August 1, 2016
Our final of many adventures began early one morning at Five Points campsite, with our last beloved breakfast of oatmeal. After that it was back to River Runners for our stint further downstream the Arkansas River. We got experience our first sets of class four rapids that we tackled with Mallory, Nathalie, Walker and Michael at the front of each boat. We were lucky to get some great guides once again, who gave us plenty of time to play on the river in between rapids. Whether it was Henry or Liz jumping and flying from boat to boat, or Jaiden hanging his feet off the front of the boat in the middle of a wave, everyone had an unforgettable time.
If it wasn’t already memorable enough, we had buckets upon buckets of rain pouring down on the last mile of the river, ensuring that no one would end our last rafting section dry. We all laughed through pirate jokes, catchy raft guide one-liners and even the ‘monsoon’ that capped off a ton of fun rapids. We left the rafting section and spent the rest of the day getting our last hours with the other Colorado Trail group til the airport. Some classic football, frisbee, and cards made for a simple but memorable afternoon. We had an awesome Moonup where the leaders all shared how much this trip meant to them and how evident the group’s development had been. Moonup led us to bed and sleep eventually led to another wake up and quick pack up for cleanup day in Divide, CO. We started by sweeping the entire van for trash. There are always memorable discoveries with the deep depths of the Ford Transit, and this session’s included Sallie’s wallet, Mac’s favorite water bottle, and way too many pairless shoes to count.
After washing the U-Haul and van we made our way to Goodwill to pick out outfits for the pizza banquet, and the kids went nuts. Our headliners were Jack, sporting a new bucket hat and practice penny, Cooper, with his cowboy hat and seemingly brand new pair of Kobes, Jaz, skating through the restaurant with a fresh set of rollerblades. We showed up hot at the pizzeria where slices were flying everywhere across the table and a consistent level of laughter was heard throughout the entire evening. After a long day the group started back to camp for the final time, and we began a long but meaningful moonup that was a great cap to an inspiring trip. All of the leaders are so grateful that these kids made it out to Colorado this summer, and we are very fortunate that our paths’ crossed theirs. We would like to thank you one more time for trusting us with them, because one less would have created a completely different trip. Our summer is finished and the bags are packed as we approach Denver. The kids will be in the air soon and homeward bound, and please wish them our best when you read this.
Thank you again, it’s been grand,
Kacie, Blake, and Guthrie
July 30, 2016
Our boots are off and everyone is running free around the beautiful town of Telluride. After four days and three nights of packs on our backs we are on to the next part of our adventure. Our first day on Bear Creek Trail featured a steep start followed by a downhill cruise to our first campsite. Everyone crushed the challenge and we ended up spending a night with the other Colorado Trail group, where Henry ran wild with his friends from back home and introduced them to a bunch of new friends he had made this summer. To the surprise of our group, the leaders cracked open some fresh boxes and bags of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. Jaz used her imagination to cater to her gluten free leaders and offered them a sweet new treat that had a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two particularly mushy mellows; a brilliant new discovery for the gluten free community across the world. CTB ended the day with a great Moonup led by Walker and Mallory and we all got to know a little bit more about our personal relationships with inspiration and motivation and how they are both intricate to our experience on this trip.
The next morning we packed up camp with CTA and said some temporary good-byes, we will see them again on our final rafting section, before we forged ahead on our own adventure through the trail. We had an incredible day for hiking with blue bird skies and paths through plenty of meadows to enjoy them in. Everyone basked in hammocks once we got to camp and Sallie whipped us up a quinoa, potatoes, and onions dish. Everyone had an opportunity to chill at the campsite and share stories from past outdoor experience. We all slept easy as we were left content with the work we had put in and the incredible reward our section was turning into.
The next morning our camp woke up to smell of bacon and hash browns, and sleeping bags started to stir earlier than normal. As we became more comfortable with our abilities the hiking got easier, and we made it to our final campground in record time. The leaders organized a group scavenger hunt to continue to challenge everyone. Cooper wants everyone to be aware that he found the elusive four-leaf clover, a feat he is very proud of. At the end of the day however, Liz, Walker, Mallory, and Mac collected the most items and are currently awaiting the prize their leaders have in store. The scavenger hunt was followed by a long game of capture the flag in the meadow we were camped next to. As we were refereeing on the periphery, the leaders saw Jaiden streaking out of the woods towards his home side while holding the token that brought his team to victory. After a quick celebration, both teams headed back towards camp to eat and celebrate our leader Blake’s 22nd birthday with a no-bake Reece’s cake. We ate every bite. The cake turned into full bellies, which led us towards a Moonup, and eventually to our sleeping arrangements. Jack and Michael extended their streak of sleeping under the stars to 10 nights, and that site in the backcountry offered some of the bet views yet. The night closed with an extremely high-pitched scream that came from Nathalie when she mistook her leader two feet ahead of her for a bear. After 40 something days out here we weren’t surprised by the mistake. The group has come such a long way, and the bonds that they have formed are some of the strongest I have witnessed in a long time. As we head towards our final rafting section and eventually Denver we are proud of the extremely impressive that has formed thus far, and look forward to the final chapter of our trip and all that special memories that emerge from it. We will back in touch soon, and though we are having a blast, everyone wants their loved ones to know that they cannot wait to share the memories made.
-Kacie, Blake, and Guthrie
July 25, 2016
The van is on and rolling again along good old Highway 50. We have just completed our sand dune hike and though spirits are high, heads are tired and started to drift. Two days ago we left our rafting campground and made our way towards Captain Zipline, the longest standing zip line course in Colorado. Nathalie once again conquered her fear of heights and braved the whole course, even helping her leader Blake out along the way. Jack “dabbed” his way through every line, and Jaiden collected about a dozen high-fives from zippers coming off the final line. The lines made for some great photo ops and about half of our group was fitted with GoPros collecting footage at every line.
After some chips and sandwiches for lunch we set out on the road towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Standing as the largest sand dunes in North America, we saw the work that had been cut out for us as we drove into the park, but rather than a sense of anxiety, the car was filled with excitement for the day to come. With still a good chunk of the day to kill we left it up to Liz and Sallie to coordinate games at the campsite, and it turned into a riveting afternoon of cards and 20 questions. As the days’ LODs, Mac and Mallory helped cook an early dinner and gathered the group for an early Moonup. The group cooperated well with the leaders, and made their way towards the tents after Moonup, at a cool 7PM. It was very necessary because we were up with broken down tents at 3AM. Our LODs Jaz and Henry led the charge up the first dunes, splitting into two groups to tackle the hills in waves. In a close final stretch Walker was the first up High Dune, which stands at 734 feet tall. We all were exhausted by the time we reached the top, but after we took in the view Cooper led the crew that started aimlessly running down and up the sand dunes. When it was time to leave Michael got too excited for the Cinnamon Toast Crunch promise that awaited everyone in the parking lot and started dropping jackets and shoes before being the first back.
The trip ended with even more photographs and too many memories to count. Our group has unified immensely in two days’ time, and the leaders are grateful that such an incredible group of kids are closer than ever. We will be spending the remainder of our day prepping for our section on the Bear Creek Trail, but as of now some wake-up yawns are starting to come from the back of the van.
We will be back in touch after backpacking and our town day in Telluride!
Warm wishes from out West,
-Kacie, Blake, and Guthrie
July 25, 2016
The rafts have been deflated and we are back at camp! We were blessed with plenty of shade on an otherwise super hot day on the river. Corey and Andy were our guides down the rapids and led us through some hard-hitting waves that everyone had a blast on. Nathalie and Jaiden were guiding the rafts on our calm points of the river, and after a bunch of spinning and bumping they had everyone cruising. Jaz was always focused on starting raft wars, splashing and shooting her water gun every opportunity she had. The group eventually retaliated and by the time we had pulled into camp we were had all drenched ourselves. We played games taught by the guides that included a modified version of tug-a-war. Each player stands at one end of the raft and tries to pull the other player off by tugging on the rope and gaining slack at the same time. Everyone fought valiantly but it was Michael who pulled off the upset of the day when he pulled the rope out of the raft guide Corey’s hands. After the game we started moving towards dinner, and the guides and leaders introduced several other riddles, which Sallie got very into, and refused to put her head on the pillow til she had solved them all. After dinner, Mac, Henry, Walker, and Jack made a climb to the top of a rock hill overlooking the Rockies to watch the sunset, and yelled down to everyone else to join them. It was an excellent way to close our night. The next day featured even more of the same high waves, and Cooper was more than prepared for the event with his GoPro modifications that captured every one of them. Always repping their city, Liz and Mallory yelled “Enter the Swarm” before cruising through the final rapid, paying homage to the Charlotte Hornets and their postseason motto. Everyone got wet and everyone had a blast on the Arkansas River, and we are extremely grateful for the guides thus far that have shown us some beautiful regions of Colorado. Jack, Liz, Cooper, Mallory, Jaiden, Sallie, Michael, Nathalie, Walker, Jaz, Henry, and Mac all want their parents to know that they miss them but are very grateful for sending them on this great trip because they are having a blast. Our group is making our way toward zip lines and sand dunes, and will be back in touch after our next two sections are completed.
-Kacie, Blake, and Guthrie
July 22, 2016
We have arrived in beautiful Colorado!
The weather thus far has been gorgeous and we are excited for the many picturesque days to come. Our adventure officially began in the mid-afternoon of the 19th when we loaded up the luggage in the van and made our way towards our first campsite located right on a dammed off lake with a great view of the Rockies. We started off the next day with our first of many activities: rock climbing! We love watching the kids test their limits and perform so strongly in individual activities. Sallie and Nathalie started among our most timid climbers on the ropes, but by the end of the day they had drastically improved and were scaling some pretty impressive crags. At the end of the day we went into the town of Crested Butte for a special ice cream afternoon while hangin’ out in the town. We stopped by Third Bowl, a shop known for some very unique flavors and homemade waffle cones, and met up with some Moondance alums that shared stories from Moondace’s past and made our group even more excited for all the fun times to come.
We made our way back to Lakeview Campgrounds and had plenty of new games to share. We played “500” with the frisbee where Jack was featured jumping and diving all over the hill and camping area trying to win the games, which he did several times. Mallory showed both the boys and girls how to successfully win a game of “Mafia,” a game of wit and strategy, and set a trend of playing until it was plenty of dark out. During the second half of the festivities, Jaiden, Jaz, and Cooper made their way down to the kitchen area to start our first of meal, consisting of veggies and pulled. The trio brought a plethora of experience to the dinner table, and whipped up a fantastic meal of pulled pork sandwiches. We left dinner to head down to the lake for a Moonup and some time to chill by the lake. Mafia was played for a while after our Moonup, but everyone had their heads down at a pretty reasonable hour.
The leaders woke up early the next morning to decorate camp and throw some fresh pancake mix on the skillet for Michael’s birthday! Everyone was extremely energetic about the special twist their trip had taken, and thanked Michael and their leaders for a morning filled with laughs and syrup. We made our way towards the second day of rock climbing to try out some trickier rock-faces. Everyone loved the challenges. Liz, Henry, and Mac were our bravest climbers of the day, being the only Moondancers to scale the long wall, about three times longer and more difficult than any other rope-line the guides offer. Walker won the prize for most climbs in one day, completing eleven. He was very pleased to know the record carried through all of our previous trips, and will stay on top for at least another year. After a long day of climbing we tacked on another celebration by stopping for some good subs and burgers in town, keeping Michael smiling and laughing the whole way through. It has been a wild ride thus far and we are extremely excited to hit the water for a couple of days. The group will be back in touch with you all after rafting, and we look forward to sharing a whole load of new stories.
-Kacie, Blake, and Guthrie