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Northern Lights : 1B • June 14-July 4, 2016

Adventures in the Alaskan Wilderness

July 5, 2016

You should be more than proud of your twelve Alaskan backpackers who have confidently and smoothly finished the hiking section of our trip, a very noteworthy accomplishment! Our eight days have been filled with many hills, valleys, peaks, rivers, scree fields, new animal friends, and various types of terrain and weather. We were all (and still are) awestruck by the immensity of the mountains surrounding us as well as humbled by the rawness of the nature we encountered, but it didn’t come without its challenges. Though faced with long mileage and the infamous inconsistent Alaskan weather, our group has learned the impact that a little positive thinking and perseverance can make. We all grew significantly, individually and as a team as we made our way through the long and eventful days in wilderness of Talkeetna mountain range. As Jacob has recently mentioned, we have started our journey as strangers and truly become family. We have all agreed that our teamwork and reliance on one another through the various highs and lows has given us a unique and unbreakable bond. We can now each give gratitude for the more trying conditions of the trail, making the sunny days that much better, and leaving us with sweet memories.

We kicked off the first day of our backpacking section with some heavy packs and eager feet. Even with all the weight on our backs, we maintained a pretty quick pace as we made our way into the mountains. To keep us entertained on our walk, Ben introduced us to a new game called “Contact”. This and “20 Questions” kept our group going on trail for the next few days. We rolled up to camp just before the rain so the group “tarp crew” Austin, Andrew, Annie, and Hoke set up an extravagant tarp shelter to block the wind and escape the rain, a tarp mahal of sorts to enjoy our dinner. Little did we know that the loops and ties of the shelters resting on trekking poles would become a simple and necessary routine for the days ahead! The group anxiously awaited our first official backcountry meal, stir fry. Instead of fretting over some spilt rice, lil’ Ky quickly improvised and decided to add some ramen noodles to the stir fry making an even more hearty dish to substitute for the lost rice. Everyone ended up loving it. Compliments to Chef Kylie!

Only one word can describe our adventures of day 2: Boggin’. Today’s trails (and our boots) were filled with mud. Mac geared-up the group and got everyone excited for each upcoming mud patch to see who could sink deeper than the last person. Mac got the boggin’ award for the day but Kathyrne got an honorable mention for her epic fall into a mud pit. She embraced the dirt and mud as she does with all things, laughter and positivity. Mac became even more hyped and proud of the group as each person began to accept the inevitable mess. He, Ian, Conrad, and Jacob applauded the largest and deepest mud trails, keeping up group moral, and causing us all to enjoy a commonly avoided element. After a beautiful lunch overlooking Hicks Lake we spotted a baby moose and mama from a far! Everyone was so excited to see a moose and Anna announced that her goal for the trip had been fulfilled and she could go home happy. (It wasn’t even our only moose sighting of the day!) We continued on for a while to our campsite at an old hunting camp where we got to set up an amazing kitchen and eating area overlooking Caribou Creek. Andrew spotted a black bear in the distance up the creek while exploring, which he was of course elated about. After our second day of backpacking our appetites were booming and the group got to enjoy a hearty pasta meal with a beautiful view. After the first round of pasta, most of us were still hungry so Hoke went back to the stoves to make more. It was a chilly night on the river and a long day of hiking but Anna volunteered to get up from dinner and head up the mission to cook and serve more spaghetti and hot drinks to the group.

We started off our third day following our trusty ATV trail with Ian and Anna as our LODs. Ian headed up the front of the pack and did a great job setting a good pace throughout the hike, frequently checking in with the group to make sure everyone was doing alright. We followed our trail until it unexpectedly ended in the overflowing Caribou Creek. Ian and Anna took to the maps to try and figure out what to do next and settled on a scouting group that would look for a turn we might have missed in our trail. Hoke, Andrew, Conrad, and Ian traveled back and searched for our trail from a vantage point above the creek. After returning from their tiresome and selfless venture, they explained to the group that the river was too high to continue the trail and that we needed to make a new path. We decided to bushwhack our way up a creek and over a large hill, successfully ending where we needed to be! After the detour hike, we were rewarded with an incredible view of our surroundings up above the creek next to an abandoned tractor, a look-out point to celebrate the outcome after a long afternoon. This situation was one example of many when the group responded to unexpected or uncertain situations with incredible positivity and flexibility. This leadership trait known as tolerance for adversity became widely practiced and maintained throughout our trip. Continuing our hike, we made our way down to the bed of Chitna Creek and executed our first of many river crossings. The group learned to cross the water safely by lining up tallest to shortest in order to break the water for those in the back. In groups of 3 or 4, we conquered the crossing and got our boots nice and wet. Afterwards, we hiked the final leg of the day up above Caribou Creek, keeping our minds off of our wet feet by playing games and singing. Our long day ended at a pretty awesome campsite right by the creek. Next to our tents was an army truck that was over 50 years old. Even though we were tired and wet, cook crew whipped up a delicious meal of shepherd’s pie with mashed potatoes, lentils, and sausage. With full stomachs, the group fell asleep to the soothing sound of our trusted and followed friend, Caribou Creek.

On day four we woke up to a drizzle on our tents but that didn’t phase us as we headed off trail into the expansive Alaskan tundra. Jacob had developed some pretty mean blisters but never lost the pep in his step or mentioned a complaint. Quite the trooper, he was always present and grateful for the beauty around us. He was appropriately and frequently acknowledged for his strength and impressive ability to continue forward with positivity for the backpacking experience. Austin recognized how difficult backpacking must be for Jacob and showed some great expedition behavior by offering to carry Jacob’s portion of their shared tent in addition to his already hefty load. This group of students really knows how to provide support and look out for each other. On trail, Andrew, Austin and Ben took it upon themselves to fend off any wildlife by making as much noise as possible. They led sing-alongs made up their own song with Alaskan animal themed lyrics, and Ben even gave the group a creative history lesson about native Alaskan brothers, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and how they paved the new frontier one cherry tree at a time. Even with the boys’ enthusiasm, the rain and cold and ups and downs had us moving very slowly. We still had a large river crossing that would take time and preparation to scout the safest path. The leaders gave the group the option to save the last few miles for the next day and settle-in camp a little earlier than usual. The group had a half-time locker room experience that spurred on energy and enthusiasm to push on and not settle before we laid eyes on the tundra. The decision to continue was unanimous; we would cross the water and continue the ascent to the much anticipated terrain. The group took off stronger than ever, and thanks to the infinite Alaskan sun, we sang throughout the bright evening, all the way up a long steep climb. This decision as a group was a huge display of the student’s growth as individual leaders and a team. It was a turning point in our trip that translated to the rest of our time in the mountains. They learned to persevere, communicate as a team, build each other up, and the ability to accomplish anything they set out to do! From that point on the students hiked with a sense of accomplishment and a deeper confidence in their ability to press on, even when uncomfortable or tired. We climbed up for the last quarter of a mile and when we breached the top of the hill everyone stopped and cheered in awe. When we settled at a breath-taking campsite it was beyond worth the final push. We had officially reached the remote tundra and could turn around and see our journey of the previous three days.

On day five, we woke up to some cheesy hash browns and summer sausage to start off our shortest day of hiking. As leaders of the day, Conrad and Mac decided that it would be a good opportunity to take a “monk walk”, or reflection walk, through the open tundra. Conrad took charge and staggered the group so that each student was walking a few hundred feet away one another in order for them to reflect on the surrounding beauty and their experiences on the trip so far. It was a peaceful hour for everyone. When the monk walk came to an end the group sat down for lunch. Lilly was generously giving away as many craisins as possible, a daily routine. Anna held a trivia competition for the group to prove their worthiness of the last few coveted fruit strips. Kathryne assisted in the popular game and as usual the girls asked an impressive set of questions about random facts and American history. When we got to camp early, everyone was excited to have a low key afternoon. We had earned it! The rain started just in time to welcome us to our new campsite so the tarp crew didn’t waste a minute! Ian, Ben, and Andrew started setting up a shelter and Lilly crawled out of her warm sleeping bag in her dry tent to come help! Another epic shelter to enjoy hot drinks, conversation, and snacks under. The rain doesn’t phase this group!

Day six was a big day for the whole backpacking section. Not only was it the day of crossing over “the pass”, it was more importantly Ian’s 17th birthday! The students had so much fun planning a special morning for Ian. Andrew, Katie, Kathryne, Anna, and Austin all woke up an hour early and made funfetti pancakes for everyone! Austin was on balloon duty and he blew up enough balloons to partially fill Ian’s tent and under the tent fly. Kathryne flipped two perfect cakes for Ian and we layered them with icing, sprinkles, and candles on top. When the prep was finished, we quietly woke up the rest of crew and stood outside Ian’s tent to sing him awake. The morning was cold, rainy, and too cloudy to attempt our ascent of the pass. We enjoyed the next few hours huddled up under the tarp, making another round of pancakes and hot drinks and presented Ian his birthday gifts, a local Alaskan Aces Hockey Team t-shirt, and camo Alaskan hat. Austin and Kathryne were the Leaders of the Day, so when the weather started to change, we gave them the reins to execute a plan for getting over the pass. The weather was still questionable but Austin and Kathryne informed everyone to pack up and get ready to head out. Austin fine tuned his navigation skills to shoot a bearing to where we wanted to go, and we were off in no time. We were leaving the much loved tundra, however there was so much anticipation for the trail on the other side of the pass. After a few hours we made our final ascent up to the correct ridge. The on and off drizzling was gone and the clouds were finally off in the distance. This, along with the perfect late afternoon lighting made for a picture perfect scene. The tundra was behind us and rolling green hills with huge rock-faced mountains and streams were below. We celebrated, snacked, and took lots of pictures, as we were thrilled with the unexpected clear views!  We made our way down a bowl of mud, rock, and snow, onto the rolling hills just in time to see a group of caribou running up ahead. We sought out for a great campsite, one that would end up being a favorite among the group. While hiking we came across a large cereal box wrapped in duck tape. On it was a note that said “Happy Birthday Ian!”. The students kicked and threw the piñata and candy burst out everywhere. We all packed pockets full of candy, thanks to Ian and his day, and spotted a great site about 100 yards ahead to sit and enjoy the sugar. The day was certainly a birthday celebration for the books! Katie, Andrew, and Anna made some amazing macaroni and cheese, to enjoy while the sun set just below the mountains.

Even though the pass day was tough, we woke up on day seven to start our hardest day yet, the day of the scree field. After leaving camp early, we began our descent to the Chickaloon River following drainage with some pretty steep sides. Our group really proved their technical backpacking skills when we reached the crux of our trip. The scree field wasn’t that long distance-wise but it was incredibly challenging due to its height, angle, and looseness of the ground. Ben and Kylie, the LODs for the day, held the groups spirits super high by being encouraging and helpful to their fellow Moondancers. A few members of the group, like Kathryne and Lilly, conquered their fears of heights as we walked through the scree and were immensely helped by their friends, Austin and Katie who gave them a route and encouragement to continue walking. Once down from the field, we bushwhacked our last downhill to the Chickaloon after a much needed break for our knees. On the way down, we saw a porcupine that scurried up a tree when it saw us, adding to the impressive list of wildlife we saw this trip! Unfortunately, the weather was not really in our favor and it rained pretty hard as we searched for our landing strip. Wet and cold, we decided to cut our search short and set up camp along the river. Cook crew was given the option to just boil up some water and have everyone eat a quick meal of ramen before bed. However, Mac was determined to whip up a dinner that was a fitting celebration of what we had just accomplished. He headed up a delicious Thanksgiving dinner of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. The group got some much deserved shut-eye! We were almost finished with our hike!

Due to an incredibly tough day before, our group got some much needed sleep and rolled out of our tents later than usual to take a day of rest. The kids woke up to a tasty brunch of cheesy hashbrowns with summer sausage, kicking off the day right. Afterwards, Hoke took volunteers to scout out the landing strip for rafting and searched with Ben, Jacob, and Mac upriver. Again, it began to pour down rain as the scouting group made their search. Due to a raging Chickaloon that didn’t allow for them to walk in the riverbed, the scouters bushwhacked through some pretty dense vegetation for almost two miles. After a relaxing rest day, Austin, Ian, Kathryne, and Ben did what we call “Iron Chef”. They looked at the ingredients we had left, and took their creativity to the stoves. They made a delicious meal of Thai noodles with a peanut sauce and summer sausage. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious, and to top it off, we made some gooey brownies for dessert! Ready to find that landing strip and get our rafting section started, we laid our heads down and brought our backpacking section to a close.

Enjoying the trip is an understatement, as each person has grown in their presence among the group and the students have truly appreciated one another’s unique gifts. We are thankful to have been through the rain and cold, sunny, warm, long, or short backpacking days in order to have made memories we will certainly never forget. This strong, motivated, and thoughtful group of teenagers has learned that hiking in Alaska is no easy feat, not to mention our excessive exposure to rain, low temperatures, and high water levels during crossings. An overwhelming theme of our trip has been the leadership skill “tolerance for adversity”. We could not ask for a better backpacking section as we know the circumstances have created one big memory that we will all cherish. We are looking forward to using our arms for a change, not to mention the gourmet Nova food!
We are genuinely thankful we to have spent time with these students who have taught us so much!

Thank you again for sending your kids on the Northern Lights trip this summer!


Kylie, Annie, & Hoke

Climb On, Glacier, Climb On!

June 23, 2016

Greetings from Alaska!

It’s been a beautiful past few days tucked in the mountains next to Hick’s Creek, here at the Nova base camp! We have spent our days climbing various ice routes, and our late afternoon and evenings reading books, drinking tea, journaling, fishing, and making gourmet meals. With the intensely fun glacier climbing, and some rest and relaxation around camp, these past few days were just what we needed between kayaking and the infamous Northern Lights backpacking trip!

On the road from Whittier to our camp at Nova, we surprised the crew and stopped for our group meal out at Qdoba. Upon walking in the students were so pleased to find the NBA final game highlights on the TV. It was the one thing they had been curious about in the world outside of our group, and they finally had their answer, Cleveland had won. Conrad and Ian had a moment of disappointed silence at the Warriors’ loss, but their burritos, chips, and queso helped them bounce back. On the bus ride, among the games and songs we rode along next to the Chickaloon River with the Talkeetna Mountain Range just behind. The whole bus was really excited about what is to come for the remainder of our trip.

On our first morning of climbing, we each got fitted for helmets, boots, crampons, and harnesses, and hit the road for ice climbing. The students knew that we would be climbing, however the scene that we pulled up to was more special than any of us imagined. We filed out of the van and over looked a field of jagged ice figures, surrounded by huge snowcapped mountains in the distance. We began the hike down to Matanuska glacier, the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. Austin gratefully admired the surroundings, and just like the glaciers we viewed in the Sound, he reminded us again of how fortunate we are to see something that is vastly decreasing in size. As leaders, we loved watching all of the students take in the incredible sites, and Anna was always the first to point out a new peak to the group. We strapped on our crampons, and hiked further into the glacier. Three routes were set up, and after brief instructions, the guides handed the ice tools over to Austin and Andrew. Everybody gave it their all as they ascended the ice and finished the routes, ending with an amazing view of our surroundings. Lil’ Kylie, Anna and Ian impressed the group by pushing themselves to try each climb and always staying positive no matter the outcome. Kathryne’s climbing speed was applauded by the entire group and guides as she went up and down faster than any of us. Katie took initiative by being the first to belay her fellow Moondancers and kept everyone safe on the ice. She was excited relearn how to belay and quickly began asking for volunteers to climb the route that she took charge of. Conrad has become known as the group “President”, always wearing his shades (even at midnight), his presence among the group has been silly yet cool and much enjoyed by his peers. He showed off his dance skills by doing the nae nae all over the glacier in every picture.

After seeing a group of orange cloaked monks walking majestically across the glacier, our guides informed us that there is a monastery just on the other side of the glacier. Everyone was so intrigued and thought it was the most beautiful place for a monastery but we were soon let down. Kathryne and lil Kylie approached the monks asking them about their lifestyle on the glacier only to be informed that they were in fact from Thailand, not Alaska. Our guides started chuckling that we had believed them for so long. Somehow we managed to fall for their tricks the next day when they told us it was one of the guides birthday. We sang him happy birthday and were all so excited to be a part of it all day only to find out that yet again, we were fooled. Nova guides loved to keep it interesting and it sure was fun!

On day two of climbing, the guides led us to more advance climbing routes, and commented on how well we did the previous day. Andrew was first to climb on our second day and he first attempted a very advance over hang route. After multiple attempts, Andrew was persistent and positive but decided to take a break. Right after, our guide took a try at it and was only successful up to the same point as Andrew! The students found this challenge intriguing, and Ben, Lilly, Austin, Lil’ Kylie and Jacob all had a blast trying to successfully climb up and over the hanging ice. Everyone got to about the same point, but we were so proud of their motivation to play on the ice and have fun regardless of the outcome.

Mac and Ben, the Leaders of the Day, organized and set up PBJs for everyone and did a great job taking initiative, offering help to everyone, and reminding us to reapply sunscreen. After lunch, we took a hike to the top of the glacier. The weather was sunny and clear, and we had a 360 degree view of Alaskan peaks all around us! We preceded to a huge crevasse, and our guides informed us that we would be walking down, and then climbing out!

The climbing section of our trip was a wonderful opportunity for our group to bond, and grow in their friendships with one another. The group has meshed so well and the trip thus far has run so smoothly thanks to the students. We couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. We were so pleased that each of the students climbed multiple times, and were consistent, positive and supportive of one another.

After a bit of a sleep in, we woke up to a chocolate chip pancake spread cooked by Ian, Austin, Lilly, and Kathryne. Known as Ian’s House of Pancakes, the cakes were perfect shape and color, which is not an easy cooking task on backcountry Wisperlight stoves. To top off the breakfast, Austin made Annie her requested Mickey Mouse Pancake!

After we were full and happy, we spent the morning getting prepared for what we have all been anxiously awaiting, our backpacking trip! We organized food rations, and the students learned various wildlife protocol, foot care, what to pack, and how to pack a pack.  Mac, Ian, and Ben went for one more cast in Hick’s Creek before making it back for a hefty dinner of Southwest macaroni and cheese.

After getting prepared and learning the route, everyone is more excited than ever to get into the backcountry and start exploring a wilder side of Alaska! We are hitting the trail and so excited for 8 days in the mountains!

Kylie, Hoke, and Annie

WOW: The Wonders of Alaska

June 21, 2016

Hello from your Northern Lights loved ones!

The first section of our trip was epic and eventful to say the least. Our long, well-lit Alaskan days have been packed with games, cooking and eating lots of food, spotting wildlife, sunshine, storms, and lots of growth and jokes.

After everyone arrived at the airport, we shared a pizza together to head to our campsite near downtown Anchorage. We enjoyed our first moon-up, the students in awe of the day-time appearance of 11:00 p.m., and Ian spurring on our first group laugh by stating that the reason he came on this trip is because he is afraid of the dark! Everyone started to open up, and very quickly we knew that we would have a lot of reasons to laugh over the next 21 days. We hit the hay, excited for our transfer to the harbor town from which we would launch into our first activity, sea kayaking in the Prince William Sound.


Some of the students would like to share a written a day-by-day update of our Alaskan kayak adventure!

Day 1 of Kayaking:

We arrived to Whittier through a tunnel after meeting the lovely, Dot, our bus driver. She kicked off our learning by giving us her life story and knowledge of 20 years in Alaska. Before heading to Whittier to start our kayak trip, Dot took us on a detour to a lookout over a lake. It was a beautiful, perfectly clear, sunny day in Anchorage, so we couldn’t miss out on the views that people do not often see. To the Northeast was a full view of Anchorage, West of that was the Talkeetna range, and beyond that sat the tallest mountain in North America, Denali. Whittier is a lovely little town with about 190 year-round citizens who all live in one building. The building consists of various shops, the dentist, hair salon, doctor, and an underground tunnel leading to the nearby school. We spent a day there preparing for the upcoming kayak adventure and adjusting to life in Alaska. We learned how to purify water by playing a game (Jacob won!), but most importantly learned how to play big booty and how to “veggie-off” when two people win a game.  After some ice cream and rock skipping on the beach, we met our guide, William. He briefed us on the sea kayak adventure that would soon ensue, but nothing could prepare us for the mad good times coming. Ian and Kathryne, our leaders of the day, led us in Moonup that night that began to bring us together as a family.


Day 2:

Our first day on the water! Our morning entertainment was a Leave No Trace skit performed by Andrew, Austin, Ben, Jacob, and I. After we performed examples of the 7 principles and answered all questions, we walked to town. Andrew and I were leaders of the day, and quite good at it I must say. We got the group up and moving, and woke up to blue skies, the warmest day in Whitter, AK history (fact) at 85 degrees, and snowcapped mountains with glaciers in the distance. We packed all of our gear in dry bags, packed the kayaks, and hit the water. Everyone was super optimistic and looking forward for what was to come. Within one hour we stumbled upon a bald eagle sitting near the tide, and as two more swooped in, we slowed our paddling just in time to witness a three bald eagle brawl over a large salmon. Later in the day we heard loud yelping and groaning and got a closer look of the source of the bizarre sound coming from a colony of sea lions. We got to watch them play “King of the Island” as they pushed each other off the floating wooden island. We later got settled in at a very cool camp sight and had some tasty chicken stir fry cooked by Katie, Andrew, and Anna.

-Lil’ Kylie M.


Day 3:

We awoke at 7 am and got a warm start with our bowls of oatmeal. We then packed our kayaks with our gear and dry bags, preparing for our long voyage to Blackstone Bay. Leaders of the day Austin and Lilly led the group through some rough seas until we got to lunch. They were optimistic and William the guide let them make the group decisions for the day. We then pulled our boats ashore for a classic lunch of PB&J’s. Once we were finished, we replenished our water supply and headed back out. Soon after we get back out on the water, we were suddenly awestruck by the sight of a humpback whale surfacing about 100 yards from us! We watched the blow water for about 15 minutes before continuing on. The rest of the paddle we enjoyed views of wild Alaska and rock cliffs all along the shore. We did a silent paddle which really nice to take in the views. Expecting an hour long kayak to our next campsite, we were sorely mistaken as it took us about 3 hours. We set up camp for the next two days and ate a hearty dinner of chili our favorite meal so far! Conrad and Mac together made some mad chili, served dinner, and helped clean and settle in to our beach campsite. After enjoying moon-up, we all went to bed eager to get up to discover the glaciers awaiting us.

-Kathryne and Austin


Day 4

Tired from the 12 mile paddle the day before, we suited up and carried and loaded the boats slowly, and took off. The day was not as sunny as the previous day and started to drizzle a bit, so the team was not as motivated. Our spirits were lifted when we began paddling in ice water and saw a huge glacier ahead. We sat together in our yaks and watched in awe as pieces of the glacier started crumbling into the water. After observing the glacier calving for a while, we headed off to Lawrence Glacier to do some exploring. We had some trouble figuring out a path up to the glacier due to the overflowing river. The LODs, Anna and Conrad pulled the group together to communicate about going back to camp, or padding to the other side of the river to access the trail.  We decided to go, despite the rain and nevertheless, we made our way up to touch our first glacier. Kathryne, Anna, Katie, Lilly, and Lil Kylie found a tiny snow hill to slide down and film while the boys explored. Next, we made the short trip back to camp as the rain started to pick up. Right after arriving to camp, we quickly loaded up the boats and supplies and began cooking dinner before the storm hit us hard. Everyone had been looking forward to a gourmet grilled cheese and hot tomato soup to warm our bodies. The winds started to pick up heavily and the rain soon arrived which threw a wrench into our dinner plans. Amidst the chaos, the cook crew forgot to add water and milk to the tomato soup and struggled with cooking in the rough weather. The grilled cheese and ketchup was good and after having hot tea, we all went to bed hoping for better weather tomorrow.

– Kathryne, Austin, and Ben

Day 5

The word gnarly does not even describe the weather and activities we woke up to this morning. We woke up to a nice comfy mid 40 degree wind-chill as well as rain coming down sideways. We all woke up and began to prepare a breakfast consisting of hash browns and sausage. The weather made it hard to make breakfast and the hash browns somehow ended up with small black rocks that looked like cracked pepper. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful crunch while eating the amazing cheesy hash browns. After breakfast, we loaded the boats and cleaned up camp as if we were leaving but due to the crazy seas and wind we got stuck on the island and could not paddle out. Half of our group was struggling with the cold and the other half was working frantically to keep them warm and tie all of our stuff down so that it wouldn’t blow away in the wind. After setting up some hospitality areas and some hangout story time areas we all braced in for a couple of hours and waited for the charter boat to come pick us up. Made some amazing memories and we saw everyone at their low points which really helped us trust each other and rely on each other. It has been a pretty sick first couple days and I can say on behalf of all of us that we are one big family and this trip will be life changing. —–


The last five days have seemed like weeks as we have seen and done so much! All of the students have not only learned necessary backcountry skills and procedures, they have stepped in and taken charge beyond our expectations. We are more than impressed with the level of leadership each of the students has displayed after just 5 days of kayaking. The kayaking trip had warm and relaxing days, fortunate wildlife sightings, and amazing glaciers to paddle to, while ending with a storm experience that we will all remember for some time. The conditions of the last day’s weather caused each of your loved ones to voluntarily and happily step-up and help their peers in a way that I can confidently say they have never done before. I could name a helpful act of selflessness for each and every one of the students that morning. As the temp dropped and wind was at 35 mph, with rain spraying sideways we knew that we had to work together to stay warm and choose how we wanted to respond to the day. Without even a prompt, the kids had a blast, literally dancing and singing, making multiple go pro videos, running around the beach to secure our gear, lifting and moving 7 boats down the beach, and boiling water for their friends. Jacob later stated his high for the day was when the wind and rain hit a peak, our tarps were whipping around and Mac looked at him and they just kept laughing at the ridiculous conditions.  I cannot think of a better a display of teamwork and expedition behavior as all of the students chose to respond with pure joy and positivity. Needless to say, the weather system in the Prince William Sound added such a sweet element of trust and openness to our trip that might not have happened had the weather been sunny and calm. After such an exhilarating experience we were all grateful for the last day on the sound, and ready for dry clothes and a change of scenery.

Thank you for sharing your 12 kids with us to teach and learn from, laugh with, and share such a memorable time in the last frontier. We are all having a blast!

Much love,

Kylie, Hoke, and Annie


Kathryne-Hey fam! How’s life without me? I’m guessing pretty boring. I like to keep y’all on your toes. Anyway, I’m having an awesome time in Alaska! I will have tons of pictures to show y’all and many stories to tell. Also, happy late Father’s Day! Love you so much dad! Can’t wait to see all of y’all at the beach in just a couple of weeks! 🙂

BEN- hey dad this is ben, your oldest son, just in Alaska right now having a blast. I’ve been thinking about you and hope you know I miss you and love you to space and back. Once I’m home I have so many things to read for you and about you. Jude and I will have our own special Father’s Day with you and it will be just our’s. Hey mom, Ben here again, I love you so much. See you soon (dancing lady emoji). Love you Jude, can’t wait to see you and talk about our trips.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Love, Jacob

Anna- hey family! I miss and love all of you! I’m having the best time in Alaska, this place is amazing! Thanks for sending me, see you soon!

Mac-Hi mom and dad happy Father’s Day. I miss y’all but I’m having a great time in Alaska, thank you guys for sending me on it I’m really thankful. We just finished the kayaking portion and it was really fun. Love y’all

Ian-Having a great time in Alaska mom and dad. This trip is so much better than the OB trip and I’m so thankful that you guys let me go.

Happy Father’s Day dad and I hope nick is having a great time in DC. I miss you all and I’ll see you really soon.

Austin-Hey Mom and Beverly, I’m having a fantastic time out here!! What an amazing place. Hope all is going well in The Gump. Love and miss y’all. Hope B has a great time at camp. See y’all soon!

Conrad-Hey Mom, Papa and Vin, hope you’re having a great time at home. Idk if Vin has left yet. I’m having a sweet time out here and I’ll be looking forward to seeing you soon.

Lil’ Kylie M.- hey ma, pa and ryannnn I miss u guys a ton and I am having a blast!!! Happy Father’s Day dad I hope you had an amazing day and I wish I could of celebrated with you!!! Kayaking was challenging but definitely worth it. Can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get home!! Love lil ky (your fav daughter) <3

Andrew- hey fam. Miss y’all loads. Been having a crazy time learning a lot and embracing the coldness and wetness. Have been seeing some sick stuff and can’t wait for our mornin boat ride mom. And pops. Alright well peace out I love y’all. Happy fathers days dad. Wish I could be with you but I’m sure it was a good one.


Lilly-Hi Mom and Dad!! Miss y’all so much! I’ve been having so much fun! We saw some Whales and Sea Lions, it was so cool! Happy Father’s Day dad, I hope you’re having a great day! Tell Valdon, Lucy, Ann Darby and Peter I say hey! Love y’all lots and I’ll see you in a few weeks!!

Katie-Hi everyone! I miss all of you so so so much!! I’m just having the best time EVER! Happy Father’s Day daddy! I’m really wishin I could be with you but hope you are enjoying the new chainsaw! I love you so much. Tell everyone I say hi and that I miss them so much! Finn everyone loved the brownie.. I miss you lots! I love y’all and I’ll see in you in a few weeks!