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Northern Lights 2A • July 7-July 27, 2017

Talkeetna Mountains: We Came, We Saw, We Conquered! Headed to Sea Kayaking!

July 21, 2017

“I’m drawn to the open country, it’s where things become real and start to make sense.” -180° South

I believe I can speak for the whole Northern Lights 2A group when i say that our time in the Talkeetnas far surpassed our expectations. This wild country has earned a place in all of our hearts, and will live forever in our fondest of memories. 

Our first day of backpacking, as to be expected, was a difficult adjustment, but full of rewarding views and discussions, Chris had no trouble adjusting to the challenge as he hooted and hollered his way to the front of the pack, inspiring his friends to do the same. We made it to our campsite with plenty of time to hang out and enjoy the sweet smell of Alaskan sage brush. 

We started the next day off with smiling faces,  M&M pancakes and stellar leadership from Caroline.  As she led us through a grand Alaskan valley to Hick’s lake, we were excited to take frequent scenic breaks under the bluebird skies. We spent that night at an old hunting campsite along Caribou Creek, and stayed up late to watch the Alaskan skyline glitter in the twilight hours.

A leisurely departure from camp allowed for a long and rewarding day full of constant changes in scenery. We passed by an old mining site, and stopped for lessons in history, maps and river hydrolics. Grady showed a keen interest in bearings and triangulation techniques as he further studied the maps with his leaders later that evening. 

To conclude our day of retracing historical sites, we camped next to an 1965 military jeep, long since abandoned. Crafton did not waste a minute in rounding up her friends and taking an array of creative photos with this relic of the great frontiers past.

Day 3 of backpacking featured the infamous ‘final push to the tundra.’ The hike was long, challenging and worthwhile. Our awe can be illustrated through the 10 minutes of silence we spent gazing at the untouched landscape. Later, Joanna led the group in building a human pyramid, (which we are sure will make the Moondance 2018 catalog).

The aromas of hash browns and eggs woke us pleasantly on the following, clear, tundra morning. We gazed into the distance at a peak which we were to pass over the next day, and made our way to the base of the mountain. Upon arrival at camp, Harris inspired fascination in his peers as they explored a storybook glacial waterfall. 

Summiting the pass was the main goal of day 6. We exceeded this goal by climbing in only two hours and were blessed with limitless visibility at the top. Gavin quickly remarked that the scene there was well worth the entire trek. That night we camped at the base of a bowl of mountains and slept with great company, as we were adjacent to a crystal clear glacial stream. 

The final day of backpacking included a descent through a scree field and a peaceful walk on the shores of the Chicaloon River. As we approached our campsite, Elizabeth spotted a friendly porcupine which we all stopped to appreciate. With that friendly wildlife encounter on our minds, we concluded our day under another perfect Alaskan sky.

Finally, a well-deserved rest day was taken and our time was filled with fun lessons and activities. Many of which were led by Emmaline, to the delight of us all.  

The rest day was followed by a morning air show, in which 4 Alaskan bush planes delivered our rafting gear into the remote Talkeetnas. Leane couldn’t have been more excited as she suited up and happily boarded her boat of “Chickaloon chicks.” We floated through the braided strip of class I and II rapids and rested well with enchiladas and laughs at our river campsite that evening. 

Our final day on the river entailed bigger water and more splashing. We cheered loudly as our boats followed each other through the final stretch of the section. That night at moon-up, Yani reflected on what a grand adventure we had during our last 10 days in the Talkeetna mountain range, and how grateful he was to have accomplished such a great feat. 

Today we are on a scenic route, driving to the small fishing port of Whittier for our final days as a group on the majestic Prince William Sound. 

Until next time,
NL 2A (Kacie, Pietro, and James)

Shout outs:

Hi Mom and Dad, I’m having a blast, all is well; tell the fam hey!


Been doing cool stuff. Pet Maise for me please


I miss you and I can’t wait to see you soon  

Loving every second of this trip! I have not lost anything. Your favorite son, 

Miss you family, having a great time, can’t wait to tell you all about it! 

Miss you guys so much, really excited to tell you guys all about it.

Hi Mom, Dad, and Brennan!!! My knee feels great. I’m having so much fun! I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love you lots and see you soon.

Having a fab time, hope you guys are too! No grizzly spottings so far. See ya soon x 

Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having an awesome time. We are about to go sea kayaking which will be super fun. Miss you guys.

Hey Mom and Dad and fam! Having the best time and experiencing so many adventures!! Can’t wait to come back and tell you all about it! Love y’all and hope you are doing well!!

I’m having the best time! We leave for sea kayaking tomorrow. Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it.

Love, Elizabeth 


Ice, Ice, Baby!

July 11, 2017

Greetings, friends and family, from the land of the Midnight Sun!

Our journey began but a few short days ago as we filtered into the Anchorage airport and said our hellos. It did not take long for laughter to begin filling space in our conversations. We arrived at camp, and Leane introduced our first time Moondancers to the structure of Moonup, our nightly debrief of the day. 

The following morning, we made our way to the Matanuska Glacier to prep for our first activity. Emaline kept us entertained throughout the bus ride with stories of her travels abroad and helped to direct our awareness to what we wanted to gain from the experience ahead. 

When we arrived at our next campsite, Crafton and Chris were quick to volunteer in helping set up a tarp. After setting up our shelter, Yani brought sunshine into our rainy day by teaching us a new card game. Smiles were bright as we transitioned into our first dinner as a group. 

The following day, we made the acquaintance of our awesome guides and set out for a day of hiking through a gorgeous section of the 26-milelong glacier. Joanna impressed us all with her natural ability to balance and navigate her way across steep terrain. As we stopped for lunch and appreciated the warm day, Elizabeth’s positive attitude, genuine interest in her peers, and lightheartedness made for an enjoyable meal at what Caroline exclaimed was, “the best lunch spot she had ever seen.” 

That evening at camp, Harris suggested that we play a game that had all of us rolling on the floor laughing. After an exhausting day, rest was welcomed and well deserved.

As the next day began, students awoke well rested and eager to try their hands at scaling the pristine glacier. Grady left us in awe as he effortlessly climbed the ice walls as if he were a seasoned pro.

Back at base, we started prepping for backpacking. Ending our time at the Matanuska, Gavin had us near tears telling jokes during moon-up. All in all, we dubbed our glacial adventure a grand success and can’t wait to see what the backcountry has in store.

Until next time,
Northern Lights 2A ????
Shout outs:

Having so much fun! Went climbing on this amazing glacier!! Love you see y’all soon!

I’m having the best time ever. Everyone in the group is so cool and fun. Love, Elizabeth 

Yo what up family. I’m having a really good time and we are about to go backpacking. Miss you- Yani 

Hey mom and dad, I’m having so much fun glacier climbing and we are about to go backpacking in the back country. Can’t wait to see what else we do.  Miss you – Harris

Hi mom and dad Alaska is epic. We are going ice climbing today it’s gonna be awesome. Hope you guys are doing good. Love, Grady

Have not lost anything. Alive. Love your favorite son, Chris thagard 

Mouth is good. “Feelin good. You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.” -Emaline

We are about to go ice climbing and I can’t wait. I Love you and see u soon- Gavin

Hey mom and dad, hope all is well in Houston! Tell Reggie, Junior, Cooper and Madison hello. Go Astros, Crafton.

Sah dudes, having a mad time, Luc you’re 100% missing out you would love this. See you soon, miss you guys. 

Hi mom and dad! We’re headed out backpacking today and I’ve managed to keep track of most of my stuff (with help). I’m having an amazing time. Thank you so much for letting me come! I love and miss y’all tons.


  • Yani
  • Caroline
  • Crafton
  • Harris
  • Elizabeth
  • Emaline
  • Joanna
  • Leane
  • Chris
  • Grady
  • Gavin