One of my oldest bucket list items was doing a multiple day horse trek. When I booked a four-day trek with High Country Horses in Glenorchy, I honestly thought this lifelong dream was going to come true. It partially did, but not enough to tick it off as fulfilled. Maybe next time?
One of the best choices I could have made was book with High Country Horses. The horses look healthy and amazing, they are well taken care of and the people caring for them breathe a love for horses. The people took very good care of all of us as well and our guide was nothing short of amazing. I used to ride Icelandic horses, but it’d been a while since I sat in the saddle for longer than a few hours. Like riding a bike, I thought, you never forget.
We had a small group: four riders and a guide. The horse I got was called Riley, a gorgeous pinto. We started off in the rain with very low visibility, in an area that our guide assured us was stunning. We borrowed long leather coats from HCH, which helped keep us more or less dry. After a few hours my knees started to hurt. Those darned knees! I changed saddles (no Western saddle for me!) and later on horses as well. That first day was a bit of a mish mash, knocking down my confidence a bit. The ride was absolutely gorgeous though! We were going through the Dart and Rees river valleys with amazing mountains as a backdrop. After a few hours the weather started to clear up and we could finally see the mountains and Mt. Alfred standing proudly. That first day we rode for a good 9 hours, including a lunch break and it left us quite sore!
The idea was to stay in a hut in Paradise for two nights and go to a mountain hut for the third, weather permitting. Due to unstable weather conditions, however, it would have been irresponsible to take the horses up the mountain and run the risk of getting stuck there without anyone being able to reach us. Therefore, we stayed at the same hut for three nights. I felt a hint of disappointment at first, because going from hut to hut is an essential part of fulfilling my dream. It was just a hint though, as it was a no-brainer to stay where we were. Besides, the hut we stayed at was amazing! No electricity, heating by log fire, cooking by candle light. It was as awesome as it sounds! Seriously, I could have stayed there for weeks! The group was amazing, everyone helped: chopping wood, cooking, setting the table, keeping the fire going. We had a hot shower, flushing toilet, comfortable beds, good food, great company. What more can a person ask for? And no, I didn’t mean sandflies, haha.
As my knees were throwing me a curve ball anyway and the weather prevented us from trekking up the mountain, I decided to adapt my mindset. I was no longer concerned with fulfilling this dream I’ve had ever since I got on a horse (well…pony!). Instead, I took everything in as it was, enjoyed myself and decided to not rush anything. I had a great time and immersed myself in this incredibly beautiful landscape that surrounded us. They couldn’t have come up with a better name than Paradise! It was peaceful, friendly and simply gorgeous. I know I want to go back some time!
I didn’t ride the second day. Instead, I explored the immediate area, took some photos and relaxed. Day three we went down to ride along Diamond lake. We had to cross a little ditch where my horse, Riley, got spooked and made a weird jump. I managed to stay on him, but I twisted my left ankle and did something to my right hand. My right hand hurt increasingly throughout the rest of my travels. Back home, I was diagnosed with an acute tendon inflammation. Yes, it hurts. On the fourth day we rode back to HCH. In the morning we rounded up our horses in the paddock. It was foggy and sunny at the same time. It created this amazing misty yet bright atmosphere. I loved it. The guide had arranged for an earlier pick up for me, so I could still ride that day, but not exceed my limits. Riley did not want to go into the trailer! Poor guy. Sadly, I missed the swimming in Diamond lake and riding back to base together. But I was there to experience the rest and I loved it.
Perhaps more thoughts about this trek will come to mind at a later stage. It was very impressive and I haven’t gotten through all of my photos yet. For now, it taught me an important word: adaptation. Because I was able to adapt, I really got to enjoy this experience, despite the setbacks. Adaptation, I like this word.
And now some pictures! 🙂