Local cadet experiences 'magical' expedition
Sam Smith selected for international expedition to Iceland
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 06:00 am
Despite two weeks of grueling physical challenges, St. Albert cadet Sam Smith has nothing but positive memories of a recent trip to Iceland.
Smith, 18, is a master warrant officer with the St. Albert Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and was one of 18 cadets selected across the country to participate in the International Expedition to Iceland.
“I absolutely loved Iceland,” he said. “It was amazing to be there.”
The group of cadets departed Halifax on Aug. 21, marking the start of the two-week adventure.
Before boarding their airplane, the group was briefed on what to expect in Iceland.
“When we got our briefing, they said people believed in elves and trolls and magic and we kind of thought that was a little bit strange,” he said. “But when you get to Iceland, you can kind of believe it because it just looks magical.”
A guide led the group, each member with a 40- to 50-pound rucksack strapped to their back, through southern Iceland for the first 10 days.
Each day, the group hiked for roughly eight hours, covering 12 kilometres and passing by waterfalls and natural hot springs along the way.
Halfway into the hiking component, poor weather conditions forced the group to put their determination and stamina to the test while crossing a large valley glacier.
“The plan was to get up at 4 a.m. and by 5 a.m., when it was bright, we’d start walking,” Smith said. “We spent most of the day on the glacier – of the 17 hours we were hiking, 12 of it was on the glacier.”
He said this was without a doubt the most difficult day, but said it was one of the highlights of the trip.
Following the hike, the cadets spent three days mountain biking and again battled inclement weather – they even experienced an early-morning snowfall.
Smith said the wind was so bad at times that cadets were thrown off the bikes and blown off the road.
“Finally, when you see the bus in the distance, you feel great,” he said, adding this signaled the end of the biking component.
The final day allowed the group to relax in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.
Smith had completed a handful of expeditions with the cadets previously, adding the completion of a regional expedition last year made him eligible to apply for the international expedition.
“Really, in order to be accepted to the national or international, you have to have good merit, you have to show good skill on the expeditions that you’ve been on and be recommended,” he said.
Smith is starting his fifth year in cadets and will age out in December, when he turns 19. He said he intends to join the infantry.