LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.
'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.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
In memory of Mannie Edelstein, a man with a small ego, a warm heart and a big smile who brought meaning into the world and motivated many, including ourselves.
Back to the beach as we go 'walking on a winter's day'...'step onto a cliff we pass along the way...'
Some tricky and slippery sections as we return from the beach.
We meet a new creature, a falcon.
One of our favorite places in San Diego, after Lake Poway, is the glider port. It provides beautiful views of the ocean, sunsets, birdlife and most of all, a steep drop to ocean level with a spectacular return climbing up the cliff rather than using the rough steps. Like all things in life, there is also a disadvantage to it. Below the port is an officially sanctioned nudist beach--that's the negative side. Call me a prude but it's not positive or even attractive to walk on that beach when the weather is reasonable. It seems when the temperature rises, people like to hang-out, stick-out or is it hang-over or whatever. It also seems that the predominant gender of nudists is male which is, for me, off-putting. In addition, many of the participants in this very passive activity are older than us or if not, have bodies that have spent much time in sedentary positions and/or have consumed more foodstuffs than recycled. All-in-all, it's a bit of an eyesore unless the temperature drops below 60 degrees.
Call me a sexist should you wish, but to the contrary, should the predominant gender be of the feminine persuasion, I might have a different view. In fact, I would say it would be a very interesting view indeed. (Truth be told, a little modesty shown by all would be most welcome). As it is, we have to reach the beach to do the climbing back and other activities, so when the temperature drops, it is a treat. We get the opportunity to undertake all we wish without having to view the relics...and you know what can wash up on the sand.
An exciting path in our temporary backyard.
I think it's known as the 'swinging arm' technique. Acts to balance the climber and crack the spouse.
Hoping falcons don't like heights. They don't do they?
Some color and beauty in San Diego.
The speed of the bird is phenomenal.
Can't remember slipping but there was one section I would have liked to have had more traction.
Began to flap its wings. Apparently, it's something we said.
Jenni and Jeffrey
43.20 Bulgaria, Devin: Color and views of a town nestled in the Rhodope Mountains. 43.21 Bezbog, a hike to the lake and nearby Vihren/Kutelo.
Interesting weather in Devin.
A few times a week, of course depending on where we are, we find ourselves in wide-open, natural spaces. It is a wonderful feeling; it’s as if a person is alone in a big, wide world. We know the world is a big place because we have walked about 9,000 miles over the last 9-and-a-bit years and have hardly gone anywhere. In fact, if we were to put things in perspective, it’s as if we have not left home (wherever that may be). Often, but not always, whether it’s on foot and in motion or while stopping for brunch, we look around and the first thing we try to remember is in which part of the world we are—which country to be precise. We don’t think it’s because our memories are fading but sometimes it’s just that—we get a little mixed up. Maybe it's an age issue after all.
Once we get that part sorted out, we think about where we are in relation to a village or small town. Out in the wide-open spaces means that we are some distance from cities and big towns. Another way of expressing it is that not only are we away from the familiarity of home but we are often in foreign lands which is compounded further at being in remote regions of these unfamiliar countries. It is wonderful that there are no vehicles about (except when we are lost), few people although we love meeting fellow hikers but at times, the tranquility and peace is interrupted by rowdy individuals. Today, and the last week in particular, we were the only people on the mountains, at least we did not see a sole other than two youngsters on only one of the hikes. There are usually horses, cattle, sheep and when we are fortunate, chamois, birds and probably many other animals that remain hidden. Of course, in Africa, the game is more prevalent.
As an aside, the various people of many nationalities we've met on Hikeabout has been one of the highlights of our adventure.
A while back in the Low Tatras in Slovakia, we heard a bear growling below. It sounded like it was in awful pain, resisting and whining about the hibernation period or seeking and missing a mate. Who knows as we do not understand the creatures other than to show them healthy respect and to keep our distance. We have come close on a few occasions but at each meeting, it was cordial and ended in the bear turning and going its own way. Just last Sunday, we heard what sounded like a bear in a forest outside of Devin. We strained our eyes to try spot the creature but apparently, it did not wish to be found...continues at end.
The town of Devin from some height.
The town from real height, Grebenets Peak, the other side through the telephoto.
Color our world, hence, the jacket.
An employment opportunity? Perhaps, a rest.
A hike to Grebenets Peak yonder, through the dense forests.
A place 2 hours, north:
After more than 2 hours on trail, mostly climbing, another 40 minutes to go on a spectacular finish.
En route to the summit, Mount Vihren, Bulgaria. (The second highest in the Balkans.)
Through gorgeous forests.
It's a country covered in trees.
...and this is how they drag them around. I stood and applauded the driver after he got the truck out of the ditch...he appreciated the gesture but still did not offer us a ride.
A rocky departure from Bezbog peak.
Back to the tranquility of the natural wide-open spaces. After returning from our destination, Chairski Lakes, and with more than an hour to go, we sat down to rest. We had been on the go for many hours, the last 2 at a brisk pace as we did not wish to return in failing light. From the sitting position, we moved to one of resting on our elbows, gazing into the distance and taking in the surroundings close-by, as well as basking in the sunshine of the late autumn days. We were engulfed in this massive array of trees and long grass, mountains surrounded us, sheep in the distance and the wind had picked up a little. We remembered we were in the Rhodope Mountains close to Greece, a particularly quiet range, still an hour and a bit walk from the village of Trigrad, which has a population of 618 people.
We each had our own thoughts and we shared some of them. We could be lost in the wilderness, (it’s happened before), short of food and warm clothing; we could meet hostile people or animals, the weather could change suddenly. In fact, so much on the negative side could occur including injuries and no one in the world would know or usually knows where we are that it was enough to question our thinking and lifestyle.
On the other hand, we could continue to breathe the fresh air, feel the upliftment of completing the hike and meeting another challenge or accomplishment, absorbing unique sights we see on each occasion, discovering more of the world, thinking of what it all means and evaluating ourselves in the context of a massive world. We also see ourselves as two tiny specks who will leave Planet Earth and be quickly forgotten although while here, we’ll treasure and savor every moment in which we undertake productive, challenging, meaningful and rewarding behavior—our effort versus reward principle enunciated, briefly. We absorb all of this and usually feel something move through our souls. The feeling occurs regularly, almost daily when out on the mountains and in different environments from our base. We realize we've been touched again and are most fortunate: Life on the road has been meaningful; in fact, extraordinary.
On the other hand, we could look at all the negatives facing us, turn inwards and...panic.
Jenni and Jeffrey
A Fond Farewell to Eastern Europe—Slovakia.
From Kondraka Peak and Giewont—Poland
Sister of Vihren—Kutelo, Bulgaria.
Town of Bansko, mostly under cloud, viewed from trail of Kutelo.
Haunting: Season changing...fascinating, Zion National Park.
Jenni summits at the Angel, Zion, Utah. A sharpshooter murders two military personnel from a great distance.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico—scene of white sands oozing red blood.
A window of opportunity at Bryce Canyon, Utah. Beauty covers death and despair.
Found a more interesting spot than the usual summit on Angels Landing. (Sharpshooter fires from the position.)
Mount Humphreys, Arizona...bodies found on the peak.
Clear Creek Trail, Mount Shasta, the scene after the attack on 3 family members and a companion.
Madam rests on Observation Point, Zion National Park. The scene of a vicious attack.
Returning from a murder scene, Mount Hood, Oregon.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Monday, December 30, 2019
43.14, 43.15 Bulgaria: Orpheus Peak, two visits and some directional issues in the Rhodope Mountains. 43.16 'Chairski' wandering. 43.18 Extreme Devil's Bridge trail to peak returning to human kindness. 43.19 Mechi Chal slopes.
A Personal Note:
Finally, after a rather busy period, we are delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of a fifth book, shortly. It's titled "Vengeance is Mine ... and mine, too." Updates and details to follow soon.
Making hay while the sun shines...strongly.
Nearing the peak on the Extreme Devil's trail, we get some support in the form of wobbly, natural handrails.
The more we witness in our world, the more we appreciate a side of humanity that makes life worthwhile. Recently, we’ve written a number of pieces praising the kindness we have experienced and observed in many parts of the world. As an aside, I’m currently reading a book from the Nazi era which as always, questions humanity. It also reminds me of a woman we met a while ago who in good faith submitted that ‘all people are basically good’. I did not even think of offering to sell her the Brooklyn Bridge—it would have been too easy. I notice I have strayed off the path again.
In 2018, we were traveling in our car in Slovakia, heading back to Strba, a village below the High Tatras. We enjoyed Slovakia so much that we in fact returned in the latter part of 2019. Anyway, we noticed a young couple hitch-hiking. The male stood at the left part of the ‘Y’ junction while the woman remained on the other side. It was either a smart strategy, an ambush or they’d had a fight. We always stop for hikers wherever we are in the world. (We have a different attitude to picking up rough looking males on the side of the road, though.) The couple were heading to the station in Strba, our village.
“We don’t remember seeing a station in the town,” we remarked.
The guy, probably just under thirty, stated he’d seen it advertised on the internet. Who were we to argue, especially over things we know little about and particularly directions? Sure enough, we found no station.
“We did notice a train line and station at Strebske Pleso some thirty minutes above the town,” we mentioned. After a brief discussion, we told them to remain in the car as we headed back to the lake and delivered them to that station. End of part 1 which we did not really want to mention but unfortunately, is an essential element to the whole story.
Fast forward to autumn 2019. After departing from Poland, Slovakia again, and arriving in Bulgaria, we went hiking near the town of Borino. We undertook the Extreme Devil’s Bridge hike. Before we hit the trail, we decided to drink cups of tea at a small kiosk near the parking lot—a little unusual, both drinking before commencement and that there was a place offering various ‘treats’. We set off after talking with the manager, a large, young man who spoke German and Bulgarian but just a smattering of English.
The directions for the trail seemed clear and in fact, we completed the whole hike although the latter trail did not take us back to the starting point, where we had parked the car. Rather, it was heading toward the town, some 5 miles distant from the trailhead. We still don’t know what occurred causing us to apparently miss a turnoff but it’s not the first or last time. Fortunately, Jenni was amenable to cutting through farmland, down a small mountain and across some dongas, allowing us to get to the main road which left a further 3 miles to the trailhead. It's not enjoyable walking along a road, especially after experiencing attractive forests and other natural beauty and at the end of a long hike. By that time, we were a fraction frustrated and tired from a fairly trying day. We walked a little over a mile and I felt weary, and Jen, although not saying much, looked worn. More than 12 miles in the mountains can be tough.
I then thought something I probably shouldn’t have. I looked around and wondered about all the people we had given rides to over the years. I don’t think that’s a pure thought. A flash passed through my head, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice should that German couple from Slovakia drive past.’ Within thirty seconds, perhaps even less, a car did pass and the driver slammed on brakes and reversed. We looked up and I wondered. Could it be?
It certainly wasn’t the German couple as there was a single, large, young man in the driver’s seat. He beckoned us to enter the car. He was the manager of the kiosk.
We probably don’t have to mention anything further. However, it gets even better. When he dropped us at the car, I tried to hand him some money which he refused. As one knows, when someone is performing an act of kindness, compensating the person tends to negate part of the wonderful deed. Nevertheless, we did find a way around it which left all elated. More importantly, we were once again touched by the kindness, the goodness of another human being—a complete stranger. What's so beautiful about these incidents is that, inter alia, many of these people are probably not wealthy, will never see us again and are entitled to receive a gift from a grateful recipient of their kindness. However, they are not typical. Their honor, their decency and of course kindness, are far more important to them than pecuniary reward. Their reward is in the giving. Thank you, Horge.
Most satisfying position and view.
Always have to go down to climb back up...?
I wonder if Jen would prefer to be sitting with the womenfolk or they would prefer to be on the slopes.
He's feeling a lot more tired than he projects as we return to Trigrad after 12 miles on the trail. Even to a 'teetotaler', the beer 'nearly' looks good.
On Golden Grass...a sequel to 'On Golden Pond'.
Subtle flow of water through the gap.
Village of Gela from on high.
I'll take the low road...
and you take the high road...and it appears we're in the wrong country, Jock. "How did you get down so fast, Jock...I mean, Jen?" I think the 'ferrata have gone to our heads' rather than where they should be, at our feet.
The village of Trigrad comes into view, late afternoon, as we enter the final stretch.
You have to go down, to go up, to go down.
Jenni and Jeffrey
I don't know that I'd feel safe on that woodwork; hence, I'm not on it. Hmm! pretty girl.
Safer footing down a steep slope at Mechi Chal before the snow