12-Nov-2004 -- Grander plans for the `Īd break had to be cancelled due to various commitments. We were left looking for a one night camping trip. 28N 30E came to mind, but as it lies in the middle of a rather monotonous plain we had to find a good sheltered campsite, hopefully near dunes, so we could try out the latest design in sand boards. A quick check of the satellite imagery showed that there was a very promising box canyon about 40 km west of the Confluence with sand dunes. If things went well we may even be able to stop off for a swim on the way back at the lake at Wādiy Rayyān. The other interesting thing about the satellite imagery was dark streaks across the brown gravel plains and the question was what were they? Some waypoints were added to investigate on route.
So at 7 in the morning we loaded up and headed south, over the bridge to Gīza, south on the Fayyūm road, then south on the Asyūṭ desert road till Minyā. We had a waypoint for a gas station just where we wanted to turn off into the desert. This was a let down as it was sold out when we got there. We had to double back for 15 km to fill up before heading off into the desert. The route from the road is rolling gravel plains and was easy driving, particularly when picking up wādiy beds and some old tracks, but bumpy in places when the drainage channels were against you. We stopped for a quick lunch and then onto the point.
We crossed two of these dark streaks (waypoints 78 & 80 on attached image) that could be seen on the satellite imagery and there was nothing to explain the darker coloring from the surface - it all looked the same color as everywhere else we had been. However they were both in low-lying valleys with good driving along the bottom. There was not much to say about the point, rolling gravel with no sign or old tire tracks in the immediate vicinity, so we took the pictures and headed on to find the campsite.
It was an easy drive until almost at the hopeful site when we found the sand dunes, and very soft they were in places! We were hoping to get some boarding in before dark but by the time we got unstuck, found a nice campsite and got set up, the boarding had to wait to morning. So it was pick up a few fossils, barbeque, a few refreshments and an early night. It was worth the wait and after a good night's sleep, we got a few good runs, picked up some nice bruises and then headed north for Wādiy Rayyān. We picked up another of these dark streaks (waypoint 94) and picked up on a good smooth, well-used track. So we think they are some form of wādiy system, why they show up dark colored we don't know - vegetation when the sat image was taken? Then 175 km later across gravel plains and up sand valleys, we arrived at the lake but unfortunately too late to swim. However, all in all it was a very pleasant weekend.