June 24, 2019
We start this final update with a bittersweet taste in our mouth as we have just said goodbye to everyone as they passed through security. We know we will all run into each other somewhere down the road, but it was a hard goodbye after such a great trip.
Yesterday we began our day with Grant joining us first in the kitchen tent to the smell of bacon and eggs on the stove. Kata really outdid herself for our final breakfast on the trail together. Slowly everybody joined us as tents were taken down for the last time. As breakfast was wrapping up and dishes were being cleaned, our ride back to the city of Reykjavik pulled up, an even larger Mercedes Sprinter van. Ellie was able to DJ since she had emerged from her tent first the previous day. Driving along the gravel washout, through rivers and rocks, we jammed to some good music before arriving at our last waterfalls of the trip and what a sight they were. The first waterfall had to be accessed by walking through a small canyon while carefully tiptoeing on stones in order to not get our feet wet. In the canyon sat a massive boulder that everyone was able to get a group photo on. Ashley was the last one off the boulder and we could hardly get her away after taking a Titanic photo looking up into the mist. The next waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, was our first real experience back in the crowds since leaving Reykjavik almost two weeks ago. That being said, it was another incredible sight to see and a classic that must be checked off before leaving the country. Our final stop on the way back to the capital was for an Icelandic tradition. We stopped in a small quiet town at a local gas station to enjoy a quick bite of delicious hot dogs! Everyone was excited to finally be eating outside of our kitchen canvas tent we had on the trail.
Once back at the hostel, people were eager to get in the shower after not having had one for 5 days. Post showers, we all headed out for a night on the town including shopping and an amazing dinner of burgers and milkshakes at a very unique Icelandic diner. Cooper decided it was best to opt for wings instead of a burger and boy, was he right. The wings were delicious! Leading the milkshake team was Belin, who never lost the smile off of her face. It is safe to say that everyone was pretty happy to be eating some classic American food.
By the time we wrapped up dinner, it was pretty late, and we knew we had an early morning for airport day. You know what that means! Our final Moonup. Sophie and Carolina led the group as our last full day LODs, bringing us together to reminisce on the times we have had during these last two weeks. When the “Nug Jug” opened, Beverly was feeling very grateful as she led the group with most nugs given, keeping them going for a long while. Sophie and Carolina thought it was best to end our final moonup the way we ended our first, with a giant cinnamon roll group hug. Moonup led into an evening of relaxing and hanging out before a few short hours of sleep.
Michael and Tommy surprised us this morning with how quickly they rose and got packed up. At this point, we shouldn’t have been surprised since this was very similar to their pattern throughout the trip. Breakfast was early and quiet this morning with people feeling the end of the trip near. That didn’t stop Madeline from leading the group in singing in the bus on the way to the airport keeping energy and spirits high. At the airport, as everyone was checking in, we noticed Gus in his fresh new kicks, a pair of Icelandic slippers that he hadn’t taken off since he bought them yesterday, a full 15 hours ago.
It is crazy to think it has already been two weeks. Temple and I couldn’t have asked for a better crew to kick off the summer. As a group, we saw many places, ate a lot of food, told many stories, and created memories we will have forever, it feels wrong saying goodbye. Then again, it is not goodbye, it is simply “until next time.”
Over and out,
Temple and Nick
June 23, 2019
Hello friends and families, we are back!
What a time we have had in the highlands. We started our journey at Landmannalaugar with setting up camp and embarking on a warm up hike before we began our three day trek. LODs, Belin and Grant led the group through the lava fields and up the famous Rainbow Mountain. After a beautiful and colorful hike, the group headed back to camp for a delicious Kata speciality of salmon pasta, perfect fuel for our upcoming adventure. We finished the night with a Moonup and hit our sleeping bags early for a full night of rest!
LODs, Cooper and Beverly woke the group up with positive spirits ready to take on our first big day on the trail. After a big breakfast, some hot cocoa, a map lesson, and our packs full, the group was eager to get on our way. The weather was absolutely perfect, some of us were even able to take our jackets off and hike in T-shirt’s through the snow. At one point, Grant showed us how it’s done by bear crawling up a snowfield that people thought was impassable. When finally arriving at camp, we were not only amazed by the 15 miles we had just conquered but also by the postcard worthy campsite nestled near a lake that would be our home for the night. When we arrived, we were greeted by warm soup, hot cocoa, and tents already set up. Hooray!
After a well-earned lazy morning, the group slowly appeared out of their tents. The morning was spent fueling up with oatmeal, yogurt, and cocoa puffs. Before hitting the trail, LODs Michael and Ashley led the group with a stretching circle to ensure we would be ready for another full day. Although today came with a few showers, it made for a mystical, foggy landscape that kept our attention on the black sand trail. Sophie and Ellie led a game of Would You Rather, helping pass the time. While the day was long, Gus managed to finish off the tail at a near jogging pace. Before we knew it, we pulled into another scenic campsite, where we threw off our packs and enjoyed some celebratory chocolate. Dinner was one to remember, consisting of perfectly grilled salmon filets, warm rice, and a delicious salad, a meal of champions. With incredibly full stomachs, the group was interested in exploring the nearby canyon, the so called “Grand Canyon of Iceland”. Man, was this place cool! Beverly was speechless when we rolled up to one of the most jaw dropping views many of us have ever seen. After exploring the canyon, the group circled for Moonup, a perfect time to stare at the view and reflect on what an experience we have had.
With the two most challenging days under our belt, everyone was ready to go yesterday morning when Ellie and Tommy woke the group up. When getting out of our tents, we were amazed to feel the temperature which felt to be near 70 degrees. We began the hike in silence as we crossed another moss filled canyon, “meditation hiking”, the group liked to say. Under sunny skies we walked up, down, and all around one of Katas most favorite spots in Iceland, “The Valley of the Gods”. Lunch was spent in a lush valley along a river. As we scarfed down sandwiches and of course some chocolate, we found Madeline snoozing in the sun on a nearby rock. Sunbathing in Iceland, who would’ve thought. We hit our final camp after passing through the woods of Thor, or Thorsmork as they call it. We took off packs, threw up camp, munched on some Oreos, and passed around the soccer ball under the sun. Before dinner, we were entertained by a solo dance performed by our very own Carolina, due to the fact that her trekking poles were left outside last night. Our final camp meal was unforgettable: leg of lamb, corn, baked potatoes, and a salad, pretty gourmet in the backcountry. Once again, Cooper showed off his culinary skills by carefully carving the lamb legs. After dinner, Kata taught us an Arctic Adventures tradition known as “Camp Jesus”, where leftovers are offered to fellow trekkers. Michael and Tommy led the crew, walking campsite to campsite with our leftover meat. We closed the night with Moonup where we celebrated our accomplishments on the trail and shared the lessons learned that will travel back home with us.
Temple and Nick
June 18, 2019
We’re back! How are we already at day 8? It feels like we were just soaking at the Blue Lagoon. Since we last talked, we have travelled many miles, played many games and become so much closer as a family.
First stop, rafting. We traded our spray skirts for wet suits, and kayaks for rafts as we hit the glacial river. With Beverly and Tommy as our leaders for the day, we were on our way. With them in the front of the first boat, they led us through the twists and turns of the mystical gorge. Through the first few class three rapids, we felt the glacial chill and decided it was best to fully commit by jumping off a 7-meter rock. Grant was the most excited as he did it twice with a huge grin never leaving his face. The whole group followed with not one person left behind. Everyone hopped back aboard and headed through the last few rapids before the river relaxed, allowing us to play battle-rafts. Carolina and Michael were among the first casualties to feel the breathtaking chill of the lower gorge, thus earning themselves spots as the next day’s LODs. What a day to remember!
After a good night of sleep and some warm showers, we woke up in our tents to one of the most beautiful views. A campsite in a valley next to a beautiful flowing river, what more could we ask for! A breakfast of coco puffs and fruit was just the fuel we needed for our day hike to the hot spring valley. Carolina and Michael led the group with a steady pace and positive spirits. To keep our minds distracted, Beverly and Madeline spread the game of “got it”, which kept the group entertained for miles. As always, Ashley kept the group in good spirits with her contagious laugh and positive energy. With tired legs and hungry stomachs, we finished the day with card games, a delicious dinner, and moonup! Cooper even demonstrated how to cut up garlic for our goulash. He has now earned his status as our resident chef.
Today was a perfect day of relaxation and surprises before we hit the trails. Sophie and Madeline woke the group up along with some unexpected snowfall which was beautiful, but chilly! We packed up camp and hit the road for a warm geothermal pool, an Icelandic tradition. Belin and Ellie were the first to jump in the hot tub for a nice long soak. We relaxed under the sunny skies as we told stories and shared memories in the warm waters. To the groups surprise, post soak, we hit up a pizza parlor for some delicious cheese, pepperoni, and BBQ chicken pizza. We finished up the day visiting two incredible waterfalls and as always, jamming out in the van.
We now find ourselves in a quaint cabin tucked in the snow-covered mountains. Beds, showers, toilets, heat, hotdogs, back massages, what more could we ask for! Gus successfully downed a hot dog in 3 seconds, pretty impressive and pretty hilarious. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves before we hit the highland trails and begin our trekking journey. “Yaeja” for now, as they say it here in Iceland.
Here are some shoutouts from the kids!:
Hey it’s mad. Having lots of fun. Can’t wait to see y’all.
Hey guys it’s Grant. Iceland is awesome so far! We’re about to go trekking in a few days and I can’t wait. Love you guys!
What up fam it’s Ashley. Iceland is pretty cool not gonna lie, little cold, but not too bad. Also yes mom, I needed the sweatshirt, you don’t have to say “I told you so”. Tell Wes and Ty that I miss them.
It’s Beverly. Hey mom (and aunt maye and annagrace and the boys and whoever else reads this)! It’s maybe the coolest place ever and I’m having an amazing time. Love y’all and see you soon!!
Hey Parents, it’s Tommy I’m having a blast. It’s a bit cold but that’s okay. I miss my dog and my toilet. See you in a week.
Hey fam! We are about to go swimming in a geothermal pool and then start our hard trek for the rest of the trip. I am having a great time meeting new people and seeing crazy views! I miss my bed, u guys, and pets, it snowed today! Love y’all – Carolina
Hi guys it’s Sophie! I miss u all so so much, and my bed, Ollie, chookie and maybe even the fish. I am having lots of fun and I made a lot of new friends we went on a hike yesterday it was sick but chole was right it was hard, we start our trek tomorrow pray for me! Love u and miss u!
Hi I’m having a lot of fun in Iceland. I can’t wait to see you guys in Oslo! -Michael
Cooper- hi it’s coop uhhhhhh ig I miss y’all it’s been a great trip and we start backpacking tmw I’m a little nervous but excited for it. I miss all y’all a lot but mostly the dogs. Nat say hi to doko and stroud
Hey mom and dad! It’s Ellie. This morning it snowed! It’s been really fun so far we start trekking tomorrow and it’s gonna be beautiful. I miss y’all tons!! Love y’all. Say hey to ham for me.
Hey it’s Gus, Iceland is so cool! The weather has been great and it is very pretty everywhere. We went on a pretty long and hard hike yesterday then it snowed this morning and it was so chilly! Love y’all and miss y’all.
Hi mom and dad! Iceland is amazing and it’s been pretty warm other than today when it snowed. Tomorrow we start hiking and I’m excited for that. I’ve seen a lot of sheep and horses (not many elves) and the scenery is pretty cool. I miss you all lots and say hi to the dogs for me! Love, Belin
Temple and Nick
June 15, 2019
Hello friends and family! We write to you from the beautiful mountains of Iceland, what a journey we have had!
Don’t know if it was because we were all nearly delusional from travel or the fact that we were in one of the coolest places in the world, but the group clicked immediately. Ashley took her role as first arrival very seriously, welcoming everyone as they arrived at the gate. From wheels down to now, weather has been nothing but clear skies and warm, sunny days. Boy, we are lucky! Our journey began after meeting our guide, Kata, and heading on a scenic drive to the Blue Lagoon. The group was eager to throw on our bathing suits, kick back and relax in the warm hot spring water and treat our jet-lagged selves. As we soaked, Michael led us in the Icelandic tradition of the silica mud masks to rejuvenate our skin before moving on to our next adventure.
Next stop, lava cave. After eating a much-needed lunch, Kata led us down into the hardened magma. With our bodies low and our spirits high, the glow of our headlamps took us through the path of the Icelandic trolls. As we ducked, dove, and spun around, we successfully came to a pinch in the cave where Madeline demonstrated true cave form by somersaulting through the final opening. After our first beautiful day in Iceland, it was time to head to the capital city for some Domino’s pizza and much needed R&R.
After 12 hours of some serious snoozing, a wake up full of balloons and tunes for Ashley’s birthday, and a delicious breakfast at the hostel, we met our ride for the rest of the trip, a boujee Mercedes Sprinter van with hardwood floors and a bumping sound system. First stop of the day was the Reykjadalur Valley, where Ashley and Grant, as our LODs, led the troops down a beautiful ridge to a quaint natural hot spring. Tommy really showed us how it’s done by finding the warmest spot in the spring where we all joined. Kind of crazy to be wearing a bathing suit in Iceland!
Up next, Geysir. Every 5 minutes, the heated eruption shoots water high into the sky, something you don’t want to miss! The group was eager to see it, but Carolina was mind-blown when the column of water rocketed into the sky. Pretty cool site to see and a good finale to our first full day of exploring.
Upon arriving to our first campsite, we were excited to hear that the group was on the same page as far as sleeping directly under the evening sky. With our stomachs full of grilled cheese, tomato soup, and an Icelandic delicacy, we hit the sleeping bags and threw on our eye masks.
With another full night of rest and our first night under the sunlight, we hit the vans and headed North to the sea. After our journey, we met up with kayak guides: Makki, Alexander, and Audur. After safety briefing and a demonstration of how to pack our kayaks from Sophie, we hit the boats. With strong arms and eagerness for adventure, Michael was incredibly helpful with helping get the boats in the water. After paddling for a few kilometers, we made a stop at an abandoned shipwreck, super cool! In order to beat the afternoon wind, we hopped back aboard and paddled to our private island for the night. Man, was this place majestic. After coming ashore, we put up our tents, threw on some warm layers and enjoyed a delicious meal of pasta cooked over an open fire. With tired arms and an incredible view, we finished the night with a moonup to remember.
Today we were woken up by LODs Cooper and Gus. The boys directed us in closing up camp and putting on our gear for another beautiful day on the water. Today’s journey was shorter due to high winds and a current in our direction. On the way back to land, Beverly was quick to admire the wildlife when she spotted a seal peeping out of the water. After a successful trip, with incredible weather and incredible skills, the group was not done yet when they noticed a giant in-ground blob in the neighboring town, Stikkisholmur. Through jumping and bouncing around, Gus definitely led the pack with the most tricks.
After a day full of physical activity, it was time for an afternoon of cards and hanging out at camp. While relaxing, Belin and Ellie helped with chopping up veggies for our warm meal of spaghetti and meat sauce, yum. With full tummies, especially from Nick’s birthday cake (HBD Nick), it was the perfect time for a sleeping bag race. The race was somewhat successful, and Grant was crowned the winner.
A Moonup under the skies and an LNT (Leave No Trace) lesson taught by our very own Cooper, was the perfect end to a perfect day. We are in awe of this amazing group and this amazing place. Tomorrow we hit the rivers of glacial runoff for a crazy day of whitewater rafting. Until then, over and out.
Nick and Temple
June 12, 2019
Hello Iceland Families!
We heard from our Leaders that the group has arrived safely in Iceland. They are headed out for their first activity this morning, and the trip is off to a great start.
We can’t wait to hear more from their adventures. Stay tuned!