Monday, July 20, 2020

TRANQUI: A horseback journey through Patagonia - Full Article

Story & Photography: Stevie Anna Plummer
Written By: Emily Hopcian

On a Friday morning in early November, spring in the Southern Hemisphere, I ride south from Bariloche, Argentina, with my dog, Darcie, and Sundance and Bandido, my two horses. Together, our small team crosses over the earthy browns and dry greens of northern Patagonia’s estepa. For a short while, I breathe in the familiar mountain peaks and rolling hills; my sentimental goodbye. I’m leaving behind a world I know intimately to cross into entirely new territory. ‘Please just let us get to the first town,’ I whisper to the universe. ‘Just let us get through the first ten days.’

A chaos of emotions – everything from joy to an extreme sense of loneliness – parades us out of town. Tears fill my eyes as fear shivers inside me. Fear of the unknown, of injury to my animals or to me, and of the freak accidents that are seemingly part of journeys through remote wilderness. But perhaps more so, somewhere deep in my subconscious, there is a fear of failure – an earlier-than-anticipated return to Bariloche, of folks not taking us seriously. I cannot help but settle on thoughts of the months of build-up on social media and on everyone supporting us on this journey. I fear letting them down, becoming a disappointment.

I still myself inside and shift my focus to the movement of our team. My thoughts fall into rhythm with the pace of my horses, and my heart settles into the wilds that surround me. A condor, a sign of good luck out here on the estepa, soars above us. I let go of the things I cannot control and hold on to the things I can – which, to be honest, are precious few when it comes to Patagonia and her immense, unpredictable wilderness. Unending waves of snowy peaks rise to the west. Limitless estepa stretches to the east. All around me, Darcie weaves in and out of tall grass that sways in the gathering wind, to the front of our pack and behind, keeping an eye on what’s hers: myself and the horses. This is our element. This is where we thrive. I sigh. ‘We’ve got this,’ I say, to no-one but myself...

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Ghost Stories on the Plantation - Full Story

MONDAY, JULY 13, 2020

With our 75-mile completion on Friday morning, Ghost and I were quite satisfied. After reviewing weekend plans with Chris, he prompted us to do the 50 mile ride on Saturday night (the next day). I knew Ghost could do it. Chris knew I could do it. I knew it would be painful, but I could pull through. I also know that riding a 2nd day would heighten my riding fitness. I have several goals, but one is to be less sore after the longer 75 and 100s. I’d like multi days to be “no big deal” amongst others.

Although the trail at Broxton Bridge is repetitive, riding at night makes it entertaining. If you watched the videos I posted from the 75, Ghost knows the trail. I’m just a flea on his back he can’t get rid of. I ask him to go left, he jumps right because he knows the trail. I stop him to verify markers when he doesn’t need the reassurance.

On the 75, apparently there was some confusion with the trail. We earned 7th place. I was happy with the completion. I mean it is 75 freakin’ miles. Then, it was close 100 degrees and in the pitch black of night. I always say this, but I never dreamt of doing these types of rides. I go where the horse and trail take me. This Ghost story took me on a 2nd day of a 50-mile ride where I was bound and determined to get 1st place.

Ghost was on his “A” game. 48 hours prior in the 75, he did it, but his determination wasn’t the typical, “I’m hunting down that horse and eating him.” like it usually is...

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