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Oh Valley of Wonders!

Enjoy School World News

Friday 30th September 2022

Reported by Enjoy School, Life bloom Academy

On Monday the 19th and on Tuesday the 20th September, we went on a school trip to the mountains in the Vallée des Merveilles. "My school organised a trip to the Vallée des Merveilles. We went by bus and we stayed one night." write Anna and Lucy. The Vallée des Merveilles. is located in the west of Mount Bego at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters. The Valley of Wonders as it is known in English is on the territory of the French commune of Tende, in the Alps. It is a valley of the Mercantour Massif, in the Alps. Why is it called the Valley of Merveilles? It got its name because of its engravings, which date like 4,000 BC. An estimated 38,000 to 50,000 engravings are spread in the park. this is a lot and this is what we were going to see. The Valley of Wonders is known for its more than 40,500 prehistoric rock carvings dating from the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age and other more recent carvings as well as for its hikes which is what we were going to do.

At 8.30am on the Monday we needed to meet the bus, next to the big park in Polygone. We had to go through Italy. On the way, we saw the results of the storm Alex. When we arrived at Lake Mèches,(after several tight turns where we congratulated the driver) at 10:45am we took our bags and we started the hike. Aurélien recounts his hike on the first day:

"With my friends and my classmates we went to the 'Vallée des Merveilles' by bus. On the bus I listened to music. It was 2 hours on the bus, it was so long !! When we arrived at the destination. We started to climb the 700 meters for the refuge. It was very difficult for some children to climb for four hours.On the way up, we drink, drink and drink. We ate too during the breaks !!! I talked with my friend, and I got to know them better. I liked the countryside, because I love nature and we see a lot of mushrooms. We didn't eat the mushrooms !! Because we didn’t know if it was a good one."

Lilou .S. tells colourfully recounts the first day:

"And off we go for a long, very long, very very long adventure full of fatigue, screams, tears, anguish, and torture. But don't worry, we're still alive otherwise you won't be able to read this story taken from reality. Once there, head for the mountain. But, false start, a pee break! Once we left, full of motivation and courage, we were wrong, we were already tired without knowing what fate had in store for us. 3 groups were quickly created. 1) the fast ones (or suicidal, what an idea to go up so fast) 2) the mitigating ones (hesitating to go fast or slow, therefore finding themselves in the middle) 3) the slow ones (no need to say more). The troops were depressed, marching became longer and more complicated. and inevitably, when crossing with the choice between two paths we had to take the most complicated path! As if the job wasn't hard enough already! Once we got to the very top of the mountain (after several desires to give up) we managed to remove the cloud of depression that was flattening us by learning from a couple of hikers that “the refuge is only 10 minutes away". So we climbed, stars in our eyes! Run uphill despite the pain! despite the freezing cold! despite the bags heavy as rocks! and above, what did we see…? another hill. Cries of pain were shouted through the echo of the mountains like a deep tear and filled with pain. eyes on the ground, heads down, we continued. And then, finally good news, we arrived. The shelter! All the members of the group screamed with joy"

Clearly each student had a different experience. As Léa reports on the hike "for some people it was complicated". Lilou .D. was one who found it complicated, she writes "We thought it would be okay, no, we walked for 4 hours. 'Help me I'm going to die' i thought but I felt good after the effort and then the comfort we arrived at the shelter." Ines too found the walk challenging but explains, "For some it was easy or even fun but for me I found it hard and even stressful." Camille .C. has more experience hiking and shared her account of the first day:

"Everyone wanted to go to the toilet so we took a long break in a place where we could go. The one and half hours before the lunch was very annoying because me and other people walk very fast and there are some people who walk very slowly so every five minutes we had to wait for the group who walked slowly. We eat around one p.m. After lunch we did two groups of people, people who walk fast and people who walk more slower. We saw beautiful landscapes, some cows and one ram. At the end of the hike, we were really tired but we were very proud of ourselves."

Emma shared a similar sentiment "I was a little annoyed to wait for 45 minutes for all the people who walked too slowly for me." Even though she also found the walk challenging at times, "I still had a lot of fun during this climb which was so complicated that I didn't even have the strength to look at the landscapes around me."

In the early evening we arrived at the shelter to sleep there after 6 hours with 700m of elevation and 10 km. During this long journey we saw sublime landscapes. It was already very cold "normal as it was 6 pm" writes Emma. In the shelter, we had a very nice dinner. At the shelter we chose which bed we were gonna sleep in and then, some people went to take a hot shower. "For dinner we had soup; pasta that was actually good; cheese and bread but I didn’t have any and finally cake. They really fed us well there." says Ines. The dinner was great and after the dessert we all went to bed. "We went up like a flock of sheep in our beds." recounts Elona. For many they enjoyed the whole school sharing one room in the dormitory. "With Ilana and Léonora we started telling stories in the boys' bed. There was Mattéo, Asthon , Léonora and Ilana." Elona continues. "I had a good evening speaking with the boys with Elona, Matteo, Ashton and me." confirms Ilana. "The best part of his 3 days was the dormitory in the evening, it was too good and very funny kit sleeping in the same place even if I did not sleep at night" says Emma. Everyone had so much energy and made so much noise, Ilana clarified "At 22:00 everyone was in bed but the boys were unbearable they didn't want to sleep". But we got up the next morning at 7 am, we got ready and we had breakfast at 8.30. In the morning, breakfast is hectic. "Battles for toasted bread, or hot chocolate are not surprising when you are 34 children." states Lilou .S. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, Camille .C. recounts a magical moment "during breakfast, we celebrated my birthday." After breakfast, they gave us a sticker and a packed lunch.

At 08:30, we got prepared for a walk to the rock etchings of the Valley of Marvels. The walk lasted 3 hours, and the engravings were beautiful "Especially the Christ and the Sorcerer one." commented Wilfried. During the guides told us things about the formation of the Valley of Marvels and the rock etchings. "This was very interesting." said Wilfried.

"The Mercantour guides explained to us how it is to form the glacial valleys: A glacier is a mass of ice formed by the settling of snow sloughs. The guides also told us that the Mercantour park is also nicknamed: The water towers of the Alpes-Maritimes. He also informed us that the ice had disappeared for 15 thousand years." explained Lenni.

"They [the guides] taught us a lot of things like that there is a lot of thunder in the Mercantour park, lakes of Vallée des merveilles were transformed to install generators and turbines for hydro-electricity." Continued Camille .C.

The class learned other things such as "you can't bring a dog to the 'Vallée des Merveilles'', "you are not allowed to pick up the flowers in this natural Park.", "glass is composed of quartz', after learning about the composition of the rocks, about the glacier's valleys and about the Mercantour park rules The class ate their packed lunches next to the sorcerer. "The Sorcerer is the best known engraving" explained Lennox and Esteban. "We had lunch in the clouds with an amazing view." commented Ines. We ate lunch with the guides, when we ate we saw a marmot on a rock. In the mountain we saw a mountain goat, marmots, cows and other animals. "The valley has a lot of animals, but we made so much sound so we didn't see a lot of animals." explained Manuele. After lunch we went down to the shelter to take our things. "The guides took us to places a little complicated for my taste" said Emma. When everyone packs their bag, we went down to the bus and we decided to not take a break to not delay us. The class split into two groups. For the first group the walk lasted 4 hours "because it was the descent and not the ascent." said Wilfried. "We got to the bus at 17:00 approximately". "The descent was super easy at first until I twisted my ankle and couldn't walk anymore, at that moment my only goal was to get back to the bus to rest and go home." recounted Emma. In the other group Ines explained "My group and I got lost and walked really slowly", Lucie writes "We took a short break in the mountain to regain energy for the hike.The view from there was so beautiful, the lake and the mountain rivers were dazzling."

The two groups caused a problem "The driver had no patience, so he did not wait for the other students" explained Elona. "The driver of the bus was not very kind and he wanted to go without the last children and the adults". Continued Camille. C. "He spoke badly to Christelle, he shouted at children when they did nothing and the worst he left without children" reports Lilou .D. At 17:30 the conductor told Christelle that he was forced to go or else his work hours would run out and it wouldn't be possible to drive the bus after. Christelle accepted, and the students left without 6 students and 3 adults. Fortunately, the guide accepted to take them to the nearby city, where from there they took a taxi to Cagnes-Sur-Mer.

Aston recalls his experience:

"We walked for six hours and we slept in the refuge of wonders and the next day we climbed the mountain to see the sorcerer where we ate on the way down I saw chamois then we returned to the lake but the bus had already left so we took a taxi and I returned at 9 p.m."

Ines recounts:

"We had to fit ten people in a small car. Three adults in the trunk, five kids in the back seats and a guide and I in the front. After a bit we met with another car and split into two groups. I ended up getting home around 11pm."

Lucie states:

"I went home and I was very tired and also we were in a 4*4 it was so good

The taxi was so comfortable, I loved it, it made me love this beautiful ride. It was so much fun because I had a great time with my friends. "

Faith wrote:

"We have done a lot of walking but we are still alive! The second day , when we were walking to the bus we received a call from a girl in my class . She said 'what can I say … the bus left without you …

We’re actually on the bus…' We panicked! But Christelle had the solution! We took a taxi, we arrived at school. We were happy!!!!!"

Sacha summarised his whole experience:

"We walked for six hours and we slept in the refuge of wonders and the next day we climbed the mountain to see the sorcerer where we ate on the way down I saw chamois then we returned to the lake but the bus had already left so we took a taxi and I returned home at 9 p.m."

While there was a mixed feeling in the second group the first group was also upset to leave their classmates behind, Lilou .D. writes "I was stressed like crazy." Christelle learned the day after that it was a lie, and the driver perfectly could have waited without any problems. "Despite this episode, which was really stressful, all this school trip was really fun." concludes Camille .C. "At some moments I was a little bit angry because we had to wait for some people. At the end of the hike, my feet hurt me but it doesn’t matter because now it’s memories and I really like this school trip." Anna writes "I felt exhausted by the long walk. But when I arrived at the shelter, I felt happy because I achieved my goal. I was also happy to sleep with my friends. Now, I feel confident that I can go on a long hike. I went home very tired but happy for this beautiful trip and the great time I had with my friends."

Hugo and Matteo wrote a poem to summarise the trip:

There are shelters to sleep in.. it's the mercantour park.

It is a protected site. There are guides who help us for the morning hike.

We learnt about the icebergs and the food was good

We saw animals, rivers but we did not sleep good.

Our feet hurt, we walked for a long time

We learned what is the difference between bivouac and camp site.

We saw some engravings, we saw a refuge.

In the valley of wonders you can hike to see animals, marmots, ram, and wild boar.

In the valley of wonders you can hike to observe the prehistoric engravings.

After the trip we reflected about how we felt and what we learned about ourselves. Lilou .S. wrote "Great pride is felt, with lots of good and bad memories of 2 days at the Vallée des Merveilles." not all felt positively Ines reflects :"I honestly regretted going when I was there and now I don’t really feel any different now but I guess some moments were nice." but Anna summarised the feeling of most "I went home very tired but happy for this beautiful trip and the great time I had with my friends."

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