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Chamonix 2 A • June 14-July 6, 2022

Hello from France!

July 3, 2022

Greetings from France! We have just completed 8 challenging days of trekking through some of the most beautiful mountains we’ve ever seen, even more beautiful

Than the Alps. While it is impossible to put these adventures into words. Here is my (Wil) attempt.

 

We started the first day of Pyrenees trekking with a pastry breakfast with strawberries and apricots. After breakfast we finished packing our packs to begin EIGHT full days of trekking through the Pyrenees. At this point in the trip it’s just hard to believe we have another week of incredible adventure, considering how much we’ve already done. It feels like 6 vacations combined into one.

 

We piled into two vans and drove through the rain for 45 minutes to a small hotel up in the mountains. Just before arriving it started hailing. We agreed that it was only fair that we finally get bad weather after how lucky we’ve been thus far. We waited in the vans for a bit and miraculously the hail stopped and the sky started clearing up.

 

For our first day of trekking we only did a day hike which meant we got to leave some of our things at the hotel and take only lunch, water, and rain gear. With light loads we were able to hike a bit faster and enjoy the views more. Slowly, the clouds dissipated and revealed the most majestically mountain view’s we’ve ever seen. It looked like a scene from The Lord of the Rings or something.

 

The rocky peaks surrounded us and turned into vibrant green grassy slopes lower down. Rushing waterfalls divided the mountains and flowed into a crystal blue river. Giant birds of prey flew overhead and the sound of distant cowbells rung in the distance. It’s hard to believe it, but these mountains were even more beautiful than the Alps.

 

As we climbed up higher into the mountains, the conversations flowed. Organically, people would pair off and talk with one or two other people as we walked and the conversations got deep. At this point in the trip, we all felt comfortable and safe enough to start opening up more and connecting on deeper levels. This is what I like to call the Moondance Magic (Trademark pending).

 

Intense conversations made the hiking feel easy and we quickly made our way to a small, stone cabin high up in the mountains surrounded by seemingly wild cattle. Here we enjoyed a lunch break, played some jams, and belted out into song.

 

With full bellies and high energy we continued up the trail constantly being presented with even more breathtaking views. The deep talks continued along with some silly ones and some riddles. Eventually, we made our way back to the hotel, and ate a dinner of Pasta and Veal, salad, and bread.

 

After dinner, Bibb and SG led a life changing Moonup. They asked, “What are you currently struggling with?” and by the end we were all in tears. The students vulnerably shared their hearts and with this we all became closer. Hearing the pain and struggles of everyone was incredible healing, eye-opening and fostered empathy and maturity in every one of us.

 

I am so amazingly grateful for each of these remarkable young men and women, and am already dreading the day I will have to say goodbye to them.

 

The next morning the creek behind our hotel transformed into a raging river after a night of storms. The weather was cloudy with occasional sprinkles. We ate a croissant breakfast with coffee and hot chocolate before starting our hike. For the beginning of the hike we walked along the road before hitting a beautiful blue lake. Again the scenery felt very majestic with all the clouds and fog.

 

We hiked around the lake and then through an incredible valley. From one point in the valley, Rowan counted 11 waterfalls. We took a snack break in the valley and then started a steep climb up towards the mountain pass. Just before lunch the rain started coming down, forcing us to continue climbing as we didn’t want to eat in the rain. Eventually, just a couple hundred meters below the pass there was a break in the rain and we finally stopped for a picnic.

 

It’s amazing how a simple lunch can raise our spirits so high. When you live in the wilderness you really start to experience great joy from life’s simple pleasures. At lunch some of the group spontaneously broke out into song and dance,and then we continued up the pass.

 

As we rose in elevation the terrain got steeper and rockier. We sang songs all the way to the top, making the otherwise extremely treacherous terrain much easier. We took a quick moment to celebrate at the top and then quickly started our descent as it was quite cold and windy on the pass.

 

On the way down it really started to rain hard. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before our alpine refuge appeared through the fog and we arrived at our accommodations for the night. This was our first night staying at an authentic mountain refuge and it was amazing. While it was simple and rustic, the location and setup was pretty cool. We dried off and sipped on hot cocoa.

 

For dinner we had soup, taboule, pork and veggies, and then a vanilla custard dessert. There nothing quite like a hot meal after a cold, wet day in the mountains. After dinner, we played several rounds of mafia before Colin and Virginia led the group in Moonup. As the night before as well as today’s trail conversations had been quite heavy, they kept it light by asking “What’s your favorite comfort movie?” We reflected on our day and then fell deeply asleep after a hard day of hiking.

 

The next morning we woke up to the most incredible view from the window of our bedrooms. The clouds cleared overnight and we got to see the jagged glacial peaks surrounding our hostel along wage dozens of cows and sheep grazing through alpine meadows of green grasses and colorful wildflowers.

 

After a nice breakfast, our LOD’s, Bibb and Charlotte led the way down the trail from our alpine refuge down into the small mountain town in the valley below. With high spirits from the sunny weather and all downhill hiking we made quick progress of the days hiking. We arrived at our hotel in Gavarnie in time for lunch and were greeted with a warm welcome from Christoph, the owner of the hotel and a good friend of our guide.

 

We ate our lunch outside in the sun and then explored the quaint mountain town. A couple students bought t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other souvenirs and then we all enjoyed some ice cream. Back at the hotel, we played ping-pong and enjoyed some much needed down time to hangout and chill.

 

For dinner, Christoph cooked us a delicious meal that gave our Spanish Paella a run for its money. We indulged in a salad, bread, pasta and local fresh-caught trout with a delicious cream sauce. For dessert, we were given huge portions of chocolate mousse. After dinner, Charlotte and Bibb led our Moonup at a nearby park where we all shared a moment in our lives where we experienced a shift in identity. After dinner we had another sound sleep.

 

For breakfast the next morning, we had the traditional French bread and coffee before hitting the trail, we hiked out of Gavarnie by what our guide called a cirque. It was like a giant half circle shaped canyon with several waterfalls all dumping into a crystal blue river at the base. One of these waterfalls was the tallest in all of Europe at over 400 meters tall.

 

After admiring the beauty of the distant falls, we started our climb today of 1200 meters in elevation gain. About 1/4 of the way up we stopped beside a smaller waterfall, dipped our feet in to cool off, and took some pictures. We then, continued up with great determination.  By this point in the trip, we were all in great hiking shape and kept a strong pace even up the steep and rocky mountainside.

 

Eventually, we made it to the top of the pass to see what may well have been our most beautiful view yet. At our highest elevation of the trip, there were huge snowbanks all around us covering the mountains. From here, we spotted out alpine refuge, also perhaps the coolest yet, nestled high up in the steep mountain side. We safely crossed one final snow cliff to arrive to our scenic accommodations.

 

While most of the group settled in, Bibb, Steven, Sarah, SG, and I opted in to an additional climb to the top of an even higher pass with our guide. Without packs, we quickly climbed up a steep cliff to see an even more amazing view than the previous pass. We cheered, laughed and agreed the challenging climb was well worth it. The best part was we got to slide down the snow most of the way back.

 

For dinner that night, the refuge served a cheesy vegetable pasta casserole similar to lasagna followed by a delicious custard. Sam and Avery led our Moonup on the porch of the refuge, where we shared our favorite moment from the trip thus far. After Moonup, we fell asleep while telling funny stories and listening to the sound of the mountain thunderstorm.

 

The next day was a mostly downhill hike from our alpine refuge down to the tiny village Bujajuelo. Our alternating days of uphill and downhill have been nice, as it gives nice variety and offers some recovery for our muscles and energy levels. Early in the day, we crossed over the border into Spain at another mountain pass. We celebrated with candy and then quickly descended into the valley. Our views this day were of incredible valleys full of yellow wildflowers. As we dropped more in elevation, we entered the forest and came to a river where we picnicked for lunch. After lunch we checked into our hotel, had a chill afternoon and eventually sat down for dinner. Dinner was some delicious local sausage with soup and bread. For dessert we had more custard.

 

After dinner, Virginia and Harrison led us in a funny Moonup where we all made cat noises and then got deeper sharing what we would like to take back with us from this trip. I was very impressed by all the students answers. Some shared practical changes they intended to make like using their phones less, others more emotionally focused changes such as practicing vulnerability with friends and family members. After Moonup we went to bed, this time all in a cool upstairs bunk room.

 

Breakfast the next morning was a bit different as we were now in Spain. There were muffins, different pastries, and more meats. This days hike was a big one consisting of almost entirely uphill. In the morning we had a big steep hike up to an incredible overlook where we ate Spanish tortillas for lunch. After lunch, the trail entered a massive canyon cut by a glacial-fed river. The trail led us to an enormous waterfall where we swam in the coldest water ever and took to a of photos and videos. We the climbed another steep section of trail up to our refuge.

 

 

For dinner, we had sausage again. This time with rice and lentils. For dessert, they served a dish similar to crembrule. Our LOD’s, Sally and Collin, led a Moonup where we shared a hard truth that we realized recently. All the students were very vulnerable and at this point it was heartwarming to see how close they had all gotten. After dinner we stayed up and watched the stars before finally going to bed.

 

We slept a bit later the next morning before making our way back through the valley and eventually into the cool stone town of Torla. The trail was mostly down hill and again we watched alpine meadows transform into mountain forests. We ate lunch at another amazing waterfall before trekking to Torla. In Torla, we watched the finish of an ultramarathon through the mountains and shopped around before a restaurant dinner.

 

After dinner, Stephen and SG led a fun Moonup including a scavenger hunt with a series of riddles. It was a one of a kind experience, with the question of “What is your comfort place at home. We ended the night with some soothing Nordic hymns to fall asleep to.

 

The next morning, we started off the day with a light breakfast and then one final climb to the parking lot where we would be picked up. It was a full 1000 meter elevation gain, but we did it so quickly our guide was shocked. Before the end of the trek we did a monk walk where we a spread out and hiked silently for 30 minutes to reflect on our time together. It was truly a magical experience, and a great way to complete our final trek.

 

We’re now in Lourdes getting ready for our final two days together. The energy is bittersweet.  We feel accomplished to have completed so many challenges, but sad to know it is all coming to an end. The whole group is doing everything they can to soak in every moment together. Tomorrow we head to Paris for one last hoorah. We look forward to seeing you soon and sharing all of these stories and many many more in person.

 

Sincerely,

Molly and Wil


Hello from Spain!

June 25, 2022

Hola from Spain!

 

After a long day of vans, trains, and buses we arrived at our campsite with a few hours to explore before the sun went down. To the groups surprise our home for the next few nights was unlike anything else we’ve stayed in. Everyone was freaking out! Canvas glamping tents with our own kitchen! For the first time we had the chance to cook our own meals, such a fun treat! While the group settled into our campsite, the leaders of the day Harrison, Sarah and Molly (me) ran into town to stock up on some groceries. Harrison put his Spanish skills to use helping us communicate in the store. The anticipation to see the beach was bubbling up in all of us! Spain was already providing such a great exhale after the epic trekking in the Alps. We ended the first night with a pizza dinner and a heartfelt Moonup. Rowan and Avery were selected to be the next leader of the day, or as we now jokingly call it “parents of the day” aka PODs.

 

The group awoke to our first day in Spain with excitement and eagerness to begin our next activity- sea kayaking! Harrison, Sarah, Avery and Rowan treated the group to our first homemade breakfast. Rowan made some cheesy soft scrambled eggs, Avery revealed her chef skills by making bacon, Sarah and Harrison cut up all the fruit and gathered the hungry group around to serve them. Sarah Grace took over the role of making coffee for the group. We were living large. We filled up our stomachs, packed a sack lunch and headed on our way to start the day! The drive to our starting point for kayaking is was stunning. We passed fields of lavender, sunflowers and fruit trees. Did I mention we looovvvvee Spain? Pão and Albert took us under their wing, and we began our activity. Our group split into the double kayaks. Bibb with Virginia, Steve with Collin, SG and Sarah, Charlotte with Avery, Rowan and Sally, and Sam with Harrison. This group instantly got the hang of it and started cruising through the water. Pão taught us about the native animals in the surrounding area. Virginia and Bibb led the group with their speedy paddling. Bibb was relieved this kayaking was much more relaxed than his last trip in Hawaii! We stopped to swim and eat lunch at a nearby beach. Sam and Steve were the first ones in the water, encouraging the rest of the group to join! It didn’t take long until we were all swimming and cracking up at each other’s jokes. The kayak guides seemed to really like us and even commented on how much fun we were having. They started to tell us about the holiday  “Night of San Juan” that was going on tonight. This is Spain’s celebration of the summer solstice, they told us people everywhere would be celebrating by sending off fireworks! The group was so excited to hear about this. We were loving our break from paddling and this new swim spot. Wil and Sam showed off some of their sick water tricks by doing a synchronized belly flop for the whole group. It was absolutely hilarious. Charlotte, SG, Harrison, Avery found a nice rock and started working on their tan. We brought along our speaker and Virginia was queuing up the best songs. Collin, Sarah and Steve got a nice little workout in by using a dip in the rock for push-ups and other arm workouts. After a fun “side quest” as the group likes to call activities within activities, we hit the water refreshed and ready to go. We started off with a speed race. Sam and Harrison were victorious, beating the group and celebrating so hard that Sam fell out of the kayak- we all cried laughing. We finished our time on the water and loaded up the vans to head back to our lovely campsite. Charlotte, Steve, Avery, SG, Virginia and I went straight to the pool. It wasn’t long before the entire group showed up and we played a ton of different pool games. Collin showed off his swimming skills by making it the furthest in the pool while holding his breath. Our “PODS” guided us to the beach, just a short walk from our place. The cobalt blue water and sandy beach was a dream come true. We ran into the water! Sally noticed some funky colored paddle boats with a massive slide on top of it. Her and I secretly ran off from the group to rent the boat. We paddled out into the sea and caught everyone off guard. For hours we played with the slide and worked on our tans at the beach. Spain has our hearts, we all agreed it’s the perfect activity in between treks. We headed back to camp to prepare dinner. Avery led the cook crew and taught Sam how to cook chicken, a skill he is extremely proud of. Stephen cut up tons of veggies for the quesadilla, Rowan cooked up the veg. Sarah made her infamous guacamole, a big crowd favorite. Another fantastic day, in fact potentially our favorite day so far. It was time to see what Night of San Juan was all about. As a group we headed back to the beach. The sun was set, and we walked up to a large firework show on the beach! Our group found a spot on the sand where we had an impromptu dance party. Harrison taught us how to do the ‘dead drop’ and Sally and Charlotte sung their hearts out to every song we played. This group knows how to have a good time. We ended with Moonup, of course and the PODS passed on the role to Sam and Sally.

 

 

We started the next day off with a killer breakfast of crepes, eggs and fruit. Shout out to Sarah for treating us with her out of this world banana + Nutella crepes and egg master Rowan for the cheffing it up. We walked to the beach to meet our guides, today we switched it up and were in solo kayaks. The plan was to explore some caves and find a swimming spot. Pão taught us about the sea urchins and sea tomatoes. He picked up the urchin and taught Sam, Steve, Collin, and Harrison how to get it to stick to their hand. The group was blown away by the shade of blue the water surrounding us was. SG took a ton of GoPro shots! Bibb kept cracking hilarious jokes as we paddled our way through different caves. We saw bats and tons of fish! Pão ended the day by taking us to a private swimming area where we could jump. The rest of the afternoon allowed us a much-needed free time and some R&R. We regrouped to get ready for our cooking showcase event. As a group we gathered around the beachside outdoor kitchen at a local restaurant and learned how to cook a few different local dishes. Bibb and Charlotte helped the chef prep the many different courses. We had grilled bread (crowd favorite), salmon tartare with smashed avocado, fried calamari, hush puppies, paella, and key lime pie for dessert. It’s safe to say we LOVED this meal. After eating, Sally and Sam decided we should wander around a bit. We ended up in route to find the watch tower Pão told us about. In the 1500’s the town of L’Escala experienced trouble with pirates. As a solution they built a watch tower on top of a huge hill on the coast. We managed to find our way up there, through a quaint local neighborhood of gorgeous homes. The views at the top were breathtaking. We had a big photoshoot and explored the area. Moonup took place at the base of the tower as the sun set above the water. We ended the day with some gelato on our walk back. Charlotte and Steve were picked as our next parents of the day.

 

Today we are traveling to France to prepare for our Pyrenees trekking section. We are having the time of our lives and truly getting to know one another. This group has a sorta magic to it that you always hope to find as a Moondance leader. I have so much love for everyone in our group and feel completely in awe by their depth and contribution to this trip. I’m afraid 23 days won’t be long enough- we want this to last forever! Even though we’re having such a great time we wanted to give a shout-out to those we love and miss back home before we begin our next section.

 

 

Shoutouts!

 

Sarah: Hola mom, dad, Annie and pops, and can’t ever forget William! This whole trip has exceeded every expectation. Between the amazing views, conversations, and joy in seeing so many areas of Europe, I have been completely dumbfounded by God’s glory in creation! The hiking was a little brutal the morning of my birthday, but it didn’t keep me from smiling all day. (It may or may not have beaten my birthday in Mexico). Spain was a blast, and I can’t believe we are already past the halfway point of this trip. Thank you thank you thank you for this amazing trip but before I get back to it… Mom and dad, pet Lizzie for me, play some pickle ball, fix some boats and enjoy each other’s company as you are getting a small taste of being empty nesters. Annie Annie and Pop Pop, I am being safe all while being very appreciative of what I have. (Don’t worry, this trip really is a once in a lifetime experience and I am taking it all in.) William, keep being the best helper at work and love on your family for me. I miss you a ton, but I hope you are enjoying time at home before college. I love you all so much and can’t wait to see you in a few days!

 

Rowan: Good people of the Indgjer household and law firm, I say to you good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to come on this trip, no matter how physically tiring some parts may be. From hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc in Chamonix, to sea kayaking in the Mediterranean off the coast of L’Escala, to soon hiking the Pyrenees, every step of this trip so far has been very rewarding in terms of both personal accomplishment and great friendships. I have to say, though, that even though I love everything we have done as a group so far, I still miss playing games with Abigail (still hoping to revitalize Twink Floyd), laughing about nothing and everything with Magdalena, making poop jokes with Gabrielle, cooking with Mom, talking with Papa, and, of course, playing with Coco Chanel and Blanca Rosé Tarantino. I hope you’ll all be awaiting my grandiose return in July. Finally, touch grass, sled fast, and go Packers.

 

Harrison: Hola people from home! I am loving every second of Spain, France, Italy, and Switzerland! Honestly, I may just refuse to get on the plane and stay here and trek in the mountains and swim in the Mediterranean for the rest of my life. Spain is particularly cool and beautiful. At the moment, I’m on a bus eating Pringle’s, a sandwich, candy (the same bons bons from Cafe PA actually), and Prince Cookies. I had a cool moment earlier when I woke up from a nap and had no clue what country I was in. Love y’all! Special thanks to parentals for letting me go on this trip.

 

Collin: Hey Mom, Dad, and Kate. Hope you guys have been having fun without me. I imagine the park city weather was super nice and that Kate has a great time on her trip. I heard from people on my trip that Belize and Costa Rica were super luxurious so I’m sure she had fun. I’ve been having loads of fun on this trip and even though the hiking is super hard it is very fun, and the views have been breath taking. Costa Brava was insane, and I know all of you would’ve over the beach and the incredible views and beautiful houses. Love you and can’t wait to see you in a bit!

 

Sam: Hey Mom, Dad, Jack, Ava and Paul! This trip has been amazing, and I have enjoyed every second of it. The hiking has been very hard, but the views make it all totally worth it. I definitely need to work on my French, but I am starting to get the hang of some words. It has been so cool hiking from Italy into Switzerland and then hike from Switzerland to France. I don’t mean to brag but I just left Spain after sea kayaking the Mediterranean Sea. I will begin to hike the Pyrenees tomorrow! I wish you were all here to see it! I love you all!

 

 

Bibb: Hey Mom and Dad! Everything about this trip has been a dream come true, except having to buy a new backpack because we didn’t read the packing list correctly. Hiking through the Italian+Swiss+French Alps has been truly breathtaking, and the Spanish coast was unbelievably beautiful. I can’t wait to tell y’all about these adventures and about our next stop in the Pyrenees! Love y’all so much and I’ll see y’all soon!

 

Sally: Bonjour! mom, dad, Kenzie, and bay! This trip is truly amazing, and I cannot wait to see you in a week and a half. The hiking is hard but so rewarding and Spain has been amazing. We are currently on a bus heading to hike the Pyrenees which is apparently the prettiest part of the trip and I’m really excited! I have kind of found a new love for trekking and although it’s tiring it’s 100% worth it! I love you guys so much and I’ll see y’all soon!

 

Virginia: Hey Mom, Dad and Martha! This trip is so so amazing, and I can’t wait to tell y’all everything! I can’t believe we’re already halfway done! The views in France and Switzerland are absolutely insane and Spain was mind blowing. I love y’all so much and I’m super excited to see y’all soon!

 

Sarah Grace: Hey Mom, Dad, Char, William and Walker, hope all is well back home and I miss you all so much. We just finished sea kayaking in Costa Brava Spain which was an unreal experience and completed the northern half of the tour de Mont Blanc, we are heading to the Pyrenees for 8 days then off to Paris, enjoying lots of coffee and good food with incredible people, love you all so much:)

 

Avery: Bonjour Mom, Dad, Connor, Jules, Caicos, and Jasmine! This trip is really incredible and I’m so excited to see you guys in a week and tell you about everything! The views in France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain are amazing! It’s so pretty here, and I’m glad I’m getting good use out of my French skills! I love you all very very much! Give the dogs some pets for me! À bientôt!

 

Charlotte:  Bonjour, Hola and Hello, Mom, Dad and everyone else reading! I’m having an amazing time here getting to see breathtaking views and experiencing everything these countries have to offer! The trekking has been hard but so worth it! Hope everyone is well! Give the pups some love for me, I love and miss you guys so much!

 

 

Steve: Greetings Mom, Dad, Audrey, and Lauren. The hiking in the Swiss Alps was difficult, but it’s been well worth it as I’ve been able to see some of the most beautiful views of my life. My group has been so amazing, and I’ve been able to make close connections with all these great people. I look forward to seeing all of you soon. Miss you!

 

Molly: hi fam! I miss and love you. I hope all is well back home. I can’t wait to see you in august! I’m seeing lots of butterflies and I know grandma and grandpa are watching over our group as we travel through France! I miss you and can’t wait to tell you all about my travels.

 

Wil:

Hi mom and dad and Chaney and Dottie. I miss y’all so much! I want to bring you all here. I’ve got lots of pictures and stories to share when I get back! Love you!

 

Xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Cham 2A <3


Bonjour!

June 22, 2022

Bonjour from Europe! We have what feels like a lifetime of stories to share with you.

 

We will start with Wednesday when Molly and I (Wil) first met our amazing students at the Geneva airport. Shortly after saying our introductions, it became clear that this was going to be a group like no other. Their enthusiasm for being here was contagious and we quickly piled into two vans and rode to Chamonix.

 

The views were spectacular as we drove into the massive glacier peaked mountains that surround the quaint mountain town of Chamonix. We walked to a delicious panini, crepe, and burger joint in town and got our first taste of French food. While everyone was tired from a long night of travel, the excitement kept everyone awake and energized.

 

After exploring town for a bit, we walked back to our homey hostel, where the group played some hacky sack. We got settled in, hung out and started getting to know one another. For dinner we had an authentic French meal of veal, salad, and French bread with a dessert of frozen yogurt with berries. Usually, the first day of the trip is a little awkward, but our group already felt like a family.

 

After dinner, Molly and I led the group in our first Moonup. Moonup is a Moondance tradition where the group sits in a circle and reflects upon the day. We announced the first LODs Sarah and Bibb. Sarah was chosen as she displayed amazing positivity and self-confidence which played a big role in breaking the ice of this group. We chose Bibb as he displayed similar leadership skills right off the bat, initiating positive conversations with many group members. We will complete each day with this Moonup ritual. After each student shared funny moments from their long journey from the states to Chamonix, we finally made our way to bed where we all indulged in some much-needed sleep.

 

The next morning started with a traditional French breakfast of local bread, cheese, Nutella, coffee, hot chocolate, and more. After breakfast, Molly and I taught the group how to pack their packs for our upcoming five-day trek. For lunch we made a delicious charcuterie spread and picnicked in a local park. We spent the afternoon exploring Chamonix, buying last minute gear, and trying our first European Gelato. Back at the hostel, we all finished packing our packs before another yummy dinner. This time stew with turkey, vegetables, rice, and as always, French bread.

 

After dinner, Bibb and Sarah led a deep Moonup where each student shared their deepest fears. At this point it was hard to believe that we had only known each other for a day.

 

The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and we’re greeted by our local Tour De Mont Blanc guide, Xavier. We hopped in a mountain taxi and drove to our trailhead. The drive included some French pump-up music and the longest tunnel ever through a mountain which popped us out in Italy. YAYYY! Another country!

 

Once at the trailhead, Sally and Harrison studied the map with the help of Xavier and gave us an overview of our route, consisting of about 11 kilometers starting with a long, steep uphill climb. We threw on our packs and started our trek. While the hiking was challenging the excitement and beauty of this spectacular place ,are for a high group morale. Words simply cannot describe the scenic vistas that got better with each step.

 

The sun was shining bright and felt great with the cool mountain breeze. We quickly made our way out of a valley which was carved by a greenish blue glacial fed river. Fields of lush green grass and vibrant wildflowers slowly transformed to hills of boulders and steep rock face. The whole hike we were amazed by a backdrop of bright blue glaciers and countless distant waterfalls. The hike was filled with song-singing, laughter, and meaningful conversations as we continued to deepen our newly blossoming friendships.

 

After several hours of climbing, we arrived at the windy mountain pass where we discovered the Switzerland border and took our first steps in the THIRD country of the day. How neat is that?!?! Here we had a majestic 360-degree view of the European Alps. We took a lunch break and agreed that this was the most beautiful picnic we have ever had.

 

After lunch, Xavier led one group of Stephen, Harrison, Molly, SG, Bibb, Collin to a nearby peak where they said they saw an even cooler view of EVERYTHING. Meanwhile Sam, Charlotte, Avery, Sally, Virginia, Rowan, and I hung back and chilled where Sam, Sarah, and I shared our life stories.

 

After the first group returned, we continued trekking down into a different, but equally beautiful valley. Eventually we arrived in the quaint mountain town of La Fouly, which would be our home for the night. While exploring this charming Swiss town, we discovered an epic swimming spot on the side of a rushing creek. The group jumped in and soaked our legs in the freezing glacial water after a long and challenging day on trial.

 

For dinner our hotel served us baked vegetables, rice, and turkey in a yummy marinade along with soup, salad, and bread. After dinner, Sally and Harrison led us in another great moon up where we shared about our alter egos and misperceptions. This was our first of many days of trekking and it was a good one.

 

Our second day of trekking started with a yummy Swiss breakfast buffet and a fancy cappuccino machine. After breakfast our fearless LODs (Leaders of the Day) Sam and Avery gave us a rundown of our trek ahead using their newly acquired map skills that Xavier taught them.

 

We started the morning strong with a long gradual downhill section which eventually took us through your quintessential European Alp cow pasture. We walked amongst the sound of cowbells and right through the grazing cows and their calves. It looked like a scene out of a movie.

 

As we continued on, we dropped down into the most charming artsy little mountain village seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After passing through town we stopped for our daily picnic lunch and ate in the shade. Another beautiful day of sunshine made for a warm afternoon. After lunch we had a very challenging uphill climb. Slowly but steadily we hiked along.

 

Finally, the trail popped us out into the slightly bigger and swankier town of Chamonix. Hot and sweaty from the hard climb we all fantasized about swimming in the alpine lake that Xavier told us about. Suddenly, we turned a corner and were presented with the view of a dreamy blue lake. We cheered with joy and quickly dropped our gear off at our hotel and ran to the lake. Without hesitation, Sarah, Stephen, Sam, and Molly jumped into the water and yelled with joy to the shocking cold of the water. Slowly, the rest of the group made their way into the cold water, which felt amazing after a hard day of hiking.

 

After the lake, we bought some sweet treats in town and made our way back to the hotel for dinner. Sam and Avery led us to a beautiful field of wildflowers on the lake’s edge where we Moonuped. Each student shared their “peak, valley, and horizon” of the day meaning their high, low, and what they look forward to. We then stretched our tired muscles in the silliest yoga session ever.

 

Before going to bed Harrison, Avery, Charlotte, Virginia, Sarah, Rowan, SG, and Sally had a sunset photo shoot.

 

The next morning, we got up a bit earlier in preparation for an even bigger day of trekking. We hit the trail early and started the morning strong led by Stephen and SG. Before lunch we had a very long and very steep climb to a high mountain pass. We slowly sang our way up the trail and Stephen and Collin told riddle after riddle to keep our minds engaged while struggling up this big climb.

 

The challenge was well worth it when we surprised the group with lunch at a mountain top farm with fancy refreshments and gourmet desserts, not to mention yet another incredible view. After lunch we made our way down the other side of the mountain we just climbed and into the town of Trient. Collin, Stephen, and I explored and dunked in another glacial creek, while the rest of the group piled into one hotel room and hung out laughing, reflecting and a little napping.

 

For dinner, each student had the choice of potatoes and fondu or Rice, veggies, and Marinated pork. After dinner, we played an extremely fun game of soccer at a field across the street where SG, Stephen, and Collin really impressed us with their skills. To end the day, Stephen and SG led our Moonup where everyone shared their celebrity crush.

 

The next day was Sarah’s 18th birthday! Collin and Charlotte led us in our last full day on the Tour Du Mont-Blanc. By now our bodies were used to the challenge of carrying heavy packs and walking big miles, but our muscles were also quite sore. We started the day with yet another huge climb. More singing and riddles helped us get to the top.

 

When we finally arrived at the high mountain pass, Molly surprised us with a chocolate birthday cake that was made by the refuge, sitting majestically at the top. After indulging in monster sized pieces of cake we had a big snowball fight and Molly, Stephen, and Collin creatively used their jackets as sleds.

 

After finishing our epic snow party, we descended down into Argentière, our final TMB town, where we arrived at our nicest hotel yet. Instead of eating at the hotel, this night Xavier took us to a local pizza place. Our amazing and well-deserved pizza feast was followed by a delicious dessert of gelato.

 

This night, Collin and Charlotte led Moonup and it was arguably our best yet. Everyone shared what they admired about the person to their left, which turned into the sweetest display of praise. We then shared our biggest takeaways from the trip thus far. Even our guide, Xavier, had a lot to share about what he learned from trekking with us.

 

This night we were in nice, smaller rooms and got our best night of sleep yet. For breakfast the next morning we feasted on eggs, waffles, pastries, fruit, and more bread. Then, Rowan and Virginia skillfully led us through small towns to Chamonix. We reflected on our amazing trek. While we were sad for it to end, we felt very accomplished with successfully completing the Northern section of the TMB.

Back at our hostel, we had a fun graduation ceremony where Xavier gave us all certificates for completing the trek.

 

In town we did some laundry, ate good restaurant food, and explored Chamonix some more. Back at the hostel we packed our bags for our next leg of the journey. For dinner we went to a local burger restaurant where they had live music. We feasted on burgers, nachos, and wings in celebration of our accomplishment. After dinner we played basketball and soccer in a local park and then Rowan and Virginia led us in Moonup. This Moonup we all shared about where we see ourselves in a year, it was very cool to hear everyone share their visions and thoughts about the college process.

 

We finished our day with one last walk through town where there was tons of live music in celebration of the summer solstice. At the hostel we met another Moondance Chamonix group and heard about their journey so far.

 

We are now riding on a train headed for the coast of Spain where we will sea kayak in the Mediterranean. We’re passing through the French Countryside looking at small houses nestled into the green hills. At this point in the trip we look like one big happy family and it’s hard to believe we’ve only known each other of a week. We are all grateful to be out here and to have two more weeks of incredible international adventure together.

 

À bientôt,

Sam, Collin, Rowan, Avery, Virginia, Stephen, Bibb, Sarah, SG, Sally, Charlotte, Harrison, Molly, and Wil

 


Safe Arrival in Geneva!

June 15, 2022

Hello Chamonix Families!

We have heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Geneva. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Avery
  • Bibb
  • Charlotte
  • Collin
  • Harrison
  • Rowan
  • Sally
  • Sam
  • Sarah
  • Sarah
  • Stephen
  • Virginia

Staff