New Zealand: Along the Ben Lomond Trail.


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.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

42.06 Poland: Kuźnice: Kasprowy Wierch, the big one; what an outstanding hiking challenge.

Hold that flow.

The road from the car to the park and return, a hike in and of itself after a tough day.

This was another big day which included ascending some 3,500 feet. In the 5 hikes undertaken in the Zakopane region, we accumulated 600 feet less than 3 vertical miles. Because of the rocky underfoot, it does require careful treading, especially when the rocks and stones are wet. It also plays havoc with the feet. We sure miss the gravel trails even though they dirty our socks. Big deal! Nevertheless, the trails are constructed superbly and maintained accordingly. As for the locals, they seem enthusiastic about hiking and being outdoors. In addition, they are tough, focused, keen and fearless. This applies to all ages beginning with young kids and including kids in their sixties and seventies. The only issue we have with Zakopane is that being a wonderful city surrounded by terrific mountains, forests, lakes and other features of nature, causes the population to flock to it. It's incredibly busy. We have never seen trails used to such an extent. The strength of its advantages and benefits is also, from a personal point of view, a weakness because of the overcrowding. Apparently, there are not many parks of this caliber in the country and so people flock to it.

From our understanding of the languages spoken on the trails, we heard very little but Polish. We conclude that most of the hikers were locals.

A first sighting as we reach the peak.

The unmasking of the particularly scenic mountains

'The Great Wall of China' it's not but from above it made us think that way. Many people ride up on the cable car and then walk along the ridges before riding down again.

"Hey Jen, I think this route is a quicker way down."

A race to the top: The young and the less young with near on 50 feet to go.

Some hike, others fly to the top.

After about 1,000 feet of gain, we follow the cables to the top.

Love the position and the view. Slovakia to the left, Poland to the right and heavenly all about.

"These mountains are 'for the birds'...and people."

"I think I agree."

On the trails, it is not unusual to stop and converse with a fellow hiker. Quite often, the person will have no understanding of English while we'll have an equal ability to converse in their language. This would appear to be the perfect set-up for a communication problem. Yet, there are times when we enter into a conversation with a person which is more akin to an exchange of facial expressions that is surprisingly positive and at times, uplifting. On a Slovakian slope recently, I stopped to let an elderly woman pass but she appeared to be so out of breath that she preferred to rest and talk. We spoke and we probably did communicate in a fashion. The real point is that after I left her, still seeking to fill her lungs with air, I felt better than before we exchanged whatever we did. I like that very much.

One year in Spain, we pulled up to a pump to fill the car with gas. A young man came up to help. Once again, neither of us could reach the other in a common language unless 'Hola' counts for something. Quite a while later, after one of these long conversations, we hugged each other, said our farewells and parted. That I remember it and enjoy relating it indicates these innocuous occasions are meaningful. Imagine what happens when we meet an English speaker.


Jenni and Jeffrey

As an aside, a picture from Demanovska Ice Cave, Slovakia...looks like a lion to us.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

42.05 Slovakia: A Re-introduction to the Tatras: Popradske Pleso, Sedlo pod Ostrovou. 'You gotta love (and fear) these Tough Tatras' and Bystra Lavka circuit, rated very difficult.

The pictures below are merely an introduction to what proved to be a wonderful hike, a little testing, accompanied by the glory of Mother Nature showing off. The competition is pretty fierce, that is, the showing off bit. Full sets of pictures will follow on later blogs.

Accompanying the first set is of a hike that laid us low for the night as we compared aching muscles. Looks like Jen won the contest with eighteen muscles either in spasm, out of action or refusing to obey simple commands. Seems like one just can't get decent help these days. (continues below).

"Nothing's quite as pretty as Horska chata in the morning..."

An hour later, Jenni stands at the high point overlooking Popradske Pleso, the lake.

Back to the surface of the pleso and chata.

As we move up the mountain, the coloring changes.

Seeking better vantage points on a spectacular day..

After gaining 2,300 feet, we gaze across at Kaprovsky Stit. Last year, we climbed to that peak. (See below). Truth be told, we feel more intimidated looking at it from our current position than when perched upon it. Go figure!

Perched on the peak, last year. A staggering ascent and hike.

Jen positioned below the peak on the left, in black.

Sometimes one can't hold back the passion...just as well!

While struggling up the slopes today, a repetitive thought struck me for the umpteenth time. Why do people undertake activities that are tough, uncomfortable, sometimes with an element of danger lurking close, sweat generating, at times frustrating, pain inducing, and with what appears to be little payback, or more succinctly, with apparently little reward? I don’t necessarily understand the internal workings of the body and mind as I’d like. Yet, the answer to this supposed question is so easy that I ponder why I even raised it in the first place.

I think the only reason to exist is to be productive in whatever form that may take. Being productive, to make a contribution to the world or to oneself, to reach new heights (figuratively speaking), to meet challenges, to try to meet challenges even should one fail, are all goals the human needs to achieve to feel worthwhile. Expressed another way: A person should, no, must have purpose. While many might seek happiness as a goal (and who would say ‘no’ to that), being happy is a result not an action. While we all probably want to feel fulfilled, once again it’s a result of actions taken. Take away purpose and I would guarantee happiness would remain an elusive goal.

Back to the question:
It seems that if one follows one’s passion in life, purpose falls into place. Therefore, when one is following one’s passion, all the hardships involved are ancillary, even expected. Surely, they are mere roadblocks along the way of fulfilling purpose. After all, when all the hardships have been met and beaten, what remains is achievement which is commensurate with happiness. After expending the sweat and effort, the difficulties dissipate and what usually remains is success and perhaps, elation. It seems the bigger the challenge, the greater the positive feeling that will follow. Makes sense.

To succeed, one needs to sweat. Sometimes difficult, other times very difficult, but always possible. The reward is often in the journey and not necessarily the goal.

And now, onto a tough, long and incredible day in which the mountains tested us. The full blog will follow later. The few photographs below are an introduction to Bystra Lavka in the High Tatras of Slovakia.

I think written across his back is an Afrikaans phrase, " Ja-nee". 'What are we facing?' This is the small climb of 4 to follow.

We've spoken (moaned) about the underfoot in this part of the world. Make sense?

Returning from the top but is actually heading in wrong direction. Spent some worried minutes contemplating a number of issues as the terrain was extremely dangerous.

Early stages, heading to the top of waterfall and then for the real action.

Harsh, tough but so attractive and challenging. Ice toward the high places added a nasty challenge.

Safe at last.


Jenni and Jeffrey

Monday, September 23, 2019

42.04: Poland, Zakopane: Kondracka Peak and Giewont Ridge...another treasure.

Jenni approaches the ridge after a very steep ascent. Polish trails, thus far, are not for strollers. Another 3,300 feet ascent.

Being deep within the lush countryside is invigorating; the action over the mountains is powerful.

The distinctive Giewont as viewed from much lower down on the trail. It can be seen from many parts, including the city, and makes for impressive viewing and scrambling.

In Europe, we've noticed the national parks are set out differently from those in the United States. A basic difference is that in the latter country, one can drive into and about the park, allowing a person to reach most trailheads on wheels. Whereas in European parks we have hiked, and now referring to Poland specifically, cars are not permitted into the park. Therefore, one has to walk miles to reach a trailhead, making the distances longer and at times, repetitive. In fact, it takes twenty minutes on an incline to reach the entrance to the park from the parking lot.

One of our recent discoveries is trail-distance marking. In most countries, they are measured in time. In the US, the criterion is distance. I have always preferred the latter. Nevertheless, in thinking it through carefully, I'm inclined to reconsider my bias and select time.

The way I see it, distance is an absolute. A trail may be, say, a mile long. A person knows what it takes to walk that distance. It's fixed. If a person walks at 3 miles an hour, he requires twenty minutes—simple. Now when the trail is measured in time, it becomes much easier. I look to the board and see time required is twenty minutes. Terrific. I'm now under no pressure to walk at a fast pace. I only have to walk for twenty minutes and I'll arrive at the destination. The trail board tells me that. Therefore, I can walk at a much slower pace or at any speed. Hence, I deduce trails measured in time rather than distance are much easier or at least, comfortable.

Any questions? By the way, to supplement our income, I will be offering a course in logic.

Giewont viewed from Kondracka Ridge.

The ridge that separates two countries, Poland (left) and Slovakia. We have always been fascinated by crossings on foot. Some include South Africa and Lesotho, Austria and Italy, Slovenia/Italy/Austria, France/Spain, Switzerland/France, Andorra/Spain, France/Andorra and others plus multiple places within the foregoing.

A clear trail cut into the mountain always provides a good view.

Approaching the 3rd of some 5 false peaks.

Jenni now higher than Giewont. For a hiker, distances and heights are a 'big deal'. Rolling up of the sleeve is another big deal; it could mean trouble for one of us.

Particularly enjoyed this view which gives the impression of looking down from a plane.

Jen on the way down from the peak toward the ridge. We climbed a different trail from those hikers below.

On a lower ridge as the fog moves out for a short period allowing (the subject) a view from Poland into Slovakia.

Fog moves in again providing terrific contrasts.

We suppose one could call it 'a view' after 3 hours of sweating with an overall gain of 3,300 feet.

Pretty versatile, weary and worn...and many think he can only hike. The hut is about 1,400 feet above our starting point and 2,100 below the peak. "Madam, tea is served."

In our last blog, we mentioned the difficulties we had 'enjoyed' (staying positive you might detect). We did have passports but there we were without an International Driver's licence having paid for a car but denied it and thus, being without one. After taking a taxi to the hotel, which worked out at 3-times the price of the Uber we rode the morning following back to the airport, Jenni did some research on drivers' licencing. Long story short: After a few bumps on the internet, a Florida company issued me a licence without checking whether I could drive. They trust the California standards. Risky. Subsequently, we forwarded the electronic licence to the rental company but never received an acknowledgement. Nevertheless, we were making some progress.

The following morning, we called for an Uber and returned to the rental office hoping that our car would be available. Office closed. Apparently, we were still on a roll. We had not yet purchased data for the phone (often don't) although we use it as a GPS device (the main reason for having it). Unfortunately, Jenni is not that good about directions in foreign countries whereas I'm of course,...worse. We traipsed down to the store below to seek help in contacting the company. As in the past, most people are very helpful and we are extremely grateful—they speak the local language, too which of course is a big issue. Thereafter, things turned positive and we drove away in a rental after the manager copied the magic number off the licence with barely a glance at the rest of it.

By that stage, we were having second thoughts on a number of issues. During our research, we discovered some negative aspects of driving in Ukraine. We made some drastic changes to our plans that caused us to sit up and wonder whether we were still sane. We amended routes, countries to visit, accommodation, hired another car to close a gap, abandoned Ukraine with relief and added more time in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Greece. In retrospect, it has been a very favorable move although one of course cannot predict what a visit to that country might have entailed. The more fluid situations become, it seems the more we enjoy them. Although, too much liquid floating about the brain is also not such a great idea. We will add that at times, too much flexibility can really test one but in the end, can't be matched. It's ultimately about freedom, adventure, discovery, newness and usually accompanied with an element of stress.

(To be continued...this time on wheels).


Jenni and Jeffrey

A very rich, tough and attractive environment.

"Listen to me, fella: If you don't get out the way I'm gonna... Oh! I see. Actually, I'd love a shot of you with Jenni."

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Slovakia: The "low" Tatras: Interesting cross views and perspectives.

We take a short break from Poland and pick up poles (hiking kind) in Slovakia, the southern neighbor. We'll have a number of blogs to show of the wonderful region of Zakopane, Poland, shortly. In the meantime, we try to illustrate some perspective outside Bystra, Slovakia.

Jen standing below chata/hotel. The picture loses perspective of how steep the little 'hill' is. Beyond the chata is the ridge and peak of Chopok, out of view. To the left of the chata is the first cable station. Think of taking a look below and comparing common features.

Taken from a mountain across the way (about 5 miles), it shows the chata/hotel and above—the rotunda, cableway top, just below Mount Chopok. In the middle of the picture is the chata and to the left, the first cable station.

Arriving at the peak of Chopok after 2,800 feet or more climb. In the background are the High Tatras.

Jen moving on trail to the highest peak in the region, Mount Dumbier. Above and to the right is Mount Chopok, which we reached 3 days earlier. At lower left, once again, the chata and first station.

From Chopok, we take a picture of the rotunda, hopefully, rounding off the perspective. The Europeans build the most amazing structures on mountain tops and the means to reach such positions. One can only gasp in awe.

Jenni returning, to where we left the car, down the slope mentioned in the first picture. We made our own 'trail'.

As we rise opposite the high mountains, Chopok and Dumbier, the small town comes into view, curving with the river, hills and road. What an ideal position.


Jenni and Jeffrey