In March of 2014, I climbed on horseback out of the Picunleo River canyon onto a massive, sprawling plateau that skirts the base of the Andes in Patagonia, Argentina. Ahead of me, Sofie dipped the brim of her hat against the afternoon light. Behind me, a line of seven mules, one spare horse, and finally Alyssa – who looked up to greet my gaze enthusiastically. The line that comes to mind is, “Hell yes!” We were three women and eleven animals. It was not something I hadn’t felt before (girls on bicycles braving the city craze, girls on week-long backpacking trips, cooking over fire and bush-whacking through the woods, girls coming together over a meal or a heartfelt conversation); but it was real strong: We can do anything.
We were on a ten-day horse pack trip, following a crew of filmmakers, their support team, and the cast on a large loop through the heart of Estancia Ranquilco's 100,000 acre ranch for the making of a documentary film. In total we were 21 people and 31 animals… 52 beating hearts. Each morning, the cast and crew packed their personal belongings and got on the trail. Meanwhile, Sofie, Alyssa and I stayed behind to pack and load our seven mules with technical equipment, cooking supplies, camping gear, etc. Then, following several hours behind the rest, we rode in our line of eleven animals, mostly in silence, with the sound of the stream, the wind, the sun, each other.
After we summited that plateau, it was as if the vastness of the landscape immediately demanded us all to look around and acknowledge the feat and adventure we were enacting. In that moment, what began as a “Hell yes!” evolved into a dialogue around a dream: I want to lead a women’s horse pack trip. Not just a lodge stay or a horse tour. I want to take women out into this breathtaking landscape, accompanied by our trusty and capable horses and mules, with emphasis on our own trust and ability. I want to facilitate the steeping of our individual selves in a journey of sharing – our differences, our compassion, our strength, our grief, our beauty, our creativity, our wild nature. This is what we mean by, “Hell yes!”
So was born the idea for the Women’s Horse Pack Trip at Estancia Ranquilco. Now, five women's trips under our belts, I have collected memories with women from around the world that have joined for the adventure. It has been a lot of effort, a lot of learning, and a lot of magic along the way - as with most things which one works for because they believe in it so fully.
-- Aly Moyer, Ranquilco guide