July 3, 2022
An almost final hello from this intrepid group of global trekkers! We crossed borders, rivers, mountain passes, and everything in between these past five days and had an amazing time doing so. The bond this group has is unbelievable and it was a joy to watch their friendships be in full bloom for our last section.
After a mega travel day from Costa Brava to Chamonix, we landed safely at the base of the Mont Blanc, ready for the journey that awaited us. We woke up early the next morning and loaded into vans, led by our lovely guide Christophe. We zipped from France to our trailhead nestled in a valley in the corner of northern Italy. We slowly climbed up and up the mountains to reach a little refugio tucked away, waving Italian flags. Here we treated ourselves to Italian hot chocolate, so delicious and rich Sam and Trent did not stop talking about it for the rest of our trek. After our quick stop, we continued our climb all the way to Switzerland. Emma leapt across the border then back and forth a few more times just because she could. We cruised our way down the mountain to the small village of La Fouly, our home for the night. Once in town, we treated ourselves to gelato. A perfect way to cap off our tri-country extravaganza!
The next day we headed out for Champex. Our hike rolled along the river with ease and we enjoyed a lunch of local meat and cheese we had purchased from a farm the day before. There were mixed reviews on the cheese but Carter thought it was tasty. After lunch we began our mountain ascent and climbed to reach glittering Lake Champex. Brendan and Helen jumped at the chance to put their feet in the cold water after a long day of hiking. Thankfully, we made it to our refugio a moment before the rain hit. Cozy and safe from the storm, we played cards and the Dream Game for hours. We fell asleep to the relaxing sound of rain hitting the windows.
Up early as always, we left Champex for Trient. The fog was low and surrounded us so Sulli made sure to sing the majority of the Twilight Soundtrack, to really set the mood. Climbing through the fog we reached another little mountain hut where we ate lunch and got homemade apricot tarts. The perfect boost to push us through the rest of our hike. We landed in Trient right as the sun was breaking through the clouds. Full of energy we raced out to the local soccer field where Alex dribbled circles around the rest of the group. There was also a volleyball so Mattie and Hayden were able to throw down their skills too! That night we enjoyed a lovely dinner complete with Swiss fondue.
By our fourth day we had to say good bye to Switzerland and come back to France. We had a steep climb to reach the border but Reed led the group through the tough part of the day with excitement and positivity. We finally reached the top and looked out at perfect views of Mont Blanc and Chamonix below. We sat at the top soaking in our accomplishments and the beauty that surrounded us. It was hard to leave the views but we were excited to reach our accommodations for the night. We made our way down the hill to a quaint wooden building covered in blooming flowers. After dinner we had our Moonup on a little hill looking out to the mountains. Chloe took tons of pictures and we rolled around laughing at anything anyone said. It was a beautiful night and the mountains looked pink reflecting the setting sun. The group started to get emotional about leaving so soon and it just shows how deep these friendships are. They are incredible kids and we get to see how much they care for one another every single day.
Our final day of trekking took us back to Chamonix where we stuffed ourselves with burgers, fries, and gelato. The perfect post-trekking meal! It’s hard to believe we only have 3 nights left with these amazing individuals but we cannot wait to see what fun and hilarity Paris will hold. This group is one of a kind and Hayden and I are lucky to know them!
All the best,
Emmy and Hayden
Now some thank yous from the group:
Hayden – hey y’all! I want to give the biggest thank you ever to y’all for sending me on this once in a lifetime trip. There’s truly nothing like this, and I couldn’t be more thankful that y’all gave me this opportunity. This journey has been life-changing and there’s nothing like this amazing group of people and our bond. I love and miss y’all so much!
Sulli- Hi Mom and Dad!! I just want to say thank you guys so much for sending me on this trip. I have had the most amazing time and I will never forget all the things I’ve seen and all the people I have met. This has been the most one of a kind and best experience ever and I am so happy y’all gave me this opportunity, I love you both SO much!
Emma – Hi mom and dad!!! Thank you so so much for sending me on this trip! It has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I have never been more grateful for all the things I’ve done and seen!! This trip has been the best experience and I have had the best time ever! I am so so happy here! I love you both so much!! Thank you for this!
Mattie- hiii mom and dad! I would love to give you the biggest thank you for sending me on this amazing adventure. I’ve met the most amazing people and seen the most amazing things and none of that would have been possible without y’all. Definitely a trip I will never ever forget. I love and miss y’all so much and cannot wait to tell you both everything! See y’all in a few days XOXO!
Reed- Hi Mom and D! I just wanted to thank you for letting me go on this trip. I’ve met amazing people, seen beautiful things, and I have so many stories to tell from my time here. This truly is the trip of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t be here without you. I love you both with all my heart, and I can’t wait to see you both very soon.
Alexander – Hey mom and dad thank you so much for allowing me to go on this trip. These have been some of the most incredible 3 weeks of my life and I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I’ve never seen anywhere more beautiful and the people I’m with are all amazing. Love y’all and see you Wednesday
Trent – Hey mom. Hey dad. Thanks for sending me on this trip, I have seen so many wonderful sights and met so many wonderful people. It has been a trip that I will remember for a lifetime and I have made friendships that will last hopefully a lifetime. I am sad it is almost over, and I can’t thank y’all enough for letting me go on it. See y’all in a couple days.
Sam – Hey Mom and Dad. Foremost, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on a wonderful trip in such a wonderful environment. It is truly the adventure of a lifetime (hopefully not the only one), and I am grateful to have been able to do the things I have done in the last few weeks. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Love you.
Carter – hey guys thanks so much for sending me on this trip, this is really one of the hilights of my year the friends I’ve made on this trip are some of the best people I had ever met. I am so grateful for you guys hard work to let me be in an outdoor environment with some amazing people. Love u guys!!
Brendan – Hey mom and dad. I just wanted to thank y’all for giving me this opportunity to go on this trip. I have made many new friends and made life long memories. This is one of the greatest trips I have ever been on and it is all thanks to y’all. I know y’all only said one trip but I’m so glad that y’all let me do one more. I love y’all with all of my heart. Thank you guys and miss you. Love ya
Chloe- Hey Mom and Dad! I wanted to say thank y’all so much for the amazing opportunity I have had to be able to go on this trip. I have learned so much and I have been so grateful for all the memories and friendships I have made on this trip. Love you guys so much and can’t wait to tell you all about it soon!
Helen- Heyyy mom and dad!!! This has literally been the most AMAZING trip of my ENTIRE FREAKING LIFE. It has truly been the trip of a lifetime- I have seen such beautiful and amazing views and such cool things and I’ve gotten to do it with such amazing people and I am so so so grateful to y’all for giving me this opportunity. I have made so many memories and cannot wait to tell y’all all about it! I love y’all so much thank you thank you thank you!!
June 28, 2022
Howdy from the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea!
Sea Kayaking off the shore of Costa Brava, Spain was absolutely incredible and the perfect break we all needed from trekking through the mountains to soak up sun surf, sun, and sand.
After a lengthy travel day from Lourdes to Costa Brava, LODs Brendan and Emma cheffed up dinner out our campsite. Breakfast for dinner was the menu, complete with crispy bacon, OJ, and most importantly a lot of scrambled eggs. We love Europe but sure do miss American breakfast! Once our feast was done, we cozied up into our bungalows, excited for the next day to begin.
Sun screened up and ready to roll, we started our walk to the beach and met one of our guides, Pau, on the walk over. Once at the beach we divided up into kayaking groups and set out for some cliffs to jump off and coves to explore. Pau explained how the rain erodes the sedimentary rock surrounding the water and gave us the opportunity to jump and swim through a naturally created hole underwater. Carter leapt at the opportunity to jump in and was impressed by how clear the water was as he swam through.
The winds were high that day so halfway through the morning we switched to a motorboat ride, and we zipped around the bay. Sulli and Alexander were deep in the splash zone of the boat but took each wave like champs, even if it was pretty cold. After our boat ride we lunched on the beach, drying off in the Spanish sun. But our day wasn’t over yet! We were taken on a bike tour around the coastline of Costa Brava. We saw the city center, ancient Roman beaches, and most importantly got gelato. To quote Helen, “it was the best ice cream I ever had”.
Back at camp we showered and cleaned up to prepare for a cooking class at a local beachside restaurant. We helped Chef Miquel prep grilled romaine lettuce with pesto, salmon tartare, paella, and toasted bread with tomato and olive oil. Reed was a big help in making sure to drench the romaine in pesto while Chloe shredded fresh Parmesan over the top. It was perfecto. Bellies full, we all fell asleep that night dreaming of the key lime pie that topped off the meal.
The next morning, we headed out to the river for a chance to kayak somewhere new. Our guides led us through currents down the river which led to a lot of splashing and a lot of laughing. We played a game called “the waiter”, where one person in each boat had to stand and balance while pretending to carry dishes. This group is amazing, but balance might not be our greatest strength. Sam fell into the river water first but didn’t mind because it was a lot warmer than the day before. After Sam, everyone quickly followed suit, tumbling into the water, laughing and splashing at each other. During all of this, Trent and Hayden’s boat spent more time facing backward than forward but they kept up with the group, twirling around as they went.
Once our kayaking was done, we went to the beach for a relaxing nap in the sun. Energized by our afternoon of relaxation the kids took to our kitchens for an intense iron chef competition. Mattie and her group blew us away with their handwritten menu and cookie charcuterie board but ultimately Sulli’s group took the win with mouthwatering lemon chicken tacos.
We were sad to say goodbye to our little slice of paradise on the Mediterranean coast but cannot wait for the last leg of our adventure: the Tour du Mont Blanc. These kids continue to impress us every single day and we know that they are going to tackle the challenges of the TMB with ease.
Au Revoir for now!
Emmy and Hayden
Here are some shoutouts from the crew:
Sam- hey mom and dad. I am having a great time so far. Love you.
Helen- Hi mom, dad and Ridley, I’m having an AMAZING time here in Europe it is so cool and I love it. Costa Brava was AMAZINGGG and we need to come back! I miss y’all and happy Father’s Day dad!
Sulli- Hi mom, dad, and Jake!!! I have been having SO much fun. I love all the places that we have gone to especially costa Brava, that water was so blue beaches were so cool. I miss you guys and Happy Belated Fathers Day dad!!
Brendan – hey mom and dad, I miss y’all. Happy late Father’s Day dad! Love and miss y’all
Hayden – hey y’all! I’m having a blast in Europe and we are about to go to our last hiking section. I miss y’all and can’t wait to tell y’all everything. See y’all soon!
Trent – Hey y’all, I miss y’all. Happy belated Father’s Day, I am having a lot of fun and have loved all the places we have been. We need to come back.
Mattie- hey mom, dad, and pheebs! I’m having an amazing time on my trip and can’t wait to tell y’all about everything! I love and miss y’all sooo much!
Alex- Hey everyone I’m having an amazing time. Everywhere we’ve been has been amazing and my group is awesome. Happy late bday to dad. Miss y’all a lot!
Chloe- Hey y’all! I’m having so much fun in Europe with everyone! I love my group and am having the best time. Can’t wait to see y’all soon! Happy belated Father’s Day Dad!
Reed- Hi Mom and D! The trip is amazing so far, and I have so many amazing stories to tell you. I love you both very much, and I can’t wait to see you soon. Tell Fluffy I say hello.
Carter- hi mom dad penn Henry goose and happy birthday to tucker. Hope y’all are having a good time in England, hope peen and Henry left ok. I’m having a great time here we’re in Spain rn going to France to do the final leg in chamonix. Love y’all!! Happy furthers day too!!
Emma- Hi mom, dad, Hadley, Chloe, and Coleman!!! I’m having the best time ever! I miss y’all so much and am so excited to see y’all soon! We need to come back here together it is amazing! I have so much to tell y’all!! I love y’all so much! Thumbs up! And happy belated Father’s Day D-money!!!
June 24, 2022
Bonjour and Hola from Chamonix 2B! We cannot believe that we’ve already gotten to spend 11 incredible days with this group. Even though our first few days were filled with planes and trains, this group made the most of it. From Reed’s 17th birthday party in the airport (complete with balloons and chocolate) to endless rounds of cards as we trained our way across the French countryside, these kids knew how to have fun from the jump! Once we got to Lourdes, we got into our beds and slept tight to prepare for our trek across the Pyrenees the next day.
Our trek began with an early morning pickup in Lourdes. Our mountain guide jumped out and quickly introduced himself, Mathieu was going to be with us for the next 8 days! After we parked at the trailhead and got our packs situated, our boots hit the ground and we were off to the races. Reed led the pack as we charged down the mountain and quickly arrived in Spain. After a polar plunge in the river at lunch, we finished our day in Torla, a beautiful mountain town, where we drank ice cold Limon and Orange Fantas to recover from our first big day of trekking the oldest trail in Europe! At dinner we broke out some riddles and Sulli was quick to solve them, frustrating the group but allowing for a lot of laughs over our desserts.
The next day we were bussed to Ordesa National Park. Our day got off to a stunning start as we climbed 600 m in elevation in under 2 kilometers! Sam even kept up with Mathieu while practicing his French. At the top we celebrated with some delicious Swiss chocolate that we got in Geneva, it felt only right with our spectacular views of the canyon. As we pushed on, this group showed incredible tenacity and determination to make it to the top of the canyon. When we finally arrived and revived ourselves with showers and a hot meal, we all had energy to play some very heated games of mafia. As our games winded down we curled up in our bunks under the gorgeous night sky.
Day 3 was another pristine blue sky in the Pyrenees! We started the day with a stretch circle and got ready to head down into the valley. After a steep descent down, we got to hike up to a gorgeous waterfall that flows right out of Mount Perdido. Trent climbed to the other side of the river to get a perfect view of the cascading bright blue water, it also made him look a bit like an Izard (a native mountain goat to the Pyrenees). As we continued, we passed a group of cows and Helen got every photo she could with them. We reached the Ordesa parking lot again and relaxed while enjoying Kit Kats in the meadow. Our buses picked us up again to shuttle us to a new trailhead. From there we followed the river back to Bujarealo, our stunning mountain refugio for the night.
Bright and early we rose the next morning, to tackle the mountainous border back to France with LODs Mattie and Brendan who alternated leading the pack. We climbed up the mountain while navigating around snow patches, marmots, and massive boulders! Finally, we reached the mountain pass, enjoyed a delicious lunch, and Hayden snuck in a perfect power nap under the sun. We meandered our way down the valley to Cirque de Gavarnie and were awe struck by the cascading waterfall. It was unlike anything any of us had seen before! Lucky for us our refugio had a perfect view of it as well so we all could admire it well into the night.
After major treks across countries, we eased up for a day with a lovely day hike. Leaving our extra weight at the refugio we crushed two uphill pushes led by LOD’s Helen and Trent. During one of our breaks, we hacky sacked next to a group of curious horses while looking over the most beautiful mountain scenery. We broke up into two groups for the final summit push to Espuguettes. Once there, Mathieu offered to take some to summit a nearby peak. Carter, Sam, Trent, and Reed eagerly seized the opportunity while the rest of the group relaxed and played cards.
Our final full day proved tough with unforgiving mountain weather, but thanks to the resilience and knowledge of this group we were able to preserve and summit the ridge. After the weather passed, Matthieu showed us wild blueberries. Carter picked and ate them as he walked down the trail. Alex even showed off how well his soccer skills transfer to hacky sack while kickin it by a shepards hut. The night came to an end with intense games of cards and delicious crepes from a local restaurant.
Our last hike of the trek took us through the valley of Heas, with stunning views of the French Pyrenees. As the trek concluded the group was finally able to reunite with Chloe who had recovered from her foot injury. She brought a basket of goodies full of apples, cookies, and gummy bears to welcome us off the mountain.
After being blown away by this amazing group of kids, Hayden and I cannot wait to see what the rest of this trip holds. Their humor, heart, and determination is unmatched and we know that whatever comes next will bring lots and lots of giggles.
Until next time,
Emmy and Hayden
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!