July 6, 2022
Well folks, the first ever Moondance Norway trip is in the books! Thank you for bearing with us in the process of sorting out all of the unforeseen travel snafus. It’s been an exciting finish to an exciting trip.
Last you heard from us, we were cozied up near Smørdham, letting the wind die down a bit before heading out in boats to check some crab traps put out by the warm-hearted property owners. An incredibly kind married couple and their son walked us through the experience of collecting traps and cooking crabs. In small groups, one of our hosts showed us through the informal museum she keeps up. It was a fascinating place filled with impressive history (the King of Denmark once visited many moons ago!) and examples of significant ingenuity. Ever wonder how they made buoys before plastic and rubber? Very creatively, that’s how. That evening, we cooked and enjoyed a fish feast, featuring the crowd favorite Mac and Cheese.
The following morning was an early one, for we had to make a local bus to the ferry, which we rode for 4 hours to arrive in Bergen—the beautiful seaside city you might’ve seen on Norwegian postcards. Bergen is so cool! We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the town after checking into our hostel. Then, all a sudden, it was our final night, and time for banquet dinner. The unanimous vote was for pizza, which we all absolutely devoured. Some ice cream and a nice post-dinner stroll brought us to a magical final Moonup location. LODs did a great job facilitating a beautiful Moonup, and there was a sense of appropriate closure to this epic adventure.
The ensuing day or so has been a whirlwind, as you well know, but we are simply overcome with gratitude for these remarkable young people with whom we’ve had the pleasure of spending the past few weeks. Thank you Team Norway 1! And thank you parents, families, and loved ones for making this experience possible for them. Thank you for being a part of the Moondance Family. Ha det!
July 3, 2022
Hi everyone!! It’s Leyden and Emma here (hacked the iPad).
The last two days have been INCREDIBLE – here’s a little update:
Soooo the first day after sea kayaking, Emma and Chase were LODs for the Via Ferrata, where we rock climbed to the top of Hoven (a peak in Loen). It was definitely intense, but one of the coolest things we have done on this trip. There was this huge gorge between peaks at the very top that we crossed on a thin wire bridge (Jack’s fear of heights did NOT like that. Nick, on the other hand, ran across the bridge). Katie and Leyden were the first to the top of the Via course #speedrunning and the whole group met at the top for fro yo and a dirty, sweaty, only-slightly-sunburnt gondola ride back down to the base of the mountain after the 6-hour climb. We then hopped back on our beloved blue bus and slept all the way to the Viking museum. There we learned all about the first Norwegian Vikings, and Vinton spent probably 20 minutes crawling around the hull of Norway’s oldest recovered Viking ship. Eli was hype about the Norway ramen spoon he found in the gift shop and carried it on our walk to dinner at a fjord-side Chinese restaurant, where we all DESTROYED chicken fried rice. We all recovered from dinner on the ferry ride to Sheep Island (not an actual island)—Roger’s beautiful home where we set up tents, drank hot chocolate by the campfire, and promptly passed out after a huge day.
The next morning we slept in until 9, when we woke up to the sound of sheep outside our tents. We made a leisurely breakfast and spent the morning playing Boston-style badminton (Jordan was terrifyingly good), napping, and reading in the teepee (our “library”). Vinton, Nick, and Roger whipped up the best Dutch pancakes on the planet for lunch, and the whole group packed into the firehouse to eat (Laura was fashionably late due to an impressively long nap). Piper made friends with Roger’s cat, Tula, who went full Tom & Jerry mode on a mouse in the middle of our campsite. After lunch was more chill time before we all played a highly competitive, hilarious game of beach volleyball. Carlton was a loose cannon and went “Clash of Clans” mode (we still don’t really know what that means). Then we played basketball and walked back to our camp to start dinner. The girls chefed it UP and cooked a delicious meal of pasta with bacon cream sauce, roasted veggies, and prosciutto melon. Five stars. The boys (somewhat) cleaned dishes and everyone settled in for an early night, and our last night in tents. We all fell asleep immediately to the sound of the rain.
Today, we woke up and took a bus to a coastal town, where we did our last hike. It was super foggy and rainy, but definitely worth the discomfort. By the end of the hike, we were all soaked, tired, and ready to snuggle up in our next cabin (a cozy red house right on the water in the town of Smørdhamn). We settled in, and we’re about to go out on the boats to check crab traps and explore the coast. It’s so beautiful here and we’re so excited to soak up the last few days with each other. See you all soon!!
June 30, 2022
Ahoy matey! We’re fresh off the water, salty and seasoned from a few dreamy days paddling across and sleeping beside an epic fjord.
The incredible weather continues. After a night of heavy rain while we were snuggled in our tents, it’s been blue skies, perfect temperatures, and little wind characterizing the scene of late. Jagged peaks, snow fields, and raging rivers were the endlessly beautiful backdrop, and our meals were complemented by fresh Cod and Mackerel we caught each day. This trip just keeps getting better!
We could go on about it all day, but you’d probably like to hear from your people, so here are some shoutouts:
Laura: hi this is your offspring typing. Norway is amazing! Mom please give Luna an extra belly rub from me, and Dad make sure Juniper and/or Benji don’t eat any more plants. I love y’all so much and I’ll see you in a couple days! (Ps can one of you ask April Chalmers if it’s at all possible if I can be with sharks or alligators for session three?)
Carlton: Having a great time here in Norway. This place is incredible. Hope all is well in the states. We have an action packed couple of last days. Lots of fun. Have a great 4th see you guys soon.
Leyden: Hi mom and dad!! I love it here so much – the group is SO funny and we’re all already so close, and Norway is 100% the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to show you pictures of everything we’ve done (there’s been a lot), i miss you guys but will be so sad to leave this place and this people. I love y’all!! ps: HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLIVIA !
Jordan: Hey guys! Norway is pretty sick rn and I really like the group I’m with! If you’ve been watching my card you’d probably see a lot of $7-12 purchases. All of them are candy but it’s really good so I’ll bring you back some and I hope you don’t care too much. Other than that it’s really pretty and I can’t wait to tell you guys about it!
Katie: Hey guys! Norway is so awesome and so is my group- I’m having a great time and it’s insanely pretty. The fishing here is crazy, you would love it mom. I hope the concert at Red Rocks was fun and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about the trip! Tell buddy and Grace I say hi. Miss you and see you Tuesday!
Chase: Hi Mom and Dad! Im having such an amazing time in Norway! It’s so beautiful and I love the group. We just finished kayaking through the fjords. I wish I could show you everything we’re seeing right now but don’t worry we’re all taking lots of pictures! I love you all so much! See you soon!
Emma: Hey fam!! I’m having the time of my life. We just finished kayaking through the fjords and we summited Galdhøpiggen a few days ago. The trip has been awesome. Norway is absolutely beautiful and I love the people that I’m with. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I miss y’all so much!! See u soon!
Piper: Hey Guys! I’m having such a great time. It’s so pretty here. My favorite thing we have done was summiting the highest mountain. I’ve made lots of new friends. I miss you guys so much and hope your having a great time on your trip. I can’t wait to tell you about mine and hear about yours as well. Love you
Eli: what’s up guys. I’ve been having an absolute blast in Norway. I caught 5 big ass fish and went sledding in a cloud on the tallest mountain in the country. Hope you’re having a wholesome 4th of July party. See ya in Glosta soon. Eli
Vinton: yo! heyyyy, fishin in the fjord (valley with mountains around) is the best ever here! literally every cast you catch a 2 foot macrle. All candy is either black licorice which is baddd tastin or chocolate, I’ll bring some back. Also all the scenery is almost unreal mountains so pretty. Bring some back to. Anyways, see ya in a week.
Nick: Hey. Having a lot of fun. Caught some cool fish. Kinda bummed I didn’t get to see you guys on July 4. Bye.
Jack: Hey fam. I hope Dunwoody is treating you well. Norway is super dope and y’all would love it. Tell Max, Drew, and Coconut I say hi. Love and miss y’all, Jack.
June 28, 2022
We write you with full bellies and proud hearts from a world-famous bakery in Lom, on the heels of a successful summit bid up Galdhøpiggen (Norway’s tallest peak!). We will get to the tale of our windy voyage to the top, but first, an update on the past week of trekking.
Last you heard from us, we were cozied up at Gjendesheim—the first of our many glorious stays in serviced Norwegian huts. After a nice side-hike to a viewpoint, we walked along Lake Gjende to Memurubu. “Bu” translates to “little hut,” but the recently renovated lodging was spacious and warm, replete with a 3-course meal (typical of the serviced huts). Norwegians take their food seriously, even in remote locations, and a warm meal was more than welcome after a long day of hiking beneath a thick layer of moody clouds. Our LODs, Laura and Vinton, did an exceptional job keeping us on track to get to the hut at a reasonable hour.
The following morning was an early start. We were up, fed, and ready for an early ferry to Gjendebu, at the Western edge of Lake Gjende. Folks, this was an incredibly special place. In fact, it is the oldest still-serviced hut in Norway and celebrated its 150th anniversary last year! The small stone structure of the original hut still stands, albeit weathered and slouching, at the entrance to the small compound. LODs Emma and Jack informed us upon arrival that we would be hiking to the top of Gjendtunga, which looms above the hut. It was our first experience moving through snow on the trip, and the group fared well. Back at the lodge, we enjoyed one of our top-2 best meals, including tomato soup (about which Emma was particularly thrilled).
Waking up at Gjendebu was like a dream, looking out of our window to see the confluence of several braided, glacial rivers flowing into Lake Gjende as birds chirped and a troop of baby goats frolicked in the neighboring field, bells tingling in the morning mist. We would be spending another night at Gjendebu, and spending the day on a big hike to an epic waterfall. On our way out, we got to play with the baby goats! We learned that Laura is a goat-whisperer. Go figure! Our hike did not disappoint. We were able to scramble up above the waterfall to a pristine alpine lake, where the entire group made a valiant cold plunge. It was a particularly good day, and our LODs (Eli and Nick) closed it out in style by closing Moonup with another surprise cold plunge!
Another good night of rest had us ready for another early ferry, which brought us back to Gjendesheim. From there, we took a bus to Spiterstulen, a large, fortress-like lodge nestled between the highest peaks in Norway. Piper and Jordan were our LODs and did a spectacular job keeping us on track for the multi-faceted travel day, but also led us on a gorgeous hike along a surging river. We were not graced with the presence of reindeer as we had hoped, but we pretended we did anyway. Eli even got to realize his dream of sledding on his crazy creek! Yet another incredible dinner sent us off to bed in preparation for a big day yesterday. We would be climbing Norway’s tallest peak.
Chase and Katie were yesterday’s LODs and proved to be just the duo the team needed, clearly communicating complex logistics and providing consistent encouragement on the challenging summit bid. After a few transfers, the team was at the base of the hike, first traveling along talus, then transitioning to a glacier for the remainder of the journey. Unfortunately, Laura rolled her ankle in the talus field (she is fine now!) And made the right call in turning back to not further injure herself on the uneven terrain. She and Davis descended and cheered on the rest of the group from far below. Runa, Morten, and the rest of the group carried on, all the way to the top of Norway’s tallest mountain, Galdhøpiggen! A windy, cold, and wet descent along the glacier had the team especially ready for a shower and delicious meal at Raugenstulen, our lodging for the night. And a good meal it was! This one was unanimously voted the best dinner of the trip thus far, and a wonderful way to finish our string of lodge-stays. Leyden was particularly excited about the excellent vegetarian options! This was also the site of the pilot episode of our new brain-child docuseries “Chowing Down with Carlton.” We are anticipating a Netflix release in October….
Today, we slept in a bit before a hearty breakfast and travel to Lom, where we’re enjoying being tourists for a few hours. We are on our way to Urke, which will be our first night of camping, and the starting point for our sea-kayaking section through the stunning fjords of Western Norway. Vi snakkes!
Until next time,
Runa and Davis
June 21, 2022
It’s scarcely imaginable to think we could be cozier than we are at present, here in the wood-framed lodge of Gjendesheim, playing cards and sipping tea as the wind blows mightily outside. Gjendesheim takes its name from the eccentric hunter, philosopher, and rationalist known by the self-appointed nickname of Jo Gjende. Pictures and paintings of Jo, typically depicted in a tall stocking cap and holding a reindeer antler, adorn the walls alongside images of the stunning countryside. Glancing outside, there is no question why this national park is known as Jotunheimen, which roughly translates to “Home of the Giants.”
It’s hard to believe that just yesterday morning, we convened as a complete group for the first time in Oslo, where Davis was waiting to meet Runa and our team of intrepid travelers. With all students and gear accounted for, we hopped on a bus for the 4-hour trip to Gjendesheim. Silent window-gazing, naps, and tales of airplane food filled the bus as we careened through the Norwegian countryside. Upon arrival, we met our friendly and seasoned Danish guide, Morten, who will be with us for the duration of our time here. After settling into our quaint lodging, we gathered to break bread for the first time, enjoying for lunch our first of many Norwegian stews (pumpkin this time).
Once satiated, the group set out on a short hike to get outside and stay ahead of the jetlag. Laura impressed us all by knowing everyone’s names, and we hit the trail. Our first walk was a joyous and beautiful occasion, on which we learned of Jordan’s affinity for bouldering, as well as Vinton and Katie’s shared love of “Forrest Gump.” Carlton and Jack regaled us with tales of their experience working in Atlanta restaurants as we ogled the colorful moss underfoot.
Following our walk, some down-time included a polar plunge for some of the team in the glacial waters of Lake Gjende. Nick and Eli exemplifying the art of the dunk-plunge, exiting the water just as quickly as they got in! The evening brought with it a glorious meal, each of the ingredients of which were described in detail by Gjendesheim’s manager, Marius. We will be eating well (and local!) on this trip, folks. Dinner rolled right into our very first Moonup, in which Leyden and Carlton were named the first student Leaders of the Day (LODs). We knew these two would do a great job, collectively embodying an incredible amount of stoke, kindness, and communication skills. Then, it was off to bed for a well-earned first night of sleep in Norway.
Our first full day in this glorious place did not disappoint. A hearty breakfast fueled us for a day-hike to the top of Gjendenhøe, a peak clearly visible from the dining area, just across the lake. We got our first taste of the intense Westerly winds that characterize this area and hunkered down to enjoy hearty sandwiches in a wind-protected pocket of moss. Piper seemed unphased by the non-Floridian weather and tromped along merrily. Emma and Chase did the same, chatting playfully all the while. Upon returning from our little adventure, we reveled in the comfort of this beautiful lodge, where we will enjoy a restful remainder of the evening in preparation for our first big-mileage day tomorrow! You’ll be hearing from us soon. Families, thank you for making this incredible experience possible. Stay tuned…. more to come!
-Davis and Runa
June 20, 2022
Hello Norway Families!
We heard from our leaders late last night that the group has landed safely in Oslo. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventures.
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!