We did it. We completed a 5.5 day trek in 50+ degrees heat, hiking 156km across the biggest sandpit on the planet. 18 of us including our Berber guides and Nomads endured a physical, emotional and spiritual challenge like no other.
Things we took for granted like showers and access to life’s luxuries paled after a day or so experiencing a weird combination of extreme beauty in the landscapes that we saw and the millions of stars gazing back at us at night as we slept on the sand dunes surrounded by diamonds in the sky.
This was one of the hardest challenges I have ever endured and I love challenges — I’ve done numerous silent yoga and meditation retreats, marathons and the like but this was on a whole different level. No amount of training could prepare me for the HEAT of the desert.
I learned 3 Big lessons that I now apply in my work and life:
1. Having a purpose gets you through and beyond the toughest bits
Knowing that I was raising money for Trekstock — an incredible charity that supports young adults with cancer — made me realise how lucky I was to have good health and that I was incredibly privileged to be doing this in the first place.
2. When you feel overwhelmed just take ONE STEP FORWARD and stop entertaining the finish line
On my first afternoon walking across sand dunes and rocks in 48 degrees heat I thought I was going to die, like seriously. When my knee gave way on the penultimate day I didn’t think I’d be able to continue any further and as it hit 52.6 degrees on our last day I thought my head would explode in tiny pieces across the salt plains before we reached the finish line.
BUT I DID MAKE IT and I did, because for once in my life I laser focussed on each and every single step forwards, left foot, right foot. My body hurt, my mind was screaming STOP but I kept on coming back to each step, like a walking meditation and eventually I made it to the finish line, 156km later.
3. Don’t be afraid to lean on others when the going gets tough
I’m not the best at asking for help so leaning on others, particularly when I feel vulnerable feels hard to do. And as my knee collapsed on me, Marie, a beautiful Irish lady who had a million funny stories to tell, showed me, that others want to help and have the skills and strength that can make all the difference between feeling sorry for myself, versus having an amazing time. taking in every part of the experience with me.
Maybe the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, or alone, or you’ve got an incredibly noisy mind that won’t turn its’ volume down, as it focusses on what you want to achieve in the future. Break it down. Ask for help and most importantly remind yourself of your bigger purpose.
Trekking the Western Sahara was truly a life changing experience for me. I completed something I had trained really hard for in the months prior and only a week before had believed there was no way I was going to be able to do it. It transformed how I saw myself, how I viewed challenges beyond my reach and gave me the privilege of experiencing one of the world’s most incredible landscapes and lifestyles.
Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen.