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Walking the Gobi: 1600 Mile-Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despairby Helen Thayer
Synopses & Reviews
At the age of 63, Helen Thayer fulfilled her lifelong dream of crossing Mongolia's Gobi Desert. Accompanied by her 74-year-old husband Bill and two camels, Tom and Jerry, Thayer walked 1600 miles in 126-degree temperatures, battling fierce sandstorms, dehydration, dangerous drug smugglers, and ubiquitous scorpions. For more than 60 days Helen struggled to keep moving through this inhospitable terrain despite a severe leg injury. Without sponsors, a support team, or radio contact, hers is a journey of pure discovery and adventure.
Walking the Gobi takes readers on a trip through a little-known landscape and introduces them to the culture of the nomadic people whose ancestors have eked out an existence in the Gobi for thousands of years. Thayer's respect and admiration for the culture of Gobi and her gentle weaving of natural history shine throughout this remarkable story. The author proves that Baby Boomers don't have to take life lying down — their adventures have just begun.
"The Gobi Desert is a barren stretch of Mongolia that runs north of China, south of Russia and far from everything; not an ideal place to visit, except by book. Fortunately, the daring Thayer, age 63, fights nature and common sense for us, giving readers a fascinating account of her 1,600 mile journey with her husband, Bill, 74. The aging adventurers lace up their boots, load two borrowed camels with supplies, and set out to survive an 80-day trek through temperatures in excess of 120 degrees while wolves, scorpions and the Chinese border patrol stalk them. Encounters with smugglers and nomads add shades of character and culture; one hospitable nomad family enthusiastically serves them such uninviting fare as sour horse milk. The adventure ramps up when an angry camel rolls over their water containers, setting off a desperate search for hydration. Frightening skirmishes with heatstroke, sandstorms and wildlife take their toll, but the greater enemy is mental, which Thayer knows well (having skied to the North Pole with just her dog for company): 'At all costs we had to avoid the mental trap of losing focus,' a slippery step toward becoming 'emotionally paralyzed.' Despite the hardship, Thayer (Polar Dream) is a sure and steady guide; this harrowing travelogue reads like a nail-biting adventure, sure to enthrall fans of Jon Krakauer and Bill Bryson." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Adventure Classroom educator Thayer, named "One of the Great Explorers of the 20th Century" by National Geographic, offers hope to baby boomers about pursuing their dreams. The author of Polar Dream, an account of her solo ski to the magnetic North Pole at age 50, provides a day-by-day account of her trek across the Gobi Desert-cum-inner journey at 63. B&w photos show the formidable Mongolian landscape and its nomadic people. Suggested reading would have been a bonus. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Helen Thayer has skied to the magnetic North Pole, lived among wolves in Alaska, kayaked in the Amazon, walked across the Sahara, and represented three countries as a track and field athlete. She is the author of Polar Dream and Three Among the Wolves and the recipient of countless awards. Thayer was named "One of the Great Explorers of the 20th Century" by National Geographic and is the president of "Adventure Classroom," an international educational project.
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