August 1, 2016
At the close of our trip we cannot believe these two weeks are over. We had an incredible time backpacking the Winds, rafting the Salmon, and climbing the Tetons. Our final Moonup led by Jack and McKinnon discussed what we learned about ourselves and what we learned from backcountry living, which was a perfect end to our trip. Tears were shed and laughter was shared giving us a chance to see how close we had all become. Thomas, Paul, Vinnie, Hadley, Caroline, Mia, McKinnon, Sarah, Will, and Jack, thank you so much for being your helpful, kind, adventurous selves, we couldn’t have asked for a better, more close knit group than you guys. We miss you all so much already and wish you good luck this school year. We hope to see you again next summer, and remember to live in the moment!
All the best,
Grace, Margaret, and James
July 31, 2016
One last hello from Jackson!
After rafting we traveled back across Idaho to begin our first day of climbing. We woke up bright and early and met our Exum climbing guides at Teton village. The group laced up their climbing shoes, boarded the gondola and rode to the top of Jackson Hole ski resort. Before beginning our ascent, the guides gave us all a lesson on knot tying and belaying. Sarah and McKinnon became masters at tying the Boleyn knot around themselves and raced each other to see who could finish it first. Jack was eager to get started and was the first to volunteer climbing up the practice bouldering routes. Once down at the crag, Vinnie and Will led their respective groups up the face. We scampered up to each ledge, belaying the person behind us. At the top we had a lunch break and prepared for rappelling. Caroline went first down the rappel and quickly climbed back up. Mia kept everyone laughing by making up crazy handshakes with Thomas at the top. At the end of our climb while heading back to the gondola, Hadley and Paul sprinted the last few hundred yards, everyone was quite impressed with their athleticism.
For our second day of climbing, we headed into Teton National Park, we met our guides at the Exum Mountain Guide hut and then took a relaxing boat ride across the glacial, Lake Jenny. We split up into four groups and began our multi-pitch climbing.
Every student had the opportunity to showcase the knots and rope skills they were taught on the previous day. We all had the responsibility of unclipping and reclipping our ropes. Thomas kept his cool when a knot emerged in his rope and our guide had to rappel down and untie it, and Will was the first to try a difficult face! Everyone excelled when climbing difficult faces and completed everything they tried!
July 28, 2016
Hello again from our beautiful van! We have just emerged from the river and have enjoyed every mile of our journey down the lower Salmon and Snake Rivers.
After backpacking, a short debrief, and reorganizing our gear we hit the road towards Idaho. We drove to Massacre Rocks State Park and pulled in after dark, scaring everyone. McKinnon and Jack led a quick Moonup, and despite fears of the title of our location everyone slept under the stars.
We awoke the next morning to a bright sunlight toasting everyone in their sleeping bags. We checked out an infamous rock that had Oregon Trail pioneers’ names inscribed on it and loaded up the big white van. We decided to make a surprise pit-stop, and Sarah and Hadley shed tears at the sight of the turn signal towards a Chick-fil-a parking lot. After putting some miles under our belt, we stopped at the Shoshone Ice Cave. Everyone explored the cave and got to touch the ice. Our guide explained that in the ’30s the US government blasted part of the cave to expand the doorway, and the ice has unfortunately been melting ever since. After snapping amazing t-shirts and taking photos with some dinosaurs, we meandered our way through Sun Valley and the Sawtooth National Forest. We arrived at Stanley Lake where we prepared a delicious taco dinner with a scenic view. With a few more hours of driving left we completed the last leg of our journey and arrived at the Alzar School where we set up camp. Caroline and Mia led a Moonup under the stars as we all settled into our sleeping bags for a chilly night.
The next morning we fortunately woke up early as the temperature had dipped pretty low that night and everyone was ready to get moving. Our sleeping bags had even frosted over in the night. The Salmon Raft outfitter arrived with our dry bags, we packed them up and got on the road towards the Salmon. Everyone had been looking forward to rafting so this first day on the river was an awesome one. Not too long into the trip down the river a raft battle broke out between our two boats. First off, Paul took out Sarah from his own boat, but in the water Sarah was able to join the two boats together. James then boarded the other boat and knocked out four girls before our raft guide Ben was able to push James out. Thomas got knocked into the water attempting to jump from one boat but this left him in a great position to pull people in from the water. Everyone was thrown into the water and soaked their skin, a much needed cool down in the summer heat. After a long day we reached our sandy beach campsite. The guides, Vinnie, Sarah, and Will prepared us spaghetti and meatballs and chocolate cake which were quickly devoured by everyone, especially Jack who had five servings that night.
Our second day of rafting was filled with adventures. Thomas, Paul, and Hadley helped cook us a delicious pancake breakfast before we set out. The rapids the previous day were only class 2 and 3, but the rapids today were class 3 and 4. They required a lot of hard paddling but they were well worth it, especially for those that got to sit on the front of the boat and bull ride through! In addition to the rapids, the water war intensities increased after one boat lost a piece to their water gun. It was a constant battle all day for the remaining working water gun. Finally we reached our campsite and came to a truce. While we were waiting for dinner to be ready someone found a gigantic cricket on the beach and to everyone’s surprise Will ATE THE CRICKET for a whopping $50! Apparently it wasn’t so bad— very crunchy. After an eventful day we chewed down on some burgers, toasted s’mores, and everyone slept under the stars for the third night in a row.
On our third day of rafting we had a more relaxed trip down the Salmon. There were some smaller rapids and plenty of time for swimming. Hadley even had the chance to sit in the guide’s seat and row her boat down two class 2 rapids! This is not to say the rapids were uneventful though, Paul fell out in “Eye of the Needle” but was quickly rescued by the members in his boat. Further into the day we came upon the Idaho-Oregon border where the Salmon met the Snake River. Caroline and Sarah led the way as they swam to the other side so they could say they “swam to Oregon.” We spotted several mountain goats scaling the rocky cliffside as we were launching from the lunch spot. Afterwards we stopped at a waterfall on the side of the river and everyone had a chance to stand under it and sit in its basin. Upon leaving we discovered this huge black and white striped bug but it found its way onto McKinnon’s shoulder and was swatted away. For camp, we managed to raft all the way to the Washington-Idaho-Oregon border. This camp was very unique because it was situated right below a nature conservancy complete with blackberry bushes, ripe apricot trees, Apple and pear trees. Will, Vinnie, and Jack accompanied us leaders as we picked blackberries to spice up our peach cobbler that night. As we were exploring the grounds we stumbled upon a herd of deer and a pack of wild turkeys. We sat on the ground as we watched three little fawns scamper about eating the fallen fruit. The deer seemed not to mind us and it was incredible to be so close to all of them. Once the deer left we made our way back down to dinner, had Moonup, and enjoyed our
last night on the river.
Today we rafted off the Snake, unpacked our dry bags, and said goodbye to our amazing guides. We are now off on our ride to Boise. Though we’ll be missing the river, we’re looking forward to climbing in the Tetons and returning to beautiful Jackson. Parents read on for some shout outs!
Margaret, James, and Grace
Miss all of y’all but I’m having fun -Paul
Hi guys, I’m having a chill time -Vinnie
I am still alive -Will
Miss everyone and had so much fun rafting! -Caroline
Rafting was really fun! Miss y’all! -Mia
Rafting was awesome! Love & miss y’all -Hadley
Rafting was really great!! Miss you guys and Zoey!! Tell friends I said hey! Love you guys -McKinnon
I am officially a vegan and a conservative. -Jack
Miss you guys! See you soon -Sarah
Miss all of y’all but I’m having fun -TLAW
July 23, 2016
Greetings from the Wild Wild West! We have had a fabulous first few days in the Wind River Range and can’t wait to continue exploring with this wonderful crew!
After everyone arrived in Jackson, we loaded up the good ole van and headed down back roads towards Boulder, Wyoming. When leaving the airport we saw a military helicopter getting huge buckets of water from Jenny Lake to dump on a nearby fire hazing over the horizon. We had to detour around Pinedale due to the forest fire blazing through Bridger-Teton National Forest near Big Piney, so the longer car ride resulted in immediate group bonding, and we witnessed a beautiful sunset over the canyons in our rear view. We came across fire fighters and propeller planes monitoring and spraying fire retardant over the trees along the side of the road. After a rotisserie chicken dinner under the orange sky, we arrived at the Green River Outreach for Wilderness ranch where we introduced tents and set up camp by an aspen grove for the evening. We concluded with our first Moonup circle where we discussed reasons for choosing this Moondance experience and our excitement for the trip ahead.
Our first full day together started off strong with our first cook crew, Vinnie and Caroline, manning the skillet with bacon and eggs. We packed our backpacks as lightly as we could and headed towards Big Sandy in the Wind River Range. Before hitting the dusty trail, we celebrated McKinnon’s 14th birthday with Oreo Cupcakes! Our first leaders of the day—LODs—Vinnie and Paul led us towards Blue Lake along gushing streams and colorful wild flowers. We hiked six miles in and found a perfect campsite to rest our weary bodies. Thomas ‘sauce boy’ and skillet master Sarah helped sculpt some delicious backcountry pizzas to warm our bellies. Our LODs then led Moonup about our excitement for the next day and we laid our heads down under the pine trees.
The next morning we slept in until the sun beating down through the foliage began to bake us in our sleeping bags, and McKinnon and Paul cooked a leisurely pancake breakfast with berries and Nutella. We relaxed around camp and took a short hike to Blue Lake where everyone learned to fly fish. Will caught three brook trout and everyone got a chance to cast a line into the clear lake waters. Sarah and Paul then took a plunge into the chilly snow melt! After some sun bathing, breathtaking views, and a little lakeside relaxation on the sun-baked boulders, we returned to camp for an early burrito bowl dinner. Sarah and Thomas led three Moonup questions about our most challenging experiences and food choices before snuggling into our tents.
Day four began with a much earlier start and an oatmeal breakfast so we could fuel up for a big day of hiking! Hadley and Will, our LODs, led us up rock faces, boulder fields, and across creeks. Everyone worked as a team and powered up the mountain 2,000+ feet in elevation. Every break had a better view than the one before, and we stopped at a ‘pancake’ rock to rest away from the strengthening winds. We even took a break to play in a snow patch and everyone left butt prints and threw snowballs. Vinnie put snow in her water bottle and created a delectable Gatorade slushy that she shared with everyone! Everyone finally reached the stunning view at the peak of Warrior I, where we could see across the incredible Cirque of the Towers and the Shoshone Forest. The girls were feeling ambitious and decided to challenge themselves to scramble up boulders and shimmy through crevasses to the peak of Warrior II. The group of boys headed back down towards camp to wait for everyone and search for marmots. The group met back up and we descended the Warriors together. Once returning to camp, Will and Jack started a much needed macaroni and cheese dinner. The pink and purple sunset silhouetted the tree line as we sat down for a creative Moonup question from Hadley and Will about what animal we would ride if we could ride anything.
This morning we woke up to stretch sore limbs and break down camp. Mia and Thomas made hash-browns and sausage to prepare us for our hike out of the wilderness. McKinnon and Jack led us back to Big Sandy Lake and to the van. We are heading towards GROW to debrief, reorganize gear, and prepare for our rafting adventure ahead!
Parents and family, read below for shout outs from your beloved children!
Hey parents, I climbed a large mountain I think I might live out here for a while see you in a couple years…-Vinnie
Hi parents, I miss you guys and my dogs. See you soon. -Sarah
Hey Mom! I love climbing mountains. Love you! -Hadley
Hey Lisa and Patrick it’s your daughter I’m having soooo much fun!!! <3 you!! -McKinnon
I had to wipe with a rock… Thx Mom -Jack
I am alive! -Will
Mom and dad. I miss y’all a lot. Miss everybody including the pets. Love y’all -Paul
Mom and Dad, I miss y’all a lot. Miss everybody including the pets. Love y’all -Thomas
Mom and dad I miss y’all so much. I am having fun see y’all soon -Mia
Mom and dad, I miss everyone and I can’t wait to see all of y’all. By the way I climbed a mountain! Love, Caroline