July 30, 2017
We woke up in Idaho and started our last big drive of the trip. Nicholas sat in the front of the van and was the van DJ for the long ride and helped the time go by so much faster. We got back to Jackson and went straight to a local thrift store to scoop up some funny outfits for dinner. Lucy got a yellow vintage jacket, Ellie got a neon orange vest, and Elizabeth got a tye-dye tshirt that turned into a cool souvenir to take home.
For lunch we did one of our favorite activities of the trip called Iron Chef. It’s a boys vs girls cooking competition where they cook us leaders an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The boys pulled out a win for the appetizer with a cheesy nacho dip. For the entree, both teams suffered by preparing food that was borderline at best. Lucy and Lauren made basic canned chicken ramen and the boys made plain spaghetti. Janie and Annie cooked up the best dessert I’ve ever been served during an Iron Chef competition: so good that I would order it at a restaurant despite the name being “dirt cake.” In the end, the boys pulled out the big win and had bragging rights for the rest of the day.
Once we all pitched in to clean the group gear, we headed into town to shop around for a few hours. Kirby got a sweet Jackson Hole hat, while Johnston and Clay got matching tshirts. Chase was excited to get a Jackson Hole tshirt that looked perfect with her thrift store bucket hat. We ended our banquet day by all going to dinner together at a tasty Mexican restaurant in town. Everyone was full and happy for our last meal together. Shortly after dinner, James persuaded us to go to Kmart to pick up a box of sodas to help them make it through the all-nighter they’re planning for tonight. Clay hung out on a Kmart bed to get a preview of what a real bed is going to feel like again at home. They said they would rather spend more time together hanging out and talking rather than sleeping. As James always says, “You have your whole life to sleep, but only two weeks to spend with the best people you’ll ever meet.” Will they actually stay up all night? Stay tuned. Either way James is right and I’m cherishing these last few moments I have with some of the best I’ve ever meet. They have all come to be a significant part of our lives as leaders and I know these friendships will last a lifetime. Hearing them all talk about reunions and plans to visit each other is fulfilling as a leader and it is an experience that not many people their age can have. I hope you’re all looking forward to the endless stories you’re going to hear within the next two weeks about the trip. For now, we’re going to cherish the rest of tonight and our 4 am wake up call in the morning. Thanks for sending your child on our trip and making these past two weeks the best!
Lillian & Spencer
July 29, 2017
We have just touched down back onto dry land in Idaho and have unloaded gear and changed into dry clothes for the first time in days. The group is excited to get some much needed rest and nap time on our bus ride back to our campground in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. Our 4 days of rafting were amazing to say the least and we are all sad that the trip is nearing the end. Tomorrow we awake bright and early and have a short drive back to Jackson, where we will clean gear and give the group a day on the town to search for souvenirs for their morning trip home.
Our first day of rafting was filled with nervous excitement because people didn’t really know what to expect. Right off the bat, we entered into a class III rapid, which set the tone perfectly for the rest of the trip. The group was split into two rafts and each raft had a person who “rode the bull” which just means sitting at the front of the raft while we go through rapids. James and Kirby quickly volunteered and made it safely through our first couple of big rapids. We stopped for a quick lunch and camped on the most amazing beach as the sun began to set in the horizon.
The second day was an early one for sure. Lauren, Nico, and Janie were on morning cook crew and made the group a hardy breakfast. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, and fresh grapefruit got us all energized and ready to take down some more rapids. Today was a day of relaxation as we got to swim and float down a couple rapids. As the water gets lower and lower, some of the rapids become swimmable. Clay and Annie were always the first ones in the water when our guides told us we could swim the rapids. It was super thrilling and had our adrenaline pumping the whole time. We even got to jump into the deep water. Lauren made sure to get many videos of that! We ended our day with some burgers, cooked by none other than the man himself, Johnston Lloyd. He even helped pass out the Smores materials before bed. What a day!
Day 3 was similar to day 2. Lots of crazy rapids and tons of fun. Ellie and Chase were right by my side every cliff jump I did. They did it so many times, we ended up all just watching them jump off before they decided it was time to call it quits. Once we got to our beach, we set up Capture the Flag and played till about midnight. It doesn’t get dark in Idaho until about 11:30, so the last 30 minutes was mostly a guessing game, but fun nonetheless. The group was tired after a long day and it was finally time to get to bed. Lucy helped us point out satellites and stars as we slowly fell asleep.
Our last day was so sad because of how amazing our river guides were. John-O, Ben, and Drew were some of the nicest and most genuine people we have ever met and it was hard saying goodbye to them. We boarded the van and scooted back to McCall for a stop to Ice Cream Alley for a quick treat. Elizabeth is the Queen of the Naps and takes them whenever she can find time. She always comes out the other side super energized and peppy. It’s so funny to see. Anyways, we are here in Glenn’s Ferry anxiously awaiting our banquet night in Jackson tomorrow. It was an incredible rafting trip and some even bought stickers to remember it. Sad to be coming to an end soon, but this group has been amazing and I am so proud of everything they have accomplished!
Spencer and Lillian
July 24, 2017
It’s been an exciting two days of climbing here in Jackson! It’s been a blast climbing outside on real rock while testing our trust abilities when belaying each other on the climbs.
We spent our first day climbing in Teton Village, which involved a gondola ride up the mountain with an incredible view of the Tetons on the way up. We used the first part of the morning to learn the knots and technique needed to safely get us up each climb. It took some people a good bit of time to get used to the motions, but Lucy was my partner and she did it perfectly right the first time she tried. I felt lucky she was the one on belay! We did a five pitch climb that got people used to their climbing shoes and how to find good holds in the rock. The climbing guides came up to me and told me how impressed they were with Chase and Lauren’s natural ability to rock climb! We knew we were going to have to put them on some really hard climbs the next day.
That night we had a picnic in the park before heading to the Jackson Hole rodeo! I made my favorite Spanish dish called Paella and Johnston said it reminded him of when he was in Spain. We packed up and headed to the Saturday night rodeo! Nicholas was excited for the rodeo because he said he’s never seen one before and he knew a Wyoming rodeo would be as legit as it gets. Annie, Ellie, James, and Clay all bought and wore American Flag bandanas to get in the rodeo spirit.
The second day had a little change of scenery as we spent the day climbing at Hidden Falls across from Jenny Lake. We took a boat across the lake and hiked to a massive waterfall that we climbed beside. We broke into groups of three to have more personal time with a guide and get even more climbing in. James was very talkative about his fear of heights, but I loved watching him crush every climb he did all day. He climbed the two hardest climbs on the rock face successfully and kept my group laughing the entire way up with his jokes. Janie found the world’s best rest spot four pitches up the mountain on a comfortable ledge. From the ledge we watched Annie and a bunch of other people in our group do a massive overhanging free rappel off the mountain. Most people agreed it was one of the coolest things they’ve ever done. As exhausted as we were, we still found the energy to eat much deserved blizzards from Dairy Queen after we got off the mountain.
We had a big celebratory cookout that night consisting of burgers, Macaroni, and watermelon. Clay cooked everyone’s burgers and he turned into quite the master chef. James tried to make a breakfast burger by putting a fried egg on top of his, but his egg quickly became scrambled and decided to go with the classic plain burger. Johnston cooked the macaroni and it was a huge hit. I whipped up some of my secret recipe Brussels sprouts and so many of the students tried them and loved them! Woohoo for everyone trying new foods!! For desert we taught Lucy and Elizabeth how to cook homemade doughnuts while Kirby meticulously chopped up the chocolate that we used for the topping. Everybody went to bed full and happy that night after Johnston too out and put back in everyone’s duffels from the Uhaul. He is constantly doing more than his fair share of helping out and we leaders are very appreciative of that!
Now we’re headed to Idaho to start our rafting adventure tomorrow! It’s a long day of driving ahead of us, but the van rides create some of the best memories. Check back after rafting to hear all about all the great memories we make on the Salmon River!
Lillian and Spencer
July 22, 2017
The group just made it out of the backcountry and now we are all showered up and had a great day at the Jackson Hole Rec Center. Our backpacking trip was a super memorable 4 days, and we trekked over 22 miles through the Wind River Range and even summited the famous Warrior 1 and 2 peaks that looked down into the Cirque of the Towers! Nico and Annie were the Leaders of the Day on our hike to Blue Lake, where we camped for the next two days. They kept the entire group motivated, even when the weather started to look a bit gloomy. We pitched our tents by beautiful Blue Lake, and Chase was all too quick to jump in the 45-degree water, just to take a lake shower with our biodegradable soap. We had a big cookout and headed to bed early because the next morning was our 4am wake up call to make the summit of Warrior 1 and 2! We needed to be well rested for this 6-hour climb.
We were awoken before the crack of dawn and began our 6 hour hike up the mountain, all completely in the dark. Ellie and Kirby led the way, as they were elected LOD’s for today’s summit. An awesome responsibility and they both handled it with great poise and confidence. Lauren and Janie were quite the natural rock climbers and helped everyone up the side of the rock face and even carried their tent groups’ backpack the whole way up. James and Clay kept us laughing the entire way up the mountain with their constant joking and good-natured pranks and storytelling. Kirby ended up being the first one up to see the amazing view and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the rest of the group for about 15 minutes. What a BEAST!! Overlooking the Cirque from above was one of the coolest views we have ever seen and couldn’t have asked for a better group to share it with. We are so proud of the effort they put in and the risk was well worth the reward. We made our way back down to base camp before 12 and had ourselves a nice, calm, relaxing day of fishing. Lauren, Kirby, and Nico all caught fish big enough to eat, but Lauren’s was too big and too beautiful for us to want to keep, so we ended up letting him go. It was a big one though and she was pumped when she finally hooked one. Great way to end a perfect day of hiking!
The next morning was our 7-mile hike out of the wilderness and back to civilization. Lucy headed up the rear of the pack to make sure no one got left behind and the group made it back before 11 am. I am so impressed with their hiking and backpacking abilities. It made things go smoother and work more efficiently. Our hiking guide even complimented the group on their impressive skills. Elizabeth was the first to have her tent and bag completely packed and was a great example of how to get up and get moving. After a couple hours of hiking, the van was finally in sight and we loaded up and headed back to Jackson. They did so well that we made a well-deserved stop to Wendy’s and let the group chow down with some cheeseburgers and Frostys. After that, we retreated to the Jackson Hole Rec for some showering and pool basketball. Johnston was our pool basketball MVP and was dunking all over people left and right. All in all, we had an amazing trip and I couldn’t be prouder of this wonderful group. They accomplished a feat that many never get the chance to and are better individuals for it. Next stop, climbing in Teton National Park with Exum Mountain Guides! Can’t wait for tomorrow!
Spencer and Lillian