July 13, 2018
Hello folks back home,
A night in the mountain hut did us all some good and we woke refreshed with the smell of pancakes in the air! Yep, Biggi did it again, and surprised us all with a fantastic breakfast. We enjoyed a lazy morning, reflecting on the fun times shared over the past two weeks. Packing up we got ready to head back to Reykjavík to explore town and grab a final dinner together. On the way we made a pit stop at a shopping mall that was the place of one of the most recent earthquakes in Iceland. You could see where the floor had separated within the mall! Making our way into town we listened to our favorite songs from the trip. Once showered and dressed we headed to Laugavegur, the main shopping and food street in Reykjavík. First up was Reykjavík Chips, a French fry shop with endless choices of sauces. Next the group stopped at a few souvenir shops to get goodies for those at home. Its clear from the selection that Icelanders love puffin themed gifts and so does our group! We then made our way to dinner at the oldest cafe in Reykjavík! Burgers and breakfast food made us feel at home as well as the tasty milkshakes. We then headed further downtown to a public screening area to see the last of the Croatia vs. England World Cup game. Naturally, we all got some ice cream and enjoyed the treat on our walk back to the hostel. Once there, we enjoyed our final moonup together and reflected on how amazing the past two weeks were and how close we all had become. Individual superlatives were handed out and the laughs they brought helped fend off the sorrow that our time together was close to over.
Today we arose early and had a quick breakfast of muffins and pound cake before departing for the airport. Check-in went smoothly and before we knew it, we were in the air bound for JFK. Upon landing, everyone quickly split up, some meeting their parents at the airport, others hurrying to a connecting flight. Once everybody had left, the two of us looked back on how much fun we had with the group and how we were already missing them. Over the past two weeks the group grew into a family and everybody was a crucial part in it. We are so thankful for the opportunity to get to know each and everyone one of them and want to thank the parents for trusting us with their kids – they are all remarkable and some of the best people we know.
Harrison and Creed
July 11, 2018
Whew, boy are we tired but we have good reason for it…we have completed the Trail of Strutur!!! These past five days have been nothing short of amazing and brought the group closer than ever. We departed and our hiking adventure began! Though a relatively short day, we were faced with our first (of many) river crossings. Reminding the group of the proper way to cross rivers, we separated into three groups and crossed one after the other. I’m happy to say no one fell in, though a couple got close. After that, a short walk brought us to our campsite at Alftavotn Lake. A stream ran through camp and many of the kids decided to set up their tents on an island of land that was connected by bridges. After a delicious meal of carbonara pasta, a game of hacky sack broke out which quickly turned into a game of tips or taps, it depends on who you ask. A wonderful Moonup soon followed and then we all went to sleep, preparing for our longest day of hiking the next day.
As always, the group was in high spirits and began the day with big smiles and boisterous laughter. With a 15 mile day ahead we worked efficiently in the morning, breaking down tents and packing packs before eating breakfast. Departing camp we were blessed with sun and few clouds, any hikers choice of weather. After about two hours and a couple river crossings, we found ourselves in a rocky valley with snowcapped mountains on either side, it was truly breathtaking. By pouring positive vibes into the universe, Ella and Annabelle helped motivate the group. Making our way forward we walked across volcanic rock, snow, and moss. Eventually the path led down to an open plain with a lake at one end and hot springs at the other. Fearless and among the first in was Tristan. Others soon followed and we all enjoyed a good soak after the long miles that came before it. As people began to leave the pool, an algae fight broke out and green slime was hurled back and forth across the pool. Edward, Owen and Connor formed a team opposing Harrison and Biggi (our Icelandic guide) while Creed declared no allegiances and was ultimately ganged up on. With only an hour left, we encountered the steepest part of the day and the worst weather. Despite wind and rain the group moved on and eventually reached the Strutur campsite. Within seconds of entering the kitchen tent all the hot chocolate was devoured and the accompanying bread and jam didn’t make it much longer. As we warmed up and set up tents, Biggi cooked dinner and the day slowly wound down to a close.
We awoke the next day with sore muscles and great feelings of accomplishment in our hearts. What a day we had just lived! Next on our agenda was a ten mile walk beside the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. Our terrain turned from mountainous to black sand desert. Once again, we had a few river crossings that let us show off our pale feet! Maxine led with such grace, we were all so proud of her. We kept our river shoes on as we navigated through swampy marsh until the base of our final hike into camp. Once at camp we all enjoyed well deserved chocolate treats and relaxed. We had grilled salmon for dinner and LODs, Megan and John, gave us a great question to ponder for moon up, “What has been your greatest challenge on the trip?”
With many miles behind us we set out on the Laugavegur trail section. Quickly we came upon one of our coldest river crossings, and the group crossed in record time! Everyone was happy to have a relatively flat day, mostly because it let us talk our hearts out. Caroline and Gray have become everyone’s favorite walking partners because they have the best trail conversations. We ate lunch beside the start of a great canyon and enjoyed the views of the vast terrain around us. We had a shorter time line to get to our mountainside oasis, because of some inclement weather. We were so proud of the group’s ability to pull together and motivate each other to make it to camp early. Once we arrived we were surprised with some news that we would be staying the night in one of the huts! Everyone was thrilled to have some shelter and a comfy bed! Immediately the card games commenced. On one side of the table was a game of blackjack and the other was an intense game of ERS (Egyptian rat slap). Many raisins – the tokens – were won and lost; Logan came out victorious in ERS, while it was hard to determine a true winner in blackjack. Owen, Connor, and Edward decided to play a game of “hide and look” within the one room hut. Eventually this game turned into hide and look over the campsite! Tristan joined in when Harrison and Creed became the “lookers,” and he later claimed that he was planning on running all the way to the glacier in the distance. Silliness was in the air and the group bonded over many laughs and jokes at dinner.
Early the next morning we packed up and headed into our final day of hiking. Still with the threat of bad weather, we all agreed to set a good pace. The LODs, Caroline and Connor, were instrumental in making sure the group was in good spirits and had plenty of snacks in order to succeed! As the landscape began to change from mountainous to desert to wooded forest we took in the views with so much appreciation for the beauty surrounding us. We stopped for lunch in a birch forest by a fast moving river. An oasis from the wind, we lounged in the sunshine; our good spirits seemed to have brought good weather! Making the last push to the campsite, we climbed our final mountain, crossed our last stream, and descended into Thorsmork. A winding creek greeted us as we walked over bridges from green field to green field into our campsite. With plenty of time left in the day, some played frisbee, others kicked around the hacky sack, and many laid down in exhaustion. We were treated with burgers and some Icelandic fries for dinner and reflected on the vast amount of ground we covered over the past couple days during Moonup. It was truly a fulfilling day that left us all appreciative for one another and for the place we were in.
Waking to another sunny morning, Iceland has begun to feel like Fiji and we are not complaining! A quick breakfast and camp breakdown we made our way to a local pool! Once there, we soaked in hot tubs, played some pool volleyball and a few brave souls sat in the ice bath, brrrrrr. After relaxing our sore muscles we took off to another mountain hut for the night. More card games broke out upon arriving and we all tried our hardest to wait as Biggi prepared the best meal of the trip, leg of lamb with pan fried potatoes and some salad! I kid you not, it was to die for. Afterward, Katy demonstrated great EB and helped clean the dishes before Moonup. We all went to bed with full stomachs, happy to have mattresses beneath us, but also sad that our time together is coming to a close. We are looking forward to our last couple days together and will touch back in for our final update in a couple days!
Creed and Harrison
Hey mom, dad, Anna, and baker! I miss you guys! It’s been a great 2 weeks! Can’t wait to see you! Love, Caroline
Hi mom, dad, and Melinda! I love you guys and I can’t wait to see you again in a few days. Miss you! Love, Megan
Hi mom, dad, Reid, Wilkes, ivy, and pepper! I miss you so much and have had a great 2 weeks! Tell dad I say HBD. Love, Annabelle
Hey fam! Miss you so much! Iceland’s amazing and I am having a great time! See you soon! Love, Katy
Hey mom and dad! Tell poppy taco I said hi and that I’ll be home soon! Love ya, Ella
Hi mom, dad, and Austin! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you soon! Also it would be amazing if you could get me Waffle House (pecan waffle, hashbrowns, fried egg whites, and toast). Love you guys, Logan
Hey mom and dad! I am excited to see you guys! I have had so much fun and I have missed everyone but I have also missed Willy’s. So I hope you guys are ready for a Willy’s stop after pickup! Xoxo, Maxine
Hey mom, dad, Jay, and the dogs! I am having an amazing time and wish I was gonna be here longer! Roll tide!
Hey mom and dad! I’m having a great time and can’t wait to see you in New York and go to block island (warmer than Iceland)
Hey mom and dad! It’s been a great 2 weeks in Iceland but I can’t wait to be home. It’s gonna be hard to leave, I love it here!
Hey mom, dad, Allison and coco! I’ve had such a great time in Iceland and I can’t wait to come home in a few days. Love you guys, John
Hi mom, dad, Jane and Lauren! Iceland has been amazing and challenging but I can’t wait to get home to you guys! Love ya, Connor
Hi mom, dad, and pepper. I miss you! These 2 weeks in Iceland have been amazing. Can’t wait to get home. Love, Tristan
July 7, 2018
The trip continues to get better and better! We woke on day 4 of our trip ready to raft; as an activity many in the group were looking forward to, there was a buzz of excitement in the morning! Before we got to take on the glacier river, though, we stopped to check out Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s mightiest waterfalls. Gray, sizing it up, picked his line through the three tiers of falls, claiming we would be able to do it in a raft…it was a hard pass for the rest of us. Next, the Geysir and I mean THE Geysir. Yep, we got to see the original geysir that all others are named after. Though it is dormant, a slightly smaller, but just as impressive, geysir is still live next to it. Tristan wasted no time in finding the right spot to snap a photo, leading the rest of the group to a great view for its eruption. Shooting water high into the air every 5 to 10 minutes, we saw the spectacle at least three times before we were able to draw our eyes away from it. Finally, we reached our rafting site! Wearing wet suits and with paddles in hand, the group bravely boarded two rafts. Immediately we tackled two rapids and were able to keep everybody in…but not everybody stayed dry. Wet or dry it soon didn’t matter as we pulled up on the cliff jumping spot. Though some of the group was a little hesitant, everyone was soon in line to take the polar plunge! Among the most notable leaps was Edward who yelled “roll tide” as he headed toward the icy water. Once paddling again, Katy wasted no time in auditioning for the Icelandic swim team! She could be seen swimming between boats, attempting (and succeeding!) to push other guides and students in. After a few chilly hours we made it back to the main building where hot showers and a sauna were waiting for us.
On the way back to camp we stopped at an Icelandic creamery! We ate yummy homemade ice cream and took a look at some cows. Logan and Caroline strayed from the pack and found their new love of amaretto ice cream. While Maxine took up the opportunity to check the status of the World Cup matches. We are all still heartbroken Iceland lost the other day. Once back at camp we pulled on more warm layers and ate hot dogs! Hanging around camp that night John made new friends with some Danish scouts who were all camping there as well. They bonded over shared interests in sports and video games.
The next day we woke up, packed up camp and prepared to explore the South Coast! The LODs, Annabelle and Owen, were instrumental the entire day in keeping the group on task and engaged. We made our way down to the coast and made a pit stop at a local gas station to stock up in a sweet treat before hiking. Tristan opted to get French fries, which he shared with the group! We then headed to our first waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, where you can walk behind the massive water falling. Connor was the brave soul to go closest to the fall and he got soaked! Then we made our way to Skogafoss, a beautiful waterfall with a big climb to the top. Once at the top we were graced with some amazing sunshine! Quickly Megan, Caroline, and Katy began performing cartwheels to celebrate. Gray has succeeded in getting the most solo shot photos! We then made our way up to the highlands to where we will begin hiking. It was a rainy evening but that didn’t stop the group from exploring our amazing campsite. Ella found a beautiful waterfall, we could hear it from camp but didn’t come into view until one hiked up a little further! To cap off a rest day our LODs gave us a wonderful Moonup, full of good conversation and laughter. They even posed one of the best moon up questions, “Who has been most influential in your life?” It was the great tone to set as we head into our hiking section. We are so excited to get on our feet and explore the Icelandic highlands! We will check back in soon, with many miles behind us!!
Harrison & Creed
July 2, 2018
Wooooh what a blast we’ve had these past couple days! We met the group early at the Keflavík airport with doughnuts and cinnamon rolls in hand. A few were sleepy but all perked up once we heard we were going to explore a cave, or lava tube, as they say in Iceland. Owen energized the group with his Hawaiian shirt and upbeat attitude as we drove toward the cave. Grabbing helmets and flashlights, we descended into the depths of Iceland. Once deep inside, everyone turned off their lights and we enjoyed the last true darkness of the trip! Biggi, our Icelandic guide, took a break and allowed the group to lead us out, John quickly took the reins, but it was not as easy as Biggi made it look and we quickly made a wrong turn. Not to fear, we got back on track and emerged back at the entrance.
Next stop was to the Blue Lagoon, where we got a taste of the Icelanders love for hot water. We quickly changed into our suits and hopped in the toasty, blue waters. Once relaxed, we got to know one another a little better by sharing fun facts about ourselves. Ella blew everybody away with her fun fact, she performs aerial silks, a type of aerial acrobatics! Then we headed towards Reykjavík for the night to get some good sleep! We fueled ourselves the next morning with bagels, scrambled eggs, and some Canadian bacon; it was exactly what we needed for our big hike up the Glymur waterfall. Connor and Maxine, the first leaders of the day on our trip, set a great example of what the role means and took up the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen after everyone ate. Arriving at the trailhead, we made a quick lunch and then headed out on the trek! The girls led the pack all the way up the mountain, showing the rest of us how it’s done. We got to take a couple of breaks as we ascended and made sure to soak in the beautiful views and snap a couple photos. Upon reaching the top, we were faced with the icy river that fed the waterfall and made the first of many crossings for the trip. Most made it across with only their feet getting wet…a few weren’t quite as lucky, however. Annabelle, Megan, and Logan, three quarters of the way across, slipped and took their first dip in Icelandic water, but kept smiles on their faces the entire time. The group had a good chuckle about it and we started the hike back down. Once at the van, it was quick ride to our campsite for the night, an Icelandic farm! Greeted by goats, sheep, and dogs on the way in, everyone was so excited. We quickly unpacked camp and started learning how to set up the tents we’ll be using for the rest of the trip. Before long, a game of soccer broke out! The group split in two and, weaving in-between lambs and sheep dogs, we all battled it out. Perhaps it’s because he’s a runner at heart, but Tristan stood out on the field and played some impenetrable defense. Caroline scored some impressive goals, luckily missing the goats that at times littered the field! Though the winner of the game was highly debated, we all agreed that dinner was incredible: homemade lasagna and fresh salad with croissants. We all thanked our hosts for dinner, concluded our day with a fantastic Moonup, and headed to bed.
The group woke today ready to take on the sea! Shortly after breakfast, we walked to the beach and our Icelandic kayaking guides us on paddling technique and safety protocol. Winds and a little rain made the weather less than ideal but did not sway our morale! Edward kept the group positive with his awesome attitude. Gray was a huge help as he offered to load the van, though secretly we think he’s just trying to put on muscle so he can hit homers when he returns home. Next we checked out Thingvellir, a historic national park in Iceland. Here, we saw where Vikings executed and drowned criminals as well as some more light hearted things like the Rift Valley in between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. We then headed to our campsite, and we were greeted by a wonderfully sunny afternoon. Everyone enjoyed the nice weather while exploring our campsite by a beautiful lake with snowy mountains in the distance. For dinner we tried some traditional Icelandic cuisine, fish stew! Katy was exceptionally helpful in clean up, she impressed us all by cleaning the big pot the stew was cooked in.
We are off to river rafting tomorrow and will check back in a few days with more amazing adventures!
Creed & Harrison
June 30, 2018
Hello Iceland Families!
Your students have landed safely in Reykjavik. We heard from the group leaders this morning, and the trip is off to a great start! We can’t wait to hear more about their adventures.