Mon Aug 29, 2022
Her name was Bailey - and she was the best horse. Gentle, plodding, and content to stay in line - instead of bolt ahead like Dexter (the horse behind me bearing her unfortunate rider). Bailey’s calm temperament, despite carrying a new rider, was most welcome.
It was an especially hot day in the Cariboo. An unusually wet spring, however, had kept the landscape verdant and the mosquitoes thriving. Due to the heat, our route led us through serene, shaded forest rather than open plains.
I felt a good connection with Bailey - a slight tug at the reigns was sufficient to nudge her in the right direction. And when we dismounted for a rest stop, she responded to my call when the time came to mount up once more.
Given my lack of experience (does riding a horse in Red Dead Redemption count?), trotting was uncomfortable at first, until I started to anticipate Bailey’s rhythm and stand up in the saddle. The last time I had ridden a horse (in real life) was 18 years ago in Costa Rica, so it had been awhile.
There’s something so meditative and calming about swaying in the saddle, listening to the monotonous clip-clop of the hooves, and simply trusting this magnificent animal to bear your weight on a day when it’s too hot to even walk.
There’s no doubt in my mind that noisy gas-guzzling cars, motorbikes, and planes have ruined this slower pace of life. Perhaps one day, the experience of driving in a car will be a special experience that tourists will pay money for. But I doubt it. There’s nothing peaceful about commuting in a car - it’s quite the opposite in fact. There was no road rage in the 1800s after all.
(Unless of course people in the old days actually hated you and the horse you rode in on. Seems unfair to be mad at an innocent animal, no?)
Maybe I’m just not a car guy, but I really believe the world needs to move on and maybe even slow back down for our own mental wellbeing.
But anyway, back to the horses. To give some context - we were camping at a horse ranch with some friends just south of 100 Mile House. I’d consider the horseback ride to be the denouement of our vacation, but we also swam a lot. There are far fewer crowds on the lakes up North, although there are leeches aplenty.
The locals warned us about the leeches, and it was a joke at first (leeches, yeah right, lol), until one of those bloodsuckers latched onto my ankle. I was on my paddleboard enjoying a solo adventure exploring the incredibly scenic Green Lake. I unwisely stepped into the shallows on a deserted stretch of beach, precisely where leeches like to hang out.
A tickling feeling alerted me to a squirming passenger.
I paddled frantically back to the others, screaming “Get the salt! Get the salt!” Sprinkling salt on the leech causes it to curl up and detach for a moment so you can remove it - a valuable piece of advice that accompanied the aforementioned warning.
It wasn’t quite like that classic scene in the movies where the character emerges from a swamp, only to turn around and reveal a back festooned with leeches. But it was close.
Friends, don’t let that dissuade you from visiting the stunning Green Lake, with water so clear, you can see straight through to the bottom all the way across. And instead of condos and garish ice-cream parlours dotting the shoreline, there are beautiful twisted trees, wild brush, and the odd field of cattle. There are also, of course, some nice lakeside cabins owned by the few fortunate boomers who bought them for a song in the 70s.
There might be some more camping in store before the summer wraps but to be honest, I’m ready for the season to change. With the heat stretching on into late August, I’m ready to wash off the sunscreen, dust the cobwebs off my sweatpants, send the kids off to school, and settle in for some crisp, quiet fall days.
It’s been dry for a long, long time - like Blind Melon says - there’s no rain. And that’s not sane when you live in a rainforest. It’s an upset to the natural order around here. In this ecosystem - in this normally foreboding, misty part of the world - rain is a way of life. Dry spells are an aberration.
So, goodbye summer - see you again next year. I’m really grateful that I got to go on a couple of road trips, soak up the sun, and ride through the forest on a horse with a name. Her name was Bailey - and she was the best horse.