One by one we arrive; each laden with a sack a quarter of our own weight. We set off – the first out of the six groups – along the country track. Our pack of seven trek through the woods, every so often accompanying the bird’s song with a chorus of our own.
Breaks are needed regularly, but fortunately they are not in excess. At one such rest we can be found lined up on the fallen trunk of a tree, eating and drinking whatever we can salvage from the depths of our over-packed rucksacks. We stay a little while, to listen to the soundtrack of the forest: a sweet blend of the bird’s tweeting overhead, the rustling of the leaves in the giant trees and the gentle crashing of the water flowing in a creek nearby. Together we clamber over the unstable branches of rotting trees before slinging on our bags and heading again onto the never-ending gravel path.
We walk for what feels like an age. Over hills and bridges and rocks and bushes and roads we go; miserable clouds hanging above us all the while, constantly threatening to soak us with their innards.
Soon we pause at the top of a bare ridge. It is two wild ponies that have caught our attention. One of our number checks the compass, throwing us all into panic. We see that we have come too far along the wrong path and, in attempt to rectify our mistake, we decide to hike even further, into the barren heathland. We carry on like this until we have completed a trail that is truthfully an unnecessarily large semi-circle. Relief spreads through the pack as we rejoin our previously planned route, allowing us to rest at last.
By the time we arrive at camp the afternoon is all but gone. We arrive alongside 2 other groups; with 2 already set up for the night we are satisfied with our comfortable middle position. After an initial struggle with the tents, we try to construct a ratatouille, which, although tasty, somehow ends up looking like a pile of shriveled slugs.
Finally the heavens open, spitting down on us distastefully as we finish our dinner. Night has truly fallen by now; many people have taken to their tents, though the majority remains outside. Our party, however, has split into our two shelters.
I lie- my sleeping companions beside me – listening to the rain lazily batter the outside of our canvas pavilion, feeling comfortable and warm and happy in the darkness that surrounds me.
Today has been a good day. We may have blisters on our feet and aches in our limbs, but it has been good. Tears of laughter, of pain and frustration have all been shed and pictures of our journey have been taken and recorded. We are tired as can be and our struggles have been plentiful.
Hello! By the time you're reading this I'll have just gotten back from my last bronze expedition, and I thought I would mark it by showing you guys something I wrote while on the practice expedition.
Hope you're having a great day,