Alexandra's CAS Journey

DOE Qualifying Journey

The final Duke of Edinburgh Adventurous Journey. After being the trip being canceled in March due to COVID-19, I was hoping we would be able to complete the silver award. My sleeping bag was waiting in the cupboard for the next camping trip and I was itching to get out of the house after months of quarantine. This summer I was supposed to be going on my Advanced Explorer canoe trip for 30 days in the Canadian wilderness, but of course, it was canceled as well. In July I received an email from Mr. Lockwood saying that we might be able to go on our capstone trip for the Silver award during summer. After responding eagerly, I waited impatiently for more updates. Finally, we got the confirmation: a four-day trip to the Knuckles mountain range with Emily, Talia, Chloe, Lenny, and I.

Day 1

We all packed our backpacks into the bus and took off to the winding roads of the Knuckles with masks and hand sanitizer. After hours of driving, we got out of the bus thinking we arrived only to load our bags onto a jeep that took us for another hour along the small bumpy roads to our campsite. As the sunset, we set up our tents, got the rundown of the rules, and ate a delicious meal of rice and curry.

At the campsite

Before heading off to sleep, we walked down a small path to a clearing where we could see a 360° view of the mountains and night sky.

Day 2

Our first big hiking day. We made the mistake of starting our hike at 8:30, after the sun was already bright in the sky, burning our arms and necks. We hiked down into the valley where the Meemure village, the most secluded village in Sri Lanka, was located. After a refreshing tea and jaggery break, we continued into the village to the oldest house in the village. We learned about how an old Sri Lankan King set up the house as a hiding spot due to the isolated nature of Meemure.

Mr. Lockwood photographing a woman crossing a puddle.

View from Meemure village.

Continuing on we met a woman who acted as a temple’s caretaker. She lived alone in the forest, collected trash and hung it up around her house, and made up songs to sing to herself and to visitors. She sang us a couple of her songs about the mountains and her family before warning us about the slippery path as we left. We walked through rice paddies to a house where we ate lunch. We finished the day we a trip to a waterfall and finishing up route cards to record our hike.

Day 3

Unlike the last leisurely hike downhill, this hike was up a steep mountain to Nitro Cave. It started with a gradual incline, first on dirt roads, then into the forest. Then the climb started. After an exhausting hike up the mountain, we finally made it to the top where we were greeted by a cave filled with bat poop. Yep, you read that right. Bat poop. We climbed into the cave with a bandana around my face, trying my best not to place my hand into the piles of it. Once I got past the smell, I looked around and appreciated the view from the cave.

Resting at the opening of the cave

Inside the cave

After climbing down out of the cave with our shoes completely coated in bat poop, we tried to watch it off (unsuccessfully) using a trickle of water streaming down the side of the cave. We were hoping to swim in the waterfall again however the pouring rain decided against that. After making it back to camp, we showered off all the bat poop and played card games in the tent.

Day 4

We started the morning with a walk down to the waterfall where we jumped off cliffs into the freezing cold water.

The Seven Falls

After packing up the camp into the jeep we drove back to our buses and on to Colombo. But not without a last stop at Corbet’s Gap.

The stop at Corbet’s Gap

The view from Corbet’s Gap

Throughout this trip, we developed our navigation skills on the hikes by using the maps, compasses, finding the grid references of landmarks, and creating route cards. We also practiced our leadership skills because for each hike one of us was the leader, to keep us all organized on our specific tasks.

Check out Talia’s video for her Focus Project.

Additionally, for my focus project on this trip, I practiced my photography. I focused on landscapes and developing my skills using the settings on my camera, the rule of thirds, and lighting. The following are the photos I chose to submit for my focus project:

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