About the Book
Beside a rain-swollen river in Patagonia, a man approached on a horse. His mount, a rusty red beauty, sported the short-trimmed mane and neatly squared-off tail of a well-kept horse. The man wore goatskin chaps, a woolen poncho, and the jaunty black beret typical of the region. This pair belonged to this place in a way I could only dream of.
The man stared at us. We were up to our knees in mud and dwarfed by huge backpacks. It was apparent we had money, but we had no horses.
“Por qué no tienes caballos?” he asked as he rode into the river.
At that moment I knew. I wanted to travel this country like the people who lived there. I wanted to know this place as only one on horseback could.
As a novice horsewoman, Nancy Pfeiffer took off across Patagonia alone on horseback. Over the next two decades and three thousand kilometers of rugged horse trail, the hospitable people who live there took her in, and Patagonia slipped silently into her soul. As if watching a beloved child grow up, Nancy bore witness to the subtle, yet disturbing, changes barreling down on Patagonia.
For Readers and Book Clubs:
In the Media
“Finding Patagonia: Nancy Pfeiffer” The Firn Line: Podcast about the Lives of Mountain Climbers
“ASP Stories Ep. 025: Riding Into the Heart of Patagonia – Part 2 – Nancy Pfeiffer” The Adventure Sports Podcast
“Riding into the Heart of Patagonia: Weaving Together the Threads of Life” by Page Lambert, All Things Literary/All Things Natural
“Nancy Pfeiffer shares her Patagonia experiences: April 2018” Interview, KVRF Radio Free Palmer
“Riding Into the Heart of Patagonia” in Sustainable Play
“Ep. 322: 1800+ Miles Across Patagonia Solo on Horseback – Nancy Pfeiffer” The Adventure Sports Podcast
“Nancy writes vividly. We are there with her, along for the ride with every cell of our imagination. As Nancy grows into the experience, she grows into the landscape and culture of Patagonia. Roots establish themselves, adding texture to a life that will never be the same. She comes to belong to the place, and the people of Patagonia take her into their hearts.” — Page Lambert, All Things Literary/All Things Natural
“This book begins as one kind of epic—a novice horseback rider in her 30s, making her solitary way across one of the world’s great wildernesses. That would be reason enough to read this absorbing account—but at the end it morphs into something even deeper, the story of her participation in the glorious nonviolent struggle (conducted largely from the saddle) to stop the damming of Patagonia’s great rivers. An adventure in the truest sense of the word.” — Bill McKibben, author Wandering Home
“Nancy Pfeiffer writes with an easy going, conversational grace, with pithy aphorisms tossed in to spice things up. Riding into the Heart of Patagonia is a story of a cultural landscape that is changing rapidly as all cultural landscapes are changing. It is a tale of a lone woman and a horse, one woman and herself, one woman on the most ancient of all journeys. It is a must read for those of us who have experienced adventure ourselves, and equally important for those who can appreciate the awakening on a physical journey, without necessarily seeking the hardship itself.” — Jon Turk, The Raven’s Gift
A MAN APPROACHED on a horse. His mount, a rusty red beauty, sported the short-trimmed mane and neatly squared-off tail of a well-kept mount. Colorful handwoven saddlebags tied behind a sheepskin-covered saddle held groceries from town. The man wore goatskin chaps, a woolen poncho, and the jaunty black beret typical of the region. Crinkles around his eyes spoke of years of squinting into the sun. This man and his horse belonged to this place in a way I could only dream of.
He paused on the banks of the rain-swollen river to stare at us, a group of college students up to our knees in mud and dwarfed by huge backpacks. Wet and hungry, we had been stacked up on the wrong side of the river for days, our next food supply a few kilometers away on the other side of the torrent. He looked perplexed. We had tents. We had expensive rain jackets. We obviously had money, but we had no horses.
“¿Por qué no tienes caballos?” he asked as he rode into the river. The strong current piled up around his horse’s belly. The man gently lifted his feet from the stirrups and placed them on the horse’s rump so as not to wet his boots, as his horse strode confidently through the rushing water.
That moment, I knew. I wanted to travel this country like the people who lived here. I longed to know this place as only one on horseback can. Having ridden horses only a few times in my life, I knew practically nothing about them. This was irrelevant. There was a thirteen-year-old girl inside of me who desperately wanted a horse.