June 26, 2018
Our time in Iceland has come to an end, but the memories and friends we have made will last a lifetime. Two weeks ago we were all strangers to a new country, but now we are all pretty much native Icelandics. Our journey started with a nice soak in the blue lagoon and then some warm up hikes that gave us a great view of Reykjavik, which is the largest city in Iceland. We would need all of the warm-ups we could get to prep for our big hike to Thorsmork. On our trek we experienced every type of weather, from rain to snow to even sunshine at times. Although their were some tough times through the hike, we all made it through as a team, with our heads held high.
The next portion of the trip took us to the river for white water rafting. After getting fitted in our wet suits and life vest, we ventured out to navigate the rapids. Sections of the river allowed us to do some cliff jumping, river games, and playful shenanigans. Iceland is home to many naturally occurring hot springs, so it would make sense that the destination to one of our hikes would be to one of their most famous hot springs. Although an overcast day, the weather did not stop us from soaking up the minerals from the hot springs river. Katherine and Shepherd were the first ones in and the last ones out! Our next stop on our journey was to go sea kayaking on one of the many Icelandic whaling Fjords. After getting outfitted with Kayaks and paddles, we ventured up and down the coast to view spectacular scenery. Addison, Luke, and Conner, took to the water and lead the crew around the small rock islands. That night we stayed at a cozy farmhouse, where dogs and sheep were a plenty. Vince and Tucker lead the group through many fun card games that had them staying up late and getting up early. Our last night of the trip was spent in downtown Reykjavik, venturing around the local shops and establishments. Locke’s curiosity took him to a jean store where he looked sharp in a jean jacket and jean pants. The local Gelato shop caught the eye of George and Cat, while Bess and Gage ate a freshly baked cinnamon roll at the local bakery. That night we were treated to one of Reykjavik’s best Thai restaurants. Holt and Gage really enjoyed their food, even though it was a bit spicy. Our time in Iceland was adventurous and fast paced. We are all thankful for the time we’ve had and the people we’ve meet. We all hope to see you again soon Iceland!
Evan and Lillian
June 23, 2018
These past 2 days have shown us the meaning of the word “ice” in Iceland. Some chilly weather has joined us throughout our last few activities. We woke up and traveled to an active Icelandic geysir where we watched an eruption take place every 10 minutes! After that we traveled to a local creamery and surprised the group with some ice cream fresh from the farm. Holt ate more ice cream than anyone else in the group because he wanted to try as many of the flavors as he could. Gage was fascinated by the freshness of the ice cream as he watched how the cows in the barn were used to make ice cream.
The rest of our day consisted of rafting down a common river in Iceland. Most of the water was straight glacial runoff which made everyone apprehensive at first to get in the water. We quickly solved the problem by doing some cliff jumping into the river to get our bodies comfortable with the water. Most people jumped into the water once, but Tucker went as many times as the guides would let him. We boarded our rafts again and Locke made it a personal mission to pull one of the raft guides in another boat into the river. He was extremely persistent, but eventually surrendered after spending more time in the river than in the actual boat. Katherine was sneaky with her strategies and managed to push most of her boat into the water when they weren’t looking. We got off the water and instantly hit up the sauna that was at the rafting shop. Luke would have spent hours in the sauna if we would have let him, but we had more activities to go explore!
We woke up the next morning and first took a tour of a hydro electricity plant that showed us how efficient Iceland is with their energy. We then headed to a hot spring river to relax for the afternoon. The overcast weather made a hot spring the perfect way to warm ourselves up. Cat had the best seat in the river by a pile of rocks that dammed a deep spot like a hot tub. Addison ran up and down the river to try and find the warmest spot she could.
We wanted to reward ourselves for braving the cold, so we stopped at a bakery and grocery store near our campsite to get some local food. George got an Icelandic cinnamon roll that convinced everyone else to get one too. Bess had been craving some American Lucky Charms so she got a massive box of them to snack on and share with the rest of the group. Shepherd wanted to make sure her family and friends would be able to experience a piece of Iceland, so she bought some Icelandic snacks and candy to bring home. After our snacks, we went back to our campsite and watched some of the World Cup with some Icelandic locals in our campsite lodge. Vince got really into cheering for Iceland’s team in hopes that they can bring home a victory. Conner got a team together to play their own version of the World Cup on the soccer field at camp. We’re all sentimental as we’re cherishing our last few days together. We’re all excited about or last activity of sea kayaking tomorrow!
-Lillian and Evan
June 21, 2018
Greetings, Moondance Families!
Spirits are high as we have just finished our most challenging portion of the trip, which was the trail of Strutur. Our day stated at Landmannalauger where we celebrated a very special birthday celebration for Addison. After a hearty breakfast, we set out towards Álftavötn hut, which was about an 8 hour hike. Halfway through the hike, we stoped at a hut for some warm soup and fun stories. The time went by quickly, as Locke kept everybody entertained by singing popular Police songs, which kept us well entertained. Later that day, we arrived at Álftavötn lake where we were treated to a hearty lamb stew that fed the entire hut. With full bellies, we spent the night inside and warm, ready for our next day of trekking.
Today we made our way from Álftavötn to Emstrur. The 5 hour trek would consist of a significant river crossing. Luke was the first to cross the water and the other students soon followed safely in his footsteps. The frigid water gave our feet the energy to make a scenic detour to a canyon off the path. After many games of “guess what movie” started by Tucker, we arrived at Emstrur. Our Icelandic guide, Palmi, cooked us up some delicious salmon. The night ended with stories from Gage and George about their favorite food spots in Cincinnati.
Today’s goal was to make it to Thorsmork valley. We continued along the canyon with a constant view of Iceland’s 4th largest glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. Cat and Holt lead the group through the black sand trail as we grew ever closer to our final destination. Through the clouds, Bess noticed a mountain that turned out to be one of the more iconic mountains in Iceland, Einhyrningur. We put on our river shoes for one final river crossing before entering the valley of Thorsmork.
Once in Thorsmork, the weather cleared, and we took the opportunity to go for a nice day hike around the valley. We ended up in a cool volcanic cave where we explored some new terrain. Shepherd and Conner wet their hair in a waterfall that was called Singing Rock. That night our guide grilled entire legs of lamb for a celebratory end of trekking meal. Our vehicle arrived the next morning with tires the size of mountains and Vince could not get over how cool the mountain truck was. We celebrated Katherine’s birthday with decorations and hugs to create a memorable day for her. We are all looking forward to what adventures lies ahead of us in Iceland!! Stay tuned!!
-Evan and Lillian
June 16, 2018
It’s been an exciting three days here in Iceland!! After adjusting to Icelandic time, we explored our new terrain with a scenic day hike. Holt made it a personal mission to climb every rock in sight and really impressed the group. Locke also climbed as much as he could, but he stayed stylish as he climbed in his jeans. That evening we headed to our hostel and feasted on pizza for a comforting and filling first dinner together. Iceland has some crazy pizza toppings, but Gage convinced us he could eat an entire pizza by himself! We all settled into our hostel and had a much needed long night of rest to get ready for our big day ahead.
We woke up to a hearty breakfast before we departed for our first hike. We started by trekking through a field of Icelandic moss that really interested Tucker. We proceeded to walk up a shockingly steep mountain. Our guide called it a “warm up” hike, which we all agreed was way more challenging than we anticipated. Luke was so excited to get to the top that he basically sprinted up the mountain to soak in the killer views. Katherine took some artsy pictures with the snow capped mountains in the background and Shepherd used her GoPro to film our summit. George really found himself in the outdoors and really embraced the rugged lifestyle. After plenty of pictures, we headed down the mountain to eat a quick lunch of Icelandic sandwiches before departing to see our first waterfall!
Our group ventured to one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls, which required us climbing 500 stairs to reach the lookout at the top – Conner rallied the group for this final push! Vince loved getting as close as possible to the falling water and being sprayed by the mist. We eventually made our way back to the van and drove to our camping spot for the night. Cat and Bess created a skit for the group demonstrating the 7 Leave No Trace principles that are essential for our upcoming backpacking section. They had the entire group rolling with laughter! We filled our bellies with dinner that Addison helped prepare and then headed to bed despite the never ending daylight characteristic of the northern latitudes in summer.
The group has become so close within the last three days and we cannot wait to see how we continue to grow as a team throughout the trip.
-Lillian and Evan
June 14, 2018
Hello Iceland Families!
We have heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Iceland. Stay tuned for their upcoming adventures!