[If] It were me going into that dust with a Rohloff, I'd overfill the gearbox with oil to guarantee that the flow is in one direction only, outwards, and refill it once a week while in the desert...
A suggestion I'll keep in mind, Andre, though I have come across severe warnings against over-filling. I plan to order a complete Rohloff oil-change kit with the bike so I will be prepared with oil on-hand for my first regularly-schedule oil change.
There are so many measures I have to take for this harsh environment already. Allen fittings need to be sealed with plugs, lest any rain concretize the playa dust that settles in them, rendering them unserviceable at a later date (the stuff is almost impossible to dig out if it is allowed to sit...and corrode, since it has a high alkali content). I habitually overfill my hubs with Phil Wood grease, and that includes the dust cap interiors, then allow it to squish out on assembly (same principle as Jobst's you cited). I've even demounted tires after a trip -- ones that were never underinflated or flat -- and found the dust had entered the rim through the spoke holes, then migrated around
the tube to coat the inside of the tire casing.
When the stuff gets damp -- after a rain or near the "shoreline" of a dry lake -- it becomes...well, it turns to a grey, clayey goo that literally paints whatever it comes in contact with, and it doesn't come off. It consists of microbeads that slip against one another with the lubrication of water, and anything with inadequate surface area...sinks. This includes bike tires, feet, anything. It is a bit like quicksand in that regard, and one of my real concerns is to be caught mid-playa in a thunderstorm or hailstorm. You can't put up a tent and wait it out; the tent would sink and the water would easily swamp the doorway. About all you can do is to take off your shoes (lest they be sucked off at the next step), stand astride the bicycle with your head bowed on arms crossed atop the handlebars, and wait for the rain to stop pounding. Amazingly, sleep is possible in just that position, though a person starts awake, dizzy and disoriented from time to time. Cat naps are the best one can hope for.
The amazing thing is what happens when the rain stops. At first, it is like being in a bathtub, and of course there is no obvious drainage. Then, with really no foreshadowing, it is as if someone pulled the plug -- it all just vanishes. You'd expect to hear a gigantic "Sluuuuuuurp!", but you don't. The waters don't recede, the ground emerges
. And, it takes awhile longer before the stuff firms up enough to actually support the weight of a loaded touring bike and rider.
And, of course, those bare, wet feet are going to suffer when this is over. The rain brings the alkali (dissolved lye, really) out of solution. It doesn't so much burn as it ultra-dries the skin, which then cracks open. It is called "Playa Foot" and can be caused by the dry dust as well. See: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/playa_foot.html
The thing that gets me -- and keeps me coming back -- are the Small Miracles, the flowers and vegetation that arise from the water that does fall, arising from the harshest environment to bloom and grow, sometimes at a rate you can actually observe. It's terrifically inspiring to me, and often gives me the boost I need to go onward after being caught in such a deluge (see second photo for an example).
Often, when I go from the mountains to the desert...there's little or no transition, no getting ready and no working-up of nerve. One goes from the mountains, with lakes and streams and potable water to...an entirely different world, literally in just a few pedal strokes. The third photo below shows where I am about to leave Fandango Pass Road (site of a settler massacre in pioneer days) for the open playa of Middle Alkali Lake. As you can see from the real water between the mirages, it is not yet dry, and there's going to be tough sledging
ahead. When the very ground steams with boiling geothermal waters, when all the signs tell you "No", you square your shoulders, stand a little straighter, clip-in and set forth.