4th August 2011
Following a morning of both physical and mental challenges in sport and language sessions, rucksacks were loaded as the Red and Blue groups set forth on a hike to the campsite that would be home for the night.
The hottest day in weeks proved to be a challenging yet pleasant walking environment, as did the mountainous terrain on our way across the border to France. However, the time estimates for our hike from La Bourri were quickly forgotten as both groups proceeded at lightning pace, and before we knew it, the mountain-side campsite was in sight. One last push from all saw us as the first to arrive and we quickly began setting up the tents.
Once all had arrived we donned our rucksacks once more and set off for the Lac d’Arvouin, infamous for its brown trout and the disappearance of Chris Austin 10 years ago (more on this later). As dusk drew nearer the aroma of the BBQ welcomed us back to camp. With dinner finished the whole camp reunited around the roaring fire for an evening of toasting marshmallows, songs and ghost stories. Whilst the valley was filled with renditions of camp fire favourites. The staff must admit defeat in the knowledge that the ‘Chris Austin’ ghost story scared a grand total of no one. As the embers of the fire slowly came to a close, so did our day, with everybody returning to their tents for a well deserved rest.
Given the glorious weather of the day before, waking up to the sound of a heavy downpour wasn’t how we had envisaged our day beginning, but this was exactly the scene we faced upon waking up. With breakfast pushed back under canvas, a break in the weather provided us with enough time to pack up and set off on our return to camp. The attitude for the return journey was brilliant, with all focused on a strong finish as we once again crossed the border into Switzerland. For some of our younger mountaineers, the comfort of a minibus awaited them for the final push back to camp, whilst the rest took a route off the path and down steep declines through unmarked fields. It was during this stage that the hike turned from a walk into a run, with the ‘Big Dog Squad’ charging down the mountains like the fearless campers they are. Special mention must go to Axel, who not only ran down pretty much the whole mountain but chose to walk back up a hill to run down it one more time.
Once at the final stage, the minibus was waiting for all to return,and for some this was the end. However, a newly formed squad emerged. The ‘Elite Big Dog Squad’ was a team of six campers who decided that there was only one way to return to camp, the same way that had seen them cross borders and mountains with ease. So we walked the final leg of what turned into a mammoth journey, and it was nigh on impossible to see that they had already hiked throughout the morning. It was a great effort, and one that deserves a name check for those involved. So, hats off to Andre, Avery, Jessica, Jacqueline, Hannah and Heinke!
A quick lunch break and the relentless energy of the Red and Blue groups continue, as an afternoon of climbing on the indoor wall awaits all.
All in all, a very successful camping trip. To quote Marvin Gaye, “there ain’t no mountain high enough …”