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The philosophy of La Garenne is underpinned by our holistic approach to education. We consciously aim to develop the links between all kinds of learning opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. The piece of writing below is an English assignment by an MYP 3 student. He is reflecting on his personal experiences during a four-day mountain walk around Mont Blanc, which MYP 3 and MYP 4 students did at the start of term. This was written as part of an MYP Language and Literature unit on creative autobiography.



I enjoy hiking. I would not go so far as to say I adore it, but I enjoy it. And like most hikers, I love the sight of a mountain hut only a few minutes away, just waiting for me to arrive. Even better is the moment when I cross the threshold, remove my muddy boots and replace them with far superior footwear. Slippers - ridiculous, oversized slippers. Then comes the moment that long-distance hikers can relate to, when you walk into the refuge and behold the bed where you will spend the night. Knowing that you will be surrounded by strangers, imagining yourself during the night, unable to sneeze, cough, or fart for fear of your bedfellows’ angry stares and snorts. For a brief moment, you wish you had a bed to yourself, a bed where you could twist and turn freely, a bed where you could stretch out your limbs when you’re woken by “the early birds”, those fitness maniacs who rise before dawn to seize the day. With a sigh, you accept your fate, but as you drop your bag, you remember that not all hope is lost: there is something that could make up for a bad night. You instinctively spin around and ask if there are any showers. If you are told oui, consider yourself lucky. If you hear non, do not despair. Filth is part of the fun. Yet imagine being deprived of these pleasures upon reaching the hut after trekking for nine hours...

I experienced this modest trauma on the fifth day of Le Demi Tour du Mont Blanc. Allow me to relive my trauma for you now.

We had been tired, more worn out than usual. Earlier in the day, we had sprinted down a steep mountain road on blistered feet, hoping to catch a bus that would bring us to Courmayeur. We hoped to visit the village before our nine-hour hike. Inevitably, we missed this bus. But we were young and fit.

I can manage an extra seven kilometers, I thought. “Nineteen plus seven, twenty-six. No big deal. I can manage that.”

In fact, I was so confident in my own physical and mental prowess that I carried two packs for most of the day. Eight hours later, confidence spent, I was suffering and staring at the mountain hut like a shipwrecked sailor who has seen an island in the distance. Paradise. There it was. Only a few minutes away, just waiting for me. As I trudged up the hill I began to fantasize about those soft slippers: Would they be soft? Would they fit? Would there be any at all? Earlier in the day, I had been told there would be showers in the refuge. I could already feel the warm water trickling down my spine and how refreshed I would feel afterwards.

When you walk for hours on end with not much to talk about, you tend to zone out and slip into meditation. As I walked the last few minutes to the hut, time dissolved for me. I don’t remember how I climbed the last stretch but suddenly I was there, in paradise, surrounded by smiling friends who were dreaming of warm showers and soft slippers of their own. I turned around, exhausted but exultant, appreciating the valley and the steep path that we had ascended. The river below looked like a piece of blue string that had been laced through each crack and crevasse, weaving its way through the valley, glinting gold from the rays of the sun. Iwas so absorbed by the beauty of the landscape that I hardly noticed when someone tapped me on the back. When I turned, still in a trance, I saw the guide exit the refuge. He seemed to have a worried expression.

“There must be no space,” I joked. “We’ll have to walk back!”

The guide approached us and grimaced. “There is no space in the refuge,” he said quietly. “We’ll have to walk back.”

Was it a joke? No, it wasn’t! The refuge was overbooked. Those soft, ridiculously oversized slippers were slipping away from me. I let out a primal scream, but it came out as a whimper. Did I weep? Maybe I did. Perhaps this is why I say I enjoy hiking but don’t adore it.

E.P.  MYP3

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Categories: Expeditions

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