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Patricia the desert hiker

With a love for every grain of sand beyond her feet, she is challenging the desert heat.

When all you see for miles and miles is sand, horizon and a clear blue sky, your thoughts get extra big. At least if you ask Patricia Chesnais, who has been desert hiking for years.

Patricia did her first desert hike when she was in her early twenties and she immediately got hooked.

“I never was a sporty person, but I love walking and spending time in the nature exploring new things. So this was perfect for me!”

She wasn’t very concerned about security back then, but today she is more careful.

“It’s a beautiful environment, but not entirely friendly. Nowadays I always bring a guide with me. There have been occasions when they have saved me for example from toxic desert snakes,” Patricia says and smiles.

For her, hiking deserts is not about the final destination, it’s about the journey.

“The scenery is so amazing out there, it’s an entirely different world. Each hike is an exceptional journey, and still the greatest journey is the inner one.”

In the desert she is always present, fully disconnected from her everyday life, and can think about things she hasn’t had time to focus on.

“I am so into the moment and nothing put me off focus. Out there, the thoughts get extra big somehow.”

In most deserts the average daytime temperature is 100°F and during night it drops to averagely 25°F.

“The difference is quite drastic. Sometimes I sleep in tents but I also enjoy sleeping under a tree or directly underneath the sky. There is nothing more peaceful than laying in the sand with a 360 degree view of a sky full of stars. Everything seems so clear.”

During a typical hiking day Patricia put about 40 kilometers behind her. In that kind of heat, she needs to be aware of the energy levels.

“You know you will be thirsty, you know your feet will get sore. I prepare mentally for that and bring the necessary equipment although I travel light. All the time I focus on my energy levels and make sure to save some of it for later since the distances I walk are far.”

In most of the cases Patricia is hiking alone with a guide and a donkey as her travelling companions. But sometimes she brings friends or finds new ones along the road.

“You can walk for a very long time without seeing anyone, and even when you walk with someone you don’t talk that much to each other. I think the focus on the inner journey is something most desert hikers have in common.”

Hiking deserts is definitely a contrast to her job at Getinge, where she is the Managing Director for the sales and service unit in France.

“At Getinge I don’t walk alone, on the contrary it’s more about gathering passionate people and work towards the same goal, ultimately helping our customers save more lives,” Patricia says. “But I definitely find the desert hikes useful for what I want to achieve at work. And no matter how much I love the beauty in the desert, I always enjoy coming back to the civilization fully charged.”

Some of the deserts she has hiked are located in Australia, Spain, Morocco, Mali, Oman and the US. Next stop is Kilimanjaro.

“The mountain is surrounded by desert, I am longing for a new challenge and can’t wait to go there. Our world is full of beautiful deserts, more than we think of. So I have many miles left to walk.”