July 30, 2017
Hello for the last time time to all of the Big Wild parents!
First of all, thank you for sending your children on our trip. They had a trip of a lifetime and they have made lasting memories. They all came together to create a fun, energetic, and kind atmosphere which we all felt during our adventures.
After our backpacking section of our trip, we were all ready for some showers. We went to the Aquatic Center to play basketball, ping pong, and shower up before we went into Jackson for town day.
Thomas F, Annie and Thomas P were a great team during the basketball game we had, although they weren’t as great as the team of Sarah, Luke F, and myself! We had a lot of fun hanging out in a modern looking rec center. We showered up and headed into Jackson. On the way there Whatley and Blair assisted with the music and we jammed out all the way into Jackson. Cecilia and I surprised the group with a little fast food treat which made everyone pretty excited.
Before we got to shop for our stellar banquet outfits, we needed to clean group gear. Luke Y and Anna lead the fleet in cleaning the van and dishes. They did a great job and were even better leaders. We went into town after that where Palmer and Coleman got some fun souvenirs for their family members – I hope you all enjoy them! Sami was the life of the party and everyone enjoyed her presence, especially on town day. We had a great evening afterward with an awesome, emotional Moonup. We prepared to say our goodbyes, and we were almost too energized to sleep. We wanted to spend every last minute together!
Today we are at the airport watching all of our students head home. It is a bittersweet day but we know that these young adults had an amazing time on their trip and they cannot wait to tell you all about it!
They were great kids and we will miss them dearly. Thanks again for sharing your children with us this summer.
Ben and Cecilia
July 29, 2017
Good news: we have made it out of the backcountry safe and sound. Better news: we just took long hot showers at the Pinedale Aquatic Center and are squeaky clean!
The past few days of backpacking have been challenging, but extremely rewarding. We started the adventure three days ago at a ranch in the foothills of the wind river range. We spent the night there and rose the next morning ready to pack our packs and hit the trail. After squeezing everything into our packs we were off! Palmer stepped up to take the heaviest group gear and proved his strength and stamina to everyone on the trail. The hike in was a very steep 7 miles- we gained over 1500 feet in elevation! Everyone worked their tails off and we eventually arrived at our beautiful lakeside campsite.
After we pitched our tents in the meadow filled with flowers, we spent time at the lake cooling our feet and fishing. Although many people were successful in catching fish, Coleman caught two big boys that we decided to cook with dinner. We filled up with a hearty chicken Mac n cheese dinner, and all enjoyed a taste of the catch of the day. After the long day of hiking we were all grateful to catch some z’s under a night full of stars.
We rewarded everyone’s hard work by sleeping in a bit the next morning and preparing chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Once we all had our fill we headed out for a day hike to Crescent lake. Our leaders of the day, Blaire and Thomas P., did a fabulous job by navigating us to the lake even though much of the hike was off trail. Once we arrived we had fun exploring the area, and of course, fishing some more! Sarah, Luke Y., and Ben took a little trip down to a nearby creek and perfected their casting, and caught over 15 brook trout! Anna and Sami kept the group entertained by gathering flowers and making crowns for everyone, a great look for all the pictures we took!
After the relaxing afternoon we headed back to camp for dinner- quesadillas. We had an early night to prepare for the next morning… We woke up at 5am while it was still frosty and dark in order to get an early start on our activity for the day- a peak summit!! We warmed up with oatmeal and then headed out. It took us about an hour to arrive to the base of the mountain and Annie helped to keep the energy high the entire time. The sun was just creeping out to greet us when we began our ascent. Whatley and Luke F. led the group and although it was not easy by any means, we pushed ourselves all the way to the top and boy was it worth it. We had 360 views of the entire area, including snow capped mountains and alpine lakes. After many photos we headed back down the mountain and back to camp.
After lunch we all took a little nap to rest before our hike out of the backcountry. We crushed the downhill hike and arrived back at the ranch to debrief, return gear, and feast on pita pizzas. Thomas F. stepped up to be head chef and made the most delicious pizzas we have ever eaten.
We had a magical time in the Winds and hiked a total of 25 miles in just 3 days. This group is mighty tough and a whole bunch of fun. We are happy to be back in civilization and clean but are not happy that this trip is ending. Now it’s off to Jackson for a final night on the town!
All the best,
Cecilia and Ben
July 24, 2017
Hello to all Big Wild 3B parents!
First and foremost, we would like to say it has been a pleasure leading your children around the Western United States. It has been awesome seeing them grow as individuals by making lasting friendships with the other students, as well as facing natural fears such as rock climbing and recently, white water rafting!
Our rafting adventure began four days ago. We woke up very early from our Gros Ventre campsite and started our drive toward the Salmon River in Idaho. The drive was long, but everyone was OK with the length, especially because of the Harry Potter audiobook we listened to. Whatley and Sami kept the ride alive with their humor and storytelling abilities! They brought their positive energy into the car ride which made it shorter.
We finally made it to Ponderosa State Park late in the day. Luke Fontan and Sarah were great leaders of the day and led the group in a very thoughtful and meaningful Moonup. Their question of the day was, “who is an inspiration to you?” This question was thought provoking and we got some great answers. The grilled cheeses and tomato soup were very delicious that evening as well.
The next day we got up and headed to our rafting put-in. We started our journey on the Lower Salmon River with nothing but excitement in our ranks. We rafted through many big rapids and saw lot and lots of wildlife. Palmer, Thomas Pickney, and Coleman all showed us their fishing skills by catching some good sized smallmouth bass that evening. The leaders of the day were Blaire and Thomas Farris, they did an excellent job with their responsibilities. They made sure everyone was helping paddle through all the rapids as well as setting up camp when we were done rafting for the day. The whole group loved the food the guides were able to put together for us. It was so delicious!
The next day we did some more rafting. Anna and Luke Yium were the leaders of the day. They led the two rafts by chanting paddle strokes. They also encouraged other students to attempt different types of cliff jumping into the water. It was a little intense, and extremely fun!
When we got back to camp, Annie and Leader Ben raced each other in the butterfly. Leader Ben told everybody that he won, but that was not the case according to Annie!
The group fished and caught many. Palmer even caught an 18-inch Smallmouth Bass!
This evening was very fun. We ate hamburgers for dinner and smores for desert. Everyone was enjoying themselves and seemed to bond very well with each other.
The next day we did some more rafting. Caught some more fish, ate a beautiful meal and slept well.
Today we got off the river in Washington State. We are currently en route back to Wyoming!
These students are amazing and I am so happy that they are all having a good time. They are all well-mannered and respectful. We are having a trip of a lifetime.
Until next time,
Ben and Cecilia
July 20, 2017
Howdy Big Wild 3B parents!
We’re happy to inform you that we are all happy and healthy and headed to the Salmon River in Idaho.
The past few days have flown by and we have loved getting to know everyone and enjoying some laughs. After we gathered everyone in the airport we headed to our campsite to set up tents and check out our new home for the next few days. Once all set up, we went further into the Grand Teton National Park. We stopped by the famous T.A. Moulton barn to snap some pics then got dinner with a view at Dornan’s in the park. We spent the rest of the night around the fire getting to know each other and getting accustomed to the chilly mountain nights.
The next morning we filled up with a hearty eggs and sausage breakfast, the sausage perfectly prepared by Thomas P, then headed to Teton Village to begin climbing with Exum guides. We were lucky enough to take a ride up the steep mountain in the gondola and enjoy the views of biking trails and ski runs. Once on the top we scrambled over to some rocks to practice bouldering techniques and get comfy in our new climbing shoes. After this, we learned how to belay and tie multiple knots. Sarah and Whatley were naturals and helped the rest of the crew catch on. We were then split up into groups to complete a long multi pitch climb, and practice repelling. Once we were finished for the day, we had a steep but short hike back to the gondola, and treated ourselves with drinks and candy at the resort on top of the mountain. We were all tired after the day and took time to rest after getting back to camp. For Moonup we decided to make the short drive to the wedding tree, a famous oak tree on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the Tetons for the sunset. We blinked our eyes and both Lukes (Luke F. and Luke Y.) had managed to climb up the tree for a better view! Annie was so great as the leader of the day, and had many great quotes prepared from her memory!
The next morning we drove over to Jenny Lake in the Grand Teton National park to climb for the day. After a breezy boat ride across the lake, we split up into 5 groups in order to have time for some more complex routes. Everyone pushed themselves and made it to the top of all of their climbs, impressing each guide! Blaire and Sami expressed that they were nervous of heights at the beginning, but that was gone by the end as they completed every climb with ease and perfected their belays as a team. At the end of the long hot day we jumped into the crystal clear waters of Jenny Lake. We were all hungry after working so hard all day, so cook crew made us an early dinner of veggie fried rice and we ate every last bite. We headed to the Gros Ventre River for some evening fishing and swimming. Coleman and Palmer both got to practice their casting and are nearly pros, but unfortunately the trout weren’t biting (yet)! We held Moonup on the rocky shore as the sun set behind the hills. Our leaders of the day, Anna and Thomas F., asked the group what their dream job is, which evoked some inspiring and thrilling answers.
This morning we set off on our drive to the Salmon River. We are so excited to begin rafting and to have Alan from the office join us!!
Til next time,
Cecilia & Ben