06-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.
Having made good time to reach the 29N 44E confluence point, we immediately retraced our route to a wonderfully green wādiy (valley) that we had passed on the way. Scenically, we had the perfect lunch stop, but the flies attracted by the animals browsing around us were very pesky.
We backtracked all the way to the tar road and managed to travel nearly a hundred kilometres along it before we needed to leave it for the final forty kilometres. The terrain started off as flat sand plains, but quickly rose into choppy dunes, which meant that we needed to deflate our tyres. We followed a faint track for some of the way but lost it due to the shifting sands obliterating the track. We picked our way through the dunes, very thankful that our workhorses (Nissan Patrols) were performing well under pressure.
We finally broke through the last dune line and were rewarded with a flat gravel plain that stretched into the far distance. We raced along the gravel tracks, trying to reach the confluence point as fast as we could, knowing that there was not much in the way of shelter for the night camp.
The site was situated on the fringe of the gravel plain within some low rocky hills. The actual confluence point was in a shallow watercourse, which provided a very boring scene.
We finally managed to race back to the sand dunes to find shelter for the night. The wind, dark clouds and lightning on the horizon concerned us but did not prohibit our slumber, as we dreamt about the six-hour drive back to Riyāḍ that lay before us the following day.