Combining challenge with pleasure, desert hiking is a kind of outdoor activity that attracts many amateurs. As said by them, while hiking in desert, "your body is in purgatory, but your eyes are in heaven". They are always amazed by the wonderful scenery. After hiking, they would take part in physical exercise and run together. While keeping in good health, they have made more friends.
Well Prepared Before Desert Hiking
Speaking of desert, people would think of camel, yellow sand, smoke and dust, very mysterious. In Tianjin, there is such a group of amateurs who have the courage to hike in desert with climbing boots and canes. They enjoy starlight of night and the warm of sunrise together in tent. According to director Jiang Li, this is a kind of activity combing pleasure and challenge. "The difficulty of desert hiking is decided by route planning. Accordingly, the beauty of desert is what we could not imagine. Someone says if you hate someone, take him to desert because its condition is hard like purgatory. If you love someone, take him to desert because it is as beautiful as paradise. Regard this, my desert friends and I have deep understanding."
"The first contact with desert was in Qinghai in 2015. I was deeply attracted by the desert at that moment. Then we went straight to vast Kubuqi of Inner Mongolia in 2016 to participate in Desert Hiking Challenge. In 2017, we took part in the organizing committee to serve for people who have the same hobby." As said by Jiang Li, people who join desert hiking are not fixed. "They come from all walks of life, which completely subverts the limits of trade, occupation, job and age. For example, the team I join in has college professors, primary and secondary school teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, students and executives. Many retired aunts also come to experience the beauty of desert, very happy."
Being different from common outdoor sports, some requests of physical quality and equipment are needed while hiking in desert because of environment, climate and other particular conditions. "In terms of clothing, glasses, coat and shoes are needed before entering. In terms of accessories, backpack, cane and supplies are indispensable. Many details are needed to pay attention to. Taking the protection to feet as an example, how to choose shoes plays a crucial role in protecting feet and ankles because of special geology of desert. At the same time, shoes would be full of sand very soon if walking without shoes cover, very pruritic. Besides, continuous dunes rise and fall. For ordinary walkers, it is not enough to climb over these dunes only by legs. For this, a pair of walking sticks could help a lot."
Hiking in Desert as Purgatory and Heaven
Hiking in desert is a kind of completely different experience. At high temperature of more than 40℃, amateurs walk across continuous yellow sands step by step with knapsacks. You could clearly feel sweat flowing across the body. Sand is very soft, so legs are like myasthenic while climbing steep slopes. Rapid heartbeat and difficult breathing are inevitable although they climb by hands and feet. Eyes could not be opened due to dry sand after heat wave. While remembering the scene of hiking, Jiang said, "The first day of competition was windy, very strong. I could not stand firmly when I just walked on high hills. For body balance, I tried to grasp sand with walking stick. At that moment, I realized the dread of sand. When I saw continuous dunes and one was steeper than another one, I almost collapsed."
However, numerous difficulties could always be overcome by beautiful scenery. "Under blue sky and white cloud, golden and endless sand is like a dragon lying on its back. I could not help being amazed by nature’s creation, feeling relaxed and happy." Jiang is the leader of the team, "I ask myself not to let anyone drop out. My strategy for helping the members who are too weak to walk is to walk while playing, which makes tough desert hiking become interesting. Last time, Lili had a cramp in the leg. We helped each other to relax. Xianhong took a photo of this funny moment. Fengfeng would take out camera immediately to record every beautiful scenery. After enjoying taking photos by standing on knees and lying, Fengfeng would move on. After got back to the team, they took photos on the slope. It was difficult to sit still on the slope since we would glide involuntarily. Therefore, we should race against time to take photos. Doudou, Fengfeng, Xianhong and I changed our gauzy dresses quietly and moved to another sand dune for leaving some 'artistic' pictures. It was odd that we forgot previous struggle and torture but got immersed in the visual feast of desert".
According to Jiang Li, the most beautiful scenery in desert is stars and sunrise, "When I just stuck my head out the tent, I was immediately amazed by stars. The scene about stars in text book appeared near at hand. They were so big and bright. Each constellation could be easily found. We also saw the Milky Way. Starry sky is the best reward for warriors." In order not to miss the sunrise, Jiang, teacher Wang, Lisa, Fenfen, Kunjie and Xianhong made an appointment to get up at 4:30 am and climb to watch the sunrise at 5:07 am, "The moment of day breaking was so wonderful! We also took photos with Kubuqi Desert."
Be Friends Forever after Desert Hiking
So far, desert hiking has become the outdoor lesson to train elites of some business colleges. Normally, these will be launched nationally. Most activities are organized by folk and some of the activities are competitive while some are experiential. The participation ratio of business colleges is about 75%, whereas the ratio of students is around 5%. In addition, there are children from all parts of the country attending "parent-child camp" desert hiking. "Before the campfire party, children in costumes of the Mongol nationality would hold fruits for charity sales, 'sweet watermelon, tomato and yummy cucumber!' After the successful charity sale, they smiled and ran around their leader 'Father Xiao'".
Once participated in desert hiking, people will become friends forever. Desert hiking brings people more intimate relationship. They are not only friends and teammates of desert hiking, but are more like a family after conquered the desert step by step together. "After came back from desert hiking and experienced the tough purgatory and beautiful paradise together, we have formed extraordinary trust and intimacy rapidly. We cannot stop doing sports since we got back from desert. Teammates keep running every day, going further and faster each time. Gradually, we have 'unlocked' cross-country race, marathon, 100-kilometer hiking, triathlon, etc. By sports, we harvest so much. One of our teammates who runs his own foreign trade corporation suffered from bad health condition due to overloaded work. Even his gallbladder 'stopped' working for a period. After participating in sports for months, his gallbladder works normally and his health condition has been improved obviously. Since then, he could not cease his steps in outdoor sports. He has been to Tibet, Sinkiang, Si Chuan and Nepal. He left his footprints in plateau, hills and snow mountains. In addition, another teammate had lost 7.5-kilogram weight. As common people, we also gather together but the pattern is different. Our meeting is running instead of eating and drinking. We run every Saturday. In this summer, we had organized 'My Parks' activity that we ran in every park in Tianjin. Voluntarily, desert hiking teammates also establish their own running teams, where they spring up their hobbies and make them more interesting". （By Jiajia）