July 26, 2019
Hello friends and family! Wow! How are we already at the end? We have so much to tell you about our last amazing week in the highlands of Iceland. We hiked a lot, ate a lot, and man, we sure laughed a lot!
LODs Charlie and Avery had us off to a great start on day 1 of our journey. After a small stretch circle and some words of encouragement, from Parker of course, we were on our way. As we hiked through the beautiful moss-covered lava fields, we adjusted to the unfamiliar feeling of our packs on our backs and walked in awe of the new views. Just an hour into the trail we had our first big river crossing which was a new experience for many. Our guide, Erla, explained how we needed to put on our water shoes and unclip our packs while we walked two by two through the currents. We giggled, we shrieked, and we most definitely screamed as we crossed our first glacial river on the trail. After putting our boots back on, we finished up our day on the trail before arriving to our mystical campsite, Álftavötn. The best part of the campsite was that we had it to ourselves! Upon arriving, we put up our tents, kicked off our boots, and were ready for our first big meal, Salmon Mac & cheese! We stuffed our faces with the delicious Icelandic dish topped off with everyone’s favorite cake in a bag for dessert. Charlie and Avery set the bar high with the first Moonup of the trek as they led a wonderful, thought-provoking discussion that had the whole group in a close emotional bond. Post Moonup, we brushed our teeth in the nearby stream and hit our bags in preparation for our big day tomorrow!
Day 2 of the trek everyone woke up ready and excited for our big 15 mile day on the trail! The morning began with cheerios and coco puffs and a fabulous warm up/stretch circle led by our very own Holt Daniels. Soon enough, LODs Sadie and Caroline were leading us on our big day. Today we went up, down, and all around the mossy mountains as we passed snowfields, rivers, and of course the wandering sheep’s along the trail. Halfway through the trail, we enjoyed a nice trail sandwich and some chocolate next to a small waterfall. People were stoked to finally crush their three sandwiches. After lunch, we were ready to finish the day out before any weather hit. Before we knew it, Parker was leading the pack, even in front of the guide, as he nearly flew the rest of the way to camp. With tired legs and hungry tummies, we finally reached camp where we exchanged high fives and felt a sense of relief and pride. Upon arrival, we enjoyed hot coco, chocolate, and a warm Icelandic stew that fueled us after a long day. We hit the hay very early as everyone was very tired!
When the group heard pancakes they were up and ready for day 3 on the trail! Nutella and peanut butter smothered over pancakes was exactly what we needed to get us through our sore and tired legs. After a stretch circle, Holt’s personal fav, and some words of inspiration from our LODs Carson and Parker we began our journey in clear skies. As we travelled over the black sand terrain, Whitney could not get over how thankful she was for her poles that kept her cruising with the group. Post lunch was when we kicked off our boots and threw on our water shoes as we crossed a series of rivers. While the water was awfully chilly, it was a nice break from the boots. Soon enough, we had arrived at our camp for the night. While setting up our tents and putting on our warm clothes, when we were surprised by two dozen horses galloping down the mountain side. It was a super cool site to see. Holt was sure to grab a pic! We spent the afternoon with cards, snacks, and hot coco. Holt and Brown even got crazy with their snacks, eating peanut butter and cheese! Danny was crushing everyone in the card game of golf. We enjoyed a massive dinner of spaghetti and salad finished with an Icelandic cake. With extremely full tummies and tired legs, we finished the night with Moonup by the horses under the bright sky!
Day 4 called for a short day on the trail. Everyone woke up well rested and eager to finish off our last two days strong! LODs Avery and Sadie got the crew up and moving to ensure we would have a relaxed afternoon at camp. The group thoroughly enjoyed the terrain today as it was majority flat, a good time for conversation and lots of snack breaks! Before we knew it, Whitney was leading the pack as we strolled into Emstrur early afternoon to see cookies, cheese, crackers, and juice waiting! Mary Helen, Carson, and Holt spent the afternoon exploring the nearby canyons and hilltops. Harper and Danny led the rest of the group in a round of spoons. It was nice to have an afternoon of food and relaxing under the sun! Dinner was grilled salmon, rice, and chocolate pudding, everyone’s fav! LODs Avery and Sadie led us in a Moonup to remember in one of the most insane canyons. As we reflected and celebrated our successes we looked out on the beautiful landscape, a truly special moment for everyone.
Our final day on the trail came with warmth and sunny skies, what more could we ask for! We packed our packs for the final time, enjoyed some warm pancakes, and laced up our boots. LODs Mary Helen and Ben led us up and down the final hills as we came to our final river crossing. Ben was excited to finally kick off his boots and feel the shocking chill for the final time. With the final river done, we only had about 1.5 miles left until we reached the finish line! As we soaked in ever last moment, Mary Helen, Carson, and Brown decorated their hair in flowers. Soon enough, we had reached Thorsmork camp nestled between two massive glaciers. The final dinner was a feast: lamb legs, potatoes, and veggies. Thanks to Carson who helped Temple chop some onions it was a dinner to remember. As we celebrated our accomplishment, we began to reflect on the trip overall and how fast it had gone by. We enjoyed our final Moonup in the backcountry and set up our tents for the final time.
Today was spent relaxing, eating, and enjoyed every last moment together as we travelled back to the big city, Reykjavik. First thing, SHOWERS! Once we were clean, we roamed the streets of the city where Charlie was able to pick up a souvenir for each family member. We finished the night with a banquet dinner including burgers and milkshakes! The night was topped off with Moonup in the exact spot where we had started the trip. We laughed, smiled, and cried about how much we had changed, how much we learned, and how many new friends we had made!
Thank you friends and families for sharing your amazing kids with us. We truly had a trip of a lifetime and have stories to prove it. It’s not goodbye but see you soon! Over and out.
Temple & Nick
July 20, 2019
We are back!! How are we already halfway?! Sea kayaking was absolutely INCREDIBLE, let us tell you all about it!
We woke up on the beautiful farm with nothing but sunny skies and warm air, perfect kayaking weather. We enjoyed some delicious pancakes smothered in Nutella and peanut butter and we were on our way to the ocean. We arrived to the coast to load up our boats and meet our guides Maggi, Sitka, and Wendy. After a safety briefing and a how to pack your kayak demo on Caroline’s boat, we hit the sea! LODs Holt and Brown led us through the beautiful waters where we saw an eagle, seals, and a few mystical jelly fish. Halfway through our journey we stopped at an ancient ship wreck to explore and rest our arms. This was a super cool pit stop on our way. Before we knew it, we had arrived at our island home for the night and man, was it beautiful! Upon arrival, we threw up our tents and explored our new home. Before dinner we played a competitive game of “Family” where Danny and Avery were each crowned winner of a round. We then enjoyed a delicious dinner of spaghetti and tortillas cooked over an open fire. It was so good, Brown even had 3 bowls. With full tummies, we finished the night with Moonup and a view. The weather was so beautiful, many were able to sleep directly outside under the sunlit skies!
We woke up on our island home and enjoyed cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt! LODs Mary Helen and Parker led us back to mainland where we met back up with our van. On our journey back, Whitney spotted a puffin! The group was ecstatic to finally see the famous Icelandic bird after seeing so many stuffed ones in the gift shops. We finished off the afternoon with a stop for hot dogs, fries, and ice cream! The day was fully topped off when we got back to our farm campsite where the two local Icelandic girls showed us a nearby hot tub overlooking the ocean. Safe to say, we were all speechless. We soaked, laughed, and were in awe of the insane view in front of us. As if our day couldn’t get any better, we finished off the night with a delicious goulash dish made by our guide, Erla. In all, I think we can speak on behalf of the group, it was a pretty awesome day.
The next day, tents were taken down quickly and we were fortunate enough to have a dining room to eat breakfast in at the farm. After breakfast and cleaning up, we were off to our first stop of the day. With the wind died down and the sun poking through the clouds, it was perfect weather for a pool day! In Iceland geothermally heated pools are very popular so we decided to stop and relax at one before hitting the trail. Charlie and Carson led the group with most dunks in the hoop at the pool as well as most times down the water slide. We all soaked and rejuvenated before getting back into the van for our next surprise of the day, pizza! Down the road from the pool is a restaurant called Mika where they have some of the best pizza we have ever had. It was a great addition to our chill day. Finally, we were off to the third and final surprise of the day, a mountain hut that we were able to stay in last night! Beds, showers, and a warm space to sleep was just what we all needed before our big trek this week. Harper and Danny kicked off the card playing with Harper teaching many games. Parker taught Nick how to play Gin Rummy and kicked his butt. The whole group eventually ended up in a rousing game of BS before an amazing dinner of hot dogs and potato sticks! With the darkest night yet in the hut’s rooms, we all got a good night of sleep and are now ready to head off to our trailhead.
This morning we had a surprise cereal of Cheerios that Sadie was so stoked about and some fresh fruit. We are now making our way across the south coast and spirits couldn’t be higher as we get closer and closer to the start of our journey across the land. One stop this morning was Seljalandsfoss and a smaller, lesser known waterfall inside a nearby cave. Ben seemed to make his way around the group getting a photo with everyone inside the cave. This energized the team and excited everyone for the sights that lay ahead.
Before we hit the trail, everyone wanted to give some shoutouts to friends and family so below we have all written a few words!
Until next time,
Nick and Temple
Hi fam! I miss y’all so much can’t wait to see y’all soon
I’m having so much fun and mama I’d really love watermelon when I get back
Love y’all Sadie
Hey it’s Caroline! I am having so much fun but I can’t wait to see y’all! We start trekking today. Love and miss y’all soooo much
I’ll try to write more than one line this year, so I’m having such a great time with everyone here. We’ve gotten to do so much already and it’s only halfway over. We got to go to Oreo Bay, I’ll explain later. Tell Lucy and Stella I said hi.
I am having a great time in Iceland. I miss y’all so much and I also miss the dogs. We met dogs on a farm campsite that we stayed at and they were so cute. We should adopt another dog. We are going to go hiking today and I’m nervous but excited. Goodbye -Harper
Ciao mom and dad,
This is the best trip yet. I am having soooooo much fun! We start backpacking today. It’ll be so pretty! I miss Julesy and Caky. I love you guys. Thank you guys!
I miss you so much and I hope you are having fun without me. I want you to know I’m having the time of my life and am seeing so many beautiful and enlightening things and experiencing things that I will remember for a lifetime. I want to thank you for sending me on this trip I love you and Ps tell lolo and her family I said I miss and love them-Whitney
Iceland has been so much fun. Thank you for letting me go on this trip! We are about to go on the trek and I am really excited! I wish I could see you guys now, but I can’t. Either way I hope you are all having lots of fun at home. I am excited to see you on the 26th.
Love you, Charlie
Dear mom and dad,
Iceland is a lot of fun, but the nights are different because there is no darkness! I have done a lot, and I’m about to go on my trek. I can’t wait. I have made a lot of new friends.
Lots of love- Your boy Parker
I’m having so much fun, except I miss my puppy. Anyways we are otw to start our trek and explore Iceland. I have seen puffins while sea kayaking, it was crazy. I will try my best to get all of y’all gifts. But if I don’t it is because I like north 66 so much. Anyways hope y’all are having fun without me and make sure puppy is doing well.
I’m having so much fun! Thank you for letting me go on this trip!! It’s so pretty here and I’m having the time of my life! I’m experiencing things I thought I never would. I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all soon! I love y’all -Mary Helen
I can’t even begin to explain how breathtaking this trip has been so far. Everyday keeps getting better and better. I miss y’all so much and wish you could see what I have seen. When I get back I’ll have to show y’all all the pictures and videos I’ve taken (they are beautiful). Thank y’all so much for this opportunity of a lifetime.
LOVE HOLT (ps hey camille hope you’re reading this miss you bunches)
Hey mom dad and porter
Miss you guys So much and can’t wait to see yall¡ I’m having so much fun we start our trek today so wish us luck love you guys – Carson
I have had so much fun and I’ve seen some crazy stuff. I have met a lot of people and the trip is going smoothly. I miss you and mazaltlans. – Ben
July 17, 2019
Hello friends and family! Wow what a time we have had. We write to you from Bjarteyjarsandur farm situated in a beautiful fjord with a beautiful seashore. It’s hard to believe it’s only been 5 days here in beautiful Iceland as we feel like we have known each other forever and have memories for a lifetime!
After a long day of traveling, we started our adventure at the famous Blue Lagoon. This was exactly what we needed for our tired, jet-lagged bodies. We threw on our bathing suits and jumped into the steaming, crystal blue waters. With the silica mud masks and some blueberry slushees in hand, we soaked while telling stories and getting to know each other. Brown, Holt, Mary Helen, and Carson even went for mud mask round 2, in order to get extra exfoliation.
Next stop was a 200-year-old underground lava cave. After our first scenic drive, we enjoyed some sandwiches and chips, and then headed underground to the darkness of the cave. Everyone was amazed at how dark and chilly it was so far into the ground. We learned about how the cave came to be and exactly how to get around without getting lost in the darkness. Whitney was very happy to be wearing a helmet as she twisted and turned through the tiny holes.
Our first day was finished in the big city, Reykjavík. We enjoyed warm showers, naps, and of course PIZZA! We were sure to hit the beds early to ensure we would be ready for our big day on the water! Our night was finished with our first Moonup where Whitney and Ben were named our first LODs. We were excited to have some returners: Harper, Danny, and Avery who were very helpful when explaining the Moondance philosophy and just how special Moonup is.
After 13 hours of rest everyone was ready for a full day of activity. We packed up and hit the van as we headed toward the river. Our van ride was full of snacks and excellent tunes mainly provided by our man Danny; he really knows how to set the mood.
We arrived at the river excited to get going. After a safety briefing, we all stepped into our wetsuits, splash tops, helmets, and life jackets. From there we grabbed our paddles and hopped on the bus eager to hit the river! The bus led us down a windy and bumpy road to a put-in that shows us the first set of rapids right from the get-go. After our second round of safety briefing, we were off, rolling and winding our way down the mystical canyon. The first section brought us through the most challenging of the rapids, having us face the worst from the start. They were nothing for our group as we cruised through with no man overboard. Following the first rapids, it was time to get wet! We eddied out and pulled to the side where a 7-meter cliff jump was waiting for us. Whitney was the first to jump, with Ben not far behind as our two Leaders of the Day, led us off the cliff one by one. With everyone now soaked and our wetsuits warmed up, we hit the river for the last stretch. The last stretch brought the chaos! People were jumping in and out, pushing others off, playing games, etc. We were doing anything we could to get in the water. Brown tried many times to get one of our guides in the river, unfortunately failing each time with himself ending up in the chilly waters instead. During one section, Ben and Harper stood up on the ends of one raft while a few of us spun it round and round, seeing who could balance the longest. Both ended up in the water eventually as we spun our way to the end.
After our wild journey on the river, we not only enjoyed some sandwiches and cookies at the river base, but also warm showers and a sauna! Next, we loaded up the van to journey to our first campsite. On the way we were able to stop at one of Iceland’s largest waterfalls, Gulfoss. We were speechless with the insanely fast flowing waters and the rainbow that appeared on our way out. Holt of course was able to snag some amazing photos of the waterfall and the group. It is safe to say he is crushing the photography.
When we arrived at our campsite. We were in awe of the setup nestled near a river in between snow covered mountains. After a tent lesson, we put the group to the test. Danny and Charlie were the first to get theirs up however, in all, we were extremely impressed with the group’s abilities. We finished the night with warm grilled cheese and tomato soup and a Moonup underneath the sunlit sky.
The next day, everyone woke up eager to embark on our first hike. After taking tents down and enjoying another warm meal of oatmeal, yogurt, granola, and hot coco, we were ready for the trail. LODs, Carson and Charlie, led the group around the geothermal area as we slipped and slid down the hills and into the beautiful, colorful valley. When finishing up our first hike everyone felt extremely accomplished, as they should! Sadie and Whitney were especially feeling proud as this was their first-time hiking and Parker couldn’t get over how fun the journey was despite the little bit of rain!
Our afternoon consisted of visiting a geyser and stopping at a local grocery store to stock up on our favorite snacks. The geyser was very cool to see as the water shot up into the sky in a short moment. We loved watching everyone’s expressions. After watching the geyser, we were sure to stop in the gift shop to buy some gifts and treats for our friends and families at home.
We are now at one of our coolest campsites yet. A family owned farm right in front of a beautiful waterfront. This afternoon, two Icelandic girls who live here were able to show us all their farm animals including: goats, baby bunnies, pigs, sheep, and horses. It was a special and truly authentic experience. We are so glad our guide Erla showed us this amazing place! We spent the afternoon chasing goats and petting baby bunnies. Caroline was sure to snag a picture with the baby bunny as it lay in her palm. For dinner we enjoyed delicious burgers and mini fries. We ended the night with Moonup where LOD Charlie finished the night with a “Piano Man” solo act, a huge crowd pleaser.
Tomorrow we are off to the coast for sea kayaking! LODs Holt and Brown will lead us through the ocean waters to our island home for night. So far, we have had an incredible couple of days, it’s as if we have all known each other forever. We will catch you after our time on the water. Over & out for now!
Temple and Nick
July 14, 2019
Hello Iceland Families!
We heard from our trip leaders early this morning that all students landed safely in Iceland. The group is getting settled at their hostel now, and about to enjoy dinner together. We can’t wait to hear more stories from their adventures soon!