Tunnels and Bridges
by Stacia Nahachewsky
We started out from Castlegar on the Columbia Western Rail Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail. We spent four days to get from Castlegar to Grand Forks. The first day, we had to deal with the new experience of tunnels and trestle bridges. Our horses Misty, Judy and Mak all did well. Theyíre not afraid of heights like I am, so they walked over those bridges like it was an every day happening. The tunnels were pretty amazing though!
We ended that day with a one-kilometre long tunnel, where we had to use headlamps and couldnít see the other end! Misty and Judy did fine with it. They just followed us, though they followed more quickly if we kept the lights pointed at the ground right before their feet. Mak wanted to turn around and go back to the light, but he finally gave up when the girls got too far ahead and werenít stopping.
|Staring into the abyss, wondering ďWhy do I follow these humans again?Ē|
Day Two we had a few more bridges and we went under the highway bridge that goes over the canyon. It was a pretty warm day, but less smoky than the day before. We could see hints of fantastic views. I felt like the trail kept getting narrower, so I tried to keep distracting myself so I wasnít miserable to ride with. Iím not sure that it worked.
|Beautiful scenery but itís a fair ways down!!!|
Misty kept on walking right by the outside edge of the trail. I would see how long I could stand not looking down, which usually wasnít more than a couple minutes, then I would move her back over to ďsafetyĒ on the inside of the trail. This repeated on and off for the first three days. I still really donít like seeing over the edge, but I think Iím a little better at controlling my initial fear responses.
|This new addition to the trail is too narrow for a pack horse!|
Day Three was probably the hottest of this little leg. We made it to Christina Lake after crossing this harrowing little shored up part of the trail. There was a new walking bridge to use from one side to the other, but it was too narrow for Judyís packs to fit. Dad tested out this built up part of the trail that followed the mountain to check that it was stable enough for the horses. I ended up going first with Misty, and just kept my eyes on the ground in front of my feet.
|Itís blurry, but this is the condition of the trail going around the bridge. Shale rock and rickety shored up path.|
We all had to make sure both we and the horses stayed as close to the mountain as possible, because the trail was much narrower and the shored sections creaked ominously underfoot if you were too close to the edge. One part of it was littered with scree as well, so it wasnít the best footing. In my head I was singing ďDonít push me, cause Iím close to the edge. Iím trying not to lose my head!Ē And then the rest of the medley from Happy Feet popped into my head and made me feel better.