Bethany from Glenorchy

New Zealand really is a beautiful country. And seeing it from the back of a horse while fording the Rees River is perfect. Now falling off the back of said horse and suddenly staring at the blue sky in pain, is not so perfect. Especially if this happens the day before starting a 32 km trek through the wilderness.

Yes, I fell off a horse today. I like to think that I was thrown as the thoroughbred I was riding did a sudden lunge to nip another horse. Ironic it happened then as I almost ended up on the ground earlier in the ride during a canter when I lost a stirrup. Unfortunately, when trail riding in a group the horse tends to do what those in front are doing and does’t obey the rider’s commands. Luckily I did manage to stay on with only one stirrup. Unfortunately, near the end of the ride I didn’t react quick enough to my horse’s lunge. I fell flat on my back and it must haved taken me at least 5 minutes to decide that I could stand up because of the searing pain shooting through my right lower back. Standing and walking was surprisingly tolerable – I did walk to the trail end (about 5 minutes) but I did not get back in the saddle. Maybe it will be another 20 years like it was this time (I took English riding lessons as a teenager).

So let’s backtrack a bit. Today we left Queenstown for a hamlet called Glenorchy located further to the west and closer to the beginning of the Routeburn Track. We decided that we were going to christen our tent in semi-civilization before hitting the wilderness on the 24th. We bought a light, two-person tent for this trip. It is nice and compact but really only has room for our sleeping mats. Our bags don’t really comfortably fit in. If necessary they’ll have to crowd in or under the small vestibule.

In Queenstown we picked up food for the trip including our Christmas meal and then boarded a bus to Glenorchy. Along with all this spectacular scenary comes narrow and windy roads. I was a little car sick during the 45 minute ride. I was very happy to reach our campsite. We checked in and then headed to the stables where we had reserved a trail ride. The rided started out fabulous as we followed and forded several times the Rees river. We wound through willow trees (imported from Europe and overtaking things as willows like to do), sand flats, and crossed water. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera with me. Or fortunately I didn’t, as it would likely have had a very poor fate with my fall. My fall happened at the end of the ride and has caused a turmoil of possibly missed dreams and plans. Walking the Routeburn was going to be a trip highlight for me. The scheduling of our trip-to-date has been centred around the dates for which we were able to reserve spots on the trail. And now the day before we were to depart I am hurt, in pain, and wondering of the wisdom of taking off to do an alpine crossing with 15 plus kilos of weight on my back. I’ve always wanted to go on a helicopter ride but I hope it is not because I need to be rescued from a mountainside. But I also don’t want to miss this experience. So I haved iced up and dosed myself with every type of pain reliever I’m carrying and we’ll see what morning brings. Hopefully manageable pain as this trip is really about being active.

Now it is almost full dark. Time to redose and sleep.

P.S. Bryan here. The mountains we were riding through were the Misty Mountains, with Isengard to one side. (The Lord of the Rings, for those of you who didn’t catch the reference)

The horse I was riding was also named Bryan. Appropriately he really liked his chow, and was a little bit lazy. He knew he was allowed to drink whenever we went through water, so he often took a drink whether he needed one or not, just to hold things up. He also liked to scratch his belly by veering out of line to run right through a bush!

Wish us (and especially Bethany)luck for our Christmas voyage tomorrow.