Hiking the Tankwa Camino with Foldscope

mapFrom 29 Sept to 9 Oct 2016 I took part in a 260km ‘Tankwa Camino’ endurance hike,  which stretches through one of the most desolate regions on earth: South Africa’s Tankwa Karoo. For 10 days our group of 50 hikers covered distances of up to 32kms per day while facing scorching temperatures. My Foldscope was in my backpack and I set out with the firm idea to capture at least one image per day. For the first two days we arrived in camp so late that there was hardly time to pitch my tent, get my 3liter lukewarm ‘bucket bath’ and organize my gear for the next day’s hike – and I did not touch Foldscope. From Day 3 we got up at 04h45 to start hiking before dawn and by the light of our head lamps – also racing against the heat of the day, which could touch on 40C with no shade and almost no vegetation. We now reached camp in the early afternoon, and could settle into a routine of pitching tent, setting up camp, tending feet and blisters, fixing gear, and preparing for dinner under the milky way and the brilliant stars of the southern skies. I finally got time to prep some slides for Foldscope – but lo and behold, my iPhone ran out of juice and my little solar charger proved to be useless despite the glaring African sun. I nevertheless managed to capture images of some lovely Mesembryanthemum clavatum flowers. These succulents, also known as ‘vygies’ grow in the most arid regions, where they speckle the rocky earth in rivulets of color which run into the distance. Here are some images of the area, my hideout for each night (aka tent), and splashes of vygies. With Foldscope I could inspect the abundance of stamens and pollen produced by the typical ‘mesemb’ flowers. I believe the Mesemryanthemaceae have (since my Botany days) been renamed to Aizoacea. Something I could not fit into any Foldscope slide, is the amazing spirit of the people who walked with me. I’ll be back :). Preview

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    Wow!!! Amazing endurance. I would love for your floral/pollen foldscope images to be put into the pollen database once you post it in microcosmos.

    Here’s one more thing you can do.
    Re-edit your post. Click on one of your pictures, a menu pops up and click on the pencil icon (Edit), In Display Setting of the new menu that pops up, on “Link to” choose “Media file”. That will make your pictures clickable and zoomable. Once you do this for all pictures of a post, I think it remains so for all future posts. Cant wait to see more.

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    @Lydia- awesome awesome. This is exactly the spirit of natural history. Just so wonderful to see – what an incredible hike.

    In places with such “arid” conditions – you have this juicy plant that survives (I should say thrives). Just wonderful to see the sticky pollen.

    . I am also curious about pattern of “patchy” growth. This seems like a wonderland for bizarre biology. Incredible trip Lydia; so excited to see this here.


  3. lydiajoubert says:

    Many thanks! @ Laksiyer: I edited the images to make them zooomable – and you may surely add the floral/pollen images to your database. Should I email the originals to you?
    @ Manu: The patchy growth I suspect may be related to water movement – not necessarily as under-surface source, but in carrying sand and more fertile soil, of which the sediment may allow germination of seeds in the hard rocky surface. The flowers will then follow the same patterns as originally traveled by small streams of rainwater.
    If you want to experience more of the adventure, here is a short clip : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pVj-ZNraZ8

  4. laksiyer says:

    @Lydia. Sorry for the delay in response and happy new year. I can just use your picture links from the post for the database. Will let you know once they are up. Happy foldscoping.

  5. laksiyer says:

    @Lydia. Just wanted to let you know that this has been added to the pollen database.

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