Into the Mountains….
So after three days of foul weather, we left Providence Portal and headed off into the mountains once more.
But The BNT has a way of reminding you that no matter how well practiced you are or how long you have been on the trip for, you just ain’t all that…
Less than a kilometre after leaving camp, we came across a foot bridge that the dongles flat out refused to cross. Now we were told a while back that when they do that, just to drag them across- they’re only little after all.Ha. Funny. Whoever said that obviously hasn’t experienced the unlikely brute strength of a 200kg donkey. If they don’t wanna do something, they ain’t gunna do it.
Which was basically the situation we had on our hands that morning. The fact that these donkeys have been on the trail for months, crossed a myriad of scary objects and bodies of water made it all the more frustrating. “It’s just a bloody footbridge, guys!!”, I tried to explain to them. But it was hot, we had a long day ahead of us, and we had left late, so my patience was wearing thin.
Swapping the more stubborn Basil ( who usually leads), to the give-anything-a-go Jasmine, I let her have a sniff at the wood, and she tentatively placed a foot on the wood, only to draw it back again. After this went on several times, I made the mistake of running the rope around her hindquarters to pull her across.
Big mistake. She wasn’t ready to cross, and I had put too much pressure on her- worst thing you can do with donkeys. I should’ve known better, but she simply leant back into the rope and glared at me. We eventually found a ford upstream and got over, but I could tell that Jasmine was upset with me for the rest of the day. Contrary to popular opinion, donkeys are sensitive souls and I had hurt her feelings and pride.
I was annoyed at myself for acting out of frustration and fear instead of patience, and the fact that our donkeys still apparently weren’t 100 percent reliable with crossing bridges and rivers continued to gnaw at my confidence for the next few days.
But I needn’t really have worried too much- we got on With the job and thoroughly enjoyed the trek over Happy Jacks plain and down to Khankoban. Although the donks didn’t like the look of the ‘multi layered’ wooden bridge over Happy Jacks pondage, they actually took a cue from Fly for once, and followed him straight over without a drama.
Our teamwork continues to improve every day, and I am slowly learning that no matter how long we are on the trail, our trekking team will never be a ‘finished product’. There are always challenges, and that’s what it’s all about…