by Kraig Becker
A German equestrian explorer by the name of Guenter Wamser is closing in on the finish line of an epic journey that has covered more than 15,000 miles and taken nearly 20 years to complete. Traveling on horseback the entire way, Wamser has ridden from the southernmost tip of South America all the way to the Alaskan wilderness. Now, as the summer draws to a close, he is nearing the northern coast of that state and the end of the trail at last.
When his journey started back in 1994 Guenter dubbed his adventure the Transhumanica expediton. He began by ridding across Patagonia with his horses Gaucho and Rebelde. Over the next five years, he traveled from Argentina to Chile, then on to Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, reaching the top of the continent in 1999 before taking a break from his travels. Two years later he returned to the trail and continued his ride north through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico before running into a problem at the U.S. border that delayed his entry.
It seems that over the length of his journey across South and Central America Guenter’s horses contracted a tropical disease that precluded them from entering the States. While their health wasn’t in any danger, Gaucho and Rebelde were retired to a farm in Mexico while their owner sought new horses to continue his journey. That took some time to sort out, but eventually Wamser adopted four Mustangs from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and was allowed to cross the border and resume his journey once again.
In June of 2007 Guenter embarked on the final stage of his journey following the Continental Divide Trail through the Rocky Mountains and north into Canada. This stage of his expedition eventually led him into the Yukon Territory where he spent this past winter. But when spring returned he hit the trail once again and now Guenter and his trusty horses are closing in on the finish line. He isn’t carrying a satellite tracking device so it impossible to know when he officially completes the expedition, but Guenter will no doubt update his blog once the ride is complete.
As a founding member of the Long Riders’ Guild, an organization dedicated to assisting and organizing long distance equestrian adventures, Guenter has taken great pains to ensure that his mounts have been well looked after throughout the course of the journey. The health of his horses has been of primary concern at every step of this amazing ride. That will prove to be just as true now as he approaches the end of the trail as it did in the beginning all those years ago. The horses have been his constant companions on this adventure and they are much a part of this story as Guenter is.