July 13, 2017
Off to the airport we go…
After an amazing two-day kayaking trip (with nearly perfect weather) we headed back to Reykjavik in preparation for our final moonup.
Over our short, but rewarding, two-day kayak trip, everyone maintained incredible attitudes. We appreciated every moment we shared together as the trip neared its close. We took our sleeping bags out of our tents and lounged around the island, warmed up, talking and reminiscing about the trip. Laughs were shared and much yelling ensued as we tried to squeeze in every last bit of our time together into that one night–our last night in tents.
Oliver closed our island moonup with a Martin Luther King quote reminding us all to find our leader within and maintain adversity through all challenges. As Riley K. followed Oliver, we spoke about what we saw each other doing in the near future. The night moved right along, as Harrison snuck over to the “guide campsite” and brought out a few chocolate bars. As we treated ourselves, Parker did not hesitate to remind us all how much he will miss this group. Margaret and I could not agree more, as we have found this group to be perfect in every way.
Olivia and Sarah opened up their tent on the edge of the sea, and invited Taylor, Margaret and myself to remember the first day on the Laugavegur trail, when we found ourselves battling rains and winds to eventually reach the warmth of our camp. Taylor did not stop smiling the entire night as Olivia and Sarah shared hilarious stories of our struggling to set up tents in the wind.
Colin, Asher and Riley O. kept us all awake as they rolled around in sleeping bags down the hill, and Asher kept us reminded of his military aspirations as he bounced around the island making us all laugh.
We headed back towards Reykjavik, and set out towards our banquet dinner at a hamburger joint recommended to us by our Icelandic guide, Ellis. We devoured burgers and ice cream, and settled for our final moonup shortly after. Carson and Colin led our final moonup by asking us to name our favorite moment on the trip. Some tears were shed and laughs were shared!
As Margaret and I headed into the room early this morning, we all sang a 5:30am happy birthday to Christopher as he ate his hearty breakfast of chocolate cake.
The group anxiously awaits seeing all of you back home. They have been far away for what seems like a long time; however, they have made lifelong friendships that cannot fade. They are sad to part, but happy to say each and every moment happened. Our group truly came together as one and we all look forward to staying in touch in the future.
Blake and Margaret
July 10, 2017
Hello from a beautiful campsite in Stykkishólmur! We awoke in Þórsmörk and hit the gravel roads, easily crossing rivers in our truck with 46 inch tires. We stopped at Skogafoss waterfall and climbed on the rocks through a small canyon to get the best view. When pulled into Reykjavik, everyone enjoyed the freedom of wandering about the town in groups and had a chance to get some souvenirs to remember the trip. Riley K., Scarlett, and Carson found some awesome backpacks and the girls went to get some juice and yummy toast. We made a taco dinner in the hostel kitchen where Sarah and Taylor enjoyed a pizzadilla. Parker and Olivia then led a Moonup asking everyone about the hardest thing we have ever been through, provoking deep thought and strengthening bonds. Today we traveled across the beautiful Icelandic countryside, gazing upon horses and trickling waterfalls in the distance. In between local music provided by our guide, Christopher wanted to hear Piano Man, and Asher requested we jam out to some Journey. Oliver continued cruising through the Game of Thrones series before arriving at the beautiful Glymur waterfall hike. This afternoon we arrived to a local swimming pool where Colin, Harrison, and Parker went down the slide and everyone relaxed in the geothermal hot tubs. We are grilling hotdogs for dinner, and Oliver and Parker are experimenting with grilling different foods. We’ll keep you all posted with how this turns out! Tonight Taylor and Riley O. will lead Moonup, and we cannot wait to get our feet wet kayaking tomorrow. More to come soon! We can’t wait to cherish these last few days together.
Margaret and Blake
July 9, 2017
We are back in Reykjavik!
Setting out from Landmannalauger onto the Laugavegur Trail, the group quickly found some inclement weather as we began our first day in full rain gear and battling against the wind and beautiful, but challenging, snow fields. Rain and wind were our constant companions as we traveled along, but the group found solace in the beauty that inevitably faced us throughout. Vibrant mossy mountains, shining lava fields, endless rows of obsidian and massive lakes filled the landscape as we let our minds drift away from the chilly air.
After nearly 18 miles on the first day, we came into our first camp site, one known for its spectacular location in a mossy valley. As we began to set up tents in the wind, Colin, Christopher and Taylor caused widespread laughter in the group as they played along with the absurdity of setting up tents in such high winds. The three began to over exaggerate their tent set up and loudly express their feelings as they attempted to stake down the tent. As the group laughed, we eventually nailed in all of our tents and ran over to the kitchen canopy to eat dinner.
The group stayed positive through all challenges presented throughout the day, and as the sun slightly lowered and the wind howled in the night, we sat warm and dry together with hot chocolate and smiles of relief filling the room. Harrison led our end of the day Moonup by asking all of us to name one thing we are truly and wholly grateful for. His question left all of us to find appreciation in the challenges faced over the course of the day. We all went to bed knowing we were a little bit stronger for our incredible feat.
We were greeted in the early morning by a shining sun and few clouds. The mountains were visible again and we set out of camp for a shorter, and much more relaxing trekking day. We passed through black sand fields and mighty rivers to reach a massive gorge that spits out waterfalls for miles on end. Parker and Sarah led our descent into the basin and gasped as they first approached the canyon view. Parkers yelp and Sarah’s excited giggle sparked the group to run towards the edge of the basin to experience the most amazing view that so many find on the Laugavegur Trail. It cannot be described in words, but its beauty is best understood by looking at the faces of those that describe it.
As our guide Ellis grilled salmon alongside Oliver who threw on his favorite seasonings to his favorite food, the group ended the day with warm bellies and happy memories.
Sleeping in and slowly packing up, the group set out towards the end of the Laugavegur Trail, and a place locals call “paradise”. Coming in to massive birch forests and grassy fields we settled in to our two-night campsite happily as we had found a slice of heaven under two massive glaciers nestled between the first trees we hadn’t seen in a long time. Carson led us into the campsite with an attempt to hop over the creek, but came up slightly short. Wet boots sparked laughter from all as Carson’s attempted stunt did not go over as planned. As the sun sunk slowly in the sky and bonfire went up on the nearby beach and Asher led us over to enjoy some warmth and soft Neil Young played by a few locals. We truly were in paradise. Scarlett closed the day in Moonup with a question asking us about our dream jobs in the future. We all shared our wild aspirations to take on the world at full speed and let nothing hold us back.
The next morning we awoke and set out on a beautiful day hike up to a surrounding peak. Riley O. and Riley K. took on the steep hike at full speed, literally, as they sprinted up alongside our guide to reach the top gasping but smiling and taking in the snow covered beauty around us all. As we came back down to camp, Olivia set up a cutting board outside so that the cook crew could prep for a meal of grilled lamb underneath the massive glaciers and mossy hills. Olivia kept our night in high spirits as she told stories of her home town and laughed about her new memories made on the trail.
We all found solace in knowing that we are stronger than we truly know. We battled through the wind, rain, and cold; however, we did it all together. We found warmth and connection in the end, and the group realized that is what truly matters. We are safe, fed, and full of joy. We are ready to head on to kayaking!
Blake and Margaret
July 2, 2017
Hello from the beautiful countryside of Iceland!
We are so excited to have thirteen new friends to travel with. Everyone arrived weary and droopy-eyed yesterday at Keflavik, so we had a relaxing morning at Blue Lagoon getting to know each other and lathering our faces with mud masks. We then arrived in Reykjavik and settled in to our hostel, and enjoyed some delicious cinnamon rolls from one of the best bakeries in Iceland thanks to Oliver’s dad! We concluded the day with pizza, competitive rounds of chess, and a short walk to the coast.
Today we hiked up to the Reykjadalur hot springs river to bask in the sunshine, and are heading towards a remote countryside campsite for the evening!
-Margaret and Blake
Hey mom and dad! I am having so much fun in Iceland! Miss and love y’all, but I’m never coming home! Iceland is the coolest place in the world! Xoxo, Carson
Thanks for sending me to Iceland and the cinnamon rolls. I miss you, but I’m having a great time! See you in two weeks! Oliver
HI Mom, Dad, and Finn! Iceland is amazing! I’m having so much fun! Miss you so much! Love you all! -Riley O
Hi Family! Iceland is so amazing! So glad I’m here. Miss you guys and love you! – Riley K
Hey Mom. I’m having a lot of fun. – Ashe
Hey guys, I am having a lot of fun! Emily good luck with lax and Abs have fun on your trip. Love y’all – Olivia
Hey guys! Mom and dad, y’all would love it here so much. The temperature is perfect and it is so beautiful. Thanks for the opportunity. Love and miss y’all, Sarah M
Hey guys! How’s the land? Iceland is pretty cool too. Today we hiked up a mountain and chilled in a warm river. Love and miss you guys! #blessed -Colin S.
What’s up y’all? Iceland is pretty great. It’s chilly but I stay warm. I miss you and can’t wait to see you again! -Parker G
Hey guys I’m having fun in Iceland and can’t wait to tell you about it. It’s beautiful. Miss you – Taylor W.
Hello parents, Iceland is soooo fun. We went to the blue lagoon, and we’re starting our hike tomorrow! Miss you, Scarlett
P.S. hope Shelter Island is fun!
Hey Mom and Dad, Iceland’s great. -Harrison
Hello. -Chris R
July 1, 2017
Hi Iceland Families,
We heard from our leaders on the ground and everyone has arrived safely in Iceland! Stay tuned for more updates to come!
-The Moondance Team