After the night of the earthquake we got up at 5.30am, unaware at that time how serious the quake was we planned to head into the desert to see the dunes in the relative cool of the morning. As we drove along the news caught up with us and we sent out a quick few messages and a post to reassure folks we were fine.
The dunes are an impressive sight and in the cool of the morning it is still possible to trudge up them to look out over the Sarah’s as Poppy demonstrated, she go some nice “tick tock” videos of the view, I was being a bit lazy.
Even in the early morning the heat was building fast it would hit 42oC in the afternoon, no fun in the truck with no aircon, even less fun when we stop so we look out a campsite with a pool and I tech Poppy some surprising tricks like wearing a wet cotton t-shirt and a hat for evaporative cooling. Despite these tricks the heat was overpowering for her so we caved and got a twin room with some blissful air-con vowing to get out of the desert the next day at sunrise. A few weeks later the temperature in the desert will drop by 10 degrees then it is really cool to drive across the open pistes as I have done in the past but this week was just too hot.
My experienced Land Rover buddies will look at the tyre tracks and note I had not dropped the tyre pressures yet. We drove around for a bit in the flat areas between the dunes and then Poppy had a go, unfortunately we went into a bit of softer sand with a slight upward incline and the truck slowed despite the engine revs rising, a quick “stop” from Dad to a slightly puzzled Poppy saved us from digging in too much.
I then put the truck into desert mode, tyre pressures down from 40 to 20, low ratio engaged, centre diff and cross axel diff locks engaged, then I reversed out of the holes the wheels had dug down the slope to a flat area before driving out easily beside the tracks we had previously made, low tyre pressures are a key trick for desert driving.
Also a bit of face saving for me as a local guy had trundled over to us in his Landcruiser and offered help which I had declined, would have been embarrassing to have to wave him back over…
So we only spent a day in the desert, not the planned three days with an open desert crossing and camping but it was the right call, just too hot, hot enough to be dangerous although I have crossed deserts in Turkmenistan at 47oC I did have to drink 6L of water in a day and it was on a road not on the open sand.
later we heard from Nick and Lillian in their Land Cruiser who had made it out of the Dades gorge finally, uninjured, they told us they had a 44oC day in the desert…but at least they have aircon when they are driving, maybe an upgraded needed for Nelson.
Off to the Cedar forests and some cool next