Kerry Underwood

Kerry’s Sahara Trek Diary

leave a comment »


In March I successfully trekked nearly 200km through the Sahara Desert to raise money for the Lord’s Taverners charity and EY Foundation.

On Friday 16 June Underwoods Solicitors are hosting a Sahara Trek Moroccan tasting dinner at West Herts College in Watford to celebrate my achievement.

Tickets cost £50 per head including dinner and drinks. All profit goes to the Lord’s Taverners and EY Foundation.

The evening will start at 6.15pm with a prosecco reception followed by dinner at 7.00pm.

For further information please visit http://www.underwoods-solicitors.co.uk/events.htm.

Spaces are limited and to book please contact me on 01442 430900 or email claire.long@lawabroad.co.uk

There is still time to make a donation. Please go to https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/kerryunderwood1

IMG_1722

Day One – Friday 24 March

Fly from London to Marrakech. Arrived 5.00pm same time zone. Bus to Ouarzazate about six hours over the Altas Mountains. Snow on top and by side of road. Stopped in mountain village – about 7000 feet. Bought some dates for the journey. Later passed highest point at about 8600 feet and stayed in a hotel in Ouarzazate. Stubbed toe on shower surround! Bleeding heavily. Will this stop me? I cannot have come all this way and prepared the way I have to be foiled by a stubbed toe on the night before the walk ☹.

Cleaned up wound – plastered it – worried about this. Slept badly.

Day Two – Saturday 25 March

Cold and bright start. Good breakfast. Nice ramshackle hotel. Left at 8.00am for a long bus journey along the Draa Valley through Zagora to M’Hamid on the edge of the desert. Arrived at about 2.00pm. Met Berber guides and camels. Lunch – tinned tuna, salad, bread and fruit – not bad – it will become a bit overfamiliar over the next few days!

Left about 3.00pm to start the walk and arrived at camp at about 6.00pm having covered 7.5 miles at about 1800 feet altitude. Temperature fine – upper 20 centigrade – sand dunes – 200 feet or so – quite difficult walking on them but easy on flat, hard ground. Nice breeze. Pleasant. No problem with the toe.

Reached camp. Dinner at 7.00pm. Lamb, boiled potatoes, soup bread. Good and filling. 29 men in three tents – very crowded and a couple slept outside. Not a great night’s sleep. Cold by morning.

Day Three – Sunday 26 March

Breakfast at 7.00am. Porridge, honey, jam, marmalade, bread and tons of good coffee.

Off at 7.30am.

Very easy walking on flat, hard ground, nice breeze. Wild camels. Unspectacular scenery. About 20 miles from the Algerian border which is on the left, with a low mountain range on the right.

Stop every hour for about 10 minutes. Wind getting up a bit.

Lunch stop at 11.30am – same as before. Lots of flies. Wind. Leave at 2.00pm in what is now a sandstorm. Very unpleasant – walking directly into the wind and sand and sand everywhere and everything stinging – horrible. Walked for about two and a half hours with just one very short break. Really unpleasant and difficult. A rapid change from easy, unchallenging walking this morning to an unpleasant difficult afternoon. 4.30pm – reached camp – tents already up – straight in. Can’t do anything. The tent – not ours – blows down. Just have to sit it out. Eventually dies down a bit. Subdued dinner. Soup, vegetables, spaghetti. Good. Someone’s birthday – cake.

Berbers sing and dance and the mood picks up and after dinner they light a wood fire around which we sing and dance – it is now quite cold but the wind has died down.

The Berber crew is about 16 people with four drivers, four camel drivers, four cooks, two who set up the tents etc. and two guides.

We did 15 miles today.

A beautiful starry sky, as last night. Slept in the bigger dinner tent where there is tons of room and therefore a much better night’s sleep but it was cold by the morning. 

IMG_1750

Day Four – Monday 27 March

Beautiful, still morning. Breakfast as before. Off by 7.45am and chatting to Matthew Hoggard, the former England cricketer who is on the trek.

Easy, flat walking on hard ground with a nice breeze and apparently today is a much tougher walk in the afternoon with a lot of dunes and ending up at a lovely spot near a beautiful dune – apparently.

Stopped for lunch at 11.00am and the pattern so far is to stop at 11.00am to 11.30am, eat at 12 noon and leave at about 1.30pm to 2.00pm.

Tough afternoon. Three and a half hours walking at 35 to 40 centigrade. Broken into three sessions. First not bad. Second up and down over small dunes, but hot windy and tough.

Last session not too bad – flatter and the camp was in sight. The camp is indeed in a nice spot among higher dunes and I slept outside and the stars were amazing, but it was cold.

We covered 18 miles today.

Day Five – Tuesday 28 March

Hot day. Covered 17 miles. Not too bad as we had a long break for lunch due to the heat and so we did not get in until 5.30pm.

Dunes/old river bed – nothing spectacular, but nice camp in dunes and slept outside on a ridge of sand dunes. A warm but windy night.

The food in the evening is beginning to get a bit boring. We have an early start tomorrow as we are climbing a 2200 foot sand dune but there is a promise of showers tomorrow night – that is a shower not rain!

Day Six – Wednesday 29 March

7.00am start. Dunes. Then the big one – 698 metres high, although we had gradually got up to about 350 metres before the long, single file climb to the top along the ridge with some and ups and downs along the way, geographical and mental. Everyone made it!

At the top hard work began switching shirts to have photos taken in a Lord’s Taverners shirt, Hemel Hempstead Town FC shirt, A Hemel Stags shirt and an Ernst Young Foundation shirt and holding the Look No Further Hemel Hempstead slogan card – photographs by and with Matthew Hoggard who is good company and very interesting.

More dunes after the main one. Long lunch. Solar charged the phone.

Long day – 10 hours walking including breaks.

Shower! Camp near well and water containers emptied into a water bag inside a small tent-like structure and the fact that the water had been out in the sun meant it was warm. Plastic leading into a plastic tap – very effective and very welcome.

17 miles today – Berber dancing amusing. A long difficult, but satisfying day.

IMG_1754

Day Seven – Thursday 30 March

Not a long day. Three hours in the morning but with a lot of small sand dunes, which are discouraging – up and down with nothing seeming to be achieved. Walking over these dunes is by far the most difficult part of the walk.

Hot. Long lunch break. Only two and half hours in the afternoon on dry flatland.

The drivers had spirited up some Coca-Cola for lunch and evening. Very welcome. The only drinks so far, apart from water, is hot mint tea as we arrive at camp and good hot coffee in the morning.

The water which we carry quickly becomes warm if not hot and is not refreshing.

Matthew Hoggard got stung by a scorpion at lunch time and was taken to hospital. Matthew said he was just playing in the sand and it stung him, but he had mentioned to me that his nine year old boy wanted a picture of a camel – easy – and a picture of scorpion – not easy – so think he was looking for the scorpion.

Heard that he is fine and expected back later at camp tonight.

Been chatting to him a lot. Nice and interesting man. Swapping stories about travelling in South Africa and elsewhere.

Crispin from Ernst Young, and vaguely my age, has done the trek for the last 7 years and is good company, as is his secret supply of alcohol.

Day Eight – Friday 31 March

Last full day of the walk 🙂. 7.30am start. Great walking! Dried-up salt lake – dead flat – easy and good surface. No features and almost no vegetation. Lake is about 12 miles by 20 miles and is between the Algerian border mountain range and the Moroccan mountain range. Three hours. Arrive at lunch camp at 10.30am. It is very hot but I could walk for days on this, both physically and mentally. Very easily physically and I love the empty open space – much better than the endless small sand dunes.

More Coca-Cola!

Easy walk after lunch but very hot. Last full day. Lord’s Taverners flag out when we arrive at camp and pictures with Matthew Hoggard, one of only two non Ernst Young fellow Taverners on the trip – other being Amanda White.

Presentation to the Berbers who had been great throughout.

Chicken and chips!

Berber music. Goodbye to camels. Matthew Hoggard out looking for more scorpions! I knew it.

Last supper. Tinned fruit as well as chicken and chips. Last night in tent 🙂.

IMG_1776

Day Nine – Saturday 1 April

Up at 4.30am. Last breakfast. Off at 5.30am across flat, easy rocky landscape.

Stopped for sunrise at about 6.30am.

Walked to lorry and four wheel drives – arriving at about 7.15am and that is it as far as walking is concerned! 🙂

Rocky rough journey for about two hours in the lorry to Foum Zguide where minibuses were waiting. Nice small friendly edge of desert town. Coffee. Wi-Fi. Nice square with café.

Comfortable minibuses all the way to Marrakesh arriving there at about 7.00pm after a couple of stops for food etc.

Hotel is the hotel Diwani – a nice comfortable hotel with a good swimming pool, although the service and food were not great and we all ate together in the hotel. Everyone tired and relieved but a good atmosphere.  

Kerry Underwood & Matthew Hoggard

With Matthew Hoggard at the finish

 

Advertisements

Written by kerryunderwood

June 9, 2017 at 9:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: