At Our Most Vulnerable There Are Always Critics
In one of the world’s most inhospitable National Parks, I fought panic as I lost sight of my transport, and with it, the final opportunity to change my mind on what I had decided to do.
So began my attempt to become the first woman to walk the length of the world.
Starting among an archipelago at the bottom of Argentina I faced a 10-day traverse towards a meeting point. From there, I would continue for four days on a sea kayak along a route so treacherous I had to hire a safety team to chaperone me across.
Once on the mainland, the plan was to continue the walk for 3-5 years until I reached the top of the world.
Things quickly went bad.
Military workers had moved into one area, their explosives forcing me to change my route. Then, I lost a week’s food supply due to a flooded river crossing. While on rations, I received a satellite message from the safety team: they, along with the next food drop, were running a week late.
I began to starve.
By the time I reached the meeting point I was skeletal. I approached the bay and spotted a dirt road leading towards a farm house. The kind owner took me in and began to rebuild my confidence.
While I waited for the safety boat, a kayak exploration team pulled in after failing to reach their mark. I was in awe! With sponsored patches on their jackets – National Geographic and Red Bull TV among them – I marvelled at how life must be for this calibre of adventurers.
They mused me and asked if I was hiking in the area. When I explained what I was doing they spoke among themselves in another language. They assumed I wouldn’t understand them: She’s naive. She’ll be destroyed by the time she reaches El Chalten.
They left soon after, and when my safety team arrived a few days later I was too worried about the closing weather window for second thoughts. I suited up and headed out along the first of the islands.
One year on, I’m more than 4000 km beyond that lonely farm at the bottom of the world. People continue to ask me why I am walking – and my answer isn’t particularly compelling.
I’m doing it because it’s who I am. I am neither confident or uncertain about finishing. It doesn’t worry me because if I hadn’t started, I wouldn’t have experienced the stories that are now bound to me for eternity. That alone is enough.
There will always be someone who wants to critique you for who you are. Rather than listening, spend your time with people who support you. Have the courage to be who you want to be. In the end, that’s all you’ll have.
In February 2017, Lucy Barnard began a journey to become the first woman to walk the length of the world. It’s a 30,000 km journey from the bottom of Argentina to the top of Alaska. It will take between 3 to 5 years to complete and when she does it she will be the first woman and one of only a handful to ever have completed it.
Lucy is supported by: The North Face, Sea to Summit, Australian Geographic, Phase Zero Australia, Elemental Projects, XTM Performance, Goal Zero, Art Spectrum, Fyshwick Self Storage, Armaskin.