ON Friday, October 19th, 2001, IndieLondon's Simon Pinion flew out to Jordan to embark on a gruelling trek in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity which had struck a chord with him since seeing The Who, at the Royal Albert Hall, last year.
Having spent months raising in excess of £2,500 through friends, family, contacts and work colleagues, and after several painful - but challenging - preparation walks put on especially by the organisers, Simon took on the challenge of the desert, walking to Petra with a small group of fellow trekkers. Here, he relates his experiences...
FIRSTLY, I would like to thank all of my sponsors for the very generous support I have had. If you are one of those, I am writing to that has yet to sponsor me - it is not too late. Until the end of January, any money raised will add to my total.
At the moment, my total stands at an impressive £4,600 but I am hoping to top the £5,000 mark.
For those of you who I haven't spoken to since the trek, I will give you a brief summary of what happened.
Ever since September 11th, the feasibility of the trek had been in question.
Everyone that had originally signed up to take part had to consider whether
it was in their best interest to go. After much deliberation, I decided that
I would. The majority, however, did not.
The original group of 47 ended up being a mere 15, although most of the 32 who dropped out went on an alternative trek (organised for them) in Scotland.
Of those of us who made up the group, about half had previous trekking experience. The mix was ideal, as not being the only one who didn't know what to expect was very reassuring.
We arrived at our hotel in Amman on Friday night and were up early on Saturday. The coach journey was three and a half hours to Wadi Rum and we arrived at our destination at around 11.30am to begin our adventure.
Our drop off point was, basically, the middle of nowhere and this was how it was to be for the next few days.
The first day proved to be one of the toughest. For although the distance was shorter (20km), the time we had to do it in was also a lot less.
The pace was therefore fast and the terrain was mostly deep sand. The last
of the group made it into camp at just before 6pm - and it was totally dark
The sun sets fast in the desert and started to go down around 5pm. By 6pm, it was pitch black.
But if the first day was hard, the second day proved to be the toughest of the trek. We covered a massive 31km (20 miles), setting off at 7.30am and arriving at our camp at around 5.30pm. The terrain, again, was mostly sandy with occasional rocky patches.
It was little surprise that on the first two nights, everyone went to bed early - mostly because of exhaustion but also because we sensed the next day would be worse.
Due to the small size of the group, nearly everyone got a tent to themselves (with the exception of three pairs, who shared). And this was lucky, as the room inside the tents was limited!
Day three, and the group was glad to hear that the hardest day was out of
the way. Today was to be 25km, but on harder surfaces, and with some hills.
The easier terrain helped and we made better time; the first of the group
arriving at camp at around 3pm.
This was very welcome, as this was to be the first daylight hours we had to ourselves.
Day four (Tuesday) and our departure from Heathrow Airport only a few days
before now seemed like a distant memory. Today, we travelled the same distance
as yesterday, but over some trickier terrain.
The last couple of hours of the day took us over a huge area that was once covered with water.
The area was fairly level, but had millions of stones on it, rendering it very difficult to walk on for too long. You had to concentrate 100% to avoid a sprained ankle and an early trip home.
Some of the group thought this was the hardest part of the whole trek.
Day five and talk really started about reaching our destination and final
camp at Petra. However, we had been warned from the start that this final
trekking day would be a tough one, as it would be mostly uphill.
This, alas, proved correct, and our tired legs did well to tackle some of the severe gradients thrown at us.
It was little surprise to report, therefore, that the sight of our camp at
the end of each day, with our tents set up, was a glorious one and filled
us with a sense of tremendous achievement.
We arrived in to camp at around 3pm and, to mark the completion of our final trekking day, threw a party in the evening, with our guides providing the entertainment.
We spent Thursday checking out the ancient city of Petra, which was amazing
Although we thought this would be an easy day comparatively, it turned out to be just as much walking as the trek itself - as Petra is spread out over a very large area. At 5pm that day, we headed back to Amman.
I am very proud of the achievement of the Jordan trek, and the sum of money
I have raised for teenagers with serious diseases. But I realise I could not
have done it without you.
PS Keep clicking to www.indielondon.co.uk for further information about the Teenage Cancer Trust events