An Excerpt From Sarah Marquis' 'Wild By Nature'
Sarah Marquis spent three years walking alone to Australia from Siberia, a journey she documents in her new book, "Wild By Nature." The book, which goes on sale Tuesday, is from Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, LLC. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.
In this excerpt from Chapter 3, Marquis is on a Mongolian desert plain and has just evaded two drunk men by spooking their horses.
So I continue until my cart rolls effortlessly on a solid surface. It's a hardened layer of sand that stretches for several hundred yards. I smile, it's just what I was waiting for. My cart won't leave any trace of my passage. I look all around, and notice nothing abnormal in the landscape. I slip quickly behind some rock formations and disappear. I park myself behind a rock and wait, listening. After fifteen minutes, with all still calm, I go deeper into the rock formations to find a camp that's protected from the wind that's picking up even more. Finding a spot that offers enough shelter takes thirty minutes. I put down my load and sink to the ground with an interminable sigh. Night has already fallen and I put up my tent in the dark, without my headlamp. I'll eat a cold dinner, nibbling raisins and dry Mongolian biscuits known as bolsak. Lighting my camp stove is out of the question. It's a clear night, the sky is full of stars. It's beautiful. I've survived another day! I smile and forget my difficult day beneath this ceiling of stars. Good night.
Upon waking up, I discover where I am with new eyes. Night has already allowed in some light. I put my teapot on my stove, finally! The events of the previous night no longer weigh on my spirit. Long ago I installed an "erase" button. Each day is a new day. I've forgotten yesterday on the surface, but not in my cellular memory. It's a little like deleting an image from your computer's desktop while it's still saved on the hard drive. The spirit works like that, in layers.
I'm not, in fact, completely awake. My body aches. Wrapped in my sleeping bag, holding my steaming cup of tea, I watch as dawn arrives.
This moment is mine. It's magical, indescribable. I feel so lucky. I need this space for myself. I also need to get going to take advantage of the coolness of the dawn, but I grant myself this moment, since it feeds me differently. My interior requires nourishment as much as the rest of me. It has everything to do with balance: the success of my expedition depends on all of these little daily details, on "being mindful in each moment." I so love these few minutes when Earth is waking up.
But I have to follow the only rule that I've written in stone: never spend more than one night in the same place (except in case of an emergency). I must always advance, one foot in front of the other. I take off my night clothes -- pink leggings and a sky blue T-shirt -- and slip into my adventurer's uniform, dirty and masculine. My night clothes are colorful and feminine, they make me smile, and it's important for my morale. My daytime clothes camouflage me with their sandy color, their smell, and most important, the fact that they're men's clothes. I fold up my camp and take my first steps, without looking too far ahead. It will take my body two hours to warm up and function without too much pain.
For espnW's Q&A with Sarah Marquis, click here.