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Student Blog: Final International Award Expedition

05 May 2019

This weekend, ten intrepid students braved unseasonable blizzards and heavy rain to successfully complete their final over-night 40 kilometre hike for the Bronze International Award. Rhizland, Mexico, G9, describes the expedition in the Alps surrounding Chateau d’Oex…

We started our expedition on Saturday morning at ten o’clock and finished on Sunday. At the beginning, my group was not as energetic as we could have been; we felt tired and, on the first day, we found it hard to follow the map in order to find our way to the campsite. Our rucksacks were also really heavy, as for the hike we needed a lot of things: water, food, a sleeping bag, a tent, a bunsen burner for heating the food, and a change of clothes for the next day. To be honest, my group felt pretty unenthusiastic about carrying all that and navigating too! The weather was also quite bad; it was really windy and cold and that made map-reading and walking even more difficult.

At the start of the hike, our group went the wrong way but we quickly found the right way, and the terrain was mostly flat or even downhill. Because it was so cold, we just wanted to get to the campsite! We were really stressed about the fact that we had got a bit lost and were relieved when we managed to get there. When we arrived, we put our tents up and made dinner. We enjoyed dinner so much and while we were cooking, Raquel, one of the girls from the other group, was cooking noodles, and accidentally dropped all her noodles in the sink! It was so funny. Violeta and I cooked quesadillas, a Mexican food made out of tortilla and cheese, and then we cooked noodles; I don’t know if it was because we were so hungry but they tasted incredibly good! That night we had a really good time, despite the fact it was now snowing heavily. It was very cold for us at night but, as the teachers said, “This is part of the camping experience.” And they were right – to spend the night sleeping in the Swiss Alps was an unforgettable experience.

Our second day was so much fun! We were still cold because it kept blizzarding, but we didn’t mind because we were hiking in such an awesome landscape. The sight of the trees and mountains blanketed in snow with the turquoise river flowing through the white was incredibly beautiful. At the start of the hike, my group was walking a little slow but then we really sped up and ended up completing the journey in less time than we were expected to. Getting to our destination felt so good; we were so happy to have made it!

Looking back on our hike, we all felt so satisfied that we were able to walk 40 km through the mountains, successfully navigating our way in difficult conditions. I think that my group truly improved our ability to work as a team; in the beginning, we didn't have much communication between us so I think that’s why we got lost, but on the second day, we did really well because we had learned that we needed to communicate effectively, so I think we achieved the skill of good team work, and the importance of this will stay with us. At the moment, we are all sore because of the 40 km distance we hiked but it was definitely worth it! I also want to thank Mrs Sisson, Ms O’Donnell, and Ms Drake for helping us in every step of our adventure. Thanks also to my team and the other team for such a good experience (Violeta, Liza F, Liza S, Nastya, Gimena, Sandra, Raquel, Eksha and Regina). I feel like this is an experience for life that will always be with us.