July 24, 2022
Hey y’all! At this moment, everyone has made it home safely and we cannot tell you how much we already miss them. We want to reminisce on our last few days together.
We have just finished the hiking portion of our trip and boy are we exhausted from our journey. Fun fact: our group is one of the first moondance trips that go to the south side of the Tour du Mont Blanc. The south side is much more notorious in its ability to tire experienced hikers and lucky for us we have one of the strongest groups of all time. We also had the Moondance’s most infamously amazing guide of all time named Xavier. He is the smallest person in our group and has half of of his body weight stored in his calves. There was not a time during the trip when he wasn’t smiling and truly believes he has the best job ever. We were incredibly blessed to have had him.
Our first day was absolutely unbelievable. It was a slow start to begin because we had all taken a 4 day sabbatical from hiking and were faced with a quick 10 mile hike with a good bit of elevation gain. My favorite part of the day was going up to the first pass to eat our signature dish: prosciutto, Swiss cheese and jelly sandwiches along side the most incredible view of the mountains. I played some music for them and chuckled as Mick and Charlie dozed off next to each other.
Towards the last leg of our day we took a detour to a hidden waterfall. It was one of coolest parts of the alps because it was all fresh snowmelt and came crashing down with a humbling amount of force. The first people to go in were Lucy and Zach (what a duo). After seeing their reactions, more of us realized that this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up, so we charged ahead and chased the adrenaline coursing through our bodies as the chilling water engulfed us all. This gave us a chance to create a good bit of hoopla that caused more local hikers around us to part take in the ritual. Soon we had a small crowd forming around the waterfall and we described to leave them to it, and go to our hostel.
That night we were treated with one of the best sunsets of the trip and took some amazing candid shots of the landscape and our students smiling and dancing in the background. The next morning was filled with tongue in cheek jokes aimed at a certain stranger who can’t help but rattle the walls when he sleeps. Luckily we all were able to have enough sleep to get through our next day of hiking
The next day we set off to hike down to a town in the valley where they were actually having a local festival. The kids got to wander a bit amongst live music and paragliders sailing through the sky. Julia and Parker got to try some delicious crepes and Charlotte bought the most lovely pair of earrings- they’re just all glowing! That night we stayed in our best hostels yet, built directly in the mountainside with big fluffy beds and absurdly gorgeous views. Nick ran multiple card games and showed off his crazy good skills at ERS. There were chickens wandering around as we ate dinner, and everyone was super happy about where we were and who we were with.
Our third day on the Tour du Mont Blanc was going to be out hardest, and we hiked 17 miles through both valleys and peaks. Charlie was an excellent LOD for us to have that day with his excellent energy fueling the entire group. We got to hike across the ridge of a mountain overlooking the Mont Blanc mountain ranges on either side, and it was one of the coolest things any of us have ever done or seen. It was such a feeling of accomplishment to hear that we had reached our highest point. That night we stayed in a super old rock cabin in the valley, where we were the only group there and our exceptional guide Xavier cooked us dinner. There was a guitar there so Margaret was able to jam out and show off her skills, while Janie showed off her talents for improv singing. That night we got to try local food called Raquaclett which everyone heavily enjoyed. Moonup was done under the stars, and Mic spotted multiple shooting stars while we took it all in.
The next day we spent hiking to the border of Italy, which is where we ended up eating lunch. It was definitely a steep incline going up, but everyone aced it especially Julia who fought tooth and nail to get to the top. Then we got to hike through the valley and our final destination was Courmayeur which was this spectacular town in Italy. We had a delicious Italian dinner full of pasta and pizza, Justin absolutely devoured his pasta having worked up quite the appetite. After Moonup we even had a dance battle with boys versus girls, and Charlotte helped us choreograph a killer routine.
The next morning we got to celebrate Virginia’s 17th birthday with a big apple pie cake and singing. We got to take a day hike out of Courmayeur and then walk around town for a bit after before getting back to Chamonix. The kids all got to buy postcards and gifts for their family and friends back home, and Mic got a mini skateboard that he was ripping tricks on at dinner. Then we had a nice Moonup before resting up for our travel day to Paris!
We were fortunate to end our trip of a high note in Paris. We were able to arrive in the city of lights with enough time to go to to the Champs-Elysées for some shopping. Honestly I was relatively impressed with the kids style/drip when they came out with their token items. We then showered and ventured onto dinner. We chose a highly rated restaurant close to our hostel that served some of the best pasta of the trip and that’s saying something. The entire meal went in waves of some people tearing up to the idea that it was one of our last nights together and laughter from some of the goofiest jokes I have ever heard. They are a truly special bunch of people and we knew from the start that it was going to be a very sad goodbye.
On our final day we were given the first opportunity of the trip to sleep in a little and the kids were more than happy to oblige. Once we resurrected them we ventured onto the most authentic French cuisine we could find called The Great American Breakfast. The craziest part of the day was that the other Chamonix group was there to meet us at the door. I think it was partially due to the fact that we all missed our homeland with a passion and knew that only Americans know how to make a proper breakfast.
The rest of the day consisted of walking to the louvre, Dancing at the Norte dame then the Eiffel Tower. Haha I almost forgot to say that for the entire day a lot of us wore berets. Absolutely no one knew that we were American. We were completely incognito. We concluded the day by having Moonup right under the Eiffel Tower. It was awe inspiring and emotional for everyone in our group. Our last Moonup together too at least 3 hours and it could not have been better thanks to our LODs Margaret and Charlie.
We hated saying goodbye to this group. How the heck are we going to live without them? We began as complete strangers and left Paris as brothers and sisters. Thank you so much for sending them on this trip. We are forever changed for the better because of them and endured the hardest goodbye of all time. Thank you for the adventures, the laughs, and the memories.
Caroline & Bo
July 20, 2022
We just finished our sea kayaking leg of our journey and could not have had a better time.
On the day we traveled to Costa Brava, we got to spend a lovely morning and early afternoon in Lourdes. We took the kids to a lovely brunch where Parker exclaimed multiple times how it was the best meal she’s ever had. We even got to run into another Chamonix Moondance group! It was awesome for Nick and his brother Ben to have a reunion. Although the drive was long, it was filled with snacks and laughs- Charlotte probably braided almost everyone’s hair. We had a delicious pasta dinner once arriving at our Punta Mila campgrounds in Costa Brava, where Justin got to show off his German while we got to have a dance party with other camp goers.
Our first day of sea kayaking was filled with brilliant weather and a clear blue Mediterranean Sea. Margaret and Janie even got to share a double kayak which was a sight to see. We got to venture around cliffs and stop at a lagoon for lunch. The kids were able to snorkel, and Mick and Charlie got to practice their underwater walking skills. That night we got the opportunity to participate in a local cooking class and got to eat salmon tartar and a paella pasta dish. It was all spectacular! Zach got to lend his expert opinion on the flavorings of many of the dishes we sampled. We topped off the night with a game of Death Ball on the beach and a wholesome Moonup under the stars.
Our second day of sea kayaking surpassed our first one in terms of our expectations. We took a drive to a beach about a half hour away, and we’re greeted by even more beautiful sights. Throughout the day we weaved in and out of rock formations and even got to venture into a cave that was unlike anything we’d ever seen. It was Julia’s highlight of the day! Virginia got the all-star treatment by getting to be the first mate on the boat tailing us throughout our journey. For a break we posted up in a pebbled grotto that had a spot where the kids could cliff jump. Lucy showed off her bravery by cliff jumping and was also an excellent leader throughout the whole day. After we got back to Costa Brava, we spent the afternoon lounging and swimming at the beach and also got to indulge in some yummy gelato. That night for dinner we did a cooking competition we like to call Iron Chef, where we split the kids into four teams, and they have to cook dinner and create a skit. It was such a good time and the kids got to work together while creating stunning delicacies.
Now we are off to the final hiking leg of our trip on the Southern section of the Tour Du Mont Blanc, and we couldn’t be more excited. Although we are sad to say bye to the beach, we cannot wait to get back into the mountains and end our trip on a high note!
Caroline & Bo
July 13, 2022
We just finished our tour of the Pyrenees Mountain range and have so much fun stuff to tell you, so here we go! Luckily our kids had an ample amount of time to talk to each other in the Paris Airport because of their flight delay, so they came into Geneva with the awkwardness left behind. We spent the rest of the day exploring the quaint beauty of Geneva’s Lake and shops. We ended our first day with some authentic Swiss pizza for dinner and then had our first Moonup (end of the day meeting) at the top balcony of our hostel. It was a truly amazing way to start off our trip and we could not wait to start getting to know each and every one of them.
We started our trek in the Pyrenees after a lovely night in Lourdes, along with our lovely guide Mandy originally from Ireland. We were able to have a nice hiking transition day by performing a day hike from our first hostel. It was awesome to see how much the group kept up with one other and how they able to match one another’s pace. Virginia absolutely killed it our first day and kept everyone’s energy high. Justin started the trend of everyone getting crepes post-hike, and that night we were able to have Moonup in a Yurt which was super fun.
As we set out with our bags and poles for the rest of our journey, we had smiles on our faces and we’re ready to take on whatever was next. Charlie and Julia were our LODs for the day and were instrumental in helping us get through our first heavy uphill push. Their leadership along with Margaret’s ability to hold a conversation at all times was a major tool. We needed to cross over a peak to get to Espugettes, a hostel we’ve compared to a gingerbread house, and the view from the top once the clouds cleared was stunning.
After our enchanting night at the lovely Espugettes, we set out to Gavarnie- a quaint little town on the French side of the Pyrenees. Although it rained a bit on our way down, everyone kept their heads up high, and we’re excited to encounter sunshine once we had reached the base. Charlie and Mick got some charming fluffy hats that they’ve been donning throughout the trip, while Lucy helped lead the charge for some of the girls buying baby sunglasses. Needless to say, we are definitely the best dressed on the trail. The afternoon was filled with a dip in the river, laughs, and even a choreographed dance that Charlotte and Janie really helped pull together. Parker even got to jam out on a drum set that was at our hostel! It was such a fun night.
After our lovely time in Gavarnie, we set out to trek to our next destination of Saradettes. This Refugio is quite literally located on the complete side of a mountain, and to get to it we had to scale a waterfall. It was also so lovely to get to speak to so many people that we met while on this section of the trail. We got to play a ton of board games at the hostel, and Nick absolutely dominated in Uno.
In the morning we set out for an early morning sunrise hike to the Breche and got to hike over a lot of snow. People were safely sliding all over the place, especially Zach, and it was super funny. Then we spent the rest of the day hiking to Buja Ruelo on the Spanish side, and we got to swim in the river during the sunny afternoon along with some yummy snacks. Dinner was three courses, and everyone was absolutely stuffed by the end of it.
The next day we hiked to Goriz, which was definitely the hardest day of hiking that we’d had so far. Reaching the top felt like the ultimate accomplishment and being immediately greeted by dinner and the views were unmatched. The room that we slept in had bunk beds head to toe of the room. We had Moonup in our bunks that night which was especially remembered because half of the room could barely keep their eyes open. Needless to say, we slept exceptionally well that night and are forever indebted to Mandy for getting us up the climb.
The next day we descended into the Pyrenean Canyon, which has been often compared to the Grand Canyon. Though it doesn’t hold a flame to the sheer magnitude of the Grand, it was much lusher and more tranquil. At the top was a shimmering waterfall that descended into the most beautiful clear river one could ever imagine. Around us were grass and flowers of every color that exuded such an overwhelming amount of beauty to the extent that some felt the need to question of it was all even real or not.
We arrived at the Medieval town of Torla ahead of schedule so that the students could play in their river. Our meal that night was absolutely spectacular. We were gifted with a bounty of sausage, lamb, veal, rabbit, chicken, and the rest. It was a meal that I doubt any will forget anytime soon. The next day we were faced by a saddening objective: we were going to say goodbye to our host, the Pyrenees Mountains, that morning. It was a truly amazing tour, and we are eternally grateful that this range of mountains helped turn our kids from complete strangers into brothers and sisters. Thank you so much for sharing them with us and we can wait to tell you what other adventures we get into next.
Til next time!
Bo and Caroline
July 5, 2022
Hello Chamonix Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group landed safely in Geneva and headed to Lourdes for their first trekking section. 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!