July 1, 2023
Hi Cham 2A families!
It is with tears in our eyes that we write our final trip update, as your kids are in the air on their way home to you. Henry and I just want to thank you guys so much for sending your wonderful kids on this trip! We were truly lucky to have each member of the group with and could not be happier of how far they’ve come. We certainly will shed some tears in the airport in a few days. However, there’s still a few more days to update you on!
Day 21, We woke up in Luz, France and headed down the road to a quiet little bed and breakfast where one of our wonderful outfitters, Sian, met us for a delicious French breakfast of coffee, hot chocolate, toast, yogurt, and jelly! After that it was back to the hotel to pack up and head to the bus station. We took the bus to one of our old favorite towns, Lourdes, and met our train to Paris there. A long 5 hour train ride was what was in store for us today, but luckily we could all sit together, and once again played cards and told stories and memories we had made over the course of the trip. After a few games of cards, naps were most certainly happening. We made it to Paris around 5 and headed straight for our hostel! The kids have become pros at navigation now! We learned that Tad even has a photographic memory when it comes to directions and mapping places which definitely has come in handy in big cities. We arrived at the hostel and unloaded our stuff quickly because our stomachs were rumbling and dinner was calling our name! A burger place nearby was perfect to appease our appetites! After that we walked around and explored the area near our hostel, and before long it was time for Moonup and bed! LODs John and Julia, found a fabulous Moonup spot in the city square and led the group in talking about best friends, something I know this group has all become! After Moonup we headed back to the hostel and off to bed, ready for a full day of exploration, food, sightseeing, and crepes the next day!
Day 22! We can’t believe it’s almost over, but we had one more day left in us! We had planned on letting the kids sleep in a bit today, but they ended up waking US up! So we very quickly got ready and headed to a small cafe called Le Petit for breakfast! Kate L and Julia were not going to leave Paris without having a crepe so that was our first stop, and they did the group a favor because they were a hit! Harris even ended up ordering a second Nutella crepe because it was to die for! After breakfast we began walking toward the Pantheon, and along the way walked through some street markets, selling jewelry and other knick knacks. We continued on to do some shopping, and seeing a bit more of the city. After we shopped till we dropped, we headed to see the famous Notre Dame! Unfortunately it was massively under construction due to fire a few years ago, but still a sight to see, and a check on everyone’s bucket list! All of this walking was making us extremely hungry so we decided to search for lunch, and we found the most beautiful Italian spot called Il Gigolo with pink flowers all throughout the restaurant creating a very peaceful vibe for lunch! After lunch we took the scenic route along the Seine river to St. Chapel to see the beautiful stained glass window, courtesy of Tads knowledge of history. We passed the Palais Du Justice which was also very cool. From there we had a few requests for a bit more shopping, so off we went to the thrift store to find some fun outfits for the banquet that night! After a few good purchases at the thrift store, we headed toward the Louvre to take some pictures! After we got our fingers perfectly on the point of the Louvre, we started toward the Arc de Triomphe! Julia, Kate A, and Allaire were very quick to stop and get macaroons along the way, which were AMAZING! We all met at the Arc de Triomphe and walked toward the Eiffel Tower! We got ice cream and crepes once again at the Eiffel Tower and found a nice spot in the grass to have Moonup. Tyler and Hank were very fond of the trumpet player across the way. We talked about our favorite memories, and what we would miss most about each other! Ann led a group photoshoot, making sure everyone had a solo shot in front of the Eiffel Tower! After some sentimental pictures and goodbyes to the Eiffel Tower, we headed back to our hostel for a good night’s sleep, because it was going to be an early morning the next day!
Cham 2A we love you and are going to miss you so much!
Signing off for the last time,
Henry and Grace
June 29, 2023
Hola Cham families and welcome to the long-awaited update that is 2As trek through the Pyrenees! While it was our final trek, this group approached the past week with as much if not more excitement than I thought possible! Henry and I could not be prouder to lead this group. We have so much to update you on so bear with me and let’s get started!
From costa brava, we made our way to Lourdes, France, a town full of history, beautiful churches, and most importantly, authentic kebabs (I’ll come back to this later). Upon our arrival into Lourdes, the group was just a bit groggy from all the travel, but after some quick naps, we were ready to explore. We walked through the town square, stopping to get croissants of course! Then we discovered a beautiful church in town which we all agreed deserved a look inside. After popping in and out of some souvenir shops, we realized our hunger couldn’t wait any longer and we scouted a spot for dinner. The group had previously been set on pizza for dinner, but an experienced foodie in the group had his eyes set on something else. If you couldn’t guess, it was the kebabs. Kate L and Tad were hesitant at first but after some convincing from Harris and Henry, the group decided to step out of their comfort zone, and all try something new! And man was it a hit! John and Ann especially liked their spicy kebabs, although some sweat was involved! But overall, everyone was happy they tried something new! After that it was off to Moonup and bed, to rest up for our first day of hiking in the Pyrenees!
Day 13 and the trip is flying by! We woke up and had a fantastic breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, bread, Nutella, coffee and hot chocolate, which seems to be Hanks favorite part of French breakfast. Our guide Matthieu arrived at the hotel to pick us up and we were off! Our first stop was the beautiful quaint town of Luz, France where we stopped at a grocery store to buy a picnic lunch for the day. Meats, cheeses, jelly, and our favorite, gogo squeezes, were essential for the perfect Pyrenees picnic! LODs, Ann and John lead the mission of finding the best bakery in town to secure the perfect baguettes to complete our lunch, and I think we can all attest, they did not disappoint. After that we headed to our first Refugio where we dropped our bags and headed out for a day hike to the cirque (a crater-like valley in the middle of surrounding mountains) where we would have lunch for the day. We were immediately stunned by the beauty of the Pyrenees and it was only day 1, which furthered our excitement for what was to come. Along our hike, we ran into (almost quite literally) so many cows, and sheep which made for some great photo ops! It’s safe to say next time you ask Julia what her favorite animal is, I’m 99% certain it will be a cow! We found a great spot for lunch to have our picnic, admiring the views, and unbelievable weather (besides a few clouds). Kate L even got a few pictures with some cows! Once our stomachs were content, we began our trek back to the hostel. We were so in awe of our surroundings, almost like we were on cloud 9, and in more ways than one we were. Most of our hike down was spent walking through the clouds, and swamp-like terrain, which, although it may not sound like it, was beautiful. When we made it through the clouds, the valley of which our hostel sat at the very bottom of came into view, and we knew we were almost there. When we arrived, we quickly took off our packs and shoes and settled into our rooms. Tyler, Hank, and Harris were lucky enough to snag a spot in one of the yurts outside, which they seemed to quite enjoy. We arrived to the hostel around 4 so it wasn’t quite dinner time, which meant snacks were non-negotiable. In the search for something to munch on, Kate A made the discovery, with the use of her French skills, that they sold ice cream at the little restaurant attached on the hostel. Of course, that was an easy yes from the group. Homemade ice cream and sorbet for 12 was quickly distributed and consumed even quicker. Allaire was incredibly happy they had her favorite flavor of sorbet, pineapple. The snack was just enough to tide us over until dinner, which was phenomenal. Veal, potatoes, and rice was the main course, and it was a fan favorite amongst Kate L and Tad who said it may have been the best thing they had so far. Dessert, like the main course, was to die for; a moist chocolate cake, served over sweet cream was a hit. With full bellies, we gathered for Moonup in the yurt, and soon after were off to bed, in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep for our trek the next day.
Day 14: We woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed after a good night’s rest to begin our second day in the Pyrenees. Coffee, hot, chocolate, bread and apricot jam were waiting for us downstairs. Our guide Matthieu briefed us on our day and from the sounds of it was going to be a good one. We got rolling and to nobody’s surprise ran into more cows almost immediately. We traversed across the beautiful ridges of the Pyrenees and soaked up every view we could. Around lunchtime, we came around a bend and a beautiful lake came into view. Matthieu recommended we continue to a more picturesque spot for lunch and he did not let us down. We broke for lunch by some rocks on the river that flowed through the valley, and it was stunning. Tabouleh and chocolate wafers were enjoyed, while basking in the sun. As a post lunch activity, Kate A, Hank, and Harris did a polar plunge in the river, while many others stuck their feet in to cool off. It was a nice refresher and perfect way to get geared back up for the hike ahead. We headed toward a pass within our view and while it was straight uphill, we dug our heels in and made it happen. When we reached the top, the vastness of the Pyrenees was overwhelming, yet breathtaking. Tad and Julia were especially in awe of this view and made sure to take several awesome pictures. From the top of the pass we could see where we would sleep for the night, Espuguettes, a small stand alone mountain refuge on a hill. We descended quickly, and when we made it to our hostel, we took packs and boots off and relaxed outside to take in the view. Allaire even made a new friend while sitting at the picnic table, the owner of the hostel’s donkey. We had dinner a little later than usual, but it was worth it. Penne Bolognese was had by all and to top it off, chocolate mousse for dessert.
Day 15 (day 3 of trekking) started with an early wake up call to get on the trail. A quick breakfast and one last look at the beautiful Espugettes and to Gavarnie we went. This mornings trek was mostly through shaded forest and we made a quick stop along the way so that Matthieu could teach us about ants. Interestingly enough, they are great sources of protein, and a common snack for Pyrenees mountain hikers. Tad, and Kate L were the group’s brave souls to try one, and to my surprise they compared them to salt and vinegar chips. We continued our descent toward the town of Gavarnie at the base of the valley, but along the way, we stopped at the Cirque du Gavarnie, where we admired the beauty of the snow covered mountains, and various waterfalls. We picnicked for lunch near several streams, with a stunning view of the cirque. Prosciutto and cheese sandwiches plus a view will never fail to satisfy us for lunch. We were able to enjoy lunch a little longer today and photosynthesize in the sun as I like to call it. But before long, it was time to get back on the trail and head into town, where we would stay for the night. It wasn’t long after lunch before we arrived into the touristy town of Gavarnie where they had many local cheese, candy, souvenir and ice cream shops. I bet you can guess where we stopped first? Ice cream! Such a nice cold treat for everyone, after a hot day on the trail. We continued to walk around the town in search for the perfect sticker to add to our water bottles! Julia was the one who found the winning hidden gem sticker, and now we all have matching ones! When we finally arrived to the hostel, everyone got settled in their rooms, and then time for dinner! As always we had no idea what we will have for dinner until they bring it out to us, and tonight it was trout. Our resident fisherman, Tad, was absolutely thrilled to hear that, and even more so to eat it! LODs Tyler and Julia opted for Moonup in the park tonight so that we could witness the moonlight on the mountains. We also passed, a local festival with live music which was a nice treat for our walk back to the hostel. Kate A even showed off a few of her dance moves. After that, it was off to bed and sweet dreams for the day ahead.
Today marked the halfway milestone of our trek through the Pyrenees and what better way to celebrate than summiting a peak on the French and Spanish border! Our day began with the typical coffee, bread, and jam, and to the trail we went. We said au revoir to Gavarnie and in a few short hours would be saying Hola to Spain! Today was extra sunny, so we made sure to apply lots of sunscreen before we began our hike. We hiked through the valley of Gavarnie, until we stopped for lunch just at the base of the ascent to the pass into Spain. While eating lunch, we ran into another Moondance group, however they were at the top of the mountain and we were at the bottom. Funny how you can spot Moondance just about anywhere. After lunch we began our ascent to the pass. Any awe we previously had for the Pyrenees was soon completely blown out of the water when we reached the pass to the border between Spain and France. Just absolutely breathtaking. After “wows” and pictures, Matthieu gave us the option of a pretty difficult summit or to go ahead and keep going to the hostel. With overwhelming excitement everyone responded “summit summit summit”. So we did just that. What was supposed to be an hour summit bid, took our rockstar group of hikers only 35 minutes and they were properly rewarded with chocolate bars, and sour straws at the top! Everyone felt so accomplished and proud of themselves, which as leaders, Henry and I are so incredibly happy to be apart of! When we got back down to the border, John was sure to get a picture to remember the moment he stood in two countries at once. From there it was time to head to our hostel. The valley beneath the pass was amazing and made the steep descent worth our toes and knees being a little sore tomorrow. Before we arrived to Bujareulo, Matthieu surprised us with a quick stop by the river to take a quick dip. Tyler and Allaire were quick to just jump right in, followed by Harris, Kate L, Hank, and Kate A who decided to float down the river to a nearby beach. Ann, Julia, and John took some convincing to jump into the freezing water, but were soon seen floating down the river as well. We had worked up an appetite at this point and lucky for us dinner was right around the corner. Penne carbonara for an appetizer, which was shocking, but in the best way, potatoes and sausage was on the menu for the night. If we were all food critics I think we would have given that meal 5 stars. With maybe the fullest stomachs we had had the entire trip, it was time for Moonup and then off to bed for a pretty tough day tomorrow.
Day 17 and day 5 of our trek began with one of my favorite breakfasts, hard boiled eggs, coffee, salami, cheese and bread. We picked up our bagged lunches and got ready to start the day! Uphill hiking was on the agenda for the day, but the group crushed the first part of it before our break no problem, seeming very promising for the rest of the day. We took our first break at a beautiful overlook at the Ordesa valley national park to get some snacks, water and of course pictures. From there, we trudged on along the valley, soaking in the remarkable views and creeping closer toward our Refugio. We stopped for lunch along the trail- one of our favorites of the trip- consisting of empanadas and chicken salad sandwiches. With full bellies and wide smiles, we approached our second major ascent of the day. We traversed the edge of the valley up switchbacks of rock, grass, and dirt for about 400 meters before we arrived to our mountain Refugio. Our lovely accommodation was nestled at the base of Monte Perdido and provided our group with some of the most awe-inspiring views of the whole trip (which is certainly saying something). We were treated to a lovely dinner of chicken and cous cous with a stunning view. With the sun setting and a half-moon glistening over the valley, we gathered for Moonup where Hank and Ann led us in a discussion of some life goals some of our proudest achievements. The sun soon rested and we rested with it, eager for our longest day of hiking yet!
Day 18: While today was marked by our most distance covered (around 25 kilometers) it was very flat and thus allowed for some excellent trail talk amongst the group. We began our hike by descending down to the bottom of the Ordesa Valley, stopping briefly to take some pictures by a majestic waterfall below our Refugio. After that, we proceeded to hike swiftly through the valley, where Kate A, Julia, and Ann discussed skiing (Henry’s favorite) and John took a turn as lead photographer. Our tremendous group of hikers made it to our lunch spot about an hour ahead of schedule, so we took our time enjoying the views and devouring our food. After eating, Mattieu bestowed quite the compliment on our team, telling Henry that he “doubts you’ll see as good of hikers as this group”. As the strong hikers that we are, naturally we crushed the second half of our hike, and made it into Torla about an hour and a half ahead of schedule. Upon arrival in Torla, a very cute little mountain town, we did a little sightseeing and shopping for the perfect poncho shirt for Harris. And he was in luck! When it was time for dinner, we headed over to the restaurant across the street, where we would be served a beautiful variety of melon, prosciutto, roasted veggies, trout, lamb chops, and a dessert of our choosing. Needless to say everything was phenomenal! Because Spanish dinners are a little, past the moondance bedtime, we did Moonup right after dinner and headed to bed, hoping to get enough rest for our final push on our very last day of hiking in the Pyrenees!
Today was our last day hiking in the Pyrenees as a group, and we went out with a bang. A two hour uphill hike had nothing on our amazing group, and made our last 7 days all the more rewarding. We woke up in the sweet town of Torla, and took a bus to our trailhead, where we would begin, arguably one of our more difficult hikes of the entire trip. The plan was to ascend the pass back into France we had summited a few days prior but it was no problem for this group. We stopped for a quick lunch by the river and got started on the ascent! The group absolutely crushed it in no time and before we knew it we were walking to the parking lot to be picked up! We did it! Julia, Allaire, John and Ann all agreed they had never felt so accomplished after doing something in their lives. Looking out over the Pyrenees and knowing that we hiked 64 miles with almost 7,500m of elevation is certainly something to be very proud of and Henry and I couldn’t have been more pleased and proud of this group for doing so. Once we had a little time to relax, we relished in the beauty of the Pyrenees one last time before hoping in our taxis and heading to Luz, France. We dropped our stuff at the hostel, which was one of our favorite so far, unpacked a little and did some rearranging to prepare for our travel day tomorrow! It didn’t take long for our stomachs to start growling, which meant dinner! We walked to a little pizza place across the street, and took our boxes to a park down the road to have a little pizza picnic! It also turned out to be a great place for Moonup so we did that as well, and ended with a game of telephone, Allaire and Tyler’s idea, to get a few more laughs out. We headed back to the hotel, and after a group popcorn and movie night, went to bed. Tomorrow we head to PARIS! And we could not be more excited to explore the city, get crepes, see the Eiffel Tower and much more. But I won’t get ahead of myself quite yet, I’ll update you more on our final trip update!
Talk to everyone soon! Henry, Grace and Cham 2A squad signing off.
June 23, 2023
Hola Chamonix families, and greetings from the beaches of COSTA BRAVA!
We woke up this morning for the last time in beautiful Chamonix and with mixed emotions packed up our bags, ate one last breakfast of bread and Nutella, and said our goodbyes to Le Chamoniard Volant. While we hated to leave the town we made so many wonderful memories in, the excitement of kayaking and laying on the beach in Spain was more than enough to keep us smiling. We found ourselves back in the Geneva train station and awaited our train’s arrival, stocking up on croissants and snacks for the journey to Valence, France. The group made no hesitation to break out a set of cards on the train and get a game of president going. Kate A used her extremely creative ability to write a group theme song (later to be performed for Henry and I) to the tune of none other than Taylor Swifts’ “Our Song”. Naps were a necessity on the second leg of our train ride from Valence to Costa Brava as we were quite tuckered out from card games and singing, and when we woke up, the bright blue ocean was there to welcome us. When we arrived at our campsite, we unpacked quickly and headed for dinner! We were hungry from all the traveling! A local spot with burgers, ribs, pizza, and spaghetti cured our empty stomachs (almost). Of course we had to get some ice cream after! While it was no Chamon’Ice, we all agreed it was still very good! Off to Moonup we went, excited for our first day on the beach of costa brava!
Beach day! Wahoo! A day everyone was looking forward to, to relax, lay in the sun, and just laugh and enjoy the sand between our toes! A much needed and deserved reward for everyone’s efforts during the TMB! The first thing we did in the morning was COOK our own breakfast which the group could not have been more excited about! Henry took on the task of cooking the bacon, while Ann volunteered to crack and cook 3 dozen eggs! That’s a lot of eggs, but we sure did eat all of them! Julia and Kate L eagerly took on the grueling task of making pancakes for the whole group on just two skillets! And while it did take a long time, the two of them were just having fun trying to decipher the German directions as well as actually flipping the pancakes. Once all of the food was ready, and laid out of the table, we all sat down and ate family style, passing the baguettes, Nutella, eggs, bacon, pancakes, orange juice and donuts! It was the full spread and we were definitely very full afterward, but that didn’t stop us from throwing on our bathing suits and heading to the beach! After finding a spot near the water, the whole group ran to jump in and swim around for a while, but soon became hungry for a snack, and luckily there was an ice cream store nearby where we were able to get a few scoops! John made the great choice of bringing a soccer ball with us, so a quick game of kickball could take place. After kickball, our stomachs began to growl and that meant lunchtime! After lunch we headed to the grocery store to buy dinner and the theme was taco night! The LODs Kate L and Tad helped to pick out all of the ingredients for the night meal and we headed back to camp to relax a bit before dinner. Big compliments to our chefs of the evening, the girls, for making the best build your own taco table. Needless to say, because the girls cooked, that meant the boys cleaned. But they did it with a smile, and Hank took great pride in his ability to dry the dishes to 100% dryness. To wrap up the day, we had Moonup, and a very special musical performance by our very own Henry to close the night. We were even in for an extra treat, as Harris participated in singing Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” with Henry as a duet!
Our first day of kayaking was finally here! We got picked up by our guides in the morning and they drove us through the beautiful town of Cadaques where we got a history lesson on the importance of the olive tree to the local farmers. When we arrived at our port, we suited up in our life jackets and spray skirts and got a quick lesson on sea kayaking before we hit the water! We kayaked along the stunning coastline of costa brava, popping in and out of a few caves as well! We broke for lunch on a very secluded beach where our homemade ham and cheese sandwiches (ALL) made by Julia were waiting for us! There were even some chips ahoy cookies Ann had thrown in the dry bag as a surprise for everyone! The weather had cleared up a bit making it a perfect little beach Picnic, with the warmth of the sun finally beating down on us, even prompting Kate A to go for a little swim off the shore! After lunch we headed back toward the port we started at, and while the waters became a little choppy, the group crushed the 3 miles back and all with smiles on their faces. Altogether we kayaked 9 miles, which kudos to everyone for completing, especially for our first time kayakers! When we arrived back on the beach we helped the guides load all of the kayaks back onto the racks and we headed back to our campsite. The girls went shopping with Grace for dinner, and tonight’s dinner theme was hibachi (Tad’s favorite)! We were hungry, so dinner prep started right when we got back. John and Allaire were the chefs behind the steak and chicken, and Kate A, Julia, and Ann helped to cut the vegetables. Group 2A is a big fan of eating family style and waiting until everyone is ready to eat! So we got everything in bowls on the table and dug in. And boy oh boy was it a good meal! Everything was cooked to perfection, and just so delicious! Compliments to all of our chefs for the evening. We ended the night with Moonup up on the hill, looking at all of the stars and seeing which constellations we could find! We were lulled to sleep by the sound of Kate L on the guitar, and had sweet dreams about what was to come the next day, and also probably ice cream.
Day 2 of sea kayaking looked a little bit different but was just as fun if not more than the first. Due to bad weather on the coast, the guides opted to have us kayak on the river, and while we were bummed at first, the kids took it upon themselves to make this one of the most fun days we have had so far. Today there were two people in a kayak as opposed to our previous single person kayak the day before. Our LODS for the day, Allaire and Tyler, were leading the group down the river and also leading in water wars, a “game” in which you splash another kayak from afar and paddle away quickly hoping they don’t get you back in time. Each pair of kayaks would tell you they won the water wars but if you ask me, Henry and I won because we didn’t get wet, and Harris and Kate A definitely put up a good fight against Hank and Kate L. The weather was good to us today and the overall vibe was very relaxed and goofy. Once again we dipped off to a little cove for lunch, having our classic but also favorite, ham and cheese sandwiches! We got back to it, and eventually, after keeping our eyes peeled for hours, we finally saw an otter. We also, with the help of our guide, spotted many turtles, and various birds. Water wars continued with no clear victor, but we soon arrived at the bank where our taxis would come and pick us up to take us back to the campsite. Now for our most favorite part of the day, our cooking class! This was hands down one of the coolest things I think most of us had experienced, as well as one of the best meals we had ever had. My apologies for the lengthy post but I’m just too proud of everybody to not list what everyone contributed and made for our meal so here goes: for our appetizers, we had Tad making some salmon ceviche which was to die for, and Harris’s favorite part. Kate A and Allaire made the guacamole to accompany the ceviche and they would argue it was the best guacamole ever and I may have to agree. Harris made a tomato baguette with olive oil and garlic, which he can’t wait to share with his grandmother when he gets home! Ann and Tyler made homemade pesto which was later put on the grilled lettuce wedge John made. For our main course, Hank, Julia, and Kate L were in the kitchen cooking sausage, pork, and calamari to put over some white rice with vegetables. Some words used by the kids to describe the meal were: outstanding, phenomenal, exquisite, delicious, spectacular, and “the best meal I’ve ever eaten”. We left feeling happy and full and once again accomplished for the meal we had made! We made one final stop before heading back to our campsite, and it was, you guessed it, ICE CREAM! Obviously ice cream doesn’t get old with this group. When we got back to our campsite, Cham group 2B was also there and they agreed to help us put on a little concert, with Henry and Harrison (group 2B leader) being the main acts! We listened to Zach Bryan, Tyler Childers, and many more as the sun set and it was finally time for bed. We even got both groups to perform in front of the other, it was a blast! But the fun had to end at some point and we needed to hit the hay before travel day tomorrow, so we said our good nights and were sound asleep before long. Tomorrow we are headed to the Pyrenees and we could not be more excited for our next adventure!
We can’t wait to update you soon! Adios Cham families,
Love Henry, Grace and your 2A squad!
June 19, 2023
Hi Cham families and friends! We did it!!! We finished the Tour Du Mont Blanc and Henry and I could not be prouder of the resilience, positivity, and enthusiasm this group finished the trek with. But we will take you back to our last few (and most favorite days) of the trip so far!
Day 6 of our trek began in the town of Trient and per our usual morning brief by our fantastic guide Xavier, we knew the day was going to be tough. However, a 900-meter elevation gain with a 12 km hike had nothing on our exemplary group of eager students. The LODS for today, Allaire and Tyler, were our group’s pump up squad sharing words of encouragement and most importantly, positive attitudes that quickly became infectious to the rest of the group before we began the steep uphill climb to the pass. One of our bigger highlights of the day (and Tad’s favorite part throughout the TMB) was walking through the snow-covered mountainside. And boy, was there lots of snow today! We could see the top of the pass in the distance, marked by a small house that we would later find out meant treats, but anyways, let’s get to the best part of the day. As we began approaching the top, more and more snow-covered mountain tops crept into view and our feet started moving faster and faster not knowing that in just mere moments we would come across one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring views in the world. “WOW,” was the only word that came out of our mouths for a few minutes, until finally Kate A said, “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!” And it was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen! We decided to have lunch at the top of the pass so we could soak up the view, fill our bellies, and take as many physical and mental pictures of the stunning mountains. Ann and Hank decided to sport their favorite teams’ beanies (Alabama and the Bengals) to keep warm during lunch. And while it was chilly, Harris made no hesitation to get not one, but two popsicles to celebrate our great victory of the day. After everyone had gotten a treat and was ready to start the descent, we all took a group photo on the Swiss-French border. Back to France we go, so long Switzerland!
The trek down to where we would stay for the night went quickly but that could have possibly been because the whole group was on cloud 9 from earlier and just had a little extra pep in their step. The town of Le Tour sat just at the base of the mountain and we could see Chamonix in the distance, so with bitter sweet emotions we knew the end was near. Luckily for John, Hank and Tad the “best dinner we’ve ever had” was waiting for us when we got there. Pasta, roasted chicken, and chocolate ice cream was easily another highlight of the day and with full bellies from the most amazing day of hiking, we ended the day with a beautiful Moonup and headed off to bed for the last and final day of the Tour Du Mont Blanc!
On our last and final day trekking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, it was only fitting that we finally got the only breakfast item we had all been craving, hard boiled eggs. Allaire was probably the most excited about that. We packed up and hit the trail headed for good ole Chamonix! Great trail conversations led by Julia and Harris kept the hike feeling lively as we cherished our fleeting time with Xavier. The boys were definitely distracted while passing a beautiful golf course along the way, and Kate L ran into a Chamonix resident who had gone to her high school. What a crazy coincidence! We finally arrived back to Le Chamoniard Volant and everyone could feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment for completing the past 5 days! Xavier presented everyone with certificates, and we headed to our favorite local spot, Poco Loco for some triple decker chicken sandwiches, burgers, and fries! We said our goodbyes to Xavier and sent him with well wishes! I’m sure you can guess what we did next – ice cream! We headed back to our favorite place, Chamon’Ice, just to get one last taste of probably the best ice cream we ever had. Although we had just completed 42 miles in 5 days (woah!), the group consensus was to continue exploring the wonderful city of Chamonix! We decided on pizza for dinner and with resounding approval, it was a crowd favorite. As we headed back to our hostel for the night, we reflected on memories from our time on the TMB, but also became very excited for what was to come in the next few days! On to Costa Brava we go for sea kayaking! Talk to everyone soon!
Here are some shoutouts from everyone! And happy Father’s Day to all of our Cham 2A dads!
Hey fam it’s Allaire I’m having a fun time In Cham and I miss y’all and happy fathers day and tell Jonathan that I’m alive and doing well!! I love y’all
Hey fam, friends, and my dogs!! Im having so much fun in Cham and I miss y’all . Also happy Father’s Day Dad!! I love y’all so much and will see you soon!!
Hey fam!! Love and miss y’all but I am having the best time here! Happy Father’s Day Dad and tell the dogs I miss them! Hope y’all are having fun at the lake, love y’all!
Hi Adams family! I miss y’all dearly and can’t wait to see you in 2 weeks! Chamonix and Spain have been awesome! Tell the dogs and Robert and Jack hi for me. Happy Father’s Day and Birthday Dad! I love y’all!
What’s up guys! I, having an awesome time over here and enjoying myself. I’m looking forward to next few weeks and can’t wait to see y’all soon.
Tyler: Hello to my fellow family members. I am having a blast and looking forward to my adventure tomorrow. Can’t wait to see y’all again and tell you all about it! Make sure that my Youngla is still in good condition. Love y’all so much!
Kate: Hey guys! I’m having a great time with everyone! Happy Father’s Day Dad! Love and miss y’all and the dogs and MERCI BEAUCOUP!!
Harris: Hey everyone at home! Hope y’all are doing great and I am having fun here. Love you guys and doing miles better then Alaska, so need to worry. Hope you’re having a good Father’s Day at home dad! Can’t wait to tell y’all about everything when I get home, and I can’t wait. Love y’all!
Hey Johnson clan it’s Hank and I am having a blast in Chamonix! I have been tearing up the trails and it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. We have had some amazing views on the Tour Mt. Blanc. Happy Father’s Day dad and I can’t wait to backpack in Iceland with you after! Can’t wait to see y’all when I get home and I hope Baxters lacrosse is going well! Love y’all beaucoup!! (My debit card was cancelled I think so if you could fix that it would be great)
Hey O’Connor Clan. Happy Father’s Day Pops. Hope you had a great day. This trip has been nothing but incredible. My group is top tier and we have all gotten really close already. The hikes have been pretty awesome! Hope all is good with y’all! Tell Big C and Gigi I miss and love them. Love y’all! See ya soon!
Love, Henry and Grace
June 14, 2023
Bonjour Cham family and friends! We apologize for the delay in getting this out! We have just been so busy hiking between 3 different countries on the Tour Du Mont Blanc!
We began our trip in the city of love, Paris! From there, we took trains, busses, and cars all the way to Chamonix, stopping in the beautiful city of Geneva along the way. On our second day together, we explored the idyllic city of Chamonix, made last minute preparations for our first trekking adventure, and played some exciting group games! Tad demonstrated his athletic prowess in kickball while Allaire and Hank made friends with and played basketball with some locals. Our first LODs, Ann and Tad, shopped for groceries while the rest of the group scouted the famous Chamon’ice; where we proceeded to get our first (but certainly not last) taste of French ice cream.
Our trekking began the next day and we put those passports to good use! We began with a delicious bread and Nutella breakfast in France, followed by a mouthwatering prosciutto and cheese lunch on the Italy-Switzerland border, and concluded our challenging, yet rewarding day with a much-deserved teriyaki chicken and rice dinner. During our hike, John kept up morale with constant jokes, while Harris kept us on our toes with plenty of “Would you rather?” questions. Julia and Kate A led the group in sliding down some snow on our descent into Switzerland. Ann kept our spirits high and carried loads of group gear, including our guitar. Kate L gave us a concert with that guitar, playing a multitude of songs by Tyler Childers, Zach Bryan, and more at our hostel to wrap up a phenomenal first day of trekking!
Day 4 kicked off with a traditional Swiss breakfast consisting of bread, cheeses, and, a variety of delectable meats. Our trekking was more laid back as we took in the views of multiple quaint Swiss mountain towns, including the picturesque Champex-Lac. As we arrived at our hostel, we spotted a river and wondered who would be brave enough to take a polar plunge. Tyler took the leap of faith, submerging himself in the frigid water and encouraging the others to do the same. Kate L once again showed her guitar skills and we enjoyed a powerful moonup, sharing some of our toughest moments with the group. Our group bond has grown very strong as we continue to bask in the beauty of the Alps which our challenging trekking affords us.
The morning of our 3rd day of trekking began with a beautiful spread of warm bread, various jellies (strawberry being the fan favorite), and a build your own yogurt parfait station. Our legs were feeling the burn from the day before, but luckily Allaire had quick thinking to start a stretching circle for the entire group which proved to be much appreciated by our tired legs. Scenic is an understatement when it comes to describing today’s view on our hike and we were lucky enough to stop for lunch at a stunning view of the town of Martigny. Thanks to our wonderful guide Xavier, we also were made aware of some sweet treats the small store next door sold and everyone quickly ran to claim their flavor of cake before the other. Once our bellies were full, we descended into the town of Trient where we will stay for the night. More updates to come as we finish out our trek in Mont Blanc! The adventure has only just started and we can’t wait for what is next!!
Henry, Grace, and the CHA 2A team
June 10, 2023
Hello Chamonix Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Paris! 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!