Report by Maia Ward
Recipient of the YET Stephenson Award
- Day 1: Build up at school
- Day 2: Travel to Oslo
- Day 3: Mountain bike to Finse
- Day 4: Walking on glacier
- Day 5: Mountain bike to Flam
- Day 6: Sea kayak on Fjords
- Day 7: Sea kayak on Fjords
- Day 8: Sea kayak to Gudvagen
- Day 9: Walk up to Hardangervidda Plateau
- Day 10: Day 1 of DofE trek
- Day 11: Day 2 of DofE trek
- Day 12: Day 3 of DofE trek
- Day 13: Day 4 of DofE trek
- Day 14: Transfer to Haugastol
- Day 15: Transfer back to school
Day 1 included a kit check, where we ensured that we had all the correct kit and weren’t taking too many things with us. We then discussed our aim for our Gold Duke of Edinburgh. After, we slept on the floor in the sports hall; luckily they allowed us to sleep on the sports mats.
This was our travel day. We woke up at 3am to catch the bus to Heathrow. From there we caught our flight to Oslo. This was followed by a four hour bus journey to our hotel in Haugastol, where we stayed the night.
The cycling was challenging as there was a lot of uphill and downhill, and there were no proper cycle paths. I fell off the bike the first day and injured my knee! However, the scenery was amazing and made it worthwhile.
The glacier was my favourite day. We were led by a local guide, and were split into two groups. We wore crampons and were shown how to walk using them. We also wore harnesses and had rope tied between us to ensure our safety. We walked over part of the glacier covered in snow, walking in each other’s footprints, as there were fissures in the ice beneath. We then walked on ice, which was much easier than walking on snow. We jumped over small fissures, and even climbed into some, using ice picks. This was scary but incredible, as I never thought that I would be able to do that. I felt a real sense of achievement.
These were the sea kayaking days. We arrived at the edge of the Fjords, were given a lesson on safety- this included how to escape a capsized kayak. After practising the routine on dry land, we had to practise in the water (which was freezing cold)! We then packed the kayaks with our belongings and started our journey. The kayaking was relaxing. We each took turns sitting in the front and back of the kayak where we had to steer. My steering technique was called zig-zag, as I kept on over steering. However, we reached our destination in one piece.
Whilst Kayaking we were entertained with stories of trolls by our guide and how they shaped the cliffs by moving and falling into them. This folklore is an integral part of Norwegian culture. The scenery was amazing; majestic cliffs rising around us and incredible blue water with the occasional seal making an appearance.
Day 9 of the kayaking finished around 12. We then had lunch, packed our expedition rucksacks and started walking. Days 10-13 were our Gold DofE trekking days. We walked along the plateau. We walked up and down mountains, some covered in snow, and crossed rivers (trying to look nimble but failing). Our hypothesis was ‘The flora is more diverse along the Fjords than on the plateau.’ At the Fjords we had stopped to take pictures of plants, and we did the same whilst walking thus allowing us to meet our aim. This allowed us to make comparisons between the diversity and amount of species present in each.
This was our transfer back to school. We had a four hour bus journey, caught the plane to Heathrow, and then had another 3.5 hour bus journey back to school.
We wild camped every night except for the first and last night, where we stayed at the hotel. The wild camping was a new experience. However, our campsites were spectacular-the views were breath-taking. The out houses not so much (one had a hive), and we all came to the conclusion that going in the wild was far better!
What I got out of the experience
I believe that I have become a more confident person as a result of the expedition; it challenged me and showed me I could achieve things I didn’t think possible. I further developed my team working and leadership skills.
I fully appreciate the support YET gave me, and the experiences they have helped me gain. I would encourage anyone to go on an expedition, try new experiences and challenge themselves, as I have found it an incredibly rewarding experience.
These transferable skills have helped me develop as an individual; they have already given me the confidence to tackle new challenges that were out of my comfort zone. I now see potential opportunities and know that even if I am anxious about doing something new, I have the ability and confidence to do it; better to have tried than to have regrets.