After reading adventurer Helen Thayer’s engaging and inspiring story Polar Dream (see Hiking Lady book review of Polar Dream), I immediately purchased Walking the Gobi, another gripping and memorable story. This time, Helen and her husband Bill trekked across the Gobi desert!
For those of who are not familiar with Helen Thayer, I encourage you to read my article about meeting her at the Outdoor Retailer conference in 2010. (See article about that meeting: A Remarkable Woman, Helen Thayer).
Helen Thayer is a modern day adventurer, who along with her husband live a life dedicated to accomplishing goals, such as walking across the hottest, most barren desert in the world. On all of her adventures, Helen carefully prepares for the journey by learning from the locals, whether it is the Inuits on her solo ski trek to the magnetic North Pole or the Mongolians during her journey across the Gobi.
Unlike some other adventurers, Helen takes the time to understand the history of a place, develop bonds with the people, and then graciously share her tales with us readers as well as thousands of school children in her Adventure Classroom program.
Walking the Gobi is highly engaging, even tear jerking at times. As Helen tells of her 1,600 mile walk across Mongolia, fighting inhospitable 126 degree temperatures, sand storms, smugglers, dehydration, and physical pain, I came to respect her mental stamina.
What I found most heart warming were Helen and Bill’s interactions with the Mongolian people they met along their journey. They took the time to get to know nomad families, share stories, and develop an understanding of their way of life. Unlike many modern day adventure books that purely recount details of the physical landscape and the mental and physical pain endured by the writer, Helen’s approach is thoughtful and provides a unique perspective on a little talked about culture.
If you enjoy stories of adventure, human stamina, and appreciate when it is engagingly intertwined with bits of history and culture, Walking the Gobi should be added to your collection. The only con – not enough pictures! I wish Helen had shared even more photos of her journey, but alas, not to worry, there is a slideshow on YouTube that has a nice collection of Helen’s pictures from the trip!
Hiking Lady’s Recommendation: 5 of 5 stars