak was out of our reach as a day hike although we were close but when the thunder erupted, it put paid to any move to reach the top. The grasses caught our eyes and interest, especially the long stalks blowing in the wind while the sun shone strongly, making them appear golden.
We know it’s too easy and proves nothing when we say a region is great or pay it some compliments, so we thought we’d relate the feeling of our Monday, some six hours on the trail, and hopefully, provide some concrete information about a region that seduces the mind and soul.
We think of our fellow South Africans and what a respectful and warm people they are. The pity is that inhabitants in the ‘buiteland’ (overseas) only get to meet emigres from this country, usually of a homogenous nature. Who wants to meet more people like Jenni and myself when they could gain exposure to many different types of citizens who inhabit this beautiful but troubled land. (It seems it’s a worldwide phenomenon that those in power often seek to destroy rather than build while their hands invade the country’s coffers.)
As an aside, on the hike is a memorial to a few famous men who died in one of the frequent skirmishes of the 19th century. What’s changed?
Finally, we are reminded of a famous South African, Alan Paton, who wrote “Cry the Beloved Country”, apt at publication and remains so today, the title. He also wrote “AH, BUT YOUR LAND IS BEAUTIFUL”, apt then and now. What a beautiful land, indeed!
Jenni and Jeffrey