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, April 30, 2022

54.12 KwaZulu-Natal: Eco Sungubala Camp, a hike into the hills, finding a mystery woman, and a surprise from the opposite mountains.

To truly obtain a better understanding of nature, of the world, it’s ideal to connect with it rather than learn of it. Absorption of nature by lecture, reading and discussion provides clues but does not reveal its mystery, harshness, beauty and above all, fails to leave indelible impressions on both body and soul. JCL 

  From Jackal Hill, we not only get a view of Mont-aux-Sources but the previous night's snow covering, too.
And another view of the Sentinel.
Following heavy rains, streams and rivers all flowing strongly. In the distance, the focal point of a recent hike: Sugarloaf.
Face in the other direction and we see another hike we undertook twice from different directions: Camel's Hump.
Always tricky but worse when wet.
We've spent much time searching for as well as following baboons. They have been elusive. We never realized we had a monkey with us. Looking for the bare woman.
'I think I found her, Jen.' "I ask you, What's the point?"
The mighty berge of the Berg.
We went to contact Peter, owner/manager of this camp, hike in his area and glance occasionally at the 'ho-hum' sights.
Once again the Amphitheatre, but from a different seat.
And then we went 'nighty-night'.

Jenni and Jeffrey

Animal corner: The great eland antelope. 
You're crowding me, hoss.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

54.10 Features in and around the Northern Drakensberg. An incredible digital-age breakthrough in the 'E-Drakensberg'.

The Drakensberg is not all about climbing, hiking and scrambling on the mountains. Who would have thought? Funnily enough, Jeffrey, there are a few other features, too. Views of the mountains and other surroundings make us feel we're living in paradise or at least, miracles occurred overnight and will continue ad infinitem. 

Breaking news so vital to Southern Africa, perhaps to the rest of the world, is mentioned in the text below. Keep and eye on the Eland antelope. 

The weather in a word: Cloudy.
Eland visiting in the neighborhood.
A person should first understand that the Eland is a species of antelope, the female is the largest in size, in the world. Thereafter, reading of this text should make more sense. Hopefully, the writer means complete sense. It’s breaking news in the country that a new gadget has been developed which will enable millions of people living in the wilderness to access the internet. While some may argue it’s not progress as it will make people dependent upon Facebook and other such mind influencing media weapons. They believe people are much better off living with nature and learning from the land. Whatever the case, it is technological progress, and it is about to change the Third World. The first two worlds have had their troubles and are messed up so it’s hoped the Third World will rise and show the way. Apparently, we are running out of options should we wish to survive.

  Surprisingly enough, the man behind this venture is none other than Eland Musk. It all began when a good friend and colleague annoyed Eland to such a degree that he called him into the office and asked him to ‘Go down to Africa’ and see what he could do to improve things. Eland had begun calling the guy a twit, but not to his face. Twit had many countries to choose from as Eland had not remembered Africa is a continent, not a country. Eland forgot where he came from—they say his mind’s somewhere in space...continues below. 

  The flow of water in the land is powerful these days.

Let's see who looks away first...1,760 pounds up against less than why's it timid?
'Have to admit the view is worth slowing down my grazing.'
An icon in our eyes: the Sentinel viewed from yet another position.
The new South Africa...more understanding amongst grazers, too. (Waited a long time for this to occur, the 'meeting'. We term this 'a horse of a different color'.)
The cloud formations are stunning. 
Another position to view the Amphitheatre.

Twit discovered
that a criminal element in the country kept stealing towers, copper wiring and many other components that keep the electronics industry functioning. In a moment of brilliance, he decided that if you cannot bring the internet to the people, let the people find it about them. By modifying a router, making a few adjustments, manufacturing a tiny Tesla battery, he decided to implant the device into the body of an animal. 

 Think about it. The animals roam the wilds. They don’t need wiring, poles, electricity, cooling/heating systems, etc. The gadget sits inside the animal and provides roaming internet access to those around it—more specifically, the inhabitants in the country areas. By implanting sufficient devices, as animals migrate, move around locally or just laze about in the fields and backyards, there’s likely to always be a roamer or two close enough. As many animals remain in pairs, one could even develop a his and her's access. After undertaking much work on the project and reaching a modicum of success, he tried to figure which animal to select as the courier or roamer. 

He called his friend and boss and after convincing Eland of the potential of the project, asked him for advice. Eland suggested using leopards. He liked the fact they were fleet of foot and could climb trees. It might help with multi-story developments, although there were few. Twit countered saying they had tried these beasts only to find reception ‘spotty’. After discussing it ad nauseum, Eland, not being a particularly modest person, exclaimed, ‘How about an Eland?’ Twit rolled his eyes but had no counter. He remembered the elands have these great overhanging necks, an ideal place to implant the gadgets. Smart thinking after all. Then he had a thought which he knew his boss would love. 

  “Might we call the gadgets “E-lands”? 

  “Love it,” the boss replied. He thought maybe the twit was okay. Perhaps he should invest in a whole lot of twitters. Form a major company of smart twitters under one banner. The singular might be, ‘Twitter’. 

  “How’s the color reception on the screens coming along? Eland asked, remembering they had issues with it earlier. 

  “We're going to have to stay with Black and White in the initial stages. The country is still at a sensitive stage regarding color. The colored people within the country, a very decent group, are happy with that for the short term.” 

   “I was thinking about their food. What do Elands eat?” 

  “I checked it out. Lots of grass, tree leaves, that sort of thing.” 

  “Uh, oh! We could have the ‘greenies’ up-in-arms. You know they’ll say we’re destroying the environment. Do they have ‘drive-thru’s’ and fast-food joints in Africa?” 

  “Sure they do, Eland. But for the record, what the heck do you think these animals eat usually? Grass and leaves since ‘In the beginning…’. Ignorance will destroy us, man.” 

  “Okay, scrap my last question and fear. Now I remember. I’ve been out that country for a while.” 

  “Last point, Eland. Who will do the medical implants? There’s a shortage of vets and doctors in this country.” 

  “No problem. I understand any half-baked doctor can perform the procedure. I know many fellas that fit the bill. We can talk to them.” 

  “You ought to watch your tongue. Doctors are sensitive to such descriptions.” 

  “Not to worry. Some of my best friends are doctors.” 

  “One more thing. As a kid, I learned that ‘money does not grow on trees’. Now I’m happy to disprove it.” 

  “What do you mean?” Twit asked. 

  “Look at it this way. You pick the leaves from the trees; feed them to the Elands. It’s the same as buying data.”
We advanced back to the Retreat.

Jenni and Jeffrey

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

54.09 KwaZulu-Natal: Drakensberg Gardens: Lake Naverone.

 When we discovered the Drakensberg Gardens region, a fellow hiker mentioned it in passing without saying much, we wondered what were we missing. The information on the internet seemed exaggerated. Then we arrived at the resort (not the hotel) and still wondered what this was all about. Frankly, it's a gorgeous place, set in the mountains, alongside a lake, with chalets adorning the lapping water, serene, colorful and at peace. It almost seems a person has left the world and found nirvana. Even after a few days spent in a chalet, which is more like a not-so-small house, views to absorb at every turn, friendly staff and hikes leading from the property, we still questioned whether we were dreaming. 

  To provide some perspective, reality set in unfortunately. The weather turned poor which hampered our ability to take full advantage of the opportunities available. For us, an absence of hiking and adventure, negates much of time spent in a place, even one as beautiful as this. However, there's always a next time.
Typical chalets or a houses. Actually, our chalet had 3 bedrooms and bathrooms, a mansion in terms of the life we now lead.
Loneliness of a bench...but for a butt.
A little different.
Further attractions. Multi-colored.
Red, the delightful color of autumn.
Difficult to fill that bench...I should have mentioned a 'crocodile' hangs about the area.
Alas, the weather we experienced. However, as my Dad always told me: "Butch, the rain makes everything beautiful; you should spend more time outside in that type of weather". 'We're trying, Dad but it 'ain't' working too well.'

Jenni and Jeffrey 

Twins, it possible or just too much grass?
Jenni and George spend quiet time together, after returning to Ledges. They share 'a hairstyle' and affection.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

54.08 KwaZulu-Natal: Sugarloaf 1, a stunning hike and some 'human drama' in the vicinity.

Nature does not provide different degrees of luxury for man to enjoy, levels of danger to suffer or predictable outcomes. Rather, it confronts one with an environment, sometimes benign other times hostile. It’s for man to adapt to the dynamic circumstances as they evolve and change. It is essential to recognize we can’t choose the ideal circumstances; we need to adapt to the conditions. (JCL)

  A perspective from the side of the Amphitheatre above the Tugela Falls. All photographs besides this and the following one are taken from the other side of Royal Natal National Park, below.
Further above the Tugela Falls.
A view of Cathkin Peak from Sugarloaf side. (1 above shows Cathkin from another angle).
  It had to happen, we suppose. We remember traveling in Oregon years ago and heading for a hike near Mount Hood. Along the way, we noticed two strapping but dirty looking guys carrying rifles. Their car blocked the road partially. We rode around it and a short while later reached our trailhead.

 While putting on our boots, they arrived. I decided to go across to meet them, while Jen waited in the car. Long story short, they were hunters who had got lost, were unshaven and dirty after being in the bush for a week. Relief. They were no threat. The irony is they were locals and Jenni helped them with directions.

 What's the relevance? The other day, we headed toward Sugarloaf with the intention of changing direction toward Metsi Matso (Black Lake) once we got through the gully or gap. It's a tough hike but once again gorgeous...continues at end. 

Enroute to Camel Hump, we glance at Sugarloaf which provides some perspective of the day's climb.
Perspective of the gully climb. Camel Hump in background.
What a position, a background reward.
Jenni comes out of the gully.
A telephoto view from the plateau after climbing out the gully. The Caverns Resort & Spa below.
And now to reach Sugarloaf take a right. The wall gives an indication of the climb inside the gully.
A double oasis of water and color.
Returning from Sugarloaf, with another 1,800 feet to descend.
I try another off-trail route which proves to be more difficult. Jen really appreciates it, particularly the long grass as she searches for snakes with her hands. (Anything to oblige).
Jen on the plateau rock.
Sugarloaf, in the rear, as Jen heads home after negotiating the gully or gap in front.

  Each day the fabulous Drakensberg becomes even more of a treat. This is certainly a region to consider for more permanent living. In a way, had I lived here earlier, I wonder whether I could have departed on a permanent basis. As an aside, the people we meet from this land have a unique culture. We like!

  As we trudged up the steep, close to vertical gully wall, we came across the only hiker of the day other than ourselves. (This was the follow up hike to Sugarloaf along the identical route.) Jock was returning at about 9:30am from a day's fishing at the lake. We had only discovered the lake when we summitted Sugarloaf the previous week. What a surprise to be that high up above the plateau and come across a beautiful body of water.

  Jock, a young strapping lad in his early 30's, explained that as he approached the lake, he noticed a group of young males with dogs approaching. He identified them as hunters who appeared to be aggressive. He admitted, feeling slightly embarrassed, that he had faced a dilemma. Should he take a chance and walk past the oncoming group or, being without a male partner, turn back before they reached him? He calculated the distance between them at the time to be about 5-6 hundred meters. He decided against a day's fishing as he mentioned his 'legs would not stop shaking'.

  I looked at Jen and knew what was traversing her mind. We'd confronted sheep dogs in Romania a few years before and found them vicious. Even more dangerous, however, were human hunters should this group fall within the category. Another aspect of dogs is that they are not focused on race. Over the years, we noticed that dogs living within Black communities are aggressive toward White people and vice versa. Dogs are not racist—that's the way it is.

  We continued through the steep gully toward the plateau. It's a great climb, near vertical, with views to die for (very possible), reaching the plateau upon which Sugarloaf and the lake sit. The plan was to make a decision once we reached this initial destination.

  We heard loud voices and I, being ahead of Jen, saw the advent of 6 young males and fifteen dogs. It was quite an intimidating sight especially as we had been forewarned. They were walking quickly and aggressively. I signaled for Jen to halt, turnaround and head down the gully quickly, knowing the going would be slow. I handed her my wallet (not a bribe). After protesting, she acquiesced and departed.

 For reasons, which are uncomfortable to self-relate, I will not finish that part of the confrontation. However, I will conclude that while one envisaged a situation with vicious hunting dogs and/or dangerous males, that confrontation was averted.

  We changed our plans slightly with Jen rejoining me on the plateau. We continued to hike but with far more caution and later returned down the gorge and headed home after a tough hike physically which had a mental aspect one prefers not to ponder upon too deeply.

 Nevertheless, something did occur that I believe has in a way affected my life—I would like to believe for the better. Melodramatic? I don't think so. In addition, Jen proved again that courage is not necessarily an attribute reserved for the overt 'tough guys' but also possible and perhaps more meaningful for the timid, too. B'H'.

This incident took place on the plateau. After we separated, I decided to capture the gang and dogs on 'film'.

Jenni and Jeffrey