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International Award Practice Hike

Posted on: 26th April 2016

On April 11th, five students—Daria, Crystal, Adina, Fernanda and Marina—took on the Swiss elements and embarked on their practice exploration trip for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. The persistent precipitation did little to dampen spirits as the girls boarded the mini bus that would take us to Attalens to begin our two day hike through the Swiss countryside. 

The hike started through some dense forest on the edge of Ecoteaux village. The girls had to put their navigational skills into practice as they tried to find the path to the river. They followed the sounds of gushing water until they were confronted with the icy meltwater that was cascading down the mountain. After a lunch of homemade cheese rolls, the girls followed the river as it meandered through the wood. The rain, that had thankfully begun to ease off, fell gently on the green foliage of the forest giving the hike a truly enchanting ambiance. Marina said it was really “exciting”. By mid-afternoon, the girls had reached Chatel St. Denis and proceeded on a muddy path through the forest en route to the refuge where they would rest for the night. As part of the exploration, the girls took pictures of the flora and fauna they found in the area which included some curious escargot, worms and a small deer grazing close to the refuge. When the girls finally arrived at the refuge, they unpacked and feasted on a supper of pasta and tomato sauce made on the two little gas stoves. The girls displayed excellent team work as each of them carried parts of the stoves and the kitchen utensils needed to prepare the food. They spent the evening sitting and chatting. Crystal kept spirits up with her wonderful sense of humour and impressed us all with her packing skills—which incidentally included travel chopsticks and a Starbucks cappuccino. There were plenty of giggles and laughs before snuggling up in their sleeping bags on the floor of the refuge. Fernanda described the day as a real “experience” and something she had never done before.  

The girls were awoken early on Sunday morning, to plan their exploration for the day. Daria shared her porridge making skills with Fernanda while Adina, Marina and Crystal shared the wash up duties. The girls set out on their hike towards the village of Attalens armed with a map, compass and enthusiasm. Adina was in charge of the map while Crystal was on compass duty. The five girls had to navigate around a closed path and down the gently sloping mountainside with dreams and chatter about the lovely, hot showers that were awaiting them back at Surval. The girls were treated to a Mexican lunch as Fernanda and Marina expertly whipped up some quesadillas for the hungry hikers. Daria once again showed her camp craft prowess as she made hot chocolate on the little camping stove to warm up the girls. At 2 o’clock, a flurry of snow welcomed the girls to the village of Attalens as they finally arrived at their last check point, the Hotel D’Ville—exhausted, covered in mud but with an overriding sense of achievement at the two day trek they had just completed.

For more photographs, please click here

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