Horsewoman stops in Genoa in round-the-world ride
Special to The R-C
She is a bit smaller and older than I expected, but I marvel at the courage this trim woman holds in her heart. When she reaches the Pacific Coast, Megan Lewis will have completed a trip around the world … on horseback.
Lewis rode through Carson City over the weekend, celebrating her passage across Nevada with supporters in Genoa. “I need to cross California by Nov. 14 because I’ve scheduled a flight home.”
Aged 59 when she set out in 2008 from the seaside terminus of the Great Wall of China, she arrived in Beijing shortly after their Olympic Games. From there, she carried the Olympic flag toward London and presented it just in time for their summer games in 2012. Part of the welcome celebration included meeting Princess Anne, an accomplished equestrienne in her own right.
Her route from Beijing continued along the base of the Great Wall, then followed the Silk Road as far as the middle of Kazakhstan. There, she rested with her cousin, Rowena Haigh, before crossing the Ukraine, a corner of Russia, and the Middle East. Border crossing issues in Hungary forced her to stop for a few months before she could go through Europe.
Both Lewis and Haigh spent most of their formative years in the Far East, so it was natural for them to start this epic trek in China. In fact, Haigh was born and raised in Hong Kong. Lewis has competed in endurance events since she was a young girl.
Most of the journey was in three-month spurts, allowing herself and her animals to rejuvenate as well as to handle logistical and health problems. Shortly after leaving Beijing, she fell off her horse and broke her collarbone and a few ribs, which delayed her start for another couple of months.
Details of her Sino-London Olympic Goodwill Tour can be found on her website: http://www.thelonghorseride.com/
To cross North America, Lewis started out from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, May 4, 2015, with her pony, Lady, following the Trans Canada Trail.
Though riding alone when entering Nevada in September 2016, she received lots of help and ride-alongs from members of the Shellbourne Riders of Ely and the National Pony Express Assn., Nevada Division.
One rider, Petra Keller of Washoe Valley, not only accompanied Lewis from Austin to Edwards Creek, she hosted Lewis and her support team, Haigh and Lucy Badenhoop of Sacramento, CA.
Keller had just returned home after evacuating during the Little Valley wildfire, but she drove out to Fallon to pickup Lewis and her horses. One of Lewis’ horses had turned up lame. She also needed a vet check before entering California. Since Keller already had a vet coming out within the week, she shared her hospitality and vet appointment with Lewis.
Navigating through modern America, Lewis said urban areas don’t give her as many problems as rural places do. “People drive more slowly and can stop for the horses. Rural highways are much harder to ride if there’s not a verge along the side of the road. The cars pass by so quickly.”
Once in Nevada, though, she faced different problems. She had to make connections with people to cache water at points along the trail. She realized she would have to depend more upon paper maps where her cell phone GPS wouldn’t work. As she neared Carson City, she was unable to get emails.
The most frustrating problem was the weather. “I must be a rainmaker,” she wrote on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheLongHorseRide/
Rain has dogged her in many desert areas. While shopping for supplies in Wendover, a thunderstorm forced her to seek shelter in a local McDonalds.
In Hilliard, Wyo., she was caught in a dangerous hailstorm, but was rescued by a woman who rushed from her house to lower her RV awning and spotted Lewis coming down the road. She was able to stay with the Lester family until the danger passed.
A dusting of snow made Overland Pass West, north of Eureka, more challenging than it needed to be. Luckily, she crossed it in good time and was greeted by a friendly rancher on the western side.
At Keller’s house, Lewis waited out yet more rainstorms until she could resume her ride. She re-evaluated Pony Express routes over the Sierra Nevada and will come into Sacramento following the Pony Express Trail. From there, it’s across northern California toward Bodega Bay and the finish.
This portion of her trip will be alone as her cousin, Rowena Haigh, had to fly home this week. Again, there’s rough weather brewing over the Sierra Nevada and California for the remainder of her journey. It’s a fair bet she’ll finish, though.
What’s next? “Sleep!” Lewis declared. She wants to return to raising her Welsh ponies at Ffrwdfal, Wales. Then, who knows? Indeed, this would be a tough act to follow, but Lewis is hardly the type to sit still for long.