10 July 2009

Best day ever - since Tuesday

In the morning we got up extremely early to watch the sunrise at Fish River Canyon. On our way we intercepted a few hares, long ears flying, and an owl, grey as the dawn. We arrived at the canyon just as the sun turned crimson behind us. From the viewpoint we looked out over a vast range of cliff faces, sloping hills of red rubble sliding inexorably down towards the pale winding river at the centre of the valley. All around us eroding peaks touched by the first light of the day. Slowly, the hot sun appeared over the horizon, the sky changing from washed out grey to pink. The canyon walls lit up in stages, layers of different coloured rock revealed in their crumbled glory. Eventually the walls started reflecting in the still waters of the Fish river as it took on the colour of the morning sky.
We walked along the plateau to get another view. The rock under our feet had broken into geometric blocks and flat, shingle-like pieces, red, black and quartz white. To our left the canyon wall fell vertical for a long time, before sloping off in a bed of decayed rocks. At the end of the plateau we discovered the start of the four day hiking trail, a sign warning that no-one is allowed onto the trail without a permit. This is one of the more difficult hikes, and the start was not very inviting, anyway, as it bent steeply down a precarious slope, edged only by a rusty rope. How anyone can carry six days worth of food and equipment and make it to the bottom without a fall I have no idea.
In the afternoon Merryl and I went horse riding, And what a ride it was, topping the day with another great adventure. We were an hour early, due to the fact that despite being in Namibia for four days already we had not worked out that it's in a different time zone from South Africa. We have been travelling by the position of the sun in the sky, leaving at first light and stopping as it got dark, so hadn't noticed the change.
We were looking forward to a good ride, as we had told the rangers we were both experienced riders - the last few rides I had been on we had been in the company of first time riders and I was ready for a good run. The ranger took this to mean we could handle anything, and gave us two horses that had been left in a field for the last five months, and had forgotten what a ride was meant to be like. They were wild and at the first sign of a flat stretch of dry river bed they were off. All they wanted to to was run like the wind, and they were unstoppable. Unfortunately there came a time when horse and I parted company, and I landed hard, scraping my side, bruising my hip and shoulder and ego. Nothing broken or badly injured, even the camera I landed on survived. I guess 'experienced' was an exaggeration. Nothing for it but more practice.

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