Salt pan

Finally after 2 hard days of slogging the sandy desert plains I have been spat out of the valley along the Arivalli Mountains and in front of me lies a massive salt lake, shimmering in the dessert. There is a constant drone of labouring tractor engines as they drag over laden trailers of salt across the open dry pan. Little shapes shimmer in the distant haze. Trails of dust slowly drift and hang across the pan like jet streams as rows of tractors enter the desert in search of their next load of salt. I had hit the pan dead centre, a slight miscalculation, which now meant a whole day’s run to get around the lake. By some chance, Nick was doing a navigation recheck and found a small thread of a road leading across the centre of the lake. On further investigation, he found that this road had been build to extract salt in the dry season – what a stroke of good fortune.

It was quite a run through the little salt lake village, its twisty roads buzzing with camels, tractors and vans all carrying salt. There was a fine salty dust that was hanging in the air that I was breathing in, you could taste and smell the salt as you breathed as well as been coated with a fine layer of salt. Finally through the town, I followed a few camels and picked up the road heading into the centre of the lake. Initially I was running with the lake on each side of this track, then suddenly it all dried up, it seemed to retract into the haze beyond, rolled back like a massive pool of mercury and just disappeared into the sand.

Ahead of me lay this open span of sand as far as I could see. The road disappeared as the track seemed to fray out, each taking its own direction into nothingness. There I stood, from left to right there was nothing but sand, the horizon had rounded and fused with the dessert, all was now one. Slowly as I ran out into the dessert, the salty crust seemed to have puffed up as the water had evaporated and it had dried leaving this salty crust. Each step my shoe would break through the crust and crunching through it until it hit the desert sand below. A small vortex of dust would puff up through the broken crust and envelop my shoe. Crunch, crunch, crunch, on I ran into the void of nothing. There was this absolute silence around me. There was nothing, nothing to look at nothing to hear, just the crunch below me, the sound of my breath, as I slowly gilded out, I felt for the first time if I carried on running I was going to run over the edge.

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