July 28, 2017
Hello everyone! We are here to report one last time on our final days in the Pacific Northwest. After rafting, we made our way back to Washington for an evening of relaxation at our campsite. The next morning, everyone woke up for an early celebration of Theo’s birthday with chocolate chip pancakes! It was a perfect start to our last full day together, which consisted of soap fights at the car wash, gear cleaning, and other end of trip tasks. We finished out the day with a trip to a thrift store to find the perfect outfit for our final banquet dinner. Once everyone was dressed to the nines, we all feasted as we celebrated everything that we accomplished throughout the trip. Back at camp, the shenanigans only continued when all of a sudden, a water balloon fight broke out between the three PNW groups! What a memorable last night it was. During our final Moonup, we all shared our favorite memories of the trip, and just when we thought the night couldn’t get any better, the celebration continued! Birthday cookies materialized in the circle, we all sang for our dear friend Theo and made sure he blew out every single candle. Now Airport Day has arrived, and we all go our separate ways with tearful goodbyes and strong friendships. What an amazing three weeks we’ve had! It has been such a blast leading this wonderful group of kids- thanks for tuning in one last time!
Over and out,
Lillie and Guthrie
July 27, 2017
Greetings everyone! Our group has just finished the last section of the trip, whitewater rafting. After two days on the Deschutes River, we leave with fond memories, stronger biceps, and bold Chaco tans.
After departing Smith Rock, we made our way to Trout Creek where we would spend the evening preparing for our rafting section. Just when we thought the trip couldn’t get any better, we were joined by a surprise guest from Moondance HQ, Alan! What a guy. Soon after, our rafting guides arrived and we spent the evening pumping up boats and learning the ins and outs of river safety. Though our arms were sore from climbing, Theo still had plenty of energy to help inflate the rafts – we are starting to think he might be half superhero, half human.
In the morning, we got an early start on the water and learned all the necessary paddling techniques to conquer our first Class III rapid, White Horse. Alvar took the front lines of the first boat, braving each wave like a champ. Through the afternoon we enjoyed a few calmer sections where Caroline and Paige relaxed in the boat and took raft naps. Later on, our guides let us jump off a rock into the river. Dallas, fearless as always, was the first to leap off, while Andrei conquered his fear of heights and jumped in after a few moments of contemplation. Our first day ended with another Class III rapid, Buckskin. After running it in the raft, the guides deemed the rapid safe for swimming. Though a bit nerve-wracking, everyone swam through at least once. Walker, never one to turn down an exhilarating experience, even led a few people through a second time. Once at our campsite, our guides treated us to a feast and some live musical performances! Tired from a day in the desert, we all slept with the sound of the river rushing by.
Our second day of rafting was equally thrilling. After several challenging rapids, we were feeling confident and competent with our paddles. But maybe these sentiments came too soon. While going over a wave called “Mr. Scrappy,” Betsy tumbled out of the boat and started floating downstream. Guthrie luckily came to her rescue quickly and pulled her back in, everyone laughing hysterically at her accidental swim. As the excitement and the currents began to calm, Charly whipped out a fresh deck of cards for a game of Hearts on the raft, no doubt scheming complicated strategies to lead himself to victory. As we made our way to our take-out point, the final miles consisted of intense raft wars between the two boats. Colin was definitely the ringleader, never foregoing an opportunity to pull his friends (or his leaders) into the water when they last expected it. Now back in Washington, we are enjoying our last few days together before we part ways. That’s all for now!
Living in the moment,
Lillie and Guthrie
July 25, 2017
Hello from Oregon! It’s Day 18, and our group has just finished crushing Smith Rock.
We’ve been spending the past few nights at Smith Rock State Park which is within hiking distance of the famous rock climbing site. Many of us were climbing crags for the first time, and were admittedly a little nervous. Andrei was unsure of how well he’d do, but left the first day feeling super accomplished after making it to the top in two of the climbs. Theo and Alvar were our two veteran climbers this session, and taught their buddy Charly a bunch of tips to help him out as he learned strategies for scaling the walls. After a packed day of climbing, we all ventured to Steelhead Falls for a swim in the cool river, followed by dinner at our campsite prepared by the group’s most impressive cook, Caroline.
The second day was very similar to the first, with just a slightly elevated degree of difficulty. Everyone got to continue to test their climbing skills and improve on specific weaknesses before our big third day. Some of us were yelling once we got to the top of each rope. Walker on the other hand just started breezing up and down the walls before anyone could notice she’d started. Even though the second day of climbing kept us all entertained for the morning, minds soon started wandering towards our Town Day that was scheduled for the afternoon.
After hiking back to the campsite and packing into the van, our crew started heading for Bend. When we got there the boys and girls split up to take on the town. In that time, they bought sweatshirts, ice cream, stickers, hoodies, and a whole host of other things. Colin even convinced the other boys to all pitch in for a Star Wars themed bend shirt as a gift for Guthrie, (I don’t know if I’ve made this clear in the past few updates but Star Wars has been a big theme these past couple weeks). We all came back from Bend with overstretched stomachs and a renewed source of energy.
The next day, we woke up at sunrise for the steep hike to Monkey’s Face. It was an intimidating rock to look at, especially considering the traverse across a Tyrolean bridge in order to start the climb. Everyone showed up nervous, but Dallas, Colin, and Walker all set the tone as our first three climbers and eased everyone’s nerves. Paige and Betsy showed up saying they wouldn’t even think about trying it, but the whole group made sure they gave it an effort – and they did! The whole stay at Smith Rock was centered around challenges and testing our limits, and we feel proud to report that we are leaving with more confidence in our abilities. Rafting will be a fantastic section to end on, but everyone in the group is sad knowing the trip is coming to a close. We will report back with our second to last update after the Deschutes River, and we hope everyone is well back home!
Lillie and Guthrie
July 21, 2017
Four short days ago we drove off our ferry into Friday Harbor, the largest town on the islands, where we met our guides and prepared for the upcoming trip. Once camp was set up and our dry-bags were packed, we drove the kids to the airport to pick up a surprise package. Virginia, who works in the office, flew in from Nashville to join us for our kayaking trip, and came with her own fresh tank of energy. Alvar and Dallas were extra hospitable to our guest, and rarely left her side throughout the remainder of the section. The afternoon was used for rest and relaxation, complete with hammocks and cards that were out until dusk (Andrei has progressively started to dominate everyone else in hearts, will continue to update on his run). The first day on the water – with kayak specialists Jordan and Sam – was long but smooth as we paddled across some glassy channels. We arrived at Jones Island where Charly proudly set-up his new Walmart hammock for the first time, and with that our hammock count grew to three. The guides whipped up an awesome taco buffet for dinner, and brought out s’mores to munch on around the fire. That was plenty enough for us to pass out within an hour of cleaning our plates, and our first day was deemed a success.
The next day we broke down camp and shoved everything in the kayaks in time for an early start before the tides picked up. It only took one day for each girl to beg to be in Théo’s paddling partner, who had asserted himself as the strongest paddler with ease. Caroline and Betsy were placed together for some peaceful catch-up time, and the currents in front of us were just as calm as Day 1. We stopped for lunch at the smallest state park in Washington, Posey Island, and Colin had the group rolling with laughter over his harsh critique of the admittedly poor maps posted at our lunch spot. After a comforting BBQ chicken meal we breezed through a short paddle to reach Stuart Island, the most Northwest point of the continental United States. A three mile hike led us to a picturesque lighthouse that provided Walker and Caroline some great opportunities to work on their Moondance catalog cover-shot. Paige and Andrei led Moonup while we soaked in the sunset, and the group talked all about our care-free days in the San Juans. The next morning had a casual wake-up, but the group still gave our last day maximum effort and we had completed the section before lunch.
After an unforgettable stretch of days it was very difficult to say good-bye to Virginia, yet we knew that climbing awaited at Smith Rock and we were ready for the next challenge. Everyone is happy as slowly cross the Washington-Oregon border, which marks the point of two activities down with two to go. We will reach back out to you all when we complete our stay at Smith Rock State Park.
Lillie and Guthrie
July 16, 2017
Live from the Pacific Northwest!
The group has just completed our 6-day backpacking journey. Though the feet are still sore, our spirits are higher than ever and we can’t believe all that has happened in the past week.
Our first full day together was spent preparing our packs and group gear for the upcoming section. Though it isn’t the most adventurous part of the trip, Colin and Dallas started up a hammock corner in the back of our site. It was awesome to see everyone huddled up together playing “Mafia” well into the night, all on the second day. The next day, Charly and some of the other boys rose early to help the leaders surprise Dallas with a silly-string wake up in honor of her birthday. We all ate donuts around the picnic tables and treated Dallas like we’d been friends for years. Great way to start off backpacking!
We broke down camp and started to head for Ross Lake. After a mile-long hike from the van to the water, we got taxied about ten miles downriver to begin our trek. We had our first backcountry lunch there, and Betsy enjoyed her first of many naps on the dock.
After picking up the crumbs and nudging Betsy awake, we were off. The first day was short, serving as a warm-up, so we were able pitch camp with plenty of daylight left. Theo and Caroline started to dominate our group games as the sun set over a brilliant pink sky. Most of the girls decided to sleep under the stars that night, while the Andrei helped the guys form their first Tent City (which will surely remain until the end of the trip).
One day later, we woke up at midnight to get an alpine start for Desolation Peak. Long wavy clouds illuminated by the full moon were swept across the sky, and we knew it was going to be a challenging but great day. There were 6.5 miles and 4,500 feet between us and the summit, but the group put their nose down and we were rewarded because of it. Five minutes after we’d gotten to the ridge, the sun began peaking over the mountains in the distance. Everyone collapsed once we got to the top, but I’d never seen anyone go from 0-60 quicker than when Alvar and Charly saw the leaders bring out Skittles, Kit-Kats, and Snickers for a trademark summit-snack.
On our way down, Walker was already talking about all the other peaks that she wants to reach in her life, and despite the early wake-up call, we were all convinced the trip was worth the sunrise. The next couple of days had some big highlights: waking up Charly with birthday pancakes, Paige kicking it into sixth gear on the last day and dusting everyone on her determined trek to the van, and watching Theo and Alvar hike every step of the trail side-by-side. Our last campsite was by far the group’s favorite. After a long day of hiking, jumping into the clear water was the best possible reward. All the girls even decided to jump in again that night for a moonlight swim under the stars. We feel sufficiently rewarded after the first section, and sad to leave Ross Lake behind. But new adventures await and we can’t wait to tell you all about sea kayaking in a couple days’ time. Until then, we wish you all the best!
-Lillie and Guthrie