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Big Wild : 3A • July 18-July 31, 2016

Final Days with Big Wild!

August 2, 2016

Hello Big Wild friends and families!

The last of our fabulous students have left us in Jackson, eager to get back to their loved ones. Molly and I would like to thank everyone that has helped make this trip, and summer, possible.

Our penultimate day out west began in Glenn’s Ferry, ID, when we woke up early to get back to Jackson. The car ride was livened by Eleanor, Isa, Julia, and Caroline belting out their best impersonations of Taylor Swift. When we arrived at Gros Ventre, Clement, Hamilton, and Maddie were instrumental in helping pack up so that we could head into town early. At a thrift store before dinner, Porter wowed the group by donning a full-length ball gown through the square and to dinner.

Our final banquet took us back to Pinky G’a pizza, where we reminisced on the amazing time we all had together exploring Wyoming and Idaho. Later, we made our way to a beautiful overlook of the Tetons, where John and Greer led a tearful moonup full of thoughtful comments.

As the finals students hop on their planes back east, Molly and I would again like to thank both parents and the Moondance office for an amazing trip and summer. We had a blast, and we hope that our students did as well!

Hugh and Molly

Rafting Was a Blast!!

July 29, 2016

Hello Big Wild families!

Our team just got off the river near Lewiston, and is starting the long haul back to Jackson for our final banquet and flights home!

On Tuesday, we woke up in McCall, ID and made our way up-river to Hammer Creek, where we’d start our 80 mile journey down to Heller Bar. We would pass through three states, crush some awesome whitewater, and have an absolute blast along the way! On day one, Eleanor and Isa set the pace, paddling harder than anyone to get us through some great wave trains. Later that night, our guides described the cook-crew of Caroline, Maddie, and Hamilton as one of the best they’d ever seen, as they prepared some gourmet spaghetti and meatballs for the group!

We had the opportunity to jump off some really cool columnar basalt on our second day rafting, and Porter impressed everyone with his ability to “dab” mid-air. Our third day on the water was for sure the highlight of the trip. We reached the confluence of the Salmon and Snake Rivers, and also got to pick fruit at a nature conservancy! Clement, thinking selflessly, gathered a whole bag of blackberries for everyone to eat after dinner. Also, Greer and John helped organize a game of ultimate frisbee that night at camp! As everyone was drifting off, Julia was going strong, sharing thoughts on her summer reading book with everyone.

Our final day on the river was full of sad goodbyes to both the river and our guides. However, we had an amazing four days floating the Lower Salmon, and thanks to Carly, Corey, and Cian of Salmon River Raft!

Stay Tuned,

Hugh and Molly



John: Rafting was so fun, can’t believe this trip went by so fast! Tell Judy thanks for paying for this.


Porter: We just finished rafting which was so much fun. This trip has flown by so fast and is so cool!


Clement: Getting back from rafting and realizing the trip is almost over is shocking. Thank you Mama! Tell T and A I can’t wait to see them, can’t wait to see you too. Thank y’all, love you guys!


Julia: We just finished rafting, which was so much fun, today. Can’t believe this is almost over. Love y’all!


Caroline: We just got done with rafting and it was awesome! The whole trip has been so fun! See y’all soon!


Hammy: Hey fam! We just finished rafting and it was the bomb! Can’t wait to see y’all in two days!


Madison: Hey! I hope Ash and Josh had a blast at camp! Rafting was awesome! See you soon, love y’all!


Greer: Hey! Just got done with rafting and had so much fun! I peed in 3 states at once! See you soon, love y’all!


Eleanor: Hey family! Rafting was so amazing! Can’t wait to see you guys on 2 days. Love you!


Isa: Hello, rafting was by far the best part of the trip. I got to pee in 3 states at once. See you soon, love you!


Rock Climbing, Rafting & 'Rodeo-ing'!

July 25, 2016

Howdy family and friends!


We are having the best time on the Big Wild trip. We just got in the van and are now heading to McCall, Idaho where we will spend the night before we set off for our four day rafting trip.


Our past few days have been full of adventures, group bonding, and laughter. After backpacking we began our climbing portion of the trip. We were all stoked about this section, but Clements enthusiasm and positive attitude made us ten times more excited. We spent our first day climbing in the beautiful Teton Village. We were fortunate enough to get to ride the gondola up the mountain. The ride was a blast and provided us with an incredible view and time to take in the surrounding area. When we reached the top our guides Scott and Brian began teaching us the basic climbing techniques. We began by bouldering. Everyone did a wonderful job, but our guides agreed that John won the award for best footwork. After taking a few different routes on the Boulder we moved on to knot tying. Porter quickly became a knot expert and can now tie a mean figure eight. Once we received an understanding of the climbing techniques and safety we were ready to belay. Maddie picked up belaying in no time, and is one belayer you can trust. All of this learning built up an appetite in us and we decided to take a quick lunch break before hitting the bigger climbs of the day. But after we got some food in us we were ready to put all our skills to the test and start a multi pitch climb. At first Eleanor was a bit worried about the height, however we quickly discovered that she is an excellent climber and she made it up the mountain in record time. The day would not have been nearly as fun if it wasn’t for all of Julia’s jokes and her impressive ability to make us all laugh. As we went up the mountain the views continued to improve. When the climb was over our guides asked us what our favorite part of the day was. Everyone agreed that they loved the act of climbing and having the opportunity to appreciate how beautiful the views were.


This was a very fun day, but the fun was not about to end with climbing because that night we went to the Jackson Rodeo! The group said that this was a highlight of the trip. We got to watch bull riders, people staying on bucking horses for over 8 seconds, and cowgirls! Everyone agreed that their favorite was the peewee contest, which was a bull riding competition for kids ten and under. They were so cute and hilarious. But the best part of the evening was when Hammy went into the arena and chased a lamb! We thought it could not get any better after that, but boy were we wrong. Shortly after the lamb chasing event the announcer asked for seven volunteers to enter the arena. Not knowing what he was getting himself into Clement decided to volunteer as tribute. Turns out he just entered himself in a dance contest in front of the entire rodeo! Clement did not hold back one bit and the entire rodeo voted him as best dancer and he won a t-shirt! Wow I do not think we could have laughed any harder nor have been more impressed by our two brave boys. We ended the evening on a great note by stargazing in the Teton National Park. This night had the best stars of all summer; we could see the Milky Way!


We all had a wonderful experience climbing and would have loved to have had another day, however due to an unfortunate accident with one of Exum’s guides all lessons on the 24th were cancelled. Everyone was very understanding and instead of climbing we spent the day rafting with Mad River Rafting. We started the day on a great note by sleeping in and then making a delicious breakfast of eggs, sausage, and hash browns. After a peaceful morning we were ready to begin our eight mile trip down the Snake River. We all piled into one boat and rafted over some sick rapids. Caroline took some pretty sweet videos and kept our raft very lively and in good spirits.  If you would like to see some pictures you can find them on Mad River’s website. Go to the 12pm time July 24th and click the name JR. The surrounding land features were beautiful; one of the coolest was an underwater cliff. Not only did we get to raft class three rapids, but we also got to go swimming and play some boat games. In one game we had the students stand on the bow of the boat and try to maintain balance while the boat spun in circles. Isa had the best balance of us all and the only way she got in the water was by jumping in herself. After rafting we treated ourselves to some delicious Dairy Queen. We ended the day by making pancakes and playing games at our campsite. Greer was very help in the kitchen and volunteered herself to be the pancake taste tester.


As you can see we have been having an incredible experience on this trip. Again we are so thankful that you chose to send your child on the Big Wild trip. It has been wonderful getting to know them and we cannot wait to begin our rafting trip!


Shout outs:

John: Rafting and Climbing was cool. See you soon!


Porter: hey mom and dad I am having a great time! Rafting and climbing was awesome.


Clement: hello again! Loving you all but also this trip. Rafting and climbing have been great!


Eleanor: hey mom, dad, and Kate! Missing you guys a lot! Climbing was an amazing experience and rafting was refreshing and fun! See you soon.


Isa: I’m having fun, more fun now that I am clean. Miss you, see you soon.


Julia: I’m having So much fun! Rafting and climbing has been great! Love y’all!


Caroline: I am having a great time. Climbing was so cool to learn and rafting was awesome as always! Love and miss y’all!


Hammy: hey mom and dad. I miss y’all! Can’t wait to see y’all! We are heading to raft in Idaho right now.


Madison: hey! We are headed to Idaho to raft. I can’t wait to see you! I miss and love y’all!!


Greer: hey! We are headed to Idaho! I miss y’all! See y’all soon! Love y’all!

Conquering the Wind River Range

July 22, 2016

Greetings family and friends!

We want to take this time to give you all a big thank you for sharing your children with us this summer. Having them on our trip has been such a treat and they each have brought a unique aspect to our group.

We have been having an incredible time out here in big wild Wyoming! The first students to arrive were Eleanor and Isa. We spent the entire morning playing poker while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Once everyone arrived we left the airport and headed to our campsite for the evening. When we arrived, the group learned how to pitch a tent and how to pack a backpacking pack. After a long day of travel we treated ourselves to the best pizza in all of Jackson, Pinky G’s. It did not disappoint.

We started our second day on a great note by making a delicious breakfast of eggs and bacon. The leaders of the day, Maddie and Clement, were incredibly helpful in getting everyone prepared to leave for our first day of backpacking. After packing camp up we hit the road ready to begin backpacking. Unfortunately we quickly found out that some roads were closed due to a forest fire. As a result, we were required to take a detour which added some time to what was originally a two hour car ride. Despite this minor setback, everyone kept a positive attitude and we saw it as an opportunity to see the state. Besides, nothing bonds a group better then a long car ride. After a long day of travel, we finally arrived to the ranch where we met our wonderful backpacking guide, Connor. Although it was a little late in the day the group decided they still wanted to begin our hike this day. After making this decision we quickly began a two mile hike to our campsite. When we got to our campsite we set up camp and cook crew started preparing supper. Our cook crew this evening was Hamilton, Julia, and Maddie. They learned how to make a delicious dish of broccoli and pesto pasta in the dark! It was a lot of fun and while cooking, they got to watch both the sunset and the moonrise. We ended the day reflecting during our Moonup underneath a full moon!

On the third day the leaders of the day Hamilton and Julia woke us all up. After a stretch circle we began a four mile hike to our base camp. On this hike we passed beautiful lakes and many wildflowers. After a few hours of hiking we reached our campsite which was located next to a large lake called Divide Lake. We set up camp then all rushed to the lake to go swimming. John and Porter displayed their bravery by being the first to jump into the brisk water. We spent the rest of the day hanging near the water, reading, and journaling. In the afternoon Hamilton, Clement, John, and Porter went fishing. After spending a few hours by the water, the group went back to the campsite to hang out and to prepare supper. While Isa and Porter cooked pizza the rest of the group played an intense game of cards. Greer and Caroline were quite the card sharks and also brought a ton of laughter and energy to the group. After dinner we watched the sun set and skipped rocks by the lake.

On our third day in the Winds, we hiked up a mountain! Eleanor had a terrific attitude and brought a positive energy to the group. The view from the top was spectacular! We spent much of the day relaxing at the top and telling each other riddles. We spent the afternoon fishing and swimming. One of our favorite parts of the day was getting to see a triple rainbow!!

Today was our last day in the Winds. We started the day with a six mile hike to the van. Caroline set the pace and Porter brought up the rear. We were very speedy and made it back in only three hours. On this hike we saw a pack of goats carrying gear for a fifteen day backpacking trip. We are now driving back to Jackson and are all ready for a shower. We cannot wait to begin climbing tomorrow and will send another update when we complete that activity.

Shout outs:

John: hello! Hiking was fun. We got to fish and are also going to fish in Jackson. Wyoming is pretty fabulous.

Porter: we just finished hiking and the hikes were a little difficult but I was always in the front with ya boy John and Clint Eastwood. John and I have spent a lot of time fishing. The trip is really fun. Shout out to the boys back home #staystrong #keeprippin!

Isa: I’m having fun, Backpacking was great but I am dirty. My fingernails have more dirt than the dust bowl.

Eleanor: dear mom, dad, and Kate I miss you guys a lot. Have had a great time without he phone and met some pretty amazing people! Hiking was hard but fun!

Caroline: hey! I am having a lot of fun! We just finished backpacking. We got to go swimming in a freezing lake which was cool. We are going no back to Jackson Hole and going climbing tomorrow. Everyone in my group is so fun! Love and miss y’all!

Julia: hey! Just finished our four day backpacking trip, which was a lot of fun. The food is good. Everyone in my group has been really nice. I love and miss y’all.

Clement: hello family! Hey mama! We just finished our four day backpacking trip. I have tried to make every moment a positive one! It was so cool to be out in the winds eating, swimming, and hiking. My group is great. Thanks for letting me me go on this trip, I love you!

Hammy: hey mom and dad! I am having a blast here! It is soooooo beautiful. We just finished backpacking. I love y’all! Thanks so much! Tell Mimi i said hey!

Madison: I am having a lot of fun and I have lived meeting the people here. The views are insanely beautiful. I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all. I love you!

Greer: hey! I just finished backpacking and am having so much fun! Missing y’all! See you soon!