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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

55.28 Andorra: Refugi Pic Coma Pedrosa, accompanied by a personal story of health issues, 'A Hip Hopper's-Tribute to the King'.

At commencement, the hills are alive with the sounds of silence.
Getting into the thick of things. Growth is strong, temperatures were moderate and rain was regular. Ideal climate for July/August.
Two further hurdles remaining after reaching the top ahead.
Someone familiar coming out of the forest.
A fair reflection of the forests and the trail.
Reaching the refugi for brunch.
Turning to face the next mountain and spotting the refugi. Six years ago, we spent a delightful night in it.
The reward: Liquid in a red can. We remember our drinking experiences in Nepal: In Kathmandu, we would pay 80 cents for a can of Coke. As we climbed higher, the price followed the trend. A few miles from Everest Base Camp, we paid $6 for a can. At the time, I could not resist spoiling ourselves although I did feel guilty. After observing the Sherpas carrying crates up the mountains, my guilt changed in favor of their hardships, the lives these tough fellows endure. The price at the refugi got to $3.75 a can. When we stayed overnight on the last occasion we were in Andorra, I helped the owner unload supplies from a helicopter. Clearly, the transportation costs make up a sizeable amount of the cost/price.
We look down toward part of the trail followed.
At that stage on our return, we were pretty tired. I wonder whether Jen was contemplating a shortcut.
It's overwhelming at times.
At the very informal entrance to the park, quite a location to choose to live.

Jenni and Jeffrey

For perspective, photographs from the peak (or near or en route), 2016.
The highest mountain in Andorra. 
  This story begins sometime in 2001. It was during a period when destruction rained upon a tiny part of the United States but the after-effects influenced the whole country and many parts of the world, too. Relatively, my ailment was minor but it did begin to affect my mobility. My daily routine of running was becoming difficult as I endured pain and less mobility. I finally decided to get some medical advice and visited Dr. Norman Kane. He explained that I needed a full hip replacement. Because I knew better, I decided I would first try home remedies, the main being self-help. I’ll never forget Norman’s parting words. With a wry smile, he said “I’ll see you sometime in the future for the procedure.” He threw down the gauntlet.

  I tried a number of remedies, such as changing my gait, attempting other movements like gliding, ignoring the pain, limping, even oil tablets. I never take medicines unless prescribed by a doctor as necessary. The problem with the aging or frequent use of body parts is that they wear. Unfortunately, once the cartilage disappears, the result is bone-on-bone friction which causes continuous damage to the bones obviously, restricted movement and various degrees of pain.

  Prior to the commencement of Hike-About, we were completing a hike in Sedona, Bear Mountain, and I received the message from my hip, a Nike moment: ‘Just Do It’. More than eight years after my initial consultation, Dr. Norman agreed to mend me and he sure did. Within 5 months of the procedure, we commenced Hike-About. Just to give you some data which obviously reflects the competence of Dr. Norman Kane: In a twelve-year period, the replaced hip completed on trails and mountains, over ten thousand miles distance and elevation gain of approximately 600 miles. While these figures are inaccurate, they are calculated with reference to recorded hikes. I would say the hip replacement was ‘successful’.

  Fast forward some nine years. We were descending a rather steep section of Molly’s Nipple in Utah, (forgive me but that’s the given name for this mountain), and I slipped. Thereafter, I noticed a slight change in the function of my left hip. Once again, I dealt with it using home-developed remedies but did not resume the oil tablet remedy. Instead, every now and again, stopped into a Jiffy Lube, checking to inquire whether they had a human equivalent service. When a person is desperate, it appears they try anything. Add in stupidity, and it’s dangerous to a person’s health. Fortunately, the hip settled down somewhat, and I enjoyed another year of good activity.

  We changed medical insurance companies some years back and a deep regret was that Dr. Norman could no longer offer a covered service. I thought of many ideas but once again, none were acceptable. We had joined Kaiser Permanente. The visit to Dr. Yashar proved that my left hip had reached 4th stage of degeneration (the lowest), almost worse than the occurrences at brothel parties. Unfortunately, during that period, the Covid virus restricted such procedures. In many respects, I was pleased as it allowed us to continue hiking. When an opening arose, I chose instead to recall the home remedy and we were able to enjoy a fantastic period in Europe, two in South Africa, and various USA states. 

  On our penultimate hiking day in Andorra, after a great climb and a part-return to the trailhead, I knew that it would become the final one of the trip. Fortunately, we were on a waitlist for surgery and two weeks prior to the ultimate hike, the date was confirmed finally.

 When my late Mom had her hip replacements in 2005 and 2006, in those days the hospital stay was 5 days. When we were attending to her, we got an idea what it was all about. However, my Mom was much tougher than me and handled the pain and discomfort superbly. Jen used to join her in the shower and of course, I could only assist once she had a towel around her. However, it worked well.

  I did not mention initially that Scripps Hospital had a long waitlist even in 2010. Dr. Norman said should I be prepared for a less than 24 hours stay, he would operate at his own clinic. Some ordinance prohibits stays for a longer period. I grabbed the offer. When I asked the Kaiser scheduler how long the stay would be, she said, “No hospital stay—Out after the procedure completed”. We arrived at hospital at 5:30am for preparation, wheeled into the operating theater at 7:30am, left the hospital under the supervision and in the care of my ‘care-giver’/driver/nurse/love-of-life, at 11. Whether I should have done it or not, nevertheless, I undertook a little business activity between 12 and 1pm. It was an unusual day. At times, it felt like an adventure—I enjoyed it. (Am I losing it?) How long will it be before one can undertake 'drive-through surgery?'

  From the moment Kaiser approved the date of surgery, the organization appeared to be an efficient medical machine with all resources focused on bringing about what needed to be done to facilitate the procedure. To say Jen and I were impressed is an understatement. Obviously, the final arbiter will be when (if) we reach the heights we have in the past, particularly, a return to the Nepalese Himalayas. That will be the ultimate proof of success or otherwise of the new hip.

  It behooves and gives me pleasure to mention that the surgeon, Dr. Yashar, was wonderful to relate to and be under his team’s care. I felt completely comfortable and relaxed at all times, especially when under anesthetic. Talking of the latter, I received a spinal block rather than a general anesthetic from Dr. Chris Chen. In the few minutes of briefing and discussion, I discerned how easy it would be to befriend such a person. The spinal block system is superb. I’m going to recommend it to all my patients. When I awoke, I had had a mask on which dispensed what they called ‘sleepy medicine’ and hopefully, oxygen. It was as if I had dozed off for a few minutes and awoke in the normal way.

  I also want to mention that when we were with Dr. Yashar, going through my records and preparing for the surgery, he informed us that he and his wife would probably spend much time in Andorra when they retired. We had returned less than a week earlier after 6 weeks in that country—kindred spirits.

  The atmosphere in the operating theater was special. There were a number of people going about their duties, talking with each other and myself, creating an atmosphere as I remember in the change rooms before a soccer or rugby game. Perhaps the person who stood out the most was Nurse Lisa McAllister. Whereas in my experiences, whomever I have dealt with at Kaiser has been professional, caring and efficient, Lisa was at my side from the moment of admission, with short breaks, until she wheeled me outside of the hospital a few hours later. She acted like a caring daughter and how do you value something so precious. Thank you, Lisa, and thank you to all—far too many to mention. You do yourselves and profession proud.

  Jenni mentioned in passing as we were leaving that she was a little perturbed. ‘What’s wrong?” I wanted to know. “Nothing really, but it seemed you were having such fun in the hospital that I feel I’m dragging you home.” Maybe she had a point. 

  I should have realized that special occasions were ahead for me. Initially, in the days heading into surgery, I developed apprehension about showering. The thought of lifting the leg into the tub, perhaps a slippery surface to follow, and soaping the lower extremities could be nightmarish. Fortunately, I’m finding it comfortable to enter the tub. The highlight, of course, the treat-of-treats, is my girl washing me. Not to forget how she soaps between my toes and dries them is something that good health will take away from me.

  The strangest sensation I felt was when we returned home, the Sonesta Suites. I felt satisfied even happy. It went counter to what one would expect or of previous experiences. Was it the gas pumped into me or, I’d like to believe, I’d finally put the surgery behind me, had Jenni at my side and been given the Kaiser treatment, they made me feel like a king. To balance things, sometimes when I have to dress or get in and out of bed, the level of pain and frustration is high. However, it gets better each day and soon Jen won’t have to endure my whining.

  To those that replied to Jenni’s Facebook message, I thank you for your kind wishes.

  I hope to see some of you soon, others while we wander in the wonders of the wilderness.

  Taken after healing following the first hip replacement, at Diablo Park, California, I now shudder when I think of landing hard on a rock. 

Floating on top of the world in Andorra. Oh, for a pair of wings to soar above the clouds.

Jenni and Jeffrey

Relevance to this blog? None. I just love this scene near Bryce National Park, Utah.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

55.30 France: Gavarnie Meadows, along the Pyrenees Range, Revisited from within France.

An earlier photograph referred to in the narration below, while still in Spain en route to France.
The town
has special memories for us, perhaps even something a little more than memories. We have mentioned something of this town and hike before. It's in a unique setting along and surrounded by the Pyrenees Mountains. Here's a brief background which provides perspective of the region as well as what one can embark upon to join two countries. Therefore, it makes sense to provide some background. As an aside, we've always loved the concept of hiking from one country to another, particularly without a passport. It's special. 

On our last trip to Spain, we drove to a campground adjoining the Pyrenees. From there we hiked up to the crest of the mountains and then continued along the top. The views were spectacular, the hiking tough but most rewarding. Whereas we had liquid refreshments earlier in Spain, at the highpoint we sat down for brunch. We had reached France. How did we know we had crossed over from Spain? Whoever passed us gave a greeting: Bon appetit! There's a trailhead leading from France close to where we sat.

After climbing close to 4,000 feet from Spain, we sit down for brunch in France. Love it! (Not the brunch).
We continued
along until we crossed over the Pyrenees and dropped down into Gavarnie, our French destination, where spent the night. Of course, in retrospect, we should have stayed longer. On this trip, we departed from Spain by car, crossed the Pyrenees and arrived in France, staying in the town of Luz Saint Sauveur. The trip from the latter town to Gavarnie is 30 minutes on wheels. Our hike from Spain into France took less time by foot than it does by motor vehicle. 

Above the town. The famous Gavarnie Cirque.
An interesting flow of water.
Wouldn't know where to begin in describing the surrounding mountains.
A window and door open to water.
Arriving in Gavarnie...which is accompanied to the tune of "When the Saints go marching in..."

Jenni and Jeffrey

A view from above.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

55.19 France: Luz Ardiden: Hike up to a truly beautiful, serene and as always, tough region.

Much ascending, often sharply.
For perspective, after spotting Pic du Midi, we had to reach that top the next week.
Approaching Pic du Midi from the side, an unusual trail/not trail (30-40 miles further away than the above photo.)
We look back at the cattle grazing on a peak. Only when we looked at the photo (tele), did we notice a few horses amongst them (to the left). 
 Classical Pyrenees.
The French countryside, Alps and Pyrenees are gorgeous.
Always a path, trail or a way to reach a mountain peak.
Jen on the way down only to rise and stretch for the top.
From the peak we peek into the town. Next photo shows us spying.
Peeking at the locals down in the town of Cauterets.

Jenni and Jeffrey 

 We'd guess this little one was born earlier that morning. 

A few days before, we sat in Spain, just beyond the border with France, as we traveled to the latter country. The initial views, not to mention refreshment in Jen's hand, augured well for a special visit to the beautiful region. 

"Vive le Coca/Pepsi Cola"

Monday, September 12, 2022

55.29: Spain: Ordesa Monte Y Perdido National Park, a hike of vast proportions on Faya de Pelay. 55.30 Puenta Santa Helena.

Our shortest stay on the trip, 6 nights in Asin de Broto.
Spot Jenkins, she's definitely there maybe not all, but...
a person embarks upon a course of action with thought and planning, not always though. Later, it’s not uncommon for such person to think deeply of the action and come to an understanding of what was undertaken and for what reason. Perhaps there is an instinct in a person knowing what needs to be undertaken but not quite comprehending the exact motivation and reasons. It seems to us that we are brought up with some very basic rules: A primary aspect is that a person should have a place to live on the planet. It makes sense, after all, even the so-called homeless people have somewhere to stay. At the extremes, we have the homeless and those that remain in one home, a house, condo, etc. for most of their lives. In between, are a host of positions including various sizes and degrees of opulence that cover from merely a bedroom to dozens, often to accommodate only two people. A few years ago, someone we knew well questioned us and said after all, 'it's in our DNA to have a fixed abode'—I suppose he hadn't met any gypsies...continues below. 

Steep climb in Ordesa.
Overpowering sights.
Going vertical.
St. Anton hike with a view into Torla, a third hike. 
  We crossed the river and headed directly upwards. The lateral distance seems much less than the vertical.
Could it be a view from our balcony? 
Puenta Santa Helena Trail.
A sighting we really enjoyed.
Another window into the world. 

 We were brought up, Americans might say, raised, to ascribe to living in a nice house which would allow for security, comfort, and provide a sense of belonging to the neighborhood and community. For some, I have to mention this, it is partly, a status symbol. We humans find it important to keep up with the Jones's—a very powerful motivator for the accumulation of material wealth. Who could fault such logic and good sense of the paragraph's opening sentence? We suppose we never questioned it as it seemed flawless in logic and custom. It still does. However, it does have downsides, too. Isn’t that a fundamental truth of life? Nothing is without disadvantages, even the most wonderful things. 

  A disadvantage of being grounded in a home, even one that provides great comfort and happiness, is that a person closes oneself off from the rest of the world. Logically, the more time spent in one place, the less time is available to spend in other places. Simple but perfect logic. Obviously, we don't mean completely closed off. This means that the more time at home, the less time available to explore, discover and experience the planet which we inhabit. Should we accept what seems to be common and true knowledge that the world is a wondrous place that cannot be explored and enjoyed in any lifetime, not even a fraction of it, aren’t we cutting ourselves off from adventure, growth, knowledge, learning, experience and a thousand other facets of life. 

 While Earth’s life is infinite, the human life is finite, so limited in time that it cannot even be measured as a proportion unless one computes it in terms of thousands of decimal places. What is 70 years, many spent as a baby and child and then as frail, elderly person relegated to the indoors expressed as a proportion of billions of years. 

  Should that not make a person wonder whether it is more productive, educational, rewarding and exciting to discover our greater home, Earth, than to limit ourselves to the walls surrounding us in our homes? While we can gain much information from remaining in one place through advanced technologies, it is no substitute for action, for doing, for being in motion, to deal with the dynamics of living. It’s a guarantee that it will not be comfortable. It’s filled with risks, plenty of challenges, sometimes danger and hostility but one will never be bored. 

  One will also reach highs that one could never envisage, would not experience in the ordinary course of life. A person will learn to change and adapt, gain an understanding of other cultures, nations and the workings of nature. The list of advantages is almost infinite. Perhaps the most positive aspect of all, especially should one be adventuring in the great outdoors, the wilderness, each day one will experience a miracle or two, maybe more. 

  In addition, what is particularly exciting, maybe interesting is a better description, is meeting many nationals from all walks of life. It provides an edge to living; it's refreshing; and it broadens the mind. We did realize no matter how wonderful one's friends, family and neighbors might be, people tend to live in homogenous societies which may include, inter alia, religious, race and other criteria that limits one's experiences. 

  Having a fixed abode is comfortable, seems to give a person direction in a way, but it also limits the individual. It cuts that person off from the rest of the world. And when one inhabits a world filled with wonders, that is indeed limiting. In conclusion, notwithstanding the foregoing, what really matters is that a person is satisfied with his/her lot and enjoys life—in fact, seizes it.

Jenni and Jeffrey