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Pacific Northwest 1B • June 13-July 3, 2018

Reporting live from Oregon!

July 1, 2018

Hellooooo everybody!

Reporting live from the incredible state of Oregon, where we will soon be busy scaling up areas of Smith Rock (one of the most legendary and well-regarded destinations to rock climb in the United States). With their game faces on and enthusiasm at an all-time high, the kids are excited to begin the rock climbing section of this incredible journey. This eagerness however is mixed with a hint of melancholy as in a couple days’ time our adventure will sadly draw to a close. It’s hard to believe that the time has flown by so fast!

After spending six days in the Northern Cascades, rafting down the Deschutes River was the perfect opportunity for some much needed relaxation. The kids had worked incredibly hard in the backcountry, and we all looked forward to having some fun in the sun conquering rapids together. As we drove into our campsite the night before we were to depart via rafts, we knew we were in for a good time. The Deschutes could be seen in the near distance, flowing with impressive speed. Setting up our tents next to the river, we were in awe of our desert-like surroundings which contrasted greatly from the lush green of the Northern Cascades and San Juan Islands. We spent the afternoon playing frisbee, conducting mid-trip check-ins, and preparing for the next day by packing our dry bags with everything we would need to live out of a raft. Cabot, James, and Gabe took the lead on cooking us our dinner which comprised of couscous and chicken, topped with balsamic and parmesan. It was cooked to perfection if I do say so myself. ????

That night, the kids decided to forego their tents, instead opting to sleep next to each other on a tarp underneath the stars. This has been a common occurrence during the trip – a true testament to how close the group is. Without intervention from Casey or I, I think they could stay up the entire night talking and laughing. Before exchanging goodnights, the group conducted moonup on the tarp. While sitting in a circle, a full moon began to appear behind a nearby mountain. It was so bright that for a second we considered whether it was the bright headlight of a car; the light illuminated the air around us so intensely that we could make out each others’ faces.

We woke early the next morning to meet our rafting guides and prepare for departure. Dry bags packed and ready to go, we were eager to experience the Deschutes in all its glory. Before we left, our guides, Xander, Ethan and Mariah, introduced a name game to get to know the group. The game required each person to say their name, followed by a kind of food that begins with the same letter. Xander suggested we think strategically about what type of food we picked, warning that usually the food item is remembered while the name is forgotten. Sure enough, Scarlet soon became known as Soup, Cabot as Cabbage, James as Jam, Sophie as Skittles, Remy as Raspberry, Gabe as Guacamole, and Luisa as Lollipop. Some nicknames stuck better than others of course; Cabbage is quite catchy and Soup is nothing short of iconic.

After going over a safety lesson, the group was divided into two teams, the grizzlies (Casey, Gabe, Cabot and Luisa) and the coyotes (Jane, Sophie, Scarlet, Remy and James). The coyotes loaded into Mango’s (Mariah’s) raft, while the grizzlies were with Edamame (Ethan). With helmets on and paddles in hand, we were off, ready to take on the white water. After an hour or so of playing water games such as the T-Grip challenge (where two people in a raft try to balance on the edge by linking the t-grips of their paddles), we finally approached our first major rapid, White Horse. The guides directed our rafts to shore before descending so that the group could scout the rapid and decide which route to take through the fast-moving water. After deciding the best path, the coyotes led the charge. James sat at the front of the raft and was drenched nonstop by the cold water, but that didn’t keep him from laughing hysterically the entire way down.

Shortly after going down White Horse, the group stopped along the shore for lunch. After enjoying delicious sandwiches we had made earlier that morning, the group had the opportunity to jump off boulders into the Deschutes, something we had all been looking forward to for quite some time after hearing through the grapevine that it might be an option. With the support and encouragement of the group, Gabe was able to conquer his fear of heights, which made us all incredibly proud of him. He was happy he had taken the leap, and was extremely excited for the future doughnut he was promised as a reward for doing so.

Nearly twenty miles of river travel under our belt, we stopped along the bank to set up camp for the night. The location was spectacular – intricate rock faces were on either side of us and the river rushed in between. Under the direction of Xander, a glorious dinner of burritos was made by Cabot, Sophie and Scarlet, followed by angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries. YUM. The fresh ingredients were delicious and everyone ate perhaps too much. All in all, the day had been a major success. The guides joined us for a moonup led by James and Luisa. All three enjoyed being included in our nightly ritual.

We were back on the water early the next morning for our second and, much to our dismay, final day of rafting. Knowing we had only a short time left on the water, we tried to take advantage of being on the rafts as best we could by playing an impressive amount of water games during the calmer stretches of the river. Sophie was especially a fan of jumping into the water, rallying the whole team into playing invented games. One such game involved everyone standing in the middle of the raft while one person ran around the edge, all the while trying not to fall in. Remy was really good at this one, making it around the raft at least 3 times before either losing her balance or being pushed in (which was what happened most often).

When the group tired of swimming, Gabe suggested we have a rap battle. The chosen rapper would be provided three random words, and they would have to freestyle to the best of their ability in front of the group. Cabbage (Cabot) thought of some particularly interesting lines…somehow managing to combine the words lightbulb, reindeer, and train into a 10 second song. I wish I had recorded the combinations that the kids came up with, they were pretty epic.

Also during the calmer sections of the Deschutes, the guides allowed the kids to take their place one by one in the bow of the boat so that they could practice steering. Mango and Edamame gave great direction and advice to those who attempted this. Gabe and Luisa spent a significant amount of time in the guide seat, leading the rest of the coyotes and grizzlies safely down the river. It was awesome to watch them both improve their steering capabilities tremendously after only a couple of minutes of practice.

Before the raft takeout, we had a couple more rapids to get through. Because they weren’t as extreme as White Horse, the guides let those who wanted to to “ride the bull” (aka sit on the stern of the raft while they held on to rope). Most of the kids tried their hand at this. Scarlet, James and Cabot especially loved “riding the bull”, giving it a try multiple times. Though they were all soaked by the time the rapids ended, they had a blast and wanted to try it repeatedly. I was impressed by how fearless they all were.

Sooner than we would’ve liked, we spotted sight of the takeout and our time on the Deschutes ended. We all appreciated the time that we had hanging out and learning from the rafting guides (and eating the glorious food that they supplied), but are looking forward to taking on Smith Rock.

More updates to come after showing Monkey Face who’s boss. We hope everyone is doing great back home!


James –  Hey y’all I’m having so much fun with my new friends.  I know Moondance is about to end and everyone is really sad and wish it would never end. We can’t wait to see each other when we get home. We were making trip plans on the second day. But can’t wait to see my family! See you soon!

Cabot –  Hey guys, having such a blast here. Hope you all are doing good. Bye, see you soon.

Scarlet – Hey fam! I don’t want to leave!! I love it out here with all these amazing people! I hope everything is well at home. See you soon!

Remy – Hi, I’ve had so much fun on the final leg of my trip. I miss you all, and I’ll see you very soon!

Sophie – Hey y’all! I am having an amazing time! Everyone is so amazing. I don’t want to leave; however, I am excited to see all of you all back at home.

Luisa – Hey I’m having fun. See you soon ILY

Gabe – Hey mom and Dad. How are ya’ll.  I’m having a great time, learning things, getting over fears, and making new life long friends. I’m really hang the time of my life and I hope ya’ll are too. I love you guys so much and I am excited to be seeing you in a couple days.

Crushing the Cascades!

June 26, 2018

Friends, family, fans and followers,

The fine nine here reporting from Oregon, reflecting on our time spent together deep in the rugged wilderness of the Northern Cascades.  What a time was had! We thought our group was tight as thieves before, but there is nothing quite like traversing throughout the backcountry for six days to bring people together in a way that lasts. The nine of us have become a team that functions much like a well-oiled machine, and the challenges and triumphs faced during the backpacking section of this adventure are much to thank. Whether we were taking the trail by storm by day, or looking up at the vast array of stars overhead at night, the group remained positive as can be and truly appreciative of the wild beauty that constantly surrounded us. Backpacking was undoubtedly one of the more challenging sections of this course, and Casey and I are in awe of how well each student adapted to living in the outdoors, free of many of the amenities of daily life. Together, we left society behind and thrived, relying on each other for support, teamwork, and certainly entertainment. There was no lack of expedition behavior on this excursion, of that we are sure.

As mentioned in our past trip update, the group departed from sea kayaking with high-spirits. As Scarlet would claim, having sea orcas swim so close to our kayaks was “legendary”, and something that set the bar pretty high for the rest of this crazy adventure. Though Casey and I were extremely happy that our trip had begun on such a high note, we wanted to prepare the group for the challenges that would certainly ensue, challenges that are inevitable when carrying everything you need to flourish in the wild on your back. The kids seemed slightly uncertain of what to expect, but ready to take on any adversity that arose.

Before meeting the water taxi that would bring us up Ross Lake to our beginning destination at Rainbow Point, the group traveled to the ranger station in order to pick up our permit and bear-proof food cannisters. The rangers were extremely excited to engage with the kids, and happily reiterated a thorough lesson of the “Leave No Trace” principles that are vital to maintain while camping in both the front country and backcountry to ensure that all can benefit from and enjoy the outdoors for centuries to come. Everyone asked thoughtful questions, which made Casey and I confident that the group took LNT seriously, and were ready to put the principles to the ultimate test. Before we said goodbye to our new friends, they showed us our planned route on a 3-D map, claiming that the area we were about to enter was 92% wilderness. I think it was this statement that really hit home and made the kids realize that backpacking was not for the faint of heart, but instead for the tough, committed pioneer.

The water taxi dropped the group off on a rocky beach overlooking Ross Lake, and the trek began. Our destination for the night, Devil’s Creek camp, was about 3 miles away. Packs were heavy; each individual was responsible for carrying both their personal and group gear, as well as six days’ worth of food to be shared by the team. Scarlet’s pack was especially bulky, as she had unselfishly volunteered to carry a bear cannister as well as much of the group gear, foregoing her personal comfort for the betterment of the fine nine. Casey and I were incredibly impressed by Scarlet’s willingness to carry a lot of the group’s weight, as this was an undeniable act of expedition behavior and set the right tone early on in our backpacking section. Acts such as this one seem to be part of Scarlet’s nature, and were reoccurring throughout the six days we spent on the trail.

As we began hiking, the group quickly realized why Casey and I had stressed the importance of the ABC’s of packing a backpack properly; accessibility, comfort, and balance are all equally essential when preparing ones’ pack for the backcountry. The first 3 miles of our journey were slow, as expected. The kids needed time to adjust to the weight on their back that would soon become customary in a couple days time. We took multiple longer breaks, breaking out GORP and other snacks to refuel and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated which we retrieved from fresh water streams. It turns out iodine water isn’t too shabby!

Spotting the sign for Devil’s Creek Camp, the group was elated to make it to their first campsite in the backcountry, and more than ready to strip off their packs and give their backs a rest until the following day. After tents were set up and our group space was bulletproof (how we define clean and organized in the backcountry), we enjoyed a delicious meal of rice and vegetable curry. James, who was new to the idea of curry and at first a little hesitant, loved the meal. Casey and I were really appreciative of his willingness to try something new. It was then that we declared James as the champion of sumping. For all of you who are unfamiliar with this terminology, “sumping” is the act of eating every bit of food cooked so that it does not have to be packed out in trash bags, even if that bit of food is a slightly burned piece of rice (something about backpacking all day makes a person more willing to eat anything!) “Sumping” reduces the weight of packs and is a great way to practice LNT. We were all grateful of James for stepping up to the plate (literally).

As a group we decided to sleep in the next morning, as the day prior preparing for the backcountry and acclimating to our packs had been undoubtedly tiring. After enjoying filling breakfast burritos (and James sumping the leftover black beans) we were back on the trail, headed towards Lightning Creek which would be our home for the next two nights. The day involved another 3 mile hike to reach our destination, and the group was soon in a groove with Scarlet setting an efficient pace as one of two designated Leaders of the Day. With a mile left in our trek, dark clouds began to form and it appeared as though a storm was in our near future. Though still getting used to a physically demanding life on the trail, the group immediately picked up speed and not a complaint was murmured until we reached camp and quickly set up a tarp to protect ourselves from the impending rain. The stamina evident during this one mile race to our campsite was impressive, and testimony to the development of the group even though it had hardly been 24 hours.

That evening, Moonup took place on a rocky beach nearby Lightning Creek that looked out over an impeccable view that cannot be easily nor adequately described: the snowy peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range jutted out along the skyline, appearing more like a painted mural than a reality that lay before us. Sitting together in a circle, we felt dwarfed and humbled by our surroundings, yet extremely powerful as a close-knit team that could take on anything. Later that night, we would depart on what would be perhaps the most challenging component of our backpacking journey, we would summit Desolation Peak in time for sunrise. Standing at just over 6,000 feet, Desolation Peak is lamented as one of the most awe-inspiring views in the Cascades, and we were hours away from seeing it in all its glory. Perhaps a little unsure of what a sunrise hike up to Desolation would entail, the group went to sleep soon after Moonup concluded in order to gain the energy that would be necessary to reach the summit.

After what seemed like a short nap, Casey and I woke up the team at 11:30pm. Headlamps secured and half awake, we began the 6-mile journey up to Desolation. As we conquered switch back after switch back up the mountain, surrounded by pitch black darkness, Remy, one of the LODs for the day, offered constant encouragements for the team. Ten minutes did not go by the entire 5.5 hours up the mountain in which Remy did not offer some form of support for the team. This was such a cool thing for both Casey and I to be witness to. Despite the exhaustion we were all feeling, Remy really rose to the occasion and took her LOD responsibilities seriously. Her positivity kept the crew pushing through the moments when all we wanted to do was sit down and rest. Reaching the peak for sunrise was the goal, and Remy did her absolute best to keep the group on track. Her efforts very well made the difference.

After hours of grueling hiking, the peak could be spotted in the somewhat near distance. The group was elated but knew a final strong push up the mountain would be necessary in order to catch glimpse of the sunrise. The skyline had already begun to be overtaken by a sliver of the sun; our window of opportunity was dwindling with each passing moment. We needed to make it to the top, and fast. Gabe took the front of the procession and led the group up to the summit. Pushing the pain from hiking for five hours aside, Gabe kept the group working for one final stretch. For the past two days of backpacking, Gabe had entertained and distracted the group during our long hiking stretches with his endless supply of riddles. For anyone who has been hiking for extensive periods of time, you know how much this is appreciated. It was this positivity, paired with Gabe’s resolve which made him the perfect man for the job. Placing one foot in front of the other, and setting mini goals for the group, Gabe took the final stretch by storm, and soon we were rounding the corner to a breathtaking view that gave us goosebumps. We had MADE IT! The Cascade Mountain Range surrounded us in every direction, as far as the eye could see. Jumping around with joy, the group was surprised with Twix bars and Propel to celebrate the hard work they had put in to reach the top. We had accomplished our goal as a team, and there wasn’t a better feeling in the world. Casey and I were beyond proud of each member of this squad for finding within themselves the strength to overcome the physical and mental challenges associated with conquering a sunrise summit. Our hike to Desolation Peak will not be forgotten easily and Casey and I are beyond honored to have shared that special moment with some amazing kids.

After making it down the mountain, Sophie took the lead in making copious amounts of pancakes (topped with M&Ms) for the entire crew. While the rest of the group rested, Sophie slaved by the WhisperLite stove for nearly two hours in order to ensure that everyone had their fair share of well-deserved pancakes. Her pancake flipping abilities certainly did not go unnoticed and the pancakes were enjoyed by all, one in particular. James, aka champion of the sump, took his responsibilities perhaps a little too seriously and was in a food coma for quite some time after the meal ended.

Though the group had crushed a 12-mile roundtrip hike to get to Desolation and back, the next day was by no means easy. To get to Nightmare Camp (our next destination which was much more pleasant than its name I can assure you) required a six-mile travel day. The group was understandably tired and sore, and moral was low. Casey and I hoped that whoever was chosen as the LOD would rise to the occasion and rally the group in order to make it to Nightmare in a timely fashion so that we could enjoy some down time at the campsite. Cabot did just that. Without a single complaint or question, Cabot charged up the steep inclines that dominated the beginning of our hike. He set a great pace for the group, and constantly checked in to ensure that everyone was doing okay. He played an incredibly important role in energizing each and every one of us, and we were all thankful for his displayed leadership. We made it to Nightmare in about 2.5 hours, even taking a lunch break halfway to munch on some delicious sunflower butter and jelly sandwich thins. What a development from the first day of hiking! The group appeared stronger and more confident with every step.

The group knew we were close to Nightmare as we paraded over a bridge that led us safely over a crystal-clear creek that rush beneath us. The campsite was unlike one we had stayed in previously – enormous trees loomed overhead and there was no beach in sight. We were deep in the middle of the Cascades and there was no easy way out. As the kids began to prepare a dinner of southwestern mac n’ cheese we realized our whisperlites were giving us a bit of a hard time. The group remained calm and patient as Casey scoured the instruction manuals looking for a possible solution. Luisa kept the group entertained by striking up a conversation about most embarrassing moments. Her story in particular made the group howl in laughter. This is one thing Casey and I have noticed about Luisa – she has a special way about her in making everyone in the group feel included and part of the conversation. She is truly nice to everyone at all moments, which is such a unique characteristic. The group would not be as strong or tight-knit without Luisa as part of it; she is the glue that keeps the whole crew getting along amidst struggle. Barely noticing the time that passed because of the lively conversation occurring, the group was elated when Casey got one stove working and we were back in business!

The next day marked our last full day of traversing the backcountry. We awoke early and ready to hit the trail as we had heard that our next destination, Hozomeen Lake, was absolutely gorgeous and a great place to spend the day. After packs were full of gear and the campsite was swept for any micro-trash, we were on our way once again. Six miles flew by and before we knew it the group had tents set up, the boys were taking a nap, and the girls were enjoying multiple cups of hot chocolate while we sat by the lake. The view was unlike one we had seen yet in the northern cascades. The water looked like glass, and massive peaks surrounded us from all sides. Beautiful bird calls could be heard echoing from all directions. Sophie, Luisa and I spent some time by the lake conducting an impromptu photo shoot which was a blast. After a couple of hours of relaxation, it was time to brave the cold of the water and go for a swim. There was no way we could leave Hozomeen without taking a dip, especially having not taken a shower in about five days. Sophie, an impressive swimmer, led the brigade. The group swam to the other side of the lake, all the while laughing amongst themselves. It was an incredibly enjoyable moment, and a well deserved one after five days of hard work and perseverance.

That night, we had a delicious meal of basil pesto couscous and salmon. The kids went nuts for couscous. James was certainly not the only one volunteering to sump at the end of the meal. Even Remy, who had had a relatively modest appetite throughout the trip thus far, chowed down.

Gabe and Sophie, the LODs of the day, led a very well thought out Moonup by the lake. We all took some time to think about how lucky we were to be together, underneath a sky sparkling with stars and sitting alongside a lake that could rival even the most impeccable landscapes. We had faced numerous obstacles together and had become all the more close in the process. Sitting there together, we had never felt so grateful for the opportunity to be just where we were. Full of food and satisfied after reflecting on our journey, we went to sleep happy as could be and prepared to finish out backpacking strong as ever.

For our fifth morning waking up in the backcountry, we treated ourselves to a delicious round of cinnamon rolls to energize for what would be our final hike in the northern cascades. We had four miles to conquer and a water taxi ride separating us from reaching civilization once again. Scarlet took the lead and before we knew it the water taxi was pulling up: we were homeward bound. The kids were excited for the endless snacks awaiting them in the van, as well as the promised trip to Cascadian Farm where we would enjoy some much deserved ice cream to celebrate all of our accomplishments. With 30+ miles hiked in our past, the group looks forward to rafting down the Deschutes and rock climbing up Monkey’ Face. We cannot believe that our time together is more than halfway through, but we know that the bonds we have formed will last much longer than this adventure.

Shout outs from the kids:

Luisa – Having fun with my best best best friends, we should move to Asheville! Written by scarlet! Love y’all! P.S. scarlet lives in Asheville.

James – Hola familia I’m having so much fun with my new friends.

Scarlet – Yo yo yo!! Whats up fam! Having so much fun! I even have friends! Love y’all!

Gabe – hey guys! I hope y’all are having a great time because I am. I sent you guys a post card with all that I’ve been doing, and you will be receiving it soon. Love yall!

Cabot – Hey guys, I am having so much fun in Washington and Oregon, backpacking was so awesome, and we are about to go rafting. Can’t wait to see you. Thanks.

Remy – Hola todos! I’ve had so much fun on my trip so far! Be prepared to stock our house up with Nutella! Be home soon! PS- You will receive a postcard with more info!

Sophie – Hey fam! I am having a fabulous time. Can’t wait to see y’all. Hey bolyard fam, you girl scarlet written to ya! I am friends with your lovely sophie, we have gotten pretty tight over these few weeks. P.S. Its been reallll.

Until next time folks,

Jane and Casey

Sea Kayaking Success!

June 19, 2018

Howdy Folks,

Hope all is well! The first chapter of our story in the Pacific Northwest has ended, but what a beginning it has been. I would like to start by emphasizing how remarkable and full of surprises this group has been. Jane and I feel blessed to have these inspiring young people around us. There has been no shortage of laughter out here. Standing nine strong, we are smaller than most, but thick as thieves and proud of it!

Arriving at the airport on the first day, everyone was excited, but a little timid of the new faces surrounding them. However, as we pulled out of Seattle heading north on I-5 towards the San Juan Islands, that apprehension quickly eroded, giving way to a budding group of close friends. Everyone’s personality began to shine during our first meal together outside of a pizza shop in Mt. Vernon. We spent our first night in the Bayview area at cozy little campground nestled against an inland bay. Making good time, we arrived in the middle of the afternoon and promptly set up camp. That evening, we spent the first of many beautiful evenings together watching the sunset as we had a Moonup that will surely be remembered. I believe it was then, looking around the circle at each other present and free of distraction we knew this was going to be a wonderful journey.

The next day we jumped on the ferry and made our way to San Juan Island to prep for Sea Kayaking. Jane and I feared this would be a slow day for the group considering we wouldn’t be on the water until the following morning. This was not the case. Our first leader of the day, Gabe, boldly lead the group on a scramble along the rocky western coast of the island to a high point overlooking the Haro Strait.  After peering at Canada for a bit, we made our way down to camp for more fun. To our surprise, they came up with a new game, coined ‘Hack Attack’, involving the frisbee as a bat and the hacky sack as the ball. The group spent the afternoon laughing and playing the game until dinner. Our guides Hannah, Hoon, and Cameron paid us a visit to talk risk management and logistics for our trip the next day. We finished the day prepping for an early start the next day. The group had a ten-minute silent meditation watching the sunset on the beach and topped a wonderful day of with Moonup just the way we like it.

Friday we took to the seas. Every group needs an energizer. This is someone to motivate and push the tempo when everyone is moving slow. James is our spontaneous motivator. He is always excited for the day and smiling through it. He has a contagious attitude and truly helps the group get through things. He set the tone for our day as the leader the first day of kayaking. We took off from Friday Harbor making our way to Caution Point for lunch. Th group peered at starfish all along the coast during low tide, and eagerly talked of the possibilities of seeing orcas, although the guides warned us it was very rare on kayaks. We saw several bald eagles soaring high above the coast line. As we settled into the pace of the day, everyone seemed to enjoy each other’s company even more. Remy really began to open up and blossom on the kayaking section. Jane and I find her so funny, and subtly sarcastic. She is smart as a whip and taught the group several things about biology. We crossed the channel after lunch in formation and set up camp on Jones Island. Everyone played a big game of ultimate frisbee to pass the time in afternoon. It is amazing how inclusive and tight knit this group is. Not even the guides could sit out our afternoon game. The kindness they express to others shows a level of maturity not often found in people their age. After Moonup as the sunset, our campsite was visited by a good number of daring Racoons in search for left out snacks. They would aggressively fight each other over access to our campgrounds, which startled and frightened some. The group had been a bit disorganized with belongings and food the first nights around camp, something Jane and I emphasized was incredibly important to improve upon. This was the perfect learning moment for the group. With Backpacking as our next trip, we all discussed and acknowledged that if racoons are willing to visit daringly over scraps, bears and much more will certainly be at our doorstep in an unkept campground in the backcountry.

Saturday, we arose feeling rested and ready for a full day’s paddle. After a delicious breakfast, the gang organized themselves and thoroughly cleaned camp, without the prompt needed by Jane and I days before. It was a proud and marked improvement. They were taking initiative, something the challenges ahead would require of them. With hardly a cloud in the sky, we set out on a beautiful morning to circumnavigate Jones Island. The group moved swifter than the day prior, hugging the coast to avoid the current. As everyone rounded the corner of the island, a moment unfolded I will never forget. The group paddled around a bend on the north side revealing a spectacular view of the Cascade Range in the distance, the place we would soon call home. Just as we began to take in what lay before us the guides exclaimed, “Look to the channel!”. There they were not 20 yards from us, it was orcas! One large fin and one small fin cresting in and out of the water as an eagle flew overhead. We banded our kayaks together and watched for a short moment as they gracefully passed by. It was incredible. Somehow, Cabot was able to take a beautiful shot focused perfectly on the fin of the orca as it popped out of the water. He has been proving to be quite the photographer this trip. When pointing out how talented he is, Cabot is always so humble. I don’t know if Cabot even knows how to complain to be honest. He is the definition of a team player, and a heck of a young man.

Scarlett has been a constant source of encouragement to others as well as knowledge throughout the trip. Scarlett is always thinking of ways to solve problems, and quick to share different ways of looking at things. We had lunch on a smaller island and talked of our orca experience. We were a lucky, happy bunch that day.

Sophie, who shared a boat with me, is a joy to be around. As we paddle, she was surprisingly good at steering allowing me to take footage up close of other boats. She is always so calm and collected that it helps keep the group center during trying times. We led the pack the rest of the day in our boat nicknamed ‘Cayenne Pepper’. The following morning, we rose early to avoid strong ebb and made our way back Roche Harbor. We were sad to leave the guides, our new friends, but awfully excited about the Backpacking that lay ahead of us. Luisa sparked the group to go swimming that afternoon at our campground despite the tired faces from the early morning. She is so witty and inquisitive. She is the conversationalist of the group. Jane and I hypothesis she may be our boss one day, perhaps CEO.

As I type this, we are arriving at the foot of the Cascades. This beautiful range towers above us. It feels like the land of giants. The group is giddy to get out in the woods and conquer the challenges await. The group has a few shout outs to the folks back home:

Scarlet – We are about to go on a six day camping trip with the same clothes, thinking of you Padre! Happy Happy Fathers Day! Love lots!! I hope yall are having fun! I am having a blast!!!

James- Happy fathers day dad! I’m having so much fun on my trip and everyone made close friends really fast. Thanks see you when I get home.

Gabe- Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you so much; thank you for sending me on this trip, I am having a 10 out of 10 time, and have made so many new friends.

Cabot- Happy fathers day, dad. I am having so much fun, I have made very close friends, see you soon.

Sophie-Happy Fathers Day! I am having so much fun, and can’t wait to see y’all.

Remy: Happy belated Father’s Day Dad! I’m having so much fun with my new friends ,and we saw an orca! See you soon!

Luisa: Happy Father’s Day Dad! I hope you’re having a great day, and I love you so much. ILY


Off on an adventure we go! Take care everyone.

Best Regards,

Casey and Jane

All is well in Seattle!

June 13, 2018

Hey Pacific Northwest Families,

We’re just letting everyone know the group has all arrived safely in Seattle and they are heading out to begin the trip! More updates to come, so stay tuned.

-Moondance HQ


  • Sophie
  • James
  • Remy
  • Scarlet
  • Cabot
  • Gabe
  • Luisa