August 3, 2016
Our trip wrapped up with our last day together, banquet day! Banquet day is definitely one of the highlights of trip for me and I know it was for everyone else too. We started the day with a huge pancake and bacon breakfast served up by Camilla, Brock, and Cal. I think Camilla must’ve cooked 50 perfect pancakes that were each equally impressive. While cook crew was cranking out food, CJ lead a morning of swimming and conversations in the cold Arkansas river to get the morning started. Eagan and Chase had already “showered” in the river twice the day before, but were eager to never pass up another opportunity to to swim in the freezing cold river. With our tummies full, we got in our van for our drive to the tiny city of Divide, Colorado! Our first order of business in Divide was to hit up Goodwill to get ridiculous outfits for our banquet dinner later. Eagan found some sick Adidas high-top shoes that had everyone envious of her find. Big Will, Roeser, and Karet each found Hawaiian shirts and Karet even got a matching suit to go with it. Kal had his eye on a giant serene mountain painting, but decided it might be too big of a challenge to haul it on the airplane home.
Once to our last campsite, Mueller State Park, we had a special competition for lunch called Iron Chef! One team included all the girls plus Robert and Clark, while the other team included the rest of the boys. They were both required to make the judges (me, Lorna, and CJ) a three course meal choosing from all of our left over food. Clark’s team first served us a warm cous cous salad that had potential but the addition of warm ranch had us questioning their intentions. The boys’ team instantly knew they wanted to serve us mac and cheese topped with bread crumbs, but one chef dropped the pot so they were forced to serve us some cold and bland hash browns. Brock presented it to the judges and called it “Brockfest.” BUT the boys came in strong in the entree round with their “tailgate” style meal of bagels filled with melted cheese, bacon, and sausage. Big Will said he would even order their “tailgate” meal at a restaurant it was that good! Karela also led her team with a strong presentation of taquitos filled with veggies, cheese, and avocado. Taquitos being one of my favorite foods, I was so impressed. With both teams having similar desserts of a smores variation, Clark’s team edged out the team of all boys for the win.
After cleaning up the massive mess all the chefs made, we headed straight to some well-deserved showers. We changed into our banquet clothes and ate another massive meal at a local pizzeria. K.C. ate more pizza than I even knew was possible and he claimed he could still eat more as we were leaving. So much good pizza was consumed and topped off with a Wendy’s frosty. Robert was especially excited for a frosty considering he had never had one before which everyone thought was absurd! We had an insane dance party on the way back to the campground. So good that we decided to drive a few extra laps just so we could dance to more songs. The group was restless that night as we went to sleep knowing it was our last night together. An early morning awoke us with pop tarts and our last van ride. The airport was filled with reminiscing, tears, and an exchanging of information. Everyone promised they would stay in touch once we all get home from Colorado. Cj, Lorna, and I had the best two weeks with the best group of adventurers!
August 1, 2016
On our first day of our rock climbing adventure in Taylor Canyon, we ventured to a shady rock face with four climbs. KC told us from the beginning of the day that he was going to climb to the top of each one and he proved himself right!
Chase was worried at the beginning of the day about her climbing abilities, but with encouragement from the rest of the group, she made it to the top of a difficult climb! We were all so proud of her.
After our first day of rock climbing, we had a short town day in Crested Butte, where we visited our favorite ice cream shop – Third Bowl (we highly recommend for any visitors of the adorable town). We had only tried the ice cream during our visits, but this time Robert and Eagan decided to be more adventurous and they split a homemade donut. They said it was incredible.
We headed to the campsite that night and many games of ERS erupted. Brock ended up being the champion with an incredible come back against Will Karet!
That night KC and Kal asked us what we would eat for the rest of our lives if we could only eat one thing. Many of us couldn’t choose just one thing, so we delved into long descriptions of our three course meals.
The next day, we drove to a new sunny rock face with more difficult climbs than the day before. Clark and Eagan were two of the few who climbed to the top of the highest climb! As leader of the day, Karela started and ended the day with quotes about how to challenge yourself. It was perfect for our difficult day of rock climbing.
That night, we had an awesome jambalaya dinner before heading to bed. Kal is expanding his food groups by trying all sorts of new and interesting foods!
In the morning, Brock made us all some excellent eggs to fuel us for our day of rafting the Royal Gorge. At the very beginning of the rafting adventure, KC asked the guide if he could sit in the front of the raft and “ride the bull.” He proceeded to stay there as long as possible. We’ve realized that any time Camilla and Robert start laughing, it’s hard for either of them to stop! It’s quite contagious!
When we got to our lunch spot, Karet impressed us all by wolfing down 3 large sandwiches! He needed the food for the exciting afternoon ahead of us. We maneuvered our way through class III and IV rapids to make it through the gorge and off the river.
Once we got back to our campsite, Roeser and Big Will immediately began throwing the football and tossing the frisbee. They take any opportunity they can to show everyone their skills.
Tomorrow, we have our final banquet day and all the students are pumped to visit Goodwill to select some silly outfits for our banquet dinner.
We are all realizing how fast this trip has gone by and we are taking advantage of the small moments we have left!
July 28, 2016
And on the eve of our backpacking trip we discovered the students’ love for ramen noodles and showers. They got their first shower of the trip and some went a little overboard…taking a 21 minute shower. We all rested our tired bones and muscles under the stars; all the boys decided to sleep outside for the first time and the girls decided to sleep all in one tent.
Chase aka Steph Curry balled out on the cook crew in the morning, fueling the group with chocolate chip pancakes, while Carrot decided to eat 10 pieces of bacon. After breakfast we learned how to pack our backpacks and the type of clothes we would need to bring. It seemed to be a struggle for some to let go of their materialistic items but everyone wanted their pack to be lightweight.
Once we reached the trailhead, we ate lunch and made sure our packs fit perfectly. KC was lucky to have his own pack that perfectly fit his group gear and food. Kal really pushed through the tough first day by taking the leader of the day role seriously and blazing down the trail. Once at our first campsite after a couple grueling hours in the heat and mostly uphill switchback trails, we settled down and everyone set up an E.N.O. hammock. Brock took after the leaders once at the campsite and took a small cat nap. He awoke to dazzle us on cook crew, making a crowd favorite “Thanksgiving Dinner” alongside Clark and Pony Boy.
While we were all hanging out at the campsite we realized every time Camilla smiled Robert couldn’t help but laugh. Robert also started a new tradition, “the daily wrestling match between C.J. and himself.” The only way to end the daily fight is to have Robert tap out for the whole day. The three Wills, small, medium, and large all decided to make an E.N.O. Fort to sleep in. Kal wanted to join on the fun so he slept on the bottom bunk (the ground) in his sleeping bag. Camilla charmed us with a smile or giggle on her face that kept the whole group in tears from laughter. Eagan and Karela made it apparent that a specific rock in the river was only for deep conversations and only let the people who would uphold their standards onto the rock, which ended up being everyone in our group.
Clark made sure to bring his fly rod even though the weather called for storms on our whole trip. The funny thing is that his rod is in a metal case that is taller than him, once the rain and thunder started rolling in he would grab the rod out of his bag and give it to one of the leaders. We never let the weather get us in the dumps and we just let the afternoon storms roll over and we enjoyed the rest of the day. Brock also brought a special item on the trip, his frisbee, this was deemed a better item than the fly rod because it was being used constantly. As for the rod…it wasn’t used once.
On our last morning, we hiked a short way back to the van and unpacked our backpacks. Everyone changed out of their grimy clothes and slapped some deodorant on for our trip to Telluride. This session, Lorna, Lillian, and I decided to park the van at the top of the mountain and take the free gondola down into Telluride. It was such an awesome experience! Once in the small ski town, we all filled our bellies with delicious food and bought souvenirs. We jumped aboard the gondola and then drove to Elk Creek, our favorite campsite. Many of the kids decided to take a lake shower with us and they described it as “the best experience of their lives.” As we settled down for bed, our bellies full of Mac and cheese, we looked up into the sky to see one of the most incredible flashes of light that we later learned was a meteor shower. It started as a green explosion and then fleeted across the sky like a firework. We were all mesmerized by it and dubbed it a once in a lifetime sight.
Now we are headed to our rock climbing adventure!! All of the students are pumped to show us their mad skills on the crag.
July 25, 2016
We made it to the world’s largest sandbox! The Great Sand Dunes greeted us with a quick rain shower that cooled down the hot weather before we headed down to the base of the dunes to play in the stream. Camilla started doing cartwheels in the sand while KC decided he was going to go to way up on a high dune peak on the first day. The rest of the boys played Frisbee trying to see how far they could launch it up the dunes. The leaders bought a snowboard before the trip started and decided to convert it into a sandboard. Chase and the group sandboarded the entire afternoon trying to get the hang of it and eventually we got pretty good at it!
July 22, 2016
After a looooong wait at the airport, we hit the road to our very first campsite!
Because of the large amount of Wills on our trip, we quickly decided on nicknames for each one. Will Karet is now being referred to as Carrot. Will Thompson is now Big Will. Will Roeser is now Roeser!
On the drive to the campsite, we handed out party hats to celebrate Roeser’s birthday. We all decorated our hats with faces and Roeser decided to create a tower of stickers on top of his hat. The tippy top had an eyeball on it!
We finally made it to our campsite after eating a delicious pizza dinner and set up our tents, had our very first Moonup, and went to bed. We were all pretty tired from airport day.
In the morning, we had an early start to get to our overnight rafting trip. When we arrived at River Runners, we all suited up and split up into raft groups. Lillian’s raft dubbed their raft “The Black Pearl” and CJ and I dubbed ours “The Lewis and Clark Expedition.” Within five minutes on the river, Eagan took a swim when the Black Pearl hit a bump. Chase swiftly grabbed her by her PFD and whisked her back into the boat.
When we got to the campsite, everyone had a little relaxation time from our long day. In the evening, Roeser, Big Will, Kal, and KC led all the other students up to the top of a large rock to watch the sunset. Clark stayed at camp and decided to go fishing, which paid off because he caught a beautiful rainbow trout! Camilla, Robert and Big Will crushed cleaning crew! They scraped off all of the sour cream and black beans from our fajita dinner. That night, Karela and Chase led us in a great Moonup with a question about what we wanted to be when we grow up.
Robert entertained us with his animal calls. He knows a bear call, a raccoon call, and a bird call. They are all basically just high pitched screams. He even learned a new deer call while we were on the river! During one of the last rapids, Lillian took a swim, but she popped out of the water with a smile on her face!
We all made it safely off the river and we said our goodbyes to our fantastic raft guides. We headed back to Hecla Junction and set up our tents! CJ and all of the girls made friendship bracelets and joined the Kitty Cat Girls Club. Lillian made us a delicious curry dinner and all of the Will’s loved it more than anyone else! A spontaneous lightning storm erupted after we ate dinner, so we all resorted to the van. At first, we were all a little sad, but we lightened the mood by turning on the music and having a dance party in the van.
Brock and Camilla led Moonup tonight and we talked about what we would write an essay about if we could write an essay about anything. In the morning, Kal cooked us some sausages and Eagan fried up some eggs before our zip lining adventure! All of the students were looking forward to zip lining the most, so it was great to watch their reactions. MANY GoPro videos were taken so you’ll get to see their reactions as well!
We are now headed to the Sand Dunes!!