Romania 2010 - Gold expedition EDIE

For three years our school has participated in an international youth program, The Duke of Edinburgh Award. It has three levels of difficulty, bronze, silver and gold. Students who signed up three years ago to complete the bronze EDIE this year were trying to carry out the toughest gold standard. It also included a challenging expedition, which they attended in August and Semtember in the  terrain of the Rodna Mountains in Romania. Further you can read its brief description.

Karkulka´s crew, consisting of seven students and two teacher-organizers, safely arrived to the north of Romania despite bad weather. During the visit of the unique “Merry Cemetery”, we often rolled our eyes to look for the blue in gray sky. The weather could have seriously endangered the entire expedition; in that rainy weather students shouldn´t go to mountains that are over two thousand meters high. Fortunately, a regularly updated forecast was true and the next day the weather got better.

Students went alone into the mountains. When we met them in the evening full of optimism, we were very relieved, mainly because we saw that students worked as a team, and we didn´t have to worry about them. However, we received an unwelcome message from the Czech Republic. We could expect one more nice day, followed by filthy, wet weather, and so it was impossible to stay in such a situation on the ridge. Therefore, the students had to walk through two stages of the expedition in one day.

The promised beautiful weather the next day actually took place, and after a four-hour hike, we miraculously found exhausted students almost at the pre-arranged place. The students got over a demanding twelve-hour hike, which showed a descent into a valley marked on the blue tourist maps, but in fact, which  didn´t exist. So we descended about 300 meters to an altitude of 1700 m, where we were not surprised by a night thunderstorm and rainy weather, with temperatures around 5 degrees, which followed the next day.

In the morning, we were again divided, and after three hours came to a nearby village. Students who set off on a journey about half an hour later reached this village about six hours after us. They desired to find a shortcut and went to the Romanian rainforest, so after a few hours of wandering, they took the same path back and followed our path to the village. Tired, muddy and soaking wet, we met them in that village and depressed them with the news that they had to think about the camping outside the village. “Do as you can”, we said. And they really did! After a couple of funny misunderstandings they found themselves in a paradise, as we called the huge house where local people selflessly invited them to be washed, dried, fed and lodged.

The last day we were supposed to meet our students under the beautiful waterfalls named Cascada Cailor. That really happened and we guided a frozen group on a steep climb to the lodge in the Prislop pass (1416 m). It was September 1st and even we experienced travelers were surprised by the daily temperature of 1 °C, with fog and sleet. However, everything went well - we arrived at the lodge for warmth with hot tea, and on the second day, we left to discover the cultural beauty of the region of Maramureş.

If some of our students were really surprised, then it was by the incredible local hospitality and selflessness. Again it showed on the last night when some man arrived at our camp from a nearby village: he gave us firewood, lit the fire and invited us for breakfast at his home. Well, we couldn’t refuse.

The Gold Expedition tested the physical and mental endurance of the participants and they demonstrated camping and other skills. They learned a lot of new and expanded their views. The perfect organization and smooth course of the expedition will hopefully also help to promote next year‘s D of E (EDIE) Award program. Bára, Míša, Martin, Anežka, Annička, Hanka and Zuzka have to write a promotional brochure about EDIE, cut the film about the expedition, and write up a couple of details about their trip so they can send their application for a gold certificate DoEA.

See the photogallery.

Michal Kašpar