Desert Hiking Adventure Part 1

Scenario Three friends who are into extreme sports decide to go hiking in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Their names are Desdemona (Dez), Elysia (or Elly), and Deirdre (Dee). They have traveled to a small village called Mhamid El Ghizlane (or just Mhamid) where they will embark on a six-day hiking adventure into the desert and back. It is dawn.
Dez Okay, girls, are we ready to do this?
Elly Yeeeeha! Let’s do it!
Dez Okay, final inventory check: Food and water for six days – check. First-aid kit, – check. Maps, compass – check. Matches, toilet paper, utensils – check. Blankets, tents, extra clothes – check. Elly, what’s the latest weather report for the next week?
Elly The weatherman says sunny and hot for the next two weeks. Should be smooth sailing for us.
Dee Dez, are you sure not taking any radio or cell phones along is a good idea?
Dez Dee, we’ve gone over this before. Having cell phones along so we can call our moms as soon as we get uncomfortable spoils the sense of adventure. There needs to be a little element of risk and thrill in our trek.
Elly I agree with Dez, Dee. It’ll be okay. We’ll be pretty close to civilization the whole time. There are tourists traveling these routes all the time. Basically, we’re going to be following the same route as the “Desert Explorer Tour” that leaves here daily. We’ll probably be passing people all the time.
Dee Well, when you put it that way, I guess you’re right. I’ve just got the jitters over nothing, I guess.
Dez That’s the spirit! Okay, let’s load up and head out. (They set out into desert heading west-southwest.)
Dez (Making small talk with the others as they are hiking) As you know, we plan on traveling about eight hours a day, taking a short rest break every two hours. Then we’ll make camp in the afternoon and camp till dawn.
Elly Right. And there should be an oasis or two along the way where we can stop and enjoy a little shade and maybe wash up a little.
Dee Now that we’ve actually started, I’m starting to feel more relaxed now. (Takes a deep breath and releases it slowly.) Okay, I will have fun. I will have fun. I will have fun.
Elly Dee, you’re such a nervous Nelly, but I have to give you credit. No matter how spooky your misgivings are, you always screw up the courage to come along with us. Go, girl!
Dee Thanks, Elly. I’m trying hard to broaden my horizons and not be such a namby-pamby, wall flower all the time. Going adventuring with you two really helps build confidence in myself. (Looks at her watch.) Wow, we’ve been walking two hours already. Let’s take a short break. How about it?
Dez Okay, you’ve earned it.
Narrator They set up a temporary tent and sit in the shade for fifteen minutes, drinking some water to keep themselves hydrated. Then they pack up and continue their journey until the late afternoon.
Elly Dez, it looks like it’s about time to call it a day and set up camp for the night. The terrain’s flat in all directions, so we’ll just have to camp out in the open. Should be good for star gazing tonight. No light pollution out here.
Dee That’s the truth. It should be a beautiful night sky tonight. We might even be able to see the Milky Way.
Narrator They set up camp and indeed have an enjoyable time studying the night sky as they eat dinner. They see the Milky Way’s “milky river” reaching across the sky, several well-known constellations, like Scorpio, and some shooting stars.

Again they travel for most of the day in the hot, relentless sun, stopping occasionally for short rests in the shade of a temporary shelter they throw up for that purpose. That night they reach a small oasis with a pool of water and a few palm trees. They set up camp there.

Dez I’m starting to feel some sore leg muscles. Better get a good night’s rest. Dawn comes early.
Narrator After a restful night, they once again set out at dawn. Around 10 o’clock, they cross a river, stop, and take a short swim, and then continue on their way. Around 2 o’clock, the wind starts to pick up.
Elly Wow, the wind’s really getting strong. I can barely keep my eyes open because there’s so much sand flying around. We’d better put on our sun goggles and put scarves around our faces. That flying sand is starting to sting.
Dez Agreed. Everyone stay close together. I would swear this looks like a sandstorm starting to build.
Dee Guys, I’m starting to get afraid. Let’s tie ourselves together with a safety rope. (They humor her and do so.)
Narrator The sandstorm continues building in strength until there are 70 mile-per-hour winds. The sand is so thick that it blots out the sun. They continue trying to walk forward but the wind begins to gradually blow them off course. They inadvertently begin heading north without realizing it. The sandstorm continues for five more hours before finally subsiding and dying away.
Dez My God, I’ve never been in the middle of such a violent sandstorm before! Yuck! I feel like I have sand in every pore of my body. Let’s set up camp. I’m totally exhausted after fighting against that wind for so long.
Elly I’m with you. I couldn’t walk another foot. I’m almost too tired to even bother pitching a tent.
Dee Ditto. I’m so tired and sleepy. Let’s just fall down and crash for a few hours. (And she does exactly that.)
Dez Well, I guess that settles that. Let’s set up the tents and get some shuteye. Dee has the right idea.
Narrator Dez and Elly set up the tents, crawl into their sleeping bags and go to sleep. Dez wakes up around 4 o’clock in the morning and looks up at the night sky.
Dez (Taking out her compass.) Darn. Our only compass is damaged! The needle is bent; it doesn’t work. Well, there’s the Big Dipper, so that must be the North Star, so that way is north, so that way should be west. So that’s the way we head out in the morning.
Elly (Rouses from her sleep.) Hmmph. Oh, Dez. What are you doing up? Couldn’t sleep?
Dez I just found out our compass is broken. That means our navigation could be off for the rest of the trip.
Elly That’s not good. There aren’t that many landmarks in the desert. A few degrees off our course and we could end up miles away from where we think we are. Should we tell Dee?
Dez No, we’d better not. She’s liable to panic and then who know’s what she’ll do.
Narrator They go back to sleep and everyone wakes up at dawn. They pack up everything and head out west-southwest (or as close to it as Dez can estimate it). Dee follows blissfully ignorantly along.
Dez Okay, we should be at the western-most point of this leg of the journey. We need to turn southeast at this point.
Elly Lead on, Dez. We’re right behind you.
Dee I’ve got a pebble in my hiking boot. Let me go sit on that rock over there and get it out.
Elly Okay.
Narrator Dee sits down on the rock and starts to reach down to take off her boot when she suddenly hears a rattling noise from her right, and she freezes instinctively, holding as still as a statue, staring straight ahead.
Elly Hey, Dee, what’s… Uh,oh. Somethings’ not right. Dez! Come quick! (she shouts in a hushed voice)
Dez (running over to Elly) What is it, Elly? What’s wrong?
Elly Look at Dee. She suddenly stopped moving and now she looks terrified. I can hear a faint rattling sound. I think she may have just sat down beside a rattlesnake.
Dez Oh, my God. Let’s spread out and slowly approach from opposite sides until we can see where it is.
Narrator They slowly circle around Dee until Dez can see the rattlesnake, coiled up and ready to strike, its head high in the air, its tongue darting in and out of its mouth as it smells its prey. It looks like it could attack with its deadly venomous bite at any moment. Dee continues to hold still, sweat pouring profusely down her face, arms, and back. Her heart feels like it is about to burst out of her chest.
Dez Elly, options?
Elly Well, our only handgun is in Dee’s backpack on her back, so we can’t use that. I have a hunting knife and I’m a pretty good knife thrower, but if I miss, Dee could be toast.
Dez If you don’t try, Dee could still be toast. We’ve better risk it. Get ready. I’ll try to distract the snake as you circle around so you can see it more clearly.
Elly Got it.
Narrator Elly watches Dez move away from her, drawing the snake’s gaze in Dez’s direction. Elly circles around until she has a clear line of sight to the hissing, rattling snake. She takes careful aim with her hunting knife and throws it!
Dee (A scream splits the air!) Aiiiiiiii!
Narrator As the knife strikes the snake right in the center of its neck just below the head, the snake falls dead, and Dee suddenly leaps up from the rock and bolts away from the dead snake as fast as she can run for a good three minutes before she slows, calms down, and turns around and starts walking back, trembling in shock and fear the whole time. Feeling exhausted, she collapses, sitting on the ground with her legs crossed, shaking violently. She wretches a few times as she throws up to her left side.
Dez Um, yeah. That was a close call.
Elly Well, I guess I know what we’re having for dinner tonight.
Dee Oh, God, no. Not me. I’ll eat sand before I’ll eat that snake!
Elly Think of it as sweet revenge. Um, bad joke, Huh?
Dez Dee, sit there and try to focus on breathing slowly. Gather your wits about you. Elly and I will set up camp.

(To be continued in Part 2)

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