July 4, 2017
Dear Northern Light 1C families,
Well, all of our loving students departed yesterday evening from Anchorage. It was very difficult to say goodbye, but that just shows how meaningful the relationships that we created are. We are so thankful to have met these wonderful kids and shared these amazing experiences with them. Our minds are full of incredible memories that we will surely remember forever!
To the parents, thank you so much for allowing your kids to come to Alaska this summer!
To our amazing kids, we miss you so much already! We hope that your Fourth of July is full of sleeping, Chick-fil-A, fireworks, hot dogs, couscous and lentils, and plenty of maple brown sugar oatmeal!!! We love y’all!
Lorna, Stuart, and David
July 3, 2017
Wow! What an amazing trip it has been! We are back in Anchorage after four incredible days of sea kayaking, preparing for our final banquet dinner and return flights home.
Our sea kayaking trip began in the quaint town of Whittier where met up with our guide, Jeff, for a quick briefing on the basics of sea kayaking, and we finished the day with a great cookout dinner prepared by Lucy, Gisele, and Charlotte. It may have been their first time cooking hamburgers, but we sure couldn’t tell.
The next morning we loaded all of our kayaking gear onto a charter boat and had a 45 minute ride out of the Whittier harbor into the Prince William Sound. The boat ride was an unexpected highlight of the trip! We all enjoyed cruising along at 25 mph in awe of the amazing environment we’d be kayaking in for the next 4 days.
When the ride was over, Lucy and Ben, the leaders of the day, coordinated the unloading of all of the boats and gear onto a black rock beach while a bald eagle watched us from his perch above in a tree. We then kayaked to a beautiful peninsula called Eagle’s Nest where we set up our tents nestled in a forest of tall trees and dense ferns. That night, John, Powell, and Gabby cooked up an incredible stir fry dinner with peppers, broccoli, onions, and carrots. It was the perfect end to a big first day of kayaking.
The next morning we got back in our kayaks and headed back out into Prince William Sound to explore a tidal glacier. Led by Al and Wyatt in the Leader of the day boat, we approached the glacier and were immediately impressed. We sat in our kayaks in awe as we watched the intermittent calving’s from the massive ice wall and waited to hear their roaring boom seconds later. It was a truly powerful experience. The paddle back to camp was just as enjoyable. We cruised by sea cliffs and Evergreen trees with the occasional seal popping up next to our boats to check us out. This paddle was a little more eventful for Henry and Ben had to steer their boat with only their paddles because their rudder wasn’t working properly, but they still made it back in style.
The next morning we had an early wake up call to make sure we got to our next campsite in the early afternoon. As we loaded up the kayaks, we noticed Marion offering to help in whatever way she could, which was a common occurrence over the course of the trip. Half way through our day of paddling, we stopped for lunch on another rocky beach. We would’ve had to eat in the rain but Henry helped Jeff set up a tarp for all of us to eat under which was greatly appreciated. After another couple hours of paddling, we made it to our campsite at Decision Point. That afternoon, we had hot tea on a beach overlooking a vast area of the Prince William Sound and got to witness two bald eagles circling in the sky, protecting their nest from seagulls. Dinner that night was a delicious meal of back country burritos, cooked up by Wyatt, Anna Louise, and Lucy; it was one of the best meals of the trip.
The next morning it was finally time to paddle back to Whittier. Needing to make good time, the whole group looked to Kate and Gisele to set the pace. They led the way, getting us into Whittier right on time. Not to mention, they spoke in Spanish the whole way!
Now it’s time to explore Anchorage before everyone heads home tonight! More to come later!
Lorna, Stuart, and David
June 29, 2017
A warm hello to all Northern Lights 1C families,
After a challenging yet fun-filled backpacking section, and the roller coaster ride of rafting back down the Chickaloon, we found ourselves back at the same campsite from where we departed for backpacking to rest for an afternoon before ice climbing! The group took advantage of the afternoon sunlight to dry out any socks still wet from rafting and finally put on that fresh set of clothes from their duffel bags that they had been looking forward to for so long! After such a relaxing afternoon, an incredible tortellini and marinara sauce dinner, and a small fire made in the fire pit by Wyatt and John, we woke up well-rested and ready to ice climb! Kate, Gabby, and Powell mixed up some delicious chocolate chip pancakes to fuel us through the day before we packed up our day packs with snacks and layers.
The guides outfitted us with ice climbing boots, crampons, a harness, and a helmet, and loaded down with gear, we boarded the vans, eager to get on the ice. Kate especially loved her teal boots, memorizing the brand and style so she could buy them to outfit her for those New Orleans winters once back at home. After a safety talk and history lesson about the Matanuska glacier, we strapped on our crampons and crunched towards our first climbing site. Henry regaled us with stories of his previous glacial experience in Chile as the guides set up ice anchors and gave us tips on how to ice climb. Everyone tried the first two routes, mastering the climbs with ease as we got used to the motion of swinging the ice axes into the wall, and keeping our heels down as the front spikes of our crampons supported our weight. The guides then proceeded to set up a harder climb with a slight overhang for anyone adventurous enough to take it on. Although many gave it a valiant effort, Charlotte, Lucy, and Marion truly impressed everyone by using their natural athleticism to reach the top!
Before heading back to camp, the guides showed us a small natural spring in the glacier, where we proceeded to fill up our water bottles and enjoy the coldest and purest water any of us have ever tasted! We went back to camp tired, and ate our own Moondance version of “Thanksgiving Dinner” with stuffing, mashed potatoes, chicken and green beans expertly prepared by Lucy, Ben, and Marion. A competitive game of ultimate frisbee wore out the group before Moonup, with the girls bringing home the win. Although there may have been some debate about who real winning team was, the real was everybody on our trip and the amazing night of sleep we all had that night!
The next morning everyone woke up excited to get back on the glacier and climb! Confident in our new-found experience, the guides took us to a new spot with much taller walls father into the glacier. The hike in was almost as fun as the actual climbing, but once we got to the wall all the kids had their eyes on the prize. John led the group on the longest wall after a repel down to the bottom, climbing back up with ease. Giselle used the day well to further translate her rock climbing skills onto the ice, climbing gracefully up the same wall as John. Lucy impressed us all, including the guides, by rappelling down farther than anyone before climbing back up. Kate, not to be outdone, repelled down in Lucy’s crampon steps, even going so far as to dip a spike in the glacial lake at the bottom! Ben was at first hesitant to climb the second day, but stepped boldly up to the plate and did an amazing job on his second climb, emerging back up at the top victoriously! Lorna, David and I were so proud of everyone for climbing both days, and impressed with the athleticism and adventurous spirit of the entire group.
Before heading back to the vans, we walked around the glacier for a while, gaining some elevation in order to see the beautiful view from a high peak. On the way back, we stopped for ice cream at a local restaurant, with the majority of the kids enjoying either Moose Tracks or Caramel Caribou.
After our sweet treat we headed back to camp for the last time to turn in our gear, and hang out before making dinner. Tired from the long day, Wyatt, John, and Al whipped up some mac & cheese that no one could get enough of. After deciding that we needed a little something extra to top of the night, Charlotte, Marion, and Wyatt popped some popcorn for us, resulting in the group laughing uncontrollably when Wyatt’s batch exploded from the pot in a shower of golden kernels mid-pop. Moonup turned into somewhat of a talent show, with Powell showing off his stomach-rolling skills, Al mysteriously disconnecting her pinkie finger from her hand, Gabby scaring us a little bit with a deep voice, and Henry amazing us with his extensive knowledge of world flags! We all went to bed tired and full, sad to be finished with ice climbing but ready and excited to spend the next day preparing for sea kayaking! All is well here in the Last Frontier!
More updates to come,
Lorna, David, and Stuart
June 26, 2017
We’ve made it to Alaska! After nine long hours of games and icebreakers in the airport, we finally embarked on our 3 week expedition as a new family. With our bellies full of pizza and our hearts full of excitement, we slept soundly just below the bustling metropolis that is Anchorage.
June 15, 2017
Hello Northern Lights families,
We wanted to let you know all students have arrived safely in Anchorage and are preparing for their first transfer this morning. Their Alaskan Adventure is underway! Stay tuned for updates!
-Moondance Administrative Team