There is never a dull moment in the life of Adrian Hayes as we finally pushed forward with the ‘Footsteps of Thesiger’ expedition. We had certainly had our fill of Salalah and the Hamdam Plaza Hotel. We picked up the story from where Adrian and the gang came off the camels … a symbolic spot! The proof, his blood, had all but washed away and it was clear that Adrian’s recollection of events were scant at best. Thanks to the bad weather and our past history with the camels, the first leg commenced on foot.
This also meant no Omani guides so the boys themselves carried all the basics for around 40km, up the wadi towards the first camp. It was a long push and, according to a local herder, the first of it’s kind in over 40 years. Little did we know that he might have been right!
The first leg was fairly straight forward, thanks to a clear trail all the way but before long, we hit a dry waterfall and a wall of rocks. ‘Think Bedu. Think Bedu. They’re not rock climbers’, said Adrian who then sourced an alternative route to avert it. A further 6km later however, and said route clearly ended … the path that is, not the wadi. Left or right, right or left … the question didn’t need to be voiced. Right it was and we headed straight into the bushes and up the wadi. It was hard going to say the least involving crouching under trees, over and around bushes, a spot of rock hopping and a fair bit of scrambling. Crazy going … and as you would expect, extremely slow going!
Our pace at this point must have been little over one kilometer an hour. Another junction made its presence known and we opted for right again, this time, heading steeper up the gorge. At last light, we made it to the ridge, after holding hands over an intimidating rock traverse as we made a series of small, precarious steps. Sharing the last drops of water and by this point, pretty exhausted, the same thought crossed all our minds … that thought being ‘This? For 1,500km?’
We finally found the road and a small house; a chance to rethink our camping spot. My wheels and the media crew were both, at this point, around 10k west, at the initial camping spot (so we should have done a left somewhere … ouch). The owner of the house kindly opened his doors and the delight of not having to move another step didn’t need voiced! An opportunity to sip hot, sweet tea and crash into oblivion was welcomed with open arms.
Indeed, it is random acts of kindness like these that make these journeys so special and create the stories that will be shared long after the adventure draws to a close.