Over the last two weeks since the Gobi 2011 Expedition ended, I’ve been trying to regain normalcy but also some closure. I know I have finished the trek but I feel like I haven’t completed the whole journey yet.
So today I went back to my journal for inspiration, and I found it. Reading back over old thoughts and first impressions made me laugh, so I hope it does the same for you. So I’ll share some of my personal entries, be they humiliating, naive, triumphant, or just plain whiny.
For those not familiar with the Gobi 2011 Expedition, here it is in a nutshell: An international team of 13 adventurers set out on May 25, 2011 to cross Asia’s largest desert, the Mongolian Gobi Desert. That’s 1,000 miles/1,600 kms on foot with the aid of 12 bactrian camels and a support van. In just 51 days, 7 of the original team reached the final 1,000 mile mark. I was one of those seven, and one of only 3 women to finish, and one of only four to walk every single step without the use of the support van.
Here are two of my early journal entries:
Day 0 – Wednesday 25 May 2011
(in the plane flying from Ulaanbaatar to Khovd)
It’s here. The big day has finally arrived. There’s no turning back now, not that I’ve ever though that anyway.
I’m listening to R. Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ which is quite fitting considering we’re in the air. Ha, I couldn’t have planned it better myself.
I was feeling nervous last night – not about the walk itself, but my supplies. Do I have too little? Do I have too much? Am I forgetting something really important? I was fussing around so much yesterday that I didn’t even have a final bath or pamper session! Preposterous! I did try dying my hair blonde, but it turned out brown. And now it stinks of chemicals, a great feature considering the ultimate lack of hair washing I’ll be doing over the next two months.
But now looking out the plane window to a vast landscape, I’m just excited. Maybe it’s a sugar-high from all the mentos I’ve been eating… I’m also a little intimidated by wanting to produce so much from the trek. Knowing that I have to get something out of it – at least one ‘Ah ha!’ moment. Or the pressure of trying to find out what my ‘passion’ is, or worse, trying to ‘find myself’.
(later that night at Camp 1)
We finally arrived at camp after a marathon 10-hour drive. Bumpy as hell. Not like the constant bumpiness of Bolivian roads where it feels like you’re driving over train tracks, but the recurring mega-belly jump bumpiness every ten seconds or so.
Revelation: I need some sleep. It’s 12.15am and the sun rises at 4.30am. We leave by 8.30am. Argh! I will have to get used to little sleep. :(
Day 2 – Friday 27 May 2011
(at Camp 3 after walking 19 kms – 50kms in total)
Day 2 of a possible 60. My feet are so sore and in so many different places that doing anything becomes a major effort.
(after taking a nap)
Ok, I fell asleep writing that ↑ see the big blue block at the top where my pen hit the paper for sometime. Lol.
It’s a bit weird that we have a cook, support van and camel boy… Luxurious yes, but I was expecting bare bones stuff. I think I would prefer it if there was a smaller group and we had to cook our own meals (or at least pre-made meals). That’s what camping/expeditioning (the real stuff) is all about. I think it would be so much cooler doing this with 1-3 other people.
I actually enjoy this whole tent/camping business. Maybe I could start a business that creates some hardcore tents – because these ones are pretty crap. Half the tent caves in when it’s windy (aka now). I wonder if you could make a lightweight tent without poles?
My knees have started to hurt a lot as well as my hips and other leg muscles that I never knew were there. I think I will lose weight, even with all the lollies I brought – I don’t really crave them yet, maybe later in the trek. But I must drink more water. I’m not going to the ladies bush at all during the day. I need to lighten my daypack too, my neck and back ache. Complainer, complainer, my gosh.
The camels are cool, I haven’t really chosen which one’s ‘mine’ yet. I like the one that’s really hairy but he doesn’t listen to me, he always wants to eat and not walk. He reminds me of myself, ha. Then there’s the albino one, but everyone wants him. And I also like the guy with the little blonde puff of hair on his head. He’s much more tame and gentle, oh and he has one hump that lumps to the side, which is weird and ugly in one way, but unique and quirky in another.
Shizers, it’s 10.40pm now, it only just got dark in the last half an hour. We have to be packed and ready to rumble by 8am. Yay long sleep!