One cart, two adventurers, and a desire to replicate explorer Wilfred Thesiger’s 1940s journey across the Arabian sands. Our featured contributor Leon McCarron describes his own 46 days in the wilderness with fellow adventurer Alastair Humphreys.

“Hunger, thirst, heat and cold; I had tasted them in full …”

So wrote the English explorer and great traveler Wilfred Thesiger in his book Arabian Sands, which details the journey he took in the 1940s across the Rub ‘al Khali, or Empty Quarter—the world’s largest sand desert, taking up most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.

Thesiger’s name is synonymous with British exploration and immersive travel. He spent years living with the local nomadic Bedouin tribes, criss-crossing the Arabian Peninsula, and traveled 1000 miles from Salalah on the south coast of Oman to the then-small fishing village of Dubai, perhaps his greatest journey of all.

And so it was in the autumn of 2012 that I received an email with all the eccentricity of Thesiger himself—if not necessarily the poetry:

“Hi Leon. Hypothetically speaking, would you be interested in another long walk. 6-8 weeks. Desert. Pulling a cart. Home for Christmas.”