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, November 26, 2022

56.08 Arizona: Spenser Trail at Lees Ferry, perhaps one of our best places to hike and observe great desert beauty, 'plus a river'. Also, facing a comeback challenge.

Scenery is a knockout, taken from part-way up our mountain.
This is a winner: It shows the scenery and the struggle. It's hiking (ascending at its best).
Invariably, I cannot help but take excess photographs of this scene. Unfortunately, I'm running out of film.
A different view of the Colorado River.
  Jen begins the descent.
Without wishing
to bore a would-be reader, it behooves me to mention that this hike was a milestone. Briefly, I believe that one of the issues in growing older or unfortunately, suffering ill-health, is that a person is unable to perform tasks, undertake activities and live generally, as one did in earlier years. I find that most frustrating and a deep concern. Having to resign oneself to an inability to do what was done before, is a comedown—I believe it can be debilitating. Fortunately, I did get over playing rugby, soccer etc. because while I'm not smart, I do have some perspective. Tackling a 180-pound fella running directly at a person is not something I miss. 

 Prior to the recent surgery, a second hip at that, my concern was that I would be limited further. I got used to dealing with the pain and sometimes, restricted movements of the joint, but continued to hike and exercise. More importantly, to be able to negotiate climbing obstacles is critical for our style. 

  Following recent hip replacement surgery, Jen and I decided in principle to begin slowly and build strength and dexterity at a measured pace. Nice idea. However, that's not quite in our DNA. Jenni also developed back pain recently. (Bending low to cut my toenails proved too much for her muscles). We recommenced 6-weeks post-surgery with an intended cautious policy. Although the first few hikes were proper trails, they were not tough. Today, Spenser Trail is/was tough. There's risk of falling off the mountain as it is sharply up with very narrow edges and slippery in places. It’s almost vertical but it is an incredibly clever and well-built trail. It’s also an amazing experience. We set Spenser as our goal to test whether we were back to form although Jen was dubious. I had some doubts but felt fairly confident. This would be my big test. 

  On Thanksgiving Day, we drove from Page to Lees Ferry, a region that hosts the Colorado River for a few miles. Mr. Spenser built this almost impossible trail in order to bring in materials for construction. Rumor has it that he needed a quick route to the Mormon office to register his numerous upcoming marriages, hence he built a shortcut. Whatever the case, the man was truly amazing (his numerous wives hopefully shared that feeling) because the climb appears vertical. 

  My goal was to do what we always do. As mentioned earlier, I don't want to have excuses by saying, 'well you nearly made it, or it's okay to be slower or maybe start with a partial climb'. I struggle to deal with excuses and rationalization. In the end, a person does it or fails. Excuses are not acceptable. All within reason, of course. Then once again, the danger of rationalization creeps into the equation of what is reasonable. 

  Fortunately, together with my dear nurse, spouse, confidant and love, we reached the goal safely within a reasonable time, although a little slower than usual. However, that was good enough and I am most grateful. Truth be told, each day is a day to be be grateful. 

  Dr. Yashar was obviously incredible, his staff were kind and caring and I realize how fortunate I am. I will reveal I fear something which is unfortunately, so real and occurs from time-to-time—the fear of falling at this early stage of recovery. Life is about managing the risks.

 Having mentioned all of the above, there are still days when I struggle to put on a sock, tie a shoelace, but that's small fry. Tell us to go climb a boulder and you'll make our day.

Waiting for a slow-coach.
From the top, we view Page. It's a fifty-minute drive whereas if there was a direct route, probably ten minutes. Tower Butte (Voortrekker Monument) in the background. 
It doesn't get better.
The background for the movie scenes of 'Rocky' series. 
In the early stages, the scene tells us the world is at peace, even if only for a short while. 
Jen loves those tight edges and slippery paths...hey, Jen?
The positions on this hike are nothing short of spectacular.
As we were saying...
Unknown horseshoe bends. We prefer these scenes to the official 'Horseshoe Bend'.
The contrasts are the work of a master imagination. Arriving at the top and a quick collapse.
The paths are narrow but this one is smooth, making it more dangerous than the rocky ones.
A view from the top.
Down she goes.

Jenni and Jeffrey

Remnants of a bygone age with the mountain as a backdrop.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

56.06 Page, Arizona: Colorado River hike and government interference. 'National Security versus Boulder hopping'.

Reflections of our minds as the Colorado negotiates another bend.
Hitting the spot.

 Looking through our window, we view magnificent sights which include Glen Canyon dam, the vast, colorful desert with a backdrop of mountains, the latter, many miles distant. Although we cannot see the waterflow, the Colorado River is close by, too. Below us is a golf course and a neighborhood consisting of wonderful Adobe style houses. We suppose it could be worse. About a mile to the west is a body of bright, blue water that we thought might act as a source for the residents. We wondered. While on a hike today, we came across a sign that read: ‘USBR’. We wondered, too. Because we are very smart, we thought the US probably stands for United States. Sometimes, we even surprise ourselves. We are not keen to use ‘Google’ on every occasion we have a question and with Encyclopedia Brittanica a little cumbersome to ‘schlepp’ around, we thought we’ll work it out eventually. After all, between the two of us we have all that brain power (continues at end).

Tour guide points to the water below: 'Aha! The Colorado River.'
And that is the damn wall of Glen Canyon Dam.
The kid enjoys some rocky moments and loves it.

A first spring in late autumn, since surgery. While appearing to showoff, it truly was a memorable moment. What is sometimes amusing, other times frustrating, is that I struggle to tie my shoelace. On a bad day, I have to beg my nurse for assistance.
Why should kids have all the fun? What about the oldies?
Early mornings are chilly but soon after hitting the trails, the jackets are put back in our bags.
We spend our days in Page going up-and-down.
Sometimes we stand still and try to absorb it with Glen Canyon Dam behind.
Seeking a place for brunch. Trying to find the right atmosphere for 'cereal and yoghurt'.
Jenni perched high up to capture the scene.
'The River Jordan is deep and wide'...oops.

 We arrived at the trailhead, which is not really that, but rather, a viewpoint overlooking the fabulous Colorado River. In the unlikely event you have read our texts of the river over the years, viewed in 6 states, you would understand our bias. It makes us most content, stimulated and tests our stamina, too. Our aim for the day was to walk alongside it, a hundred or more feet above, and follow its course toward Horseshoe Bend of Page. We intended to walk for at least 2 hours at which time we’d reverse course, walking upstream so to speak (Following surgery nearly 2 months ago, I should be cautious although that’s not proving to be the case.) We love that type of activity because the surface is rough, covered in rocks and boulders and allows us to climb and negotiate the many obstacles and deal with precipitous edges. In fact, it’s what we call playtime which includes use of much energy and skills. Fortunately, we seem to have the energy—skills, well, you can’t have everything. While the viewpoint was busy, not one person hiked beyond it but us. Effectively, it’s a two-minute hike down from the parking lot and then off to the next place for most visitors. It suits us fine. In 5 or 6 hikes thus far, we have only been on one trail (cross-country) and even that single track was ambiguous. We also have been alone on each hike. Clearly, we’re not likely to win a popularity contest.

  As we mentioned earlier, the river and its surround are magnificent. They tell us that over millions of years, the water cut the channel/canyon through the rocks, allowing it to flow. This is beyond our ken, but we love it. We think the pictures will provide an adequate explanation of what we saw which in Page, is an everyday occurrence. We have mentioned frequently, each day we know we are going to witness a miracle or two. We made our way along the river for 2 hours, seeking a path over the boulders and rocks, through channels and crevices, basically, anyway we could, to allow us to remain alongside the water. At times we had to move away but soon thereafter, found our way back to the edge. At all times, we were far above the water. Between the challenging climbing, path seeking, reflections off the water and witnessing the overpowering formations, not forgetting the coloring, we spent the period in awe.

 Close to the end of the outward portion, we came across a tunnel which allowed a road to pass through to a government building. It was a surprise. The area was fenced off securely for vehicle entry although outside of the entrance, no fences existed. There were a couple of ‘keep out’ signs. We also noticed the USBR sign at the tunnel. We wondered what the facility was all about. Fortunately, there was no indication that our route was on private property. We considered the issue because on occasion, we have been a little naughty. Some ten years ago, we climbed a naval fence on Hawaii which in retrospect, was not that responsible. Anyway, we continued moving for a further ten minutes, arriving at our brunch spot, close to an edge, looking down upon the water. Once again: Outstanding. Our simple food always seems to taste better when eaten in the environments in which we hike. We suppose it helps that we are also hungry by 11-12 each day.

 We commenced our return, heading toward the car park, although it’s impossible to trace footsteps when wandering in such environments. Every trip will be different because of a lack of paths or trails. We noticed a truck leaving the compound after a guard had checked the driver’s papers. Then we heard someone shout, “Hey”. We looked around, heard nothing further and continued climbing although we suspected something might occur. Yet, the guard had returned to his booth. By then, we were in position to view the booth and the whole property. A few seconds later we heard the same voice mouthing off but this time in a rather rude and commanding manner. For a moment, I recalled my time in the South African army as a 17-year old. Non-commissioned officers did not talk to me, usually barked instead, in a rather unfriendly manner. It took a while for me to learn to accept such rudeness. On the first such occurrence, I wanted to call Mom at home and tell her how nasty these fellas were to me, even request her to send Dad to collect me.

Looks like the government is serious in its endeavor to stamp out hikers.

 “Get down here,” he shouted from afar. Then I noticed he was armed with a sub-machine gun, revolver and probably other items of hardware. All I had to defend myself was a Sony camera and Jenni. I headed down as ordered while Jen remained on the hill or should that read ‘over the hill’? I would like to write that I felt like Clint Eastwood walking across a desert strip to a sergeant in the United States Armed Forces. However, when the theme from the movie, ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ failed to materialize, I realized we were on our own. In fact, it’s been quite a year for Jen and me. During early May, we came across rogue hunters in the wilds in South Africa accompanied by vicious dogs. Fortunately, we were successful in dealing with the gang. I decided to use similar tactics with the soldier.

 “Hello, Officer, have we done something wrong?” My approach. I thought I’d adopt a friendly manner before taking the stance of a black belt, 10th dan karate expert. Besides, facing the barrel of a machine gun after a strenuous hike was a little sobering. That I never drink alcohol made the point even more strongly.

 “You are trespassing on federal land,” he informed me.

 “I’m sorry, Sergeant, but how would we know that? We have not seen signs to that effect or any fences.”

 “Where have you come from?” he questioned.

 I thought it probably inappropriate to mention South Africa. “From the overview,” I answered.

 “Not possible. Where did you park your car?”

 “At the overview carpark.”

 “Are you sure? That’s a heck of a distance.”

 We knew that as we had walked from the position and more importantly, had to return. Nevertheless, he did not seem to believe me. I stared at the gun he was now holding away from his body but still not pointing it in my direction.

 One thing led to another, and I then began to converse with him; he seemed to relax. We spoke of the beauty of Page, his former hometown, Flagstaff, hiking in the regions, and before long, we were getting on well. Two other guards stood close by and seemed amused, especially when I mentioned they should be careful about giving Jenni a rough time. She’s far tougher than me. In the meantime, the sergeant dialed someone on a different looking phone and mentioned the status regarding the trespassers…ourselves.

'All clear, just two dodos out for a stroll'. I asked him whether we could have a photograph together knowing it would probably be forbidden. However, one of us took a chance on the sly. No names.

 When all seemed to be sorted out, and I had determined we were at the US Bureau of Reclamation (aha! First puzzle solved), I said that we needed to return to the car.

 “I’ll walk you out,” he informed me.

 “Can’t we return the way we came?” I asked.

 “That’s trespassing and I’ll have to arrest you.”

 I also repeated that there isn’t a sign indicating it’s federal land. He then informed me of the signage in about twelve languages (see photo) making it pretty clear that no entry was allowed to the public. However, what the US government does not realize, in its infinite wisdom, is that the signage is at the front entrance and nowhere else. In other words, it assumes that would be terrorists or strange hikers would only make an approach via the front entrance rather than other less obvious places. I thought I might let him know that this kind of thinking might persuade me to no longer pay taxes. Jen said it was a good idea that I left out tax issues. It also made me think about the importance of signage. Along the Mexican border, rather than build a wall, employ all those guards, and spend billions of dollars trying to deal with the border debacle, I suggest placing a number of ‘No Entry’ signs which should surely do the trick. I did mention earlier something about our wisdom.

Positioned at the front entrance. What! No Zulu?

 He then ordered me to get 'my wife' down to join me immediately and he would show us the way out. We departed on friendly terms which was nice because after all, I’m not anywhere as tough as I sound. We bid the three heavily armed guards farewell despite them ruining our return journey and headed toward Highway 89 North. Along the way, we passed the body of water we mentioned earlier—the small dam viewed from our room. Aha! We had learned the answers to the two puzzling thoughts we had. The second issue was the ‘Wastewater Treatment Plant’. Who needs Google when a person can traipse around seeing the real thing.

 All-in-all, it was a wonderful day which included a great hike, spectacular views, good challenges, some PR with the US government and the solution to a couple of puzzles. 

Who ever said hiking is boring?

(While the commentary may be a little 'flowery', the essence of the events is entirely factual excluding the helicopter.)

How dem walls?

Jenni and Jeffrey

Friday, November 18, 2022

56.03 Page, Arizona: Lake Powell and its surroundings. Hiking above and along Antelope Canyon.

No wonder why we love Page, Az.
Ups-and-downs along the water.
Considering the ultimate leap of faith...stupidity.
Could look at the scenes in this region all day.
'Voortrekker Monument' (South African look-alike) comes into view.
A scene from last year. When we reached the end of the waterway for the kayak, we hiked in the canyon. Currently, we are hiking above the canyon. The famous 'Antelope Canyon' tourist attractions are about 1.5 miles further up. We found this place even more spectacular. This end of the canyon can only be reached by boat.

 Over the years, we came to realize much is not what it seems in the wilderness. Most mountains are higher than they appear, trails and scrambling routes are more difficult than when viewed from afar, and distances appear shorter than actual. Perhaps some of us are naturally optimistic of things we favor. Of course, this is probably the fault of our subjectivity, and particularly mine (Jeffrey). 

 We're back in Page again. When heading to one of many of the tributaries and outflows of Lake Powell, the land appears relatively flat. However, that’s anything but true. While it may look that way from a commencement point, once a person spots the lake, it’s easy to think the target is just a little lower than where the observer stands. Between the starting point and the target, there are many hills, boulders, depressions, inclines, declines and a host of hurdles that cannot be seen from even a short distance away. Our eyes are not able to see a route and its components while brains are unable to compute this without reasonably accurate information. A climb of a mountain in the thousands of feet can be tough, but a defined track provides a route which amounts to calculable knowledge of the distance, elevation and other relevant information. This is not the case when looking out over the desert land before one. 

  Returning to the Lake Powell region, while few paths exist, there are many ways for hikers to make their way to randomly selected destinations. Without defined paths, one must improvise and use judgment to decide whether to negotiate a particular incline hoping there is way down on the other side as one makes tracks toward a selected destination. Take a simple example. Even if the altitude at both the commencement and destination points is similar, resulting in zero effective gain or loss, there could be hundreds or even thousands of feet gain/loss in-between because of canyons, hills, small mountains, depressions, deep crevices, etc. Perhaps that’s obvious but when one looks out across terrain, one is not able to make a calculation. It all becomes about improvisation which in and of itself often proves to be a challenge, but in most instances, a most enjoyable and rewarding experience. Wandering about Page in wonder is such an experience. No wonder it's one of our favorite places, this town close to the border of Utah. 

If you don't have energy to paddle, take the bus around the 'horseshoe'.
We love the scrambling, climbing and playing on the ideal venue...and best of all, my new hip had few complaints.
Another 'horseshoe'. There is a 'Horseshoe Bend' in Page which is a major tourist attraction. Along and above Antelope Canyon, we've never seen another person.
Keeps one fascinated.
This is playtime while hiking in Page.
A rather narrow part.
Sharp edges in color.
So much to little time.
Sloping down.
Auditioning for the sequel of the movie: 'My Left Foot'. Contrary to popular expectations: Outright rejection.
We prefer to walk although we've paddled a few times, too.
Love the 'horseshoes'.
 In closing, we recall an incident some years back which occurred in New Zealand. We had just reached the base of a mountain on our return from the peak. We stopped to greet a young man who was American. We began conversing and learned he was from New York. I was puzzled. Not that people from New York can be found in the wilderness of this small but exciting country, but that his accent did not gel. 
He agreed and said he was currently living in the 'Big Apple' but he was from Arizona. 

  "Where in Arizona?" We questioned. 

  "You won't know of the place," he replied. 

After a few back-and-forth comments, still not revealing his home, we asked him: "Try us". 

  "Page," he smiled, assuming he had us, his face indicating 'I told you so'. 

Jenni retorted, "We spent a week in your beautiful town last month." 

Trying to match Jenni's recent showoff specials. Still got a way to go.

Jenni and Jeffrey