After two years of lockdowns and multiple postponements due to the weather, last Wednesday morning, seven students along with Mr Chen and Ms Wilcockson set off to the Blue Mountains to begin the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Qualifying hike.
Fortunately, the rainy weather held off but there were an abundance of puffer jackets among the group to fight off the cold.
The first leg of the journey was to hike down the first section of the Six Foot Track, to the Cox’s River campsite. It involved climbing over fences, a waterfall and a suspension bridge crossing. There were two among the group who decided that even the cold weather wouldn’t prevent them from swimming in the freezing cold river, while the rest of the group watched on in amusement.
The next day was a trickier walk, walking back to the beginning of the day prior – uphill. We stopped in at the Three Sisters to be tourists and take some photos before travelling to the caravan park which would be our campsite for the next two nights. Somehow, the campsite in the middle of civilisation was even colder than in the middle of nowhere.
The next morning we started the entirely uphill trek to the glow-worm tunnel at Newnes Plateau; it was compared to the Needles but was 100 times worse. At the top, it felt like we had been transported into a sort of prehistoric paradise which was almost pretty enough to distract us from our burning legs and chests. Ms Wilcockson employed her biology knowledge to educate the group about the bioluminescent invertebrates in the glow-worm tunnel and the types of rocks that we had walked past. That night we ditched the dehydrated meals and camp stoves for “family bonding” over Thai in a local restaurant – the highlight of many of our trips.
Despite the blisters and sore muscles, the Gold Qualifying hike was an overall great experience and will be a positive memory in the years to come. It was a great opportunity to challenge ourselves mentally and physically, spend time in God’s creation, make new relationships with people that we wouldn’t necessarily see at school and improve our skills at cards, cooking and packing light.
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