July 6, 2017
Greetings one last time!
Our trip has come to a close, and the last days were full of bittersweet emotions. After rafting, we all got decked out in patriotic clothing to celebrate an often overlooked holiday, July 2nd. Elizabeth and Sophie were in charge of making pancakes for dinner, while Mae enthusiastically photographed the whole celebration. It was certainly a night to remember. The next day was full of gear cleaning, though the highlight was definitely the car wash. Simran and Annie had a little too much fun with the car vacuum, while Caroline and Owen preferred to have a soap fight with the residual suds. After completing the necessary end of trip tasks, we all went to a nearby thrift store to find perfect banquet outfits. With his hair in a vertical ponytail at top of his head, McLean had us all laughing as per usual. For our banquet dinner, we all enjoyed a feast of Mexican food and reveled in our newly formed friendships. Back at the campsite, our final Moonup was longer than usual, as we all went around the circle and shared our favorite stories from the trip. Sam, as always, had thoughtful and heartfelt responses to share. After a few hours of sleep, we made an early trip to the airport and said our dreaded goodbyes. As Raine and Simran were the first to depart, we all exchanged final hugs and tears. Though the trip is over, we all know that we will carry our memories and friendships with us for years to come.
Thanks for tuning in one last time. We miss everyone already!
Guthrie and Lillie
July 4, 2017
Hello again from Oregon! We’ve had an exciting few days rafting on the Deschutes River. Once we arrived at our campsite, we met our guides to go over safety and to begin pumping up our rafts. The next morning, we woke up early to start our trip.
Owen sat in the front of the first boat, eager to get splashed by every wave. We learned paddling commands and strokes from our guides, then Raine even got to try paddling with oars from the guide’s seat. We may have a future raft guide in the making! After lunch, we began to mentally prepare for the day’s biggest rapid, White Horse. It was an exciting ride, and everyone celebrated at the end with a “Paddle 5.” Later that day, calmer waters permitted us to jump out and swim in the cool current. Mae was definitely the most enthusiastic, as she took every opportunity to jump in (and even pull some of her friends in with her). We reached our campsite in the late afternoon where we enjoyed shade and dinner prepared by our guides with help from Elizabeth.
As the moon began to rise, the group circled up for a particularly intense game of Mafia, mostly due to McLean’s bold strategies and scheming. With the sound of the river rushing by, we all slept outside under the stars. In the morning, we loaded up the boats and prepared for another thrilling day! Right from the start, we hit a rapid called Buckskin. Then, after a bit of scouting and instruction from the guides, we all got to jump in and swim it! To no one’s surprise, “Fearless Annie” was the first to swim through the waves, and then circled back to try it a second time. After an exhilarating morning, we had some calmer sections where our guide taught us about the surrounding geology. Sophie and Elizabeth took advantage of the lull to take a raft nap to prepare for our final stretch of Class III rapids. Simran and Caroline adopted the same strategy, but were rudely awakened when a rogue, cool wave splashed onto their laps. Their whole boat shook as they leaped in the air, which was the closest our group came to flipping the whole trip. With our paddling techniques perfected, the group executed them all perfectly and we arrived at our take-out spot late in the afternoon.
Sam, who brought all of his Fourth of July gear with him, encouraged the leaders to stop by Walmart to gear up for Moondance’s special Second of July. All of the kids are now in the back of the van decked out in patriotic uniforms as we make our way back to Washington. Though everyone is sad that the trip is coming to a close, we are trying our best to soak up the last few days together here in the Pacific Northwest. That’s all for now!
-Lillie and Guthrie
July 3, 2017
Hello from Oregon! Our group left Smith Rock this afternoon with sore muscles, great memories, and a strong sense of accomplishment.
We showed up to the Smith Rock State Park campgrounds early Tuesday afternoon, enjoying our new home and exploring the scenic desert around us. The always helpful Simran spearheaded an impressive dinner for the group as the excitement built for the climbs ahead. The next day, we met our guides who taught us proper belaying and climbing techniques. Sam, a seasoned climbing pro, impressed everyone with his knowledge of the figure-8 knot. Annie and Caroline were anxious with excitement to tackle the hardest climbs first, exhibiting impressive strength and agility on the tougher routes. Later that day we practiced repelling, where McLean began to show hesitation. Everyone else in the group encouraged him to go down the rope first where he swiftly relieved his fear. After leaving the rocks, the group decided to tackle an afternoon hike that led us to a waterfall with a cliff we could jump from. The leaders surveyed the terrain below before deeming the launch point safe. Our whole group participated in the activity, however Owen, Mae, and Elizabeth made sure to get some great GoPro footage of the jump. That night, we slept outside and counted more than a few shooting stars.
Our second day of climbing started with a longer hike that featured several wildlife sightings. Sam, always at the front of the group, pointed out some deer, a river otter, and even two snakes that were hanging out a couple yards off the trail! Nerve-racking, but memorable nonetheless. Sophie displayed impressive endurance on all the climbs that day, making it to the top of one of the highest routes with ease and finesse. Five hours later, we almost had to drag Caroline and Owen off the rock face to head to Bend, for our highly anticipated TOWN DAY! The group all ate together at a small community of food trucks before exploring the town. Simran took the prize for most interesting gift when she brought back a new fancy pen to help her keep up with her journaling. We all left Town Day with wide smiles and full bellies. Our day concluded on a great note when we met the second PNW group back at camp, who we haven’t seen since Airport Day. What an awesome day!
The next morning started extra early so that we could make it to the famous Monkey’s Face while the sun was still hiding behind the cliffs. As a group, we had resolved that everyone would give the climb a try. Annie was the first to volunteer, lowering herself fearlessly onto the Tyrollean traverse and setting the bar high. Raine showed up to the base feeling nervous, but the strong trust she had built with all of us ended up convincing her that making it up the wall was worth it. After leaving the park today, we all felt many bittersweet emotions as we begin our final section of the trip.
Now we’re heading to the Deschutes River for our rafting section, which is some guaranteed Type 1 fun. We will check back in after with a final update, but until then, here are some shoutouts from the kids:
Hey mom and dad! can you please bring my computer to Atlanta. I’m having so much fun and love everyone on this trip 🙂
Hi Mom and Dad!!! I’m having so much fun here and I wanna stay here longer. But I can’t wait to see y’all soon. Also can you please put money in my account for the San Fran Brandy Melville. ILY! <3 <3
Hi mom and dad! Can you please bring my computer to Cali? Miss y’all!
Hi! I’m having an amazing time. Love y’all!
Hey mom and dad! I love it here and I love everyone in my group. Please don’t forget to bring my computer to Nonquitt! I can’t wait to see you! <3
Hey Ma and Papi! Right now I am in the van going to our last section (rafting). It has gone by so fast. I can’t believe it’s almost over! I have had so much fun with my amazing group. I’m excited to see y’all! McLean and I are going to go all out on the 4th! This has been some of the best weeks of my life but I miss you guys. Love you so much!
Hey mom and dad! Hope you guys had fun in Hawaii! We just finished Monkey’s Face which we had to repel 200 feet for. Our last section is rafting. We met up with the other Moondance group and they said it was easy. We actually had Hayes (the founder) come climb with us along with another person from the office. Can’t wait to see you. Love you.
Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having so much fun on this trip and I love my group and leaders. Also, a raccoon stole one of my bags during the kayak trip with a ton of stuff in it. Anyway, love you guys so much and can’t wait to see you back at ATL.
Hi mom and dad! I’ve been having an awesome time on this trip and I have so many stories to tell you. See you in a few days!
Mom and dad– hi! I jumped off some sick rocks. See you soon!! <3
Aunt RG- I’m psyched for Seattle!
June 26, 2017
What an incredible weekend in the San Juan Islands. Our stay started at San Juan County Park, with an incredible waterfront property that included a beach for everyone to rest and relax. Later that night, the group sat in on a nature talk about all the wildlife we might see while kayaking. Early that next morning we made our way to meet the outfitters and get the paddles in the water. Sophie and Caroline were the first to point out a sea-lion that was curiously following our boats. Raine marveled at the purple and orange starfish spread across the rocky coastline and Mae reached into the water to pet the jellyfish we passed in our kayaks (after being told by our guides that their tentacles were harmless). Even with a long first day of paddling, the group arrived at our campsite with plenty of time to explore our newest home at Jones Island. We had sand beaches, stone cliffs, wooded forests, and grassy knolls all condensed into one island, and Elizabeth led the group to explore each part. Our guides led us on a small hike to watch the sunset for Moonup, and just as we sat down Sam pointed out the porpoises swimming around the point where we had gathered. From this beautiful vantage point we watched the sun sink behind the islands, signaling the end of our first day of sea kayaking. Before bed, our guides surprised us all with a fire and s’mores, the perfect end to a beautiful day in Puget Sound. The next day we set out for a day paddle around several of the surrounding islands, with another day of clear, sunny skies. Annie, who was a Leader of the Day, took the reigns and oversaw the group as we packed and loaded all the boats. Though we were sore from the previous day, the guides remarked that Simran always had a smile on her face, constantly setting a positive tone for the group. In the afternoon, we all enjoyed naps at our campsite– Owen could be found snoozing in an ENO hammock, the most prime napping real estate. We woke up early the next day for our last paddle, with Caroline leading the pack as we completed one of our most difficult channel crossings. As we rounded the corner into Roche Harbor, McLean surprised everyone with a second wind, finishing the trip on a strong note. Once again on San Juan Island, we all enjoyed well-deserved showers at our campsite. Today we begin our journey to Oregon for rock climbing and morale is high. Thanks for tuning in!
Lillie and Guthrie
June 22, 2017
After 10 successful arrivals on Airport Day, our trusty van started towards North Cascades National Park where our backpacking section would soon begin. Our first day was all about preparing, where we learned about Leave No Trace principles, how to pack a pack, and menu planning as it pertains to backpacking. Sam kept the crowd entertained with his wealth of knowledge of card games, and everyone helped compile a summer playlist to make our rides breeze by.
Before we knew it, it was time to throw the packs on. Elizabeth and Owen were the designated Leaders of the Day (LODs) for our first stint of trekking. We had a trip planned in the Ross Lake section of the park, and with mountains clustered around every stretch of the lake it made for some pretty incredible views. Our second campsite had a particularly picturesque landscape, and after a long day with our packs, Caroline led the group to enjoy our southwestern mac n cheese by the beach.
Early the next morning was the start of the toughest task of the trip – ascending Desolation Peak. We climbed a long series of switchbacks that eventually led us to one of the tallest points in the park. Sophie and Mae taught our group a lot about perseverance, and even through the snow and cold toes everyone let out a shout of celebration when we brought out a big bag of Craisins to enjoy on the summit.
As rewarding as the top of Desolation was, the group was still ready to get back to camp. After a quick bowl of pasta, Raine was the first to dive into her tent, with the rest soon to follow. After our naps, we sat around discussing individual stories from throughout the day. McLean of course had everyone in the group laughing, and Annie was even brought to tears.
At our final campsite in the backcountry, Hozomeen Lake, we were all stunned by the clear water and towering mountain peaks. Unable to resist, everyone enjoyed a refreshing dip after a long day of hiking. That night, Simran kept all the girls up in conversation to recap a challenging, yet gratifying, first section of our trip. We all made it back to our van safely and enjoyed some cold cones of ice cream from a local shop on the side of the highway. Everyone is ready to start kayaking, and the bonds of friendship are stronger than we could have expected at such an early point of the trip. We will report back after our paddle through the San Juan Islands!
June 14, 2017
We have been notified by the leaders that all have arrived in Seattle safe and sound and the trip has officially kicked off! Be on the lookout for updates to come along the way as they explore the Pacific Northwest!
-Moondance Administrative Team