The North Face/AG Out­door Ad­ven­ture Grant 2017 kicks off

Words and im­ages cour­tesy The North Face Aus­tralia

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - News - www.thenorth­face­grant.com.au

ON FE­BRU­ARY 14, 2017 Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Air­port was busy with ex­cited trav­ellers. Lucy Barnard was among the trav­ellers that day, but she was head­ing out for a dif­fer­ent type of ex­cur­sion. Sit­ting in an air­port cof­fee shop, with her mum and two of her clos­est friends, Lucy waited out the min­utes un­til she would go through se­cu­rity to em­bark on the ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

With two years of plan­ning be­hind her, Lucy left Syd­ney In­ter­na­tional Air­port for Ushuaia, Ar­gentina, the south­ern­most tip of South Amer­ica, nick­named the "End of the World." From here Lucy will at­tempt to walk the 'length of the world' to Bar­row, the north­ern tip of Alaska. Her plan will see her walk on av­er­age 30km a day, for three years, cross­ing through fif­teen coun­tries and cov­er­ing 30,000 kilo­me­tres.

When asked the ques­tion 'Why?' Lucy ad­mits, "I re­ally haven’t come up with a great an­swer for that yet, but - I’m go­ing be­cause I want to be the first woman to walk the length of the world. But I’m also re­ally in­ter­ested to see how far I can push my body and what the lim­its are. I love be­ing in the out­doors, I just want some time out to ex­plore the world."

She was first in­spired while trav­el­ling in Patag­o­nia and read­ing Ge­orge Mee­gan's book, The Long­est Walk: The Record of Our World's First Cross­ing of the En­tire Amer­i­cas.The book re­counts his ex­pe­ri­ence of fin­ish­ing the route

over six years, which was com­pleted in 1983.

Since the idea first set in Lucy's mind, she has spent two years plan­ning, say­ing she ex­pected the plan­ning phase to be the most dif­fi­cult part of the jour­ney.The lo­gis­tics lead­ing up to her de­par­ture taught her a new type of project man­age­ment, deal­ing with risk and safety man­age­ment, car­tog­ra­phy, re­sup­ply, equip­ment, in­surance, fi­nan­cial plan­ning, fit­ness and rehabilitation and up­skilling.

Lucy's plan­ning phase did not come with­out its chal­lenges. She was hit by a car dur­ing an en­durance cy­cling event over a year ago. She be­came tem­po­rar­ily paral­ysed, apha­sic, and lost a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of mus­cle mass and mem­ory. Since then she has worked tire­lessly to re­gain her pre­vi­ous con­di­tion and im­prove her at­ti­tude to­wards health. The ac­ci­dent didn't once slow down Lucy's plans for the three year ad­ven­ture; she be­lieves it ac­tu­ally as­sisted her in fo­cus­ing on her health and fit­ness while work­ing reg­u­larly with phys­io­ther­a­pists to re­turn to op­ti­mal health.

The sup­port she re­ceived from friends and fam­ily has been tremen­dous. Al­though her fam­ily seemed in de­nial about the idea for a long time, Lucy's dad was en­thu­si­as­ti­cally on board with the project. "He was re­ally great at engi­neer­ing, look­ing into so­lu­tions to prob­lems, ob­sessed over the de­tails of gear." Sadly, Lucy's Dad passed away in May. "The rest of my fam­ily re­ally picked up be­cause they knew there was that hole."

While Lucy starts her jour­ney in what is fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory for her, as soon as she gets above San­ti­ago, it's all new.

“The part that I think is go­ing to be the most chal­leng­ing - but the part I’m also most look­ing for­ward to - is cross­ing the Ata­cama Desert.You get these beau­ti­ful fields of sand and then it tran­scends into these salt plains, and I think that tran­si­tion would be mind-blow­ing but also chal­leng­ing. And then the next section is get­ting through the Dar­ién gap, and that is a re­ally se­ri­ous chal­lenge. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have con­tacts that can help me get through there. If I can’t, the next chal­leng­ing section will be pad­dling all the way past the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle.”

To tackle the gar­gan­tuan project men­tally, Lucy has bro­ken it down into years and ma­jor mile­stones. Year one is work­ing her way through South Amer­ica, year two through Cen­tral Amer­ica and year three ded­i­cated to North Amer­ica.

You can keep up to date with Lucy’s trav­els on her web­site, Tan­gles and Tail and through her Face­book and In­sta­gram page.

To learn more about the ad­ven­ture grant head to

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