Ever since I completed my bronze DofE I have wanted to complete the gold award.
For anyone who doesn't know what DofE is, it is basically scheme set up by the Duke of Edinburgh himself that allows people to explore England by walking and camping. There are 3 levels, bronze, silver and gold, each increasing in length and difficulty. I have already completed my bronze and silver and now Gold DofE - which is 4 days and 3 nights in the wild..... so no toilets or showers!
The past weekend I completed the practice expedition in Wales before the real expedition in France in July.
As it was Wales, I was expecting the weather to be bad...but not quite as bad as it was! We had constant rain for 3 days straight, which made for very cold and bitter nights.
The morning of our first day of walking started out well, with a little rain and wind but not too much. However, by the time we reached our lunch stop at the top of a mountain, the rain had become heavier and the wind stronger. This meant that by the time we arrived at a section on our maps that was meant to be a 'stream', it was now a full-flowing, ragging river which would have been impossible to cross! So, we had to walk all the way around it. I just underestimated how far that would be!
We ended up walking for 14 HOURS STRAIGHT with heavy rain and 50mph winds, our clothes were soaked through and so were the spares in our 2.5 stone bags on our backs, and to make it worse, we had to walk along the ridge line of a mountain made of stone with a sudden drop not even 10 feet away. Thank God it was dark by that time otherwise it would have been a lot harder to concentrate!
At 12.30am, we finally arrived back at camp, but that wasn't the end of it. We still had to pitch our tents, get out of our wet clothes and eat some food. It was a lot harder to do with hands that were too cold to function and feeling absolutely exhausted. About 4 people were delirious by the time we got back, there was about another 5 injuries, and one person with the first signs of hypothermia! It didn't help that I also had an asthma attack at the top of the mountain in the pitch black and freezing weather!
Our leaders were kind enough to give us the day off the next day, which was very helpful as none of us actually had the energy or the resources to do it! Our clothes were still drying and we were using borrowed clothes!
The final day was better, as the rain decided to back-off and the sun came out. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular and I wish it could have been like that the whole time!
In a crazy way, I now have DofE blues, even if half of the time I thought we were going to have to be rescued off the top of a mountain before we froze to death!
Anyway, the triathlon season is about to start ....and so will the blogs, so be prepared! Roll on 2017 season (and roll on the final DofE expedition in July :) .