D of E Training Expedition

This D of E expedition is more like a training session, and we did not have to carry all of our stuff while we were walking, which really cheered us up.

The first day was quite relaxing and enjoyable, despite the terrible weather in the morning. It was literally snowing when we got to the mountain; we had to wear hats and gloves to keep the cold away from us as best we could. It was fortunate that I had them. We did some micro-navigation throughout the day by finding little, recognisable features on the map. For example, we had to locate small caves and ponds around the hill, by “contouring” or “hand-railing”. I feel like I have developed new navigation skills during this training. I just hope that now, our group will never get lost in the actual expedition.

What surprised me was the river features beside us during the day. As we have just studied rivers in Geography, I was able to recognise a lot of them. I was so excited when I saw rapids, interlocking spurs, flood plains and meanders! It was fantastic to see how the stuff we learned at school had reflected in real life! – You get a closer view of nature through this.

For the bronze group, we cooked a two-course meal with trangias for the first time. Night had begun to fall and it had started to rain, so it was a chaotic experience fumbling with the cooking pans and re-lighting matches when the fuel can ran out. However, we eventually got the hang of it and we couldn’t have felt more accomplished when we finally got to taste our bowls of steaming hot pasta.

The second day, we navigated in pairs with minimal assistance from the accompanying teachers. Despite taking a few wrong turns at the beginning, we quickly learnt to go back and recognise the features on the map to check that we were on the right track. The most challenging part of the journey was the hike up a steep hill, as there were prickly gorse bushes on both sides of the narrow path and we had to walk slowly due to the wet, sticky mud on the ground. We tried our best to motivate one another and finished our hike right on time at the end.

All in all, we’ve learnt a lot from this practice expedition and we’re definitely more prepared for the official one in a few months. It will certainly be more physically demanding as we will have to camp outdoors as well as carry our tents and overnight equipment… but I do feel up for the challenge and I believe our group will be able to overcome any difficulties along the way, as a team.

Anna Zhang and Karen Qian – F4