June 22, 2022
Hi from the Keflavik Airport!
We were so sad to say goodbye to everyone today, but we know that is just the result of having an awesome time together. We woke up at the Bus Hostel this morning, and after being transferred to the airport, were able to successfully send everyone on their way back to the US! Since our last update, we spent some more time in Holaskogur, a couple of days trekking and camping in the beautiful area of Thorsmurk, and spent our last night of camping at a beautiful spot along the southern coast!
Upon waking up at our hut in Holaskogur a few days ago, we were pleased to find that Gummi had one of the “seven best hikes in the world” planned out for us! We filled our bellies with cereal and snacks and headed off to see some of the most beautiful views of the trip yet. The trek was throughout the Green Canyon, and it took us from valleys of igneous, black rock, through hot springs as we ascended one of the nearby peaks, and finally to the best lunch break spot ever at the top of the peak! We hiked through snow, moss and everything in between to get there, and the view was well-worth the challenging hike. At the top of the mountain, Bo and Tyler even showed off their acrobatic skills with some headstands against one of the best backdrops of the trip yet! On our descent down the mountain, we continued on our loop and dipped down into more valleys of igneous rock; however, this time the rock was taller, creating a sort of maze we made our way through as we continued on our trek. As we made our way back to the van, everyone was in awe of all the different types of terrain we had trekked across that day – it’s not everyday you get to walk on moss, hot springs, snow, and rock in one hike! After the hike, we made our way to a hot spring that was in the area, and we all got some much needed relaxation after a pretty tough hike!
We hopped back in the van and made our way back to the hut we stayed at the night before. After a hard day’s work, the group was celebrated to a fan favorite – tacos! We played “fish bowl” (a version of charades) and Anna even treated everyone to some meditation before bed – which Austin very enthusiastically took part in. All in all, it was an awesome day full of challenges, but rewarded with incredible views and memories.
The next morning we woke up and headed on our way to Thorsmurk – the gem of Iceland! Upon driving into Thorsmurk, we were greeted with green valleys that were far different from the highlands we had spent the previous few days in. The sun was out and the temperature had risen significantly, leading to an awesome day hike once we got there. We summited a smaller peak in the area, but were treated to some massive views of glaciers, volcanos, and the ocean – it was quite the “360 degree view” that Gummi had promised us! Witt and Lillian were particularly interested in the geology around us, and Gummi was able to answer all of the questions they had with ease – telling them about Iceland’s “young” geologic timeline of just over 3 million years. After we hiked back down to our campsite, Anna led the group in some much needed Yoga, and Emma and Henry were eager to follow her lead. While that group was reaching their inner Zen, Ryan and Wallis led a cook crew with Gummi that treated us all to spaghetti, and we continued to enjoy the blue skies and sunny weather. He told us all about how Thorsmurk was the root of some of his fondest memories growing up in Iceland, and surrounded by beautiful, green peaks, it was easy to see why. We enjoyed the bonfire that the camp had, and Witt and Kate led one of our group’s most memorable moonups yet by the river shortly after. We were treated to cotton candy skies “setting” over the mountaintops. It was a perfect way to end a perfect day.
The next morning we slept in prior to our big hike that day, and a heavy fog brought cooler temperatures to the valley. We enjoyed some cereal together as a group, and set off on our trek for that day along the ridge of the mountaintops surrounding part of the valley we were camping in. The area we hiked in was covered with green, and it was amazing to get to see all the different colors the vegetation in Thorsmurk had to offer. As we ascended to our final peak, we crossed through a part of the trail that felt like we were on the moon. The fog set a haze over the trail, and it was one of the coolest scenes yet as the hike felt like we were quite literally on another planet! We made it to our peak, and once the fog let down a bit, were treated to some spectacular views over the valley. We relaxed there for a while, taking it all in. On our hike down, a light rain cooled us off a bit, and we trekked onwards through the loop down the ridge and back towards our campsite. Once we got there, a group helped Gummi cook up some salmon pasta, and we played our favorite game, “Shmodus,” following dinner (seriously – you all need to get them to teach you!). Davis and Ryan led us in our moonup at the campsite that night, and we got a good night’s sleep before heading towards the coast in the morning.
We woke up early in Thorsmurk, and immediately broke down camp so that we could head to our campsite and make it in time to enjoy the beautiful views the coastline had to offer. However, before doing so, he treated us to a walk through one of Thorsmurk’s many canyons. It was there that we were treated to views of some of the most beautiful waterfalls we had ever seen. The canyon had deep, moss-covered walls, and as we walked deeper through it, we came across some of the most beautiful spots of the entire trip. After hopping in the van, we stopped a little bit further down the road to check out the most famous waterfall in Iceland. We snapped some pictures and walked behind the waterfall to get the full view before continuing our way. After a long drive, we made it to camp in the later part of the afternoon, and set up camp with enough time to enjoy a dip in the pool by the campsite. After drying off and squeezing a game of soccer in – where the girls absolutely dominated the boys – we enjoyed a great meal of Domino’s pizza. With the sky painted a beautiful color of orange, we figured there was no other logical place to do moonup than along the coastline. We set up our circle that night in the meadow that hugged the ocean, and were treated to the best sunset of the trip – the sky was truly showing off for our last night! Lillian even made a great point that since the sun never sets, the “sunsets” just seem to go on forever! Briggs played some guitar underneath the orange sky, and it was a great way to spend our last moonup outside. Following moonup, we walked over to a bay along the coast, and after turning a corner were absolutely blown away at the view of the sunset – waves crashing agains the rocks, with a backdrop of the most beautiful sunset rising just above the mountain peaks in the distance. It was a treat that made our last night of camping extremely special, and one that we won’t be forgetting for quite some time.
After waking up early yesterday morning, Gummi drove us to a lava field that had been the site of an eruption just last year! We got to walk along the rocks for a little bit before heading back to Reykjavik, and it was a great way to stretch our legs a bit before heading to the city. Upon arriving at the capital, we got some lunch at the mall and then headed to our hostel to drop off our bags. For our banquet dinner, we ate at a great Italian restaurant in the heart of the city, followed by an even better Gelato stop. After stopping for Icelandic keepsakes along the way, we headed back to our hostel for our last moonup of the trip. We held our last circle in the exact same spot as we held our first one on Day 1. It was a full circle moment, and everyone went around saying what we admired most about each other – one person at a time. It was a sweet end to an amazing trip, and Anna and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend such a special time with such a kind and loving group.
Thank you all so much for keeping up with our travels, and most importantly for allowing us to spend a couple of weeks with these incredible kids. We were so sad to see them go today, but feel fortunate for the bonds we’ve formed with them, and we can’t wait to see how the relationships they’ve formed with each other flourish in the future. We hope you all have an AMAZING rest of your summer!
Briggs and Anna
June 17, 2022
Hi from Holaskogur!
We have had a nice and relaxing past couple of days before our more intense hiking section starts tomorrow. Since you have last heard from us, we have been whitewater rafting in the south of Iceland and then headed inland to the highlands!
On Tuesday we woke up at the farm and enjoyed our last breakfast there before being picked up by Gummi to go whitewater rafting on the East Glacial River. Once we got there, we prepared for the glacier water by putting on wet suits and loading onto the bus to head to the drop-in. We split into two rafts and despite the freezing cold water, even had some splash wars between the rafts. Emma and Kate were brave enough to jump in after with fearless leader Briggs. The river was spectacular as we were in a canyon formed by beautiful igneous rocks and treated with spectacular views throughout the trip. Between the exhilarating rapids, we played some memory games, and after two hours on the river, we were picked up and taken back to the rafting headquarters where we were met with a much-needed hot tub and sauna time to warm up.
On our ride to our campsite for the night, we stopped at some must see attractions in Iceland. First, we saw multiple active geysers at a National park. There was a small hike with breathtaking views and many erupting geysers along the way. Lillian was especially amazed by the boiling hot water and was able to point out numerous types of volcanic rocks! Next, we stopped at Europe’s largest waterfall (by water flow). While we were admiring the massive waterfall, not one but two perfect rainbows fell over the waterfall. Everyone was in such awe of the beauty we couldn’t walk away. After many smiles and pictures, we finally continued on our way to our campsite.
The first thing we did when we got there was set up our massive kitchen tent. This was no easy task, but with many hands and great teamwork, we had a fully functioning kitchen with picnic tables and a stove. Davis, Henry, Ryan, and Wallis helped Gummi cook up some good ole cheeseburgers. After dinner, everyone bundled up in their sleeping bags to listen to Briggs play some live music – it was truly a magical moment! Following the mini concert, everyone raced to the blowup trampoline where Bo once again showed off some acrobatic moves and impressed us all with his rendition of “the worm.” Shortly after, Gummi joined us for his first Moonup where we had a great end to an amazing day.
After a long night of sleep, we enjoyed some cereal and hot chocolate to start the morning. Without Gummi knowing, we decorated the bus with a “Happy Birthday” sign for Gummi’s 45th BIRTHDAY! We sang him Happy Birthday and gifted him chocolate milk. Afterward, he said that it was already “one of the best birthdays ever!” Without having to ask, the group swiftly packed up the camp and we were on our way to the highlands of Iceland.
As we drove down the road, the change of terrain was visible as the vegetation around us shifted to rock formations that seemed to come from another planet. We arrived at our camp in Kerlingafjoll shortly after, and Gummi was met with the best birthday surprise of all – our own hut! We were originally planning on camping outside in the cold, wet conditions; however, Gummi was able to sweet talk our way into a warm, cozy hut for the night. We had a nice, relaxing day of card games, music, and bracelet making in the hut. After a while, Tyler, Kate, and Witt led the charge on their version of “sledding.” In which everyone climbed up the snowy hill by the hut and slid down. Austin even led a few of them all the way up the hill and they enjoyed one of the best views to date! We enjoyed another American meal of hot dogs and French fries inside the hut and played our group’s new favorite game, “Shmodus,” shortly after – you’ll have to ask them to teach you all once they get home, it’s been a hit! We enjoyed a birthday Moonup once again with Gummi and got a long night’s sleep shortly after.
This morning we woke up to sunny, blue skies inside our warm hut. Everyone made some of the most interesting oatmeal concoctions we’ve ever seen (including hot cocoa mix from Lillian) to fuel up for the day. We cleaned the hut and headed back down to the southern coast of Iceland. After a couple of hours of driving across the farmlands, we stopped at a pool this afternoon to enjoy some warm water, hot tubs, slides, and even a sauna! We soaked up the sun for a couple of hours and then continued to our campsite. Our hut tonight is situated by a beautiful river and looks out over some incredible mountains in the distance. As we write this, we have potatoes cooking over a charcoal fire, and Witt, Davis, and Tyler are prepping the salmon for tonight’s dinner. We are continuing to have the best time in Iceland and are looking forward to trekking in Thorsmork tomorrow.
Thanks for staying up to date on all the fun we’re having, and we look forward to sending another message after our trek!
Briggs and Anna
Some words from the kiddos:
Love y’all back home! – Bo
Hey Janey I saw a fjord today! – Lillian
Hey Iceland is so fun! Missing y’all, but hope lacrosse is going well. Happy Father’s Day dad, love you so much! XOXO – Emma
Hi from Iceland, and happy early Father’s Day! – Ryan
Hi Mom, Dad, and Evan! I miss y’all. Also, happy almost Father’s Day! — Wallis
Hey – I’m having so much fun, i miss you guys. Happy early fathers days – love y’all! -Tyler
Hey fam! I miss y’all, but i am having so much fun. Iceland is so awesome and gorgeous. Happy Father’s Day dad! I love you. XX – Kate
Hallo fam, love y’all having a great time. It’s very pretty here. Happy Father’s Day. Love. – Henry
Hi parents, I’m having a great time! Can’t wait to see you all and go to the beach! – Davis
Iceland is so cool – thank you! – Witt
Iceland is really cool – can’t wait to see you! – Austin
June 13, 2022
Hello from the southwest coast of Iceland!
We just wrapped up our two-day sea kayaking trip and have had a great start to our adventure!
On Thursday we arrived at JFK and were so excited to meet everyone! We played some name games and icebreakers to get to know each other, and at around 11PM we took off for Iceland. The next morning, we arrived in Keflavik and were met by our guide, Gummi, an Icelandic legend! He took us straight from the airport to the famous Blue Lagoon where we got some much-needed relaxation after a long night of travel. Kate was the first to hop in, and we were quick to follow. We put on our silica face masks and enjoyed some slushies in the geothermal pool. Henry documented the experience with some pretty hilarious blogging. After a nice lunch at the Lagoon, we headed off to the Lava Tunnel where we got to tour one of Iceland’s many caves formed by lava. As we moved through the cave it got darker and darker, and our awesome tour guide Mari even turned off all the lights in the cave so we could “see” what total darkness looks like. After leaving the cave, Gummi brought us to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, where we set up camp for the night in the Bus Hostel. We ordered some much-needed Domino’s Pizza and had an early night after a fun first day in Iceland.
When we woke up Saturday morning, we cooked up some bacon and eggs for everyone and we were on our way to our Hot Springs Hunt in Reykjadalur. We saw some amazing Icelandic views, and Ryan took some awesome pictures along the way. The hike to the hot springs was about 3 miles up the mountain, and we were lucky to have a sunny and warm day – a nice treat here! Once we got to the top, everyone was able to enjoy the hot springs and cool off a bit in some of the colder parts of the river. Once Austin won our rock stacking competition, we hiked back down the mountain to the van. Gummi took us on a beautiful route along the southern coast of Iceland as we made our way westward, and we drove past beautiful coasts backed by snowcapped mountains. Thankfully Tyler brought a bracelet making kit, and kept her friends entertained along the way! We arrived at a local farm along the southwest coast and were treated to a homecooked meal of lasagna and cookies. After dinner, we set up camp and gave a lesson on setting up tents. After getting the campsite set up, we played a fun game of soccer on the field right next to our campsite. In one of the more hectic soccer games in Iceland history, Witt scored a “hat-trick”, and in one of the most epic goals of the day, Davis shot a ball that bounced off one of the farm’s dogs and into the top right corner of the goal! We enjoyed an awesome Moonup on the playground of the farm, and Briggs played some tunes on the guitar for everyone afterwards – he even got to help Emma learn one of her favorite songs! We went to sleep soon after, and everyone was still adjusting to sleeping under the Iceland sun.
Despite the sun never going down, everyone woke up well rested and excited to kayak. The weather was gorgeous in the morning, so we had time to play one last game of soccer before Gummi picked us up. The drive to our sea kayaking put-in was spectacular – everyone has been amazed by the unique and varying topography of Iceland. After many sing-alongs in the van, we arrived at our put-in spot for our overnight kayaking adventure. Everyone got suited up and we packed our kayaks and set out. We had a bit of head wind but nothing our group couldn’t handle, and the wind felt good with all our layers. Along the way we came across an old shipwreck. Everyone was able to climb up and experience life at sea (pictured below). Later that evening we arrived at a stunning, remote island with 360-degree views. Austin, Henry, and Witt played a game of hide and seek while Bo, Kate, and Tyler helped Magnus, one of our guides, (and one of the most legendary sea kayakers in all of Iceland) cook a traditional Icelandic lamb stew for dinner – it was delicious! Full tummies and a burst of energy led a couple of us to go explore the rest of the island which seemed to be endless. As we explored further from our campsite, we came across a family of sheep including two adorable baby lambs. While Emma befriended the sheep, Ryan and Wallis did some acrobatics in the grass. Later that night, we all enjoyed some hot chocolate with our guides and had a Moonup. Our first day of sea kayaking was a great success filled with unforgettable memories.
This morning we had a leisurely breakfast and geared up to get back on the water. The current was working in our favor all morning, and we made it back to the put-in in nearly half the time. Lillian and Davis were our LODs and they really showed off their kayaking skills throughout the morning. Everyone did a great job paddling and keeping an awesome attitude, even when the weather was less than favorable. While waiting for Gummi to pick us up, we huddled together to keep warm and told riddles, sang songs, and had a dance party to an a cappella performance of Lady Gaga! We returned to our campsite on the farm for the night, and this time got to walk to the ocean across the street and enjoy one of the private geothermal pools on the property. Gummi told us that this was quite the treat, and most Icelanders are unaware of the secret pool’s existence! After a pretty cold past 24 hours kayaking, this was a delightful surprise. A few of us weren’t done with the cold and even took a polar plunge in the ocean!
We are so excited to go on our rafting trip tomorrow and are looking forward to our trekking section in a couple of days. We’ve loved getting to know your kids and can’t wait for all that’s ahead!
Briggs and Anna
June 10, 2022
We heard from our leaders late last night that the group has landed safely in Iceland. 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!