Duke, 3rd expedition: sunscreen instead of rain jacket
by Freya Gehlsdorf & Amelie Eichhorn, Abi 1
Freya and Amelie report from the third of four Duke of Edinburgh's Award Gold Expeditions.

With 30°C and sunshine, the 3rd Duke Gold Expedition and thus the dress rehearsal was in stark contrast to our first one in snow and sub-zero temperatures. Sunday morning at seven we all walked towards the train station, from where the train should take us to the Hegau and thus to our starting points. The backpacks were lighter after all, since neither sweaters nor thick jackets were necessary. In spite of a longer delay we arrived in a good mood and lively at our respective starting points and could finally start hiking. This was of course a good exercise to stay spontaneous and flexible when something comes between our meticulous planning.

Cooling down with a garden hose

More often we had to put on sunscreen or make water stops, because we had not experienced this heat during Duke and also the hills or ex-volcanoes of the Hegau cost us some altitude meters - a good preparation for the Black Forest. After about 20 km of hiking a day, we arrived at our farms sweaty and exhausted. Sometimes we were lucky and were allowed to use a garden hose to shower off, which was a great refreshment after the hot days. Most of the time our farms had dogs that we cuddled with and then we could end the evening with pasta, pesto as well as a nice card game to be fit and alert for a new challenge the next morning. In the morning it was soon time again to take down the tents, cook porridge and start walking at 8 o'clock on the dot.

When hiking - especially in the heat - you sometimes reach your limits even within the group and learn to coordinate with each other and deal with any complications, be it illness, no sleeping bag, not enough snacks or blisters on the feet. This only makes you grow closer together and creates a group dynamic all its own, making Duke and each expedition in particular a unique experience.

We're already excited to see what's in store for the fourth and final expedition in the Black Forest!