Students preparing for the hikes and Mr Mager showing how to cook a gourmet meal on a camping stove!
The International Award is not simply a two day trek in the mountains; it is much more than that. The Bronze award all starts with an online record book where you log your completed activities, split into three categories of physical recreation, skill and service. You have to consistently fulfill activities in all three categories and log hours of participation in the record book. The trip we went on was the IA Bronze Adventurous Journey, which is the culmination of the award.
On the 23 April at about 4pm we left school to travel to a village near Lin’An, about a four hour drive. When we got to the hostel we dropped off our bags in our rooms and then had to go and make dinner using the food we had brought with us and the camping stoves provided by the group Indier who were running our trip. Once dinner was done we went back to our rooms so we would be ready for the hiking on Friday.
On Friday we woke up and packed up our bags, then went to cook breakfast. Once everyone had eaten breakfast we were given a map and compass. We were taught how to use a compass and how to know which way is North, even if you don’t have one. We also learnt a new way to know where North is depending on where moss is growing. We were shown how to read the contour lines on the map so we knew the route we should take which would involve the least amount of steep hills and we went over the seven things you need to remember to ensure you leave no trace when hiking and camping during this trip. These included minimising rubbish and physical traces but also not picking flowers as this would slowly destroy the beauty of the valley of Lin’An. In addition we were asked to trek and camp on durable surfaces which will not be affected by our weight.
We mainly hiked uphill and parts were quite steep, it wasn’t a really hard walk but it was quite long. We started by walking along a road but then we moved into the forest. There were crosses on the map which indicated where we had to get to and these took us to a lake. On the way there were some fallen trees we had to climb over and at one point there was mud everywhere so you had to try and jump across stones to avoid it. Once we arrived at the river the boys wanted to skim stones but we also wanted to overtake other teams so we continued walking. We ended up near a military base so we quickly turned around and walked in the other direction until we finally found where we were camping.
Once we made it to the place where we were camping all of us set up our tents, we shared our tents with another person so it was quite easy to work together and put up the tent quickly. Once this was done we discussed how our hikes went with the other groups. Then after a while we began to cook dinner. In our group most of us had pasta for dinner which meant we had to boil the river water, we also had to boil this water for drinking water the next day as there was no clean water where we were camping. Once we had dinner we built a fire and some of the guides told us stories about previous trips they had taken, two involved bears they had come into contact with once when they were quite young!
We went to bed at about 9:30pm to be ready for the hike the next day. Looking outside the tents, we saw a magnificent show of stars, something we had never been able to see in Shanghai.
The next morning we were wakened early by the sun at 5:30am! Later on we got out of our tents and those who needed the fire for breakfast started to make it. Then we packed up our tents and checked the area to make sure we hadn’t left anything behind.
The hike was easier than the previous day because most of the walking was flat or downhill. We walked alongside a river for most of the time and we moved quickly along the trail. We got to the end point where we waited for a shuttle bus to take us down to the main village where a coach was waiting to bring us back to Shanghai.
We really enjoyed the IA Adventurous Journey – a great experience which we would definitely recommend to other students!
- Laura Kelly, Noelle Heinrich, Leo Michel-Grosjean