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.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

51.01 South Africa: Golden Gate National Park, Free State: PG Wodehouse, a challenge in many different ways and a snippet of life in this country.

We mention in the essay that follows at the end, we were not intending to hike on this visit. Hence, we did not bring our regular cameras and other items. Scenes are different from other parts of the world but the cameras did not appreciate them as much as we. 

Jenni commences the decline which is rough and dangerous. The steps in front of us are a tease. You gotta love the humor of the designer.

The early part of the hike takes one to the buttress. We're not there yet, but a little side-tracked. What's new? 
Hard to say what caught Jen's eye but the sights are different from most, and enjoyable.
We hiked Wodehouse 8.5 years ago. One thing that changed was not the land but the landlubbers (lovers). Take 8.5 years off our ages and we probably were younger then...and maybe, stronger. Actually, we would like to think the reason we found this so strenuous was because we both had not recovered fully from our recent illness. Nice try, would you say? From the beginning, we felt on the weak side but it appears neither wished to throw in the towel. We will admit that during the latter afternoon, we experienced many aches and pains but over all, slept well during the night. 

  In the unprotected areas, the wind blew fiercely. At one stage, Jen crawled while in another sector, I felt I could be lifted off my feet quite easily. Perhaps the toughest section mentally, arose after climbing about 6-7 hundred feet. From that position, we spotted the target, the antennae. It was about a mile to the right and high above. However, we then descended the mountain walking toward the left. Each step was further away from the target and a foot lower. When we reached the surface while continuing to move opposite to the target only then did we begin the swing to the right while recommencing the climb. The distance in the 'wrong' direction was at least another mile. Who are we to criticise the trail designer? 

We continue climbing some 600 feet and find we have to descend the same amount before heading for the peak. Love that!
Nice to have some assistance. On the way down (loop) no help at all. In fact, it seems the trail designer gave up.
A view from the peak. On the other side we saw a mix of animals but the camera 'eye' was worse than our own.
Typical Drakensberg cave.
We reach a false peak and face another. Looks pretty tame from here.

Some 4 years ago, we take a shot at sunset facing from below the buttress

Jen reaches the beginning of the top.

One of the down trails. The real dangerous/difficult path did not invite picture taking...too busy finding support.
A nice view of Glen Reenen chalets.
Camera lens deficiency fails to capture one of my favorite icons. In the distance is Cathkin Peak and Monk's Cowl. We see the range from many different positions and it never fails to stir one. Meantime, we have another 300 feet to scale. (See below for what should have been visible)
Taken from the opposite side at Tugela Falls, many miles away from Wodehouse. (3 years earlier)

Jenni walks toward the antennae at the peak. Looks like nothing but what a challenge. As we always feel, as important as the sights are, nothing matches the sense of accomplishment. From this position onwards, the trail got awfully difficult in places.

Jenni and Jeffrey

The Ideal: To be a citizen of the natural world rather than limited by artificial boundaries (legally).

 In a dynamic world, life never remains constant. Nevertheless, we humans have a propensity to wish to maintain stability, comfort and lessen the unknowns. Simply stated, we tend to avoid and even fight change. Fortunately, it's the only way to grow, to discover our world and partake in the adventure of life. Often, there’s nothing adverse about change—it’s exciting and at times, uncomfortable. 

 Our lifestyle has undergone, we might say, a complete overhaul and from our perspective has resulted in much change in many facets of our lives. We probably would not recognize ourselves should we take a step back and view our progression forward from say twenty years ago. One proviso: We make no claim that we are better or worse for it although we hope we have retained our core value beliefs. For the rest, not only would we like to to believe we have embraced change but that we feel it has altered the path of our lives in ways never envisaged.

  Having returned to the country of birth, solely to visit Mom, not to hike or explore this time, we find another form of change cast upon us. While we had every reason to feel unfortunate, and for a brief period did, we decided to apply a different mindset. It's still early days and realize circumstances may vary again and quickly, causing us to eat 'humble pie', but that's life. One has to adapt to changing circumstances even though one may dislike the new situation. It’s much more comfortable and therefore tolerable knowing the likely future, akin to jumping on the treadmill.

  We awoke at the Sonesta Suites on the Monday of our departure to find my negative covid test awaiting me on my computer. Great. However, Jenni's had not been delivered. Stress, part 1. Not so great. Some hours later, after many calls, an email arrived with good news. Interestingly, we took the tests simultaneously on Sunday at 7:45. Jenni’s record showed her test was taken before 7:30am.

  A cowboy drove us in his Lyft that evening as if we needed a joyride before a more than thirty-hour flight. This is happening more often which is a concern. Formal cab drivers are more cautious. Just an observation.

  Our flight to New York was okay except for poor cabin service. Maybe, it's the issue of keeping the air circulating but the temperature was set for the Sahara Desert in mid-summer. I knew I would get sick and we both did. Generally, my health has been superb but I suspected under these circumstances, I was a loser. 

  In South Africa, we were pretty ill for a number of days—nothing pretty about that. Jenni played the role of full-time nurse to Mom admirably and under her circumstances, doubly admirable. We felt so bad at one stage that Jenni insisted we undertake another covid test. Negative. I’ve always wondered why doctors are pleased when results are negative but the rest of us are happy when positive things occur.

  Two days after our arrival, I was chatting with Maude and Theo Alge on the 'phone. Maude mentioned her son had just returned on the last flight to land in the country because his airline had ceased operations in South Africa. Wow, I thought. When we ended the call, Jen called me aside and announced we were officially stuck in the country. Qatar Airlines was no longer flying from South Africa. To this day, we have yet to receive an email or any form of communication from the airline. Anyone remember what customer service is (was)? 

   Hmm! So we had a flight out on December 8th, a booking of a suite in San Diego, our car parked at that location pending our return and a host of other of life's formalities with which to deal. The car was (is) a serious issue. What could we do? Difficult to manage life from afar although we have adjusted to it over the years. Truth be told, we have enormous experience when it comes to 'living on the road'. 

 What's the downside of living like 'vagabonds', Jenni’s sometimes term? That one day we may be too old to survive this way. We did write a book a while ago about Hike-about but it's so out-of-date that it's missed half the fun and adventure. It reminded me of a comment (criticism—we get a fair number of those) from an intelligent fellow who questioned us. He said that it's part of the human DNA to live in a house. Basically, what's wrong with you? Let me get back to you, I think we answered.

  Back to some of the issues. In our opinion, one reason that humanity survives is because of the kindness of strangers. I firmly believe, whatever one's view on a God or even religion, the world endures because good deeds make it a worthwhile endeavor notwithstanding the preponderance of evil, violence and hatred. This leads us to mention one such human.

 When  Donald Osborne, the executive-manager of the Sonesta Suites Hotel in Sorrento Mesa, San Diego, heard of our dilemma, he immediately reacted. He assured us our vehicle would be welcome to remain on their premises until our eventual return. It was an enormous burden lifted. The kindness of a stranger, although we are no longer strangers, reaches deep into the soul. It's moving, most humbling and we believe such deed certainly is a great help to the recipient but more importantly, makes the whole world that much improved. Thank you kindly, Donald. As an aside, we don't advertise on our blog. However, should you visit San Diego or even live there and wish for a short holiday treat, book a suite at the hotel. Donald runs a first-class operation, more than ably assisted by a top-class staff, in a desirable location. Don't stay there because we consider him to be a very decent and kind person: Rather, visit for the sake of enjoying a great place to live while in the city.

 Returning to South Africa: Another reason we are bound to return to San Diego is because of the Lichter wedding, the marriage of Megan, daughter of Robyn and Derek. With no flights, facing an incredibly long hike to North Africa followed by a swim across the Atlantic and a flight across America, we did not believe we had sufficient time. Jen was optimistic but I worried about directions. Also, we probably do not have enough pages in our passports to accommodate the various countries' rubber-stamps.

  With so much going on, feeling a little down because of illness, we noticed Mom was walking around with a 3-iron golf club. In the past, she usually carried a wedge. The latter is used for chipping. Basically, when I get on her nerves, she gives me a chip here and there...and I get the message. However, a 3-iron is serious. Jen and I decided with an open-ended schedule, we'd better give her space. We decided to resume hiking, obviously 'reluctantly'. This would give her a break with something to look forward to—our return (nice sentiment). 

 However, hiking meant we had to buy boots, some clothing, and a host of other items. I did not bring my camera, something that I will miss. At time of writing, we've undertaken three hikes. The second one was PG Wodehouse, obviously educational, figuratively speaking. Some of the details are dealt with in the body of the text above.

  Finally, I decided to write this essay because I have a point I wished to make. I suppose if I was gentleman, I would have mentioned this at the beginning. Anyway, if you have not missed a word thus far, my hat off to you. It goes something like this: There is a lot about South Africa that we find disagreeable. Should one focus on the negatives, one could almost think of it as living in the United States. Oops! Low blow. 😏

   We believe had the country undertaken to follow the ethic of say Japan or Singapore, for example, it would be an incredible place. It's a wild statement but it illustrates the point where the rule of law has all but been abandoned, perfected by the leadership.

  Nevertheless, South Africa is in my blood. When I add the natural beauty and variation of the wilderness and landscapes, the friendliness and general nature of the people, it makes living here for extended periods, a desirable goal. I will qualify it by stating that residing in the country for us means utilizing our style of living rather than hunkering (bunkering) down in a permanent abode, in a big city. Like many Third-world countries, the inefficiency and corruption is just too much with which to cope. Notwithstanding such criticism, I am strongly influenced by my history in this country. 

  As Alan Paton wrote, ‘Ah, but your Land is Beautiful'. 

 PS As wonderful as the physical land is, it’s not better than any other part of the world. Fortunately, we inhabit a beautiful world; and the many, decent South Africans make a difference.


Unknown said...

Like all explorers , your perspectives speak to hope and appreciation of the natural environment . If we continue to destroy the latter , we will erode the former . Clive .

Jenni said...

Now I wish we were as smart and cogent as you. Succinctly put. Best wishes and thanks, Clive.