Last year I participated in the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award program and I decided to continue with the Silver award program the fol. In this program, 26 hours of skill, physical recreation, service and an adventurous journey need to be completed. After completing an orienteering lesson with our award leader Major Ruwan, we learnt different skills that we would need during the adventurous journey such as mapping and coordinates.
Initially, we planned on going on our Qualifying Journey in May but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we were unable to go. Fortunately we were given the opportunity to go on our four day camping trip over the summer but due to the timing only five participants could go, Emily, Alex, Chloe, Lenny and I. This trip was the culmination of the different skills that we have been practicing in both the Bronze award program and the Silver practice journey such as map reading, orienteering and leadership skills. As there were only five participants on the trip, we all worked together as one group and fulfilled the roles of scout, map reader, navigator, leader, medic and pace counter. Individually we each had to complete a focus project during the course of the qualifying journey, I decided to make a video using my GoPro documenting our journey and the different landscapes we encounter in the Knuckles mountain range.
The first day of the trip we spent a majority of the day travelling from Colombo to Meemure, we transferred from travelling on the bus to a jeep and then stopped at the top of Corbet’s Gap to take photos at sunset. Due to the change in weather, our experience at Corbet’s Gap was very different to the last time we were there as the skies were clear and the mountains visible giving way to a spectacular view. As Meemure is the most isolated village in Sri Lanka it took up to 7 hours of bus then jeep travelling to finally reach our campsite. Once there we identified where we were on the map and orienteered ourselves to the area before setting off to set up our campsite. With so few of us, all four girls were staying in one tent and therefore we were able to quickly set it up. Afterwards, we had a dinner of rice and curry and as we were eating Major Ruwan gave us a run-down of what was going to happen the following day. Once we hiked back up the small hill to our campsites we looked up to see some amazing stars so we then decided to do some stargazing.
On the second day of the trip our focus was fulfilling the different aspects of the route card during our hike. After breakfast we embarked on our hike to Meemure village for lunch, overall the hike was in a Northward direction and downhill. Once reaching Meemure, we stopped for a short tea break before continuing around the outskirts of Meemure through a combination of forest and rice paddy fields until we reached a cave temple. Here we found an old lady who the guides talked to in Sinhala to find that she was the caretaker of the scared cave, she then took us up to her house which was on a steep hill to sing her original songs for us. After this we walked back to the Meemure village for a traditional rice and curry lunch by the family there. On our way back our guides told us that there was a waterfall nearby called “The Seven Waterfalls”, so we decided to hike down a short ways before the forest opened up to the waterfall area. We quickly jumped in, hot from our hike, to find that the water was freezing! Despite it being cold we stayed in the water to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. Then, the guides showed us that we could go through a hole from the top of a small waterfall to exit out underneath it, jump off of the rock next to the small waterfall and how to deep dive under two rocks next to the pool. After spending a lot of time at the waterfalls we decided to go back, shower, have dinner and get ready to fill out our route card. Once we had filled out all the necessary parts of the route card, we went back to our tents to go to sleep.
On the third day of the trip there was a greater emphasis on getting enough for our focus projects during our hike to the Nirto cave. Majority of the hike was at a slight downhill on a path through thick forest on either side where we were able to leisurely walk at our own pace and document flora and fauna for our different focus projects. Then, we reached the bottom of a hill and came to the realisation that the Nitro cave we were hiking to was at the top. After 30+ minutes of steep incline hiking we finally reached the Nitro cave to realise that it was covered in bat poo (which became obvious due to the small and copious amounts of a mysterious dust on the floor). Despite this, the cave was very interesting and created a unique frame of the view when looking out of it. After climbing down the hill we made it back to camp just before as it began pouring down rain, and thus, not allowing us to go to the waterfall to swim. Instead, we showered and bundled up in our tent playing cards and looking over the photos we took of the day before eating dinner and going to sleep.
Our final day of the trip was reserved for travelling, but, due to us missing out on swimming the day before we managed to convince Mr. Lockwood and our guides to allow us to go before leaving. We went on our short walk with our towels and flip flops and jumped into the water straightaway which was seemingly even colder that day. The last time we were there we explored two waterfalls, the one at the opening and the one above. On our last day we decided to explore the waterfall below and our guides told us we could jump off of it, this was significantly higher than the other jump but that only made it even more exciting. Afterwards, we walked back to camp and showered, packed up and said goodbye before heading back to Colombo. On the way back we stopped at Corbet’s gap once again and took some photos before going home.