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)

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