We finally got around to riding the Old Ghost Road. Sarah, Andrew and I (Jane was at home in Blenheim for the weekend) arrived at the Lyell Saddle Hut on Saturday afternoon to find a wee dog sitting on the freshly built porch. "Neat" I thought, "We could bring ours here too". We learned from a couple who were already there that it was in fact not their dog. They had met him a few k's from the hut. We were 17k from the road in steep country. A small dog on a big adventure!
The dog was very thin. Think xylophone covered with skin and fur. We fed him with some rice crackers which we discovered earlier, while lounging on the trail for lunch, were very high in energy. There was also one of those questionable milk powder packets found in the hut, so 'Lyell' as he was now called, got a good slurp of milk too. Andrew and I headed off to find the end of the trail, returning later much wetter with a broken chain, a bruised knee and a cunning plan.
I figured I could improvise a front pack to ride Lyell back down the hill. I used my old faithful bowling green Ground Effect merino with the sleeves tied together, and a bit of emergency sash cord to tie off the bottom. I tested him in it around the hut. He seemed not to mind, or was in too much of a milk induced coma to care. The following day would tell.
It dawned with coffee and breakfast. Lyell was a lot more lively after a good sleep by the fire. He took off down the trail after the couple who found him. They brought him back, his paws were very raw and he wouldn't make it too far without bleeding. We loaded our gear, popped him in the hammock and were off. The first section was relatively flat. It was a wee bit tricky pedalling with a dog attached to my front but we ticked along. Andrew and I took turns on dog carrying duty. We and Lyell hooned down the well groomed trail, whooping as we rode into blind corners. The only time Lyell tried to get out was when we saw some Weka. He quite liked them. Otherwise he just hung around, we let him out here and there to stretch his legs and rest our necks.
Sporadic cell phone coverage and text messaging with Jane hadn't found any clear course of action. We took him to Murchison and turned him in to the local Police. He didn't look guilty as we handed him over. The local cop got on the case. We gave him our number so he could let us know the verdict. Sarah and Andrew were already planning future holidays around dog sitters if no one claimed him. We had a well deserved lunch and headed back to Shakey Town.
We got a call from Murchison a few hours later as we were passing through Culverden. It turns out the wee fella had been awol for a whole week. The woman from the farm that was "just up the road" was in tears when she picked him up. Go team. High fives all around.
The Police officer was suitably brief with his description in this privacy sensitive age, so we still have a raft of questions about our unexpected furry cargo. How far had he travelled? What was his (real) name? And most importantly, what did he do with the lotto ticket?
Dom Blissett, Christchurch