July 22, 2023
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss only to find that it is a feather bed” – Unknown
Family and Friends,
Ciao one last time from Marco Polo Airport. Today is the day of days. The last hours of our grand Italian Adventure are finally upon us. We write this vigorously sitting at our gate. We left you guys off when we were getting to Claut. Claut would become our home for the next two nights. We spent that first evening exploring the mountain town. We had some dinner and then got some gelato from the local gelateria. After gelato Frankie played guitar and the whole group sang along. Mills, Jack, and Sophie all sang an Avett Brothers song which was a huge hit! After music Louie and Fran our LODs of the day lead us in moonup. We then got some rest after our long day.
We woke up the next morning ready and excited for canyoneering. This was a new activity that not a lot of our students have done before. Tyler was the only one who had canyoneered before and was getting the group so excited. Canyoneering is a mix of jumping, sliding, and trolling down a canyon. The group was so excited to escape the heat, swim in the cool river, and try this new activity. We grabbed some breakfast and then got ready for our day. We put on wetsuits and booties and got ready for our big adventure. We hiked up through the forest to get to our starting point in the canyon. Jackson was the first in the cold water. The rest of the group followed, jumping right on in.
The group was having an amazing time. We rappelled off of huge waterfalls, slid down natural rock slides, and jumped off of big rocks. Our group then arrived at the biggest waterfall yet. We would be rappelling off this waterfall and into a pool of water below. Elle led the pack down this waterfall and was the first to volunteer to go. Claire followed right behind. Elle and Claire cheered everyone else on as they went down the falls. It was an incredible experience unlike anything anyone had done before. After canyoneering we dried off and basked in the sun and ate some lunch all together. We then headed back to where we were staying to shower and clean up. After showers we decided to get some pre dinner gelato and some Italian snacks. We all gathered around at the gelateria and reminisced on the beautiful experience that we had together these past two weeks. We really were soaking up every moment we had with each other.
After gelato we walked around, rested, and then headed to dinner. We then listened to more music and sang more songs. Our LODs Camille and Maddie lead us in a hilarious game and another amazing moonup. We could not believe that we only had one more moonup left after this. Time really was flying. We headed to sleep excited for what the next day would hold.
The next day we went to Venice. Everyone loved the floating city. Frankie, Mills, and Jack went to an incredible museum while the rest of the group explored the city and local shops. We got delicious pizza and went into almost every store and down every street. The group then put on our finest outfits and headed to an amazing dinner right on the canal. We had pasta, seafood, vegetables, and salad. It was an amazing authentic Italian dining experience. Of course, we finished off our night with more gelato. After we sadly had our final moonup lead by Kathryn and Louie right on the water and watched the sunset. We really were appreciating every moment we had left with each other.
Here we are yet again. Another summer in the books. Another adventure behind us. Everything is heavy. As it always is at the end. The gratitude we have for this place, these people, and Moondance is eternal. A flame that we never burn out. The memories we have made will last a lifetime. The friendships we have made will impact us for the rest of our days. We’d love to stay but we really must go. We are the livers of life. We love you all deeply. Can’t wait to see you so soon. Until then, be well.
One last time
Frankie + Gracie
July 19, 2023
I have heard many theories about why we are here on this planet, but I think my favorite is that we are simply the universe wanting to experience itself. We’ve made life so complicated and stressful but maybe we are just the stars curious about the earth. A little piece of the galaxy wanting to feel the dirt beneath its feet. Wanting to fall in love and feel its heartbeat. Maybe our purpose here is to simply be and enjoy what unfolds.
Family and Friends,
Hello again from the Italian mountain town of Clout. We are so excited to share with you the experiences of these past couple days. They have been truly amazing. We could not have asked for a better group to end the summer with. They are exceptional in every way. I have no doubt we will all be friends for a long time. This trip has been truly spectacular. We have been reveling in this great unfolding and have been true citizens of the moment. Happy to be together, happy to be here, happy to be alive.
We left you guys off at the end of our trekking portion. We trekked to our final rifugio which was up in the clouds. This trek was beautiful and surrounded by wildflowers, which Camille loved. This rifugio would be our home for the next three nights. We quickly settled in and got comfortable while sipping some hot chocolates and limone soda. We got comfortable and then had some delicious dinner. After dinner Maddie and Kathryn our LODs lead us in moonup. Frankie, Jack, and Sophie sang and the rest of the group followed along. It was another wonderful night and we could not be happier.
We woke up the next morning excited for the big day we had ahead. Today we would be summiting a mountain and the group was buzzing with excitement. We had some breakfast to fuel our big climb. We then geared up, got our via ferrata kits, and we’re ready for our big ascent ahead. Jack and Mills lead the group and we’re the first to clip in and climb up the rocks. The whole group made it to the summit and enjoyed the beautiful view. Everyone was so happy to be at the top and we all celebrated. We headed back down to the base. To get down we had to repel off the mountain side. Kathryn and Maddie loved every moment of it and lead the group to the bottom. At the bottom the group found a nice grassy spot to eat some lunch at. We all laid in the grass, basked in the sun, and appreciated the mountain that we just successfully climbed.
Later that afternoon after some naps and relaxation half the group went to go climb and the other half went on a day hike. Elle, Claire, Sophie, Frannie, Maddie, and Louie took a hike up to another rifugio where we enjoyed beautiful views, sandwiches, and limone sodas. From this rifugio we could see what felt like all of Italy. We headed back down and relaxed until dinner time. Camille, Kathryn, Jack, Tyler, Mills, and Jackson all went climbing. It was Camille’s first time climbing and she absolutely loved it! Today’s climbing prepped the group for the next day to come. The group then ate dinner and had moonup led by Claire and Tyler. We played more music and had lots of singing. Then we got some much needed rest.
The next morning we awoke after a restful night and went to get some breakfast. After breakfast we got ready for a full day of climbing ahead. We would be climbing at the world famous Cinque Torres or “Five Towers”. This is a very popular climbing destination that people come to from all around the world. Our group was so excited that we would get to climb here. We started off with some top rope climbing. Elle loved belaying and made sure everyone got to the top safely and encouraged them the whole time. After our top rope climbing we did multi pitch climbing. Jackson and Jack were the first to volunteer to do this. They climbed all the way to the top of a very tall rock face. Then they both repelled off. Following them was Mills and Sophie. They also bravely climbed all the way to the top and then repelled off the back of the rock face. The whole group was extremely impressed with there bravery. The rest of the group climbed other rock faces and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day. Maddie belayed Elle on one of the hardest climbs and Elle did a big jump to hit the top point of the climb. After a long day of climbing the group was tired so we headed back to our rifugio where we got some gelato. After that we relaxed before dinner and then had another amazing moonup run by Camille and Mills. We sang more songs and listened to the guitar and then headed to sleep.
Sadly the next morning was our last day in the Dolomites before heading to Claut the town where we would be canyoneering. This morning we awoke and were sad but excited for what the next few days we have together would hold. We ate some breakfast and then packed up and got ready to trek out of the mountains. We enjoyed a beautiful trek alongside a river where horses and cattle grazed. Then we went up a mountain which brought us to the most running view. Louie and Tyler listened to some music and crushed the hill the whole way up. We ate some much needed lunch and then finished off our trek. We were sad to be leaving the mountains, but we’re ready for some clean clothes. We reached the cars that would be taking us to our next location and told our wonderful guide Marco goodbye. We could not thank him enough for being such a special part of our group. We then headed to our next location where we will be spending the next two nights.
There’s this thing about Moondance which is paradoxical. Yes we strive to live in the moment, but we are human after all. Our minds wander. We think of home and days to come. We think of you. Sometimes to be grateful you must remove yourself from the moment. Reflecting on time gone by and the mysteries that lie ahead. Although they are nice thoughts, we are where our feet are and we are grateful for it. Grateful for all of you. This all would not be the same with your love and send it back to you from across the world. Eager to see your faces yet saddened at the thought of saying goodbye to the ones in front of us. We have just a few more days. We will check back in one last time. Until then, be well.
Frankie + Gracie
July 16, 2023
“The perfect mind employs itself as a mirror, it grasps nothing and refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep. To have no hang up, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water. Seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion. A playing of energy. And there is absolutely nothing fundamentally to be afraid of” – Alan Watts
Friends and Family,
We write this to you from the top of a mountain, surrounded by beautiful peaks and valleys, with a cappuccino in hand. Life is beautiful or as we say here in Italy “bella vita”. We are so excited to share the events of the past week. They have been some of the best of the summer. This group is so perfect. They are absolutely hilarious. We have been laughing so much, there hasn’t been a second to catch our breath. There is nothing better to share than laughter. It is the most worthy of enterprises. As we move forward we are all determined to go deeper and to do it together. To dive into each other and into ourselves. We are excited for the future. Holding onto nothing but a smile. The coming days are going to be the best yet. We are absolutely vibing.
We left you off right before our trekking portion began. Since we have last checked in we have lots of miles under our belts. We woke up to a very yummy breakfast and prepared for the big day we had ahead. Our first day of trekking was led by our very own LODs Claire and Jackson. They started us off with an inspirational quote and some hype up music. The group was buzzing with excitement and ready to start moving. We began our trek up and were welcomed to the mountains by some new cow friends. The trail started with a challenging uphill but the group persevered through and encouraged each other the whole time. We finally made it to a beautiful grassy field, covered in wildflowers, surrounded by peaks. We made this our lunch spot and made ourselves at home. We ate delicious sandwiches and relaxed in the sun refueling ourselves for the rest of our hike. We began the second half of our day with full stomachs and smiles on our faces. After a few more hours in the beautiful mountains we made it to our rifugio which would be our home for the night. Fran, Jack, Mills, and Sophie went and explored a cave by our rifugio. They saw amazing views from the cave and appreciated their surroundings. We all sat and had family dinner together, then had moonup, where Frankie played songs on the guitar and the whole group sang along. After moonup we got some much needed rest so we would be ready for the next day.
We awoke the next morning to the relaxing pitter patter of rain. We got up, got some breakfast, coffee, and got ready for our day. We packed our packs and geared up. It was raining outside so we put on our rain gear and prepared for a wet but beautiful hike. Everyone’s spirits despite the rain were very high. The group was laughing and playing around in the rain. Camille specifically loved the rain and was making the whole group dance around and laugh. Although we were wet we were full of laughs and smiles. The rain eventually subsided and the sun peered out just in time for our big uphill. Our LODs Elle and Tyler motivated the group and cheered everyone on the whole way up. There were lots of trail talks, appreciation of our surroundings, and laughter throughout the day. We made it to our next rifugio which would become our home for the next two nights. Tyler and Jack jammed to music in the back and took lots of pictures. Next to this rifugio there is a beautiful emerald lake that is absolutely freezing so obviously our group was going to have to jump in. Never pass up a cold body of water on Moondance. Mills and Jack lead the group by jumping in first and everyone else followed. It was freezing but the perfect way to cool off after a long hot day of hiking. Sophie made sure to jump in multiple times and defy the freezing water. After our cold plunge we all basked in the sun to dry off before taking showers. We then had another amazing family dinner of pasta, meat, and salad. After dinner our LODs lead us in music and moonup. Sophie and Jack sang a beautiful song as Frankie played guitar. We finished up another moonup full of sharing and laughter and then headed off to bed.
We awoke to the sound of the cowbells ringing and the birds chirping. It was a beautiful day and we were ready for the adventure we had in store for the day. We had a great breakfast and our guide Marco gave us the plan for the day. We were doing a day hike and the LODs were going to help us navigate the trek. Our LODs Camille and Louie took a look at the map, found the route, and led us on our hike. We trekked across sacred land lined with cowbells on fishing lines that would blow in the wind. We had to remain silent on this portion of the trek to respect the land we were on. After this portion we made it to the top of our hike. It was absolutely beautiful and had a view of the Austrian alps. We eventually hiked back down to a grassy field where we had an amazing lunch. Kathryn and Maddie lead the group in a big trail “yap” as we call it all the way back down to our rifugio. Once we got back we took a siesta, relaxed, and enjoyed each other’s company. We talked and played cards thanks to Elle’s deck. Eventually it was dinner time and we were hungry! We filled our stomachs with delicious food and headed to moonup. Moonup had more wonderful singing, lots of laughter, and deep connection. We then headed to bed and got some well deserved rest.
The next morning would be our biggest day yet! We had our longest hike and our biggest elevation gain. Our LODs Mills and Fran started our day off with some inspiration to get the group ready for the big climb. We fueled up, packed our packs, and got ready for the trek. We began our journey through a beautiful grassy field alongside a clear stream. We eventually got to our first big mountain that we would have to overcome. We began hiking up steep switchbacks. Jackson encouraged the group the entire way up and never stopped cheering everyone on. Once we got to the top of our first mountain we were tired yet filled with joy. The mountain overlooked a beautiful lake and was surrounded by other stunning peaks. We then Trekked down the backside of the mountain to the lake where we would stop for lunch. We ate a wonderful lunch and after lunch Jack, Mills, Louie, Sophie, and Kathryn all jumped on too cool off. Once everyone had fired off and eaten we started our ascent up another mountain to where our rifugio would be. This was a steep and long ascend up, but our group made it with smiles on our faces. Everyone was cheering each other on and encouraging one another the whole time. Maddie requested great songs that kept the group having fun during the steepest parts. Once we got to the top we looked around and saw the 360 views that surrounded us. The group went and explored and really appreciated where we were. After some rest we had family dinner with a beautiful view. Once dinner was over we hiked up past our rifugio to a peak where we would watch the sunset, play music, and do moonup. The sunset was incredible and we could not believe how truly lucky we really are. We all savored every last moment of the sun reflecting beautifully on the mountains and then headed back to our rooms to get some much needed sleep.
We now find ourselves in the middle of something beautiful. Fearful of only one thing. Time. We know it’s running out. The ever looming thought that this too shall pass and our wonderful journey will come to end sits in the back of all our minds. We have come to love each other and can’t even imagine saying goodbye. It feels unnatural. It’s as if the past 4 days have been 4 years. Yet at the same time it has been a blink of the eye. Time is weird on Moondance. It stretches and it squeezes. It does not, however, go backwards. In life the only thing we will ever really take with us is memories. At the moment, we are in one of those memories. The ones that last a lifetime. As we all well know, we might forget who we met, or what we did, but we will never forget how we felt. We miss you all dearly. We will check back in soon. Until then, be well.
Frankie + Gracie
July 10, 2023
“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask” – HH
Family and Friends,
Ciaooo, greetings yet again from Dolomites!! Italy is at its peak. Summer at its zenith. It is absolutely beautiful here. It’s day 4 now and what a couple days it has been. The start of this trip is a perfect balance of relaxation/adjusting and a sneak peak of the things to come. This group is off to an incredible start. There are 10 alumni in our group. Yes 10!! Everyone is so accustomed to the culture already. It is truly a lovely surprise. Typically it takes groups at least half of the trip to get into the swing of things. This group skipped 5 steps. We are performing and it’s so cool. Gracie and I are beyond excited to wrap up our Italian summer with such an amazing group of people. We also can’t wait to share it with all of you as well. So buckle up, this one is going to be special.
After arriving at the airport, the group minus Gracie, who would wait for Tyler who’s flight got delayed, started off to Cortina d’ampezzo. We winded up tiny mountain passes and saw our first peaks of the Dolomite range. Jack and Mills took about a million pictures. I can’t wait for the pics they will get on this trip. They have a real eye for it. We all yapped about anything and everything. As we passed into Cortina, I pointed out the peaks in the distance that we would be climbing in 7 days. No one could believe how huge they looked from the valley where Cortina sits. We checked into our hotel and got settled. We then made our way through the beautiful alpine city. We stopped by an absolutely stunning cathedral and popped into a few local shops. Next was gelato, which I have a feeling will be a major theme this go around. It was incredible as always. Claire and Sophie said it was the best ice cream they’ve ever had. After our little town expedition, I introduced Moonup. It was the best first Moonup I have ever been a part of. The first Moonup is always so awkward and slow. The group is always just getting used to being there and are always so jet lagged. That was not the case this time. Everyone was so grateful and excited to be there. You’d never know that some of them have been up for 24 hours straight. That’s how amazing this group is. We talked about why we were here. Why Moondance keeps bringing us back year after year or why it drew us in the first place. Quickly after Moonup we all fell into a deep deep slumber.
The group awoke after a well needed rest feeling energized by the excitement of what was to come. We start off with a bang and have a full day of activity awaiting us. We head down to breakfast and have our first family meal together with all of us. The group excitedly meets Tyler and everyone instantly connects. Sophie said that the group felt like something was missing, but now it feels whole and complete because Tyler is here! Everyone eats and fuels themselves for the big day ahead.
After breakfast we grab our gear and meet up with our wonderful guides for the day Marco and Diego. They brief us on our activity and we catch the next bus up the mountain to our trailhead. Today we’re doing a Via Ferrata which translates to Iron Cable. It’s where we put on harnesses and connect to iron cables alongside a mountain. We connect to these cables because we hike along narrow ledges alongside cliffs, climb up steep rock walls, and hike underneath massive waterfalls. The group put on our harnesses and we began the Via Ferrata adventure. Jackson and Maddie bravely led the group and were the first two to clip into the Via Ferrata. Camille also flew through the air as she traveled down the giant cable as well! The rest of the group excitedly followed. Louis and Fran took up the rear and loved the fresh spray of the waterfall too cool off from our hot hike. The views were absolutely incredible. We were surrounded by stunning mountains, waterfalls, and a beautiful blue stream.
After our big hike we headed back to our hotel where we began to pack and prepare for our five day trekking portion that we will be starting the next day. We cannot wait to begin our beautiful trek through these mountains. Kathryn was buzzing with excitement about what the next few days would hold. We all got our packs packed and then headed to dinner. Tonight we had more of the famous Italian dish, pizza. Elle said it was the BEST pizza she has ever had and the whole group was in complete agreement. After dinner we took a walk around town to find a spot for moonup with a view. Our LODs (leaders of the day) Jack and Sophie picked a grassy field with a mountain view. We had lots of laughs and bonded even farther. Claire and Jackson were selected as LODs for the next day and will lead us on tomorrow’s trek! We are so excited and cannot wait to see what this next part of the trip holds.
This group is obviously something special. The excitement for the coming days has us bouncing off the walls. We will check back in after a couple days of trekking. Until then, be well!
Frankie + Gracie
July 9, 2023
Hello Dolomites Families!
We heard from our leaders early this morning land the group has landed safely in Venice. Gracie is waiting eagerly at the airport for the arrival of Tyler who experienced flight delays, but they will be back with the group by this evening! The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure as they are headed to Cortina d’Ampezzo!
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!