04-Apr-2004 -- The Easter break gave us an opportunity to do a last long trek of the camping season before the desert summer set in. The trek was a combined affair for the first three days and then the party split up into two different trips. The initial stage took us 1000 km from Riyāḍ through north Burayda, into the volcanic fields southeast of Ḥā'il, to Ḥā'il itself, and into the granite mountains northwest of Ḥā'il. The second stage that I was a party to, took us 1700 km northeast of Ḥā'il, north into the frontier region, southeast along the Dahnā' sand dunes, and then home to Riyāḍ. During this trip, our party managed to bag seven new confluence points – 27N 44E, 27N 41E, 28N 42E, 28N 43E, 29N 43E, 29N 44E, 28N 44E.
From the 27N 41E confluence point, we all retraced our steps back towards the Ḥā'il area. On route we were surprised to pass two vehicles being driven by Saudi ladies! This was an unusual sight, as ladies are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. However, in the more remote areas, this is not a unique sight, as the whole family needs to contribute towards survival.
We explored the beautiful granite mountains to the northwest of Ḥā'il. Travelling between the steep red mountains was a spectacular experience, especially after a fairly wet season provided some greenery for added colour. While searching for a night stop, we encountered a delightful valley, only to discover that it was disgustingly littered by day-trippers from Ḥā'il. Leaving the flies behind us, we eventually found a secluded campsite to settle down into for the night.
The next morning the party split and we drove through Ḥā'il and headed north. This took us through an area where there was a fair amount of agricultural activity. This was not good news as it meant that the final section of the route to the confluence point would do battle with pivot field fences. As it turned out, we made fairly light work of the fences and finally managed to drive to within 200 m of the confluence point. The area was fairly sandy with patches of stony ground. The problem was that the actual point was in the middle of an emerald green wheat field. We nipped under the fence and hurried out into the field, being careful not to trample the plants. We rushed the photographs and retreated before an irate farmer saw us. We bundled ourselves into our vehicles and headed off to try and find the 28N 43E confluence point.