The North Face/AG Outdoor Adventure Grant 2017 kicks off
Words and images courtesy The North Face Australia
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