Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Riding in South Africa - Full Article

June 10 2013
Jenni Smith

The terrain here at times feels far more familiar than we would have guessed. Here and there you can almost imagine that you are home in Northern California. The frequent river crossings strongly resemble those in the base of the canyons of the Sierra foothills.

We are in a vast valley, ringed by distant mountains. The earth shows signs of a volcanic history. In places the dirt is nearly pure white, then suddenly it will change to a deep red. There is quite a bit of loose rock that requires us to watch where our horses are headed.

Large trees are not very common beyond the river, and many show signs of abuse by elephants. Most of the vegetation is made up of scraggly shrubbery, and a good number of these carry wicked thorns. We learned quickly that the worst-looking thorn bushes were actually relatively benign while the sweet and innocent looking ones, with almost fern-like leaves, hid thorns of wicked intent. As a group I think we are down about three pair of breeches and several shirts have been badly snagged – we’ll be abandoning a pile of thrashed riding clothes at some point.
The grass is deep and plentiful here at the start of their winter...

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