Saturday, August 27, 2016

Simpson Desert Trek 2 epilogue


EN: Apparently I can't walk in a straight line, there must be a reason, perhaps a side of the pack heavier that made me go walk slightly towards my left side or because the sun mainly coming from the North on my left side was attracting me ? I don't know but here is the map with all my GPS points. I stopped in Poeppel Corner with 2,5 liter left and 4 CLIFBARs so enough for 1,5 days maximum walk depending on the temperature. For this reason I asked evacuation from Ranger Don Rowlands. [More to come with photos and 360 photos and video]
This means I succeeded my second desert trek of +-250km. In 3 weeks I'm flying to Bolivia to attempt for the second time to cross both brothers Salars unsupported : Coipasa and Uyuni from Sabaya to Uyuni via Isla Pescado and Isla Incahuasi... a world first if succeeded.

MAP Simpson Desert Trek 2 (2016)

Now after thinking, I think it is possible to do Lucas Trihey's route (400km, East Bore - Geocenter - Birdsville) in 15 days the way I did it and replacing all weight of video equipement by more water and more food. This would be as follows: 47 liter water, 7,5kg of food and a total of 60-61kg on the back so that leaves 5,5kg for a small camera, tent, sleeping bag, airmattress, backpack itself, a spare underwear and socks, some first aid and of course a satphone, epirb and GPS.



FR: [Je traduirai et rajouterai plus tard]


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Daily news of the Simpson expedition 2016

Day 0 // 12 of august : I arrived in Old Andado Station. I sorted my food and filled the water bladders. Everything is ready for start. Departure would be at 8:00 am local time. 8.30 Sydney Time. I will always use Sydney - Birdsville  - Queensland - time during the expedition as it is easier to calculate +8 hours compared to Belgium (couldn't manage to change the time of the watch given by a friend) and it is better to speak the time of the end of the expedition that is near the potential evacuation or rescue.

Day 1 // 13 of august : S 25°.22 10' - E 135°.33 49'. I completed around 12 km today. I feel in good shape. I stopped around 10.00pm to get some rest and be prepared for tomorrow. It is a good start !

Day 2 // 14 of august : S 25°.20 42' - E 135°.42 28'. Better progression than yesterday. I would say "nothing to declare" for today. Water consumption is ok, backpack is heavy :-) No surprise. Everything normal :-)

Day 3 // 15 of august : S 25° 19 40' - E 135° 52.19'. My backpack is around 49 kg and I drink a little bit less than expected. On this side, everything is good. Saying of the day : "the (camel) dromedary can be dangerous for people walking in the desert, but the dromedary doesn't know that people are harmless for them so they are often scared". Indeed, I encountered a young one in the middle of my way. He literally was grazing where I had (wanted) to go. I waited 20 minutes then I went. Close to him I hid behind a tree the I showed myself and he ran away...Otherwise, there is more plants and spinifex than expected due to the recent rain a few weeks ago : it is very beautiful with many plants and wild flowers, gorgeous smells but means lots of deviations as I zigzag all day and sometimes I have to back track as it uses less energy than lifting high a foot with the heavy pack.  This expedition is all about using wisely my energies (food/water/time) and optimize on the go to cover the most distance possible with the least resources even if this means stopping for a few hours during the hot mid afternoon. This evening I am tired but not exhausted. So far, so good.

Day 4 // 16 of august :[due to bad communications we do not have the correct position for the moment]. I feel good but I cannot progress as fast as I would due to my heavy backpack and the impossibility I have to walk straight. Anyway, I progress, it is the most important. I'm not in the mood to film and took zero photos or film today. It takes so much time to put the pack down, get the tripod out, set the camera, walk in front, go back to it, put it all back well and check the pack remains balanced...then the hard part is sitting down, strap me to the pack, then try to fall forward on my stomac and do some sort of push up with the help of my sticks to lift 130 kg on my two thin legs.
NOTE: Other walkers (on tracks) in the Simpson mention it reached just above 40C for them on that day.
 
Day 5 // 17 of august : S 25° 20.13' - E 136° 12.28'. I have lost some useful time today due to some prickels stuck in my jumper as I did a long pause in the shade of a tree. I had to take care of my equipment (to preserve eg. my mattress from puncture, etc.). But for the rest, everything is ok. I saw a lone brown dingo / wild dog for 10 seconds as he ran away very fast when he saw me.

Day 6 //18 of august: [due to bad communications we do not have the correct position for the moment]. I start to be used to flies and other unpleasant small thing of the daily life in the desert. Without the net (to avoid flies going into my ears, mouth, nose and walking on my face all day) I receive more of the cold breeze coming usually around 11 am. So I don't use the net anymore. It's is incredible that since day 2 I can bear these little insects on me all day. The are more and more during the day as I progress so I have 200 flies on me and probably 40 or so on my face at the end of the day. I am more and more a part of this sublime environment.

Day 7 // 19 of august : S25° 20.00' - E136 41.20.  I am at 40 km of the desert geographical center. I aim to reach it in the next few hours. I feel much better than the past two days, I mean it was very hot and I suffered from the sun. There would have less dunes soon on my path to I will be able to progress faster. At the Geo center there is a log book, perhaps I can read what I wrote in it 8 years ago (I could!) and I'll be the only person in the world reaching this point walking unsupported by foot twice.

Day 8 // 20th of august : S25° 22.08' - E 137° 01.11'. I did not reach the desert center today, but I will very soon (6,5 km left). I will have enough supplies to go to Poeppel Corner, but no more. I spent a long time to take care of my feet...because if they are hurt , it will be a serious problem. I remove my shoes 3-4 times per day to check my feet, put a bandage to avoid blisters. I remove also a lo tof sand in my socks and all the prickles that go through my socks and do hurt sometimes. Why am I not using gaiters ? Because it is heavier on the foot and increases calorie consumption. Also because it would mean less breathing of the shoe and so hot and more moisture so for sure blisters to come. I want to absolutely avoid a blister that would slow me down so much. Remember I have a massive pack pressing on my feet a lot thousands of times per day. For the moment everything ok.

Day 9 // 21 of august : Incredible...it is the word. It's raining in the Simpson. This happens very rarely and all the nature, plants and beasts are waiting for this moment. Me ? Not really. Indeed, it is beautiful. No doubt. Beautiful sky, scary lightening...but wet sand and very difficult to walk. So a long day is in front of me...During the night night it was storm and really pouring like in Belgium.

Day 10 // 22 th of august : I woke up and everything was grey and foggy. Am I in Scotland ? The entire day was walking with wet feet, socks and shoes completely soaked up with water. I have a K-way to have my upper body dry and protected from the wind but below the belly, all is wet. My target is Poeppel Corner now for sure, I too slow. My only objective and all my energy is focused on it. It will be tricky but I still can do it.

Day 11 // 23 of august : Still some rain today. I am close to Poeppel Corner. I'll make it but no more. I noticed walking at night that the battery of y GPS was low and showed a warning. I put in my spare batteries but they didn't work. So back to the very empty batteries and this means I have to be very careful for the potential last 2 days to turn on and off the GPS very quickly. With no GPS, I would have to use the maps and compass or go south-south-east to reach the French Line and go up on it until Poeppel corner. Not at all something I want to do. I want to remain 100% off track.

Day 12 // 24 of august :  S25° 55.50' - E 137° 55.57'. Beautiful day.
My knees are painful for two days and hopefully I will reach I will reach Poeppel in 10 km...End of game for this time. I do not have enough water to continue and my body has suffered of the last days walking in the wet sand, it like walking with sandpaper in the sock. Admiring the beautiful landscapes I realized that all my efforts have a justification for theses moments.This morning I broke a leg/pole of my tent. I repaired it with a stick and duck tape so it should last for the last night. So I can stop early. as I have time for the evacuation tomorrow planned around midday.

Day 13 // 25 of august : I arrived at Poeppel's corner at 12.15. I had to cross the muddy lake where my feet got up to 10cm deep in the mud... it's slow going but the crossing happened in a rather straight line. By 11 I crossed the French line and saw 1 car from far away then the tracks of two walkers walking the Simpson Desert on the dirt track followed by the 2 vehicles of the camera crew and equipment. A caravan in fact, completely opposite to my experience of loneliness and being off track all the time to feel the desert. Don Rowlands, the park ranger picked me up late at 4pm and we drove 6 hours to Birdsville reaching the town at 10pm. I had my first beer at 10.30pm. Mission accomplished even if it is a partial crossing, I proved it is possible to cross the Simpson desert from West to East in 14-15 days with a 60kg pack (45 liters, 10kg food and 5kg equipment)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Last night before the desert

Trekking equipment and food the the simpson desert walking.
Estimated 10 days of supplies that can perhaps last 12 or 13 days.
EN: Just back from getting my 2 last maps thanks to Mapworld and MapCentre Parramatta.
Christopher, Dians and Kim, you are amazing. Maps are important in days of GPS. If the GPS dies I need maps, I can burn them to make fire, I can write on it my findings as an explorer and there's just cool. My backpack and little front pack do weight 20kg. Add 40L + 1kg food and I'll be at 61kg. Thanks to CLIFBAR for the 7kg cereal bars to fuel me!

FR: De retour de récupérer mes 2 dernières cartes. Merci à  Mapworld et MapCentre Parramatta. Je ne pars pas sans carte car si le GPS foire je peux toujours me diriger et puis c'est pratique pour allumer un feu ou écrire dessus et noter les découvertes potentielles. Mon sac à dos et sac à ventre pèsent 20kg. Reste à ajouter 40 L d'eau et 1 kg de vivres et je serai à 61kg. Merci à CLIFBAR et mes 7 kg de barres céréales.

Simpson Desert Trek VRT Het Journaal



EN: For those who understand Dutch.

FR: Pour ceux qui comprennent le Néerlandais.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Expedition Puzzle in Sydney

EN: I arrived in Sydney this morning (Australia Time) and met my old friend Peter from EPIRBHire who (coincidence) was flying out when I arrived so I could get the EPIRB and InmarSat phone. I went to swim 1h in Bondi, slept a bit and started to charge all batteries and repack. Added salt to my MSR bladders and all I need is water, food and my ultimate luxury: half a roll of toilet paper.

FR: Je suis arrivé à Sydney ce matin (heure Australienne) et j'ai revu mon vieil ami Peter de la location de balises de détresse. Il partait lui (coïncidence) en vacances en avion et j'ai pu récupérer l'EPIRB (balise) et le Tel Satellite InmarSat. J'ai été nager 1 heure à Bondi, dormi un peu et commencé à charger les batteries et reconditionner mes sacs. J'ai ajouté du sel à mes poches d'eau MSR et il ne me reste plus que mettre de l'eau, acheter la nourriture et mon luxe ultime, un demi rouleau de papier toilette.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Birdsville my Gold Medal

Birdsville Hotel - source Wikipedia - Stuart Edwards
EN: If you look at the map, it is not clear what my end is, right? Well, I fly out from the tiny but very remote town Birdsville. The airport is close to the pub (nice) and I will fly with REX (Regional Express). To go home I will have 8 flights and 1 bus:

Birdsville hop-flying to Brisbane via Windorah, Quilpie, Charleville*, Brisbane West WellCamp (near Toowoomba) and finally Brisbane. Then a bus to Sydney then flying to Brussels via Dubai and London. (see my previous post why I compensate the carbon emissions)


What to do in Birdsville? I will not copy what you can find on the internet (Oh yeah Birdsville will have broadband internet near year in 2017 I read) but:
* Go there to experience the dunes of the Simpson Desert, the highest and most famous is called BIG RED (or Nappanerica)
* A very remote -by Aussie standards- music festival - Big Red Bash - on facebook
* A hard ultramarathon race - Big Red Run - on facebook

So here are my Olympic Games Medals options
Bronze : Old Andado (FB) - GeoCenter (25°21'58"S 137°05'05"E) - Poeppel Corner
Silver : Bronze + Poeppel Corner - Big Red (after crossing also Munga-Thirri National Park)
Gold : Reaching Birdsville on foot!

The main objective is of course the Bronze with a well documented adventure.

FR: Si vous regardez la carte, le point d'arrivée n'est pas clair, n'est-ce pas? Eh bien, je décolle de la petite reculée ville de Birdsville. L'aéroport est proche du bar (chouette) et c'est REX (Regional Express) qui me fera voler en saut de puces vers Brisbane. Pour rentrer sur Bruxelles, j'ai donc 8 vols et 1 bus:

Birdsville - Brisbane via Windorah, Quilpie, Charleville, Brisbane West WellCamp (près de Toowoomba) en enfin Brisbane. Pour rejoindre Sydney, je crois prendre un bus de nuit et ensuite c'est Sydney - Bruxelles via Dubai et Londres.


Quelles attractions à Birdsville? Je ne vais pas tout copier d'internet (Oh oui, je lis que Birdsville aura enfin en 2017 un internet haut débit!) mais voici en bref:
* Voir les dunes rouges du désert de Simpson dont la plus haute dune et la pus célèbre: BIG RED (où Nappanerica)
* Un festival de musique très très reculé - Big Red Bash - sur facebook
* Une course pour ultra-marathoniens - Big Red Run - sur facebook

Mes options pour mes Médailles Olympiques.
Bronze Old Andado (FB) - GeoCenter (25°21'58"S 137°05'05"E) - Poeppel Corner
Argent : Bronze + Poeppel Corner - Big Red (et la traversée du Munga-Thirri National Park)
Or : Atteindre Birdsville à pied!

L'objectif principale est évidemment le bronze avec une adventure bien documentée.

* I drove to Charleville when I drove around Australia on the leg from Mount Isa to Brisbane (Brissy or BrisVegas)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pure Expedition - Simple


EN: Thanks to CO2 Logic, the expedition I will start next week is one of the most pure possible I could imagine. All carbon emissions will be compensated as in the 2008 expedition. Why?
Flying so far for just 3 weeks is a nonsense for me. To me it would be like polluting while going shopping for a weekend in New York.
Also I started doing unsupported expeditions because it would not involve heavy logistics and vehicles. No reconnaissance to check out the terrain, no vehicle to follow me, no food drops underway, no preplaced food caches. This is (1) costly and (2) easier in fact as if you could have such support and food dropped by an airplane, why would you not have 2, 3 or every day drops, meaning fuel and pollution but meaning certainly almost no challenge if it is easy. I do have a challenge here I am absolutely not sure to succeed and that's the beauty of it. Adventure is about risks, uncertainty and finding solution on the spot to the problems.
Being alone with just a backpack in the Simpson will allow me to feel the Simpson to its heart almost as pure as aboriginal people crossed it from well to well in the past. It is a high privilege. I will hear and see only me this time, no cart and its wheels. Pure. Simple. Free.
It would be hard to feel so free without compensating this CO2. But now it is as CO2 Logic compensates with supporting www.savingtrees.org

FR: Grâce à CO2 Logic, l'expédition qui commence la semaine prochaine est une des plus pure que j'ai pu imaginer. Toutes les émissions carbone seront compensées comme en 2008. Pourquoi?
Voler si loing pour 3 petites semaines est un non sens pour moi. C'est comme polluer en allant faire un weekend de shopping à New-York.
Aussi, j'ai commencé à faire des expéditions en autonomie complète parce qu'elles impliquent une logistique légère sans véhicules. Pas de reconnaissance du terrain, pas de véhicule de support pour me suivre, pas de dépôts de vivres en cours de route ni dépôts de vivres placés à l'avance. Cela est (1) trop coûteux et (2) plus facile en fait car si on a une aide extérieure ou de la nourriture larguée par avion par exemple, pourquoi ne pas avoir 2, 3 ou un larguage journalier? Et donc plus de fuel consommé, pollutions et surtout un challenge quasi nul si cela devient facile. Je choisis un challenge ici dont je ne suis vraiment pas certain de réussir et c'est ce qui est beau. L'aventure c'est prendre des risques, jouer avec l'incertitude, les surprises et trouver les solutions aux problèmes pendant l'expédition.
Etre seul avec seulement un sac à dos dans le Simpson me permettra de mieux le sentir, le vivre jusqu'à son coeur. Une pureté presque comme les aborigènes l'on traversé de puit en puit dans le passé.C'est un grand privilège. Je ne verrai et n'entendrai que moi cette fois-ci, pas de charrette et ses roues. Pureté et Simplicité. Liberté.
Et donc, je ne me sentirai pas si libre si ce carbone n'était pas compensé. Mais il l'est grâcé à CO2Logic qui compensera pour moi en supportant www.savingtrees.org