Field Notes

The Grand 2 • July 16-July 29, 2018

Final Update!

July 29, 2018

Its wild to think that our time together has finally come to a close. The past two weeks have been so incredible. It has truly been a trip of a lifetime to say the least. To imagine now that just a mere 14days ago we all came together for the first time as a group of strangers is bizarre because it feels like we are saying goodbye to our family today.

 

After some much needed rest the morning after The Grand, we had a long leisurely morning eating breakfast, packing, and getting ready for a fun afternoon of white water on the Snake River. As we swung through town we realized we had an hour to spare before we hit the water so we stopped into town to grab some souvenirs and check the cool town of Jackson. Davis and Sam G. found the best place to find and a good T-shirt and got lots of presents. After a quick town stop we headed over to Mad River whitewater to meet with our rafting guides. We soon split up between two boats and started down the river. Will and Sam M. had a blast trying to pull people into the water. Henry even managed to jump fully onto the other boat and take out several other students into the frigid water.  It quickly turned into an all out water war. Lizzie somehow managed to be the only one of us who stayed dry. It was a blast! Nat and Taylor even managed to ride the bull at the front of the raft through the biggest waves of the day.  We finished our day of rafting with an epic full moon Moonup by Jackson Hole’s famous barn over looking a spectacular view of the Tetons.

 

Our last day we woke up very early to meet ours fly fishing guides for a fun half day private fishing trip.  We all split up into groups of 2-3 to maximize our fishing time on the water. Everyone seemed to have a great morning.  Both Ashlyn and Bridget came back saying they had a wonderful time and caught a lot of fish. Egan really caught on to the fly fishing and managed to pull in six cutthroat trout, definitely a record for the day! After our beautiful morning on the river we spent most of the afternoon in the park hanging out and making delicious quesadillas.

 

After a quick run to a local thrift store to find the perfect banquet outfit, we finished up our last evening with a delicious and very fun banquet meal. We then had our last Moonup under the stars. A bittersweet finale to an incredible two weeks. Thank you again so much for allowing your children to come on this trip. It’s been a treat. Rocky Mount(ain) forever!


Up to the Grand Teton and Back!

July 27, 2018

We did it! We successfully climbed the Grand Teton. Here’s how it all went down.

 

We met our guides around 9:30 AM and hit the trail about an hour later. We split into two groups to lessen our impact on the trail and on all the other folks out enjoying the beauty of Grand Teton National Park. We hiked up, up, up on a series of switchbacks until we hit a boulder field. We scrambled over enormous boulders and then found ourselves surrounded by snow! A great surprise for everyone. We traversed some snow, crossed more boulders, and then began the final push up the mountain to the Lower Saddle, which is where we would camp.

 

After we reached the second boulder field, Lizzie recognized her need to slow down, so she formed a third group and continued to hike with Rachel and Sheldon, one of our Exum guides. As we hiked up, we did our best to maintain a specific pace in order to reach the hut before nightfall. Unfortunately, some weather rolled in, and we made the hard decision to turn around and head back to the trailhead. While we were not able to attempt the summit, it is imperative that the world knows just how tough Lizzie is. She pushed herself physically and mentally harder than she ever has before. She never once complained about the hike, and she was supportive of our call to turn around.

 

There are seven leadership principles that we teach here at Moondance, and one of them is self-awareness. Lizzie could not have done a better job demonstrating her ability to be self-aware yesterday. She constantly communicated when she needed to take a break or slow down. She was not embarrassed to form her own group, recognizing everyone else needed to continue on at a faster pace. Throughout the whole experience, Lizzie stayed positive and showed serious grit. We had wonderful conversations about female leaders, and we even encountered some wildlife! Proud does not do justice for how we feel about Lizzie’s efforts on the mountain. As Sheldon said, “Climbing mountains is never about reaching the summit.” It’s about pushing yourself and doing things harder than you never thought you could. That is exactly what Lizzie did, and all we can say is way to go!!

 

As for the rest of the crew, today was a wild one! We woke up at 3AM and started walking at 4AM. We put on our headlamps and headed for our first landmark: the Black Dike. Afterwards, the real scrambling began. Davis and Egan took off with Jonas up the Exum route. They both showed off their fantastic climbing skills and never let the heights affect them. Davis’ calm, cool demeanor paired with Egan’s constant humor made for quite the pair! Needless to say, they absolutely crushed it.

 

Henry, Ashlyn, and Bridget formed another rope team. They cruised right up the Owen Spaulding Route. Bridget conquered her fear of being claustrophobic by climbing through a cave not once but twice! She “risked it for the biscuit,” and the biscuit was the summit. Henry thought he had a fear of heights until he got up on the Grand and discovered how comfortable he was up on the exposed rock. He kept his composure as he scurried up the mountain to join everyone on the summit! Lastly, Ashlyn had no trouble getting to the summit. She greatly enjoyed the hike up and said it was her favorite day of the trip! Her climbing abilities shined brightly way up in the sky this morning.

 

Sam M., Natalie, and Sam G. formed a “Sam-wich” on their rope team. Sam M. came face to face with his fear of heights. The first two pitches of the Owen Spaulding route are quite exposed, and after letting out a Tarzan-like yell, Sam M found his flow state and easily made his way to the summit. Natalie was the center of the “Sam-wich” and kept everyone smiling on the mountain. Her positivity and constant cheering motivated everyone to not only get up but to also get down safely. Sam G calmly belayed Sam M up the mountain and helped soothe his fear of heights. Sam G served as a great motivator and put his climbing skills to the test as he too made it to the summit.

 

Taylor and Will rocked it up the mountain to a very special spot called the Enclosure. Taylor showed off all of his newly learned climbing techniques and stayed very calm up on the rock. Similarly, Will put his nerves behind him and absolutely conquered the rock. Taylor and Will climbed up with an Exum guide name Kai who kept them entertained all day. They safely made their way up the mountain and never faltered.

 

We could not be prouder of this crew. Every single person pushed themselves physically and mentally. They put their bodies and minds to the test as they climbed up, up, up then down, down, down. It has been so much fun to hang out with these eleven students, and we are excited for two relaxing days on the Snake River!


Prepping for the Grand Teton!

July 25, 2018

Well hey there again! Long time no talk!

We just successfully finished our second day of climbing school. The past two days we have gone to Teton Village and learned lots of knots, climbing commands, climbing techniques, rappelling skills, how to coil ropes, and so many other things. All of our new hard skills will set us up for great success as we tackle the Grand Teton for the next two days.

During climbing school, we divided into smaller groups in order to better simulate what summit day will be like. Davis immediately stood out as a pro climber. He was quick to teach others knots and techniques and was even more quick when picking up the new skills our Exum guides introduced. Paired with Davis was Natalie! She had an enormous smile on her face today as she rappelled down an overhanging cliff. It’s safe to say Nat has the most enthusiasm about our summit bid!

Another rope team consisted of Will and Lizzie. Boy do our Exum guides love Will. They quite literally offered him a job to teach all of their clients how to be good people! Will’s ability to talk to anyone about absolutely anything is the best distraction from the hot rock and scary heights! He showed immense improvement from day one to day two of climbing school and is ready to tackle the Grand. Lizzie also showed enormous improvement. She came face to face with her fear of heights and did an amazing job. Throughout the entire trip, Lizzie has left her comfort zone and done a fabulous job pushing herself to accomplish things she never knew she could. Climbing school was no exception!

Bridget and Henry worked together beautifully as they climbed up high and speedily rappelled down the rock. Bridget’s positivity shined brightly both days. Like Lizzie, Bridget pushed herself out of her comfort zone and very quickly found herself loving learning how to rappel. As a first time climber, Henry excelled. At the end of the day, he said, “Wow. I think this is my favorite day thus far.”

Another dynamic duo was Ashlyn and Taylor. Ashlyn had prior multi-pitch experience and showed off her skills during climbing school. She is excited to get up in some mountains that are much higher than the Appalachians! After climbing Warrior II in the Winds, Taylor was inspired with confidence and crushed climbing school. He is excited for the challenge that the Grand presents, and we know he is going to be great!

Last, but certainly not least, we had a trio of Sam G, Sam M, and Egan. Their skills were incredibly impressive, and their teamwork was inspiring. Sam G used his prior climbing experience to zoom up the rock. When learning knots, he was almost always the first to finish! Sam M combined his quick learning abilities, natural physicality, and excitement for climbing to absolutely rock climbing school. He was incredibly enthusiastic and cannot wait to take on the Grand! Similarly, Egan used his excitement to climb the Grand as his motivation to make it through climbing school. He always paid attention to the guides and made sure he was mastering all of the proper techniques, but he did so with a healthy amount of goofing around mixed in. Something the whole group was thankful for!

We cannot wait to attempt the summit. We are oh so very proud of these kiddos and all the hard work they’ve put in the past two days. Stay tuned to see what happens!


It's been a Grand Ol' Time!

July 23, 2018

Well folks we’re back from an amazing adventure in the Wind River Range. We all feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend this past week together in one of the most beautiful and unique mountain ranges in the world. We walked along crystal clear rivers, summited awe inspiring mountains, jumped into freezing alpine lakes below craggy granite peaks, fished until brilliant sunsets faded night, laid down in flower filled meadows, and laughed until it hurt.

We were so impressed with everyone and their strength and determination throughout the trip. As the oldest in the group Natalie set the tone with how to be a leader in the backcountry. Her tent mate Ashlyn stepped up as a leader when Natalie needed some tender loving care. Our first night, Lizzie found out that she was a wizard in the kitchen. She and Sam M. Knocked the pad Thai out of the park. They chopped up veggies, cooked noodles, and stir fried the living daylights out of it. The crew absolutely loved it. Also, Davis discovered a new found talent for flipping pancakes. Breakfast for dinner never tasted so good.

While on the trail, we had the opportunity to summit on of the peaks in the Cirque of Towers, which is a very famous climbing destination. It was certainly a highlight of all of our trips. As we woke up that morning, excitement flooded our group. Many of us had never climbed a mountain before so the anticipation was palpable. We began by snaking our way up along a a dense wooded drainage running out of the valley between two mountains. We soon realized we were following a small creek that ran out of a high alpine lake. When we arrived at the lake we were finally reward with our first views of the towering peak we were about to attempt. From the lake we decided we would go for the taller of the two peaks, Warrior 2. We worked our way up from the lake to a beautiful grassy saddle above and then headed up and left to the east ridge. The ridge line provided phenomenal views on either side of both our lake side camp and the Big Sandy Valley. We continued up the steep rocky ridge until we finally reached a snowy field where we got our first glimpses at the Cirque.  Moments later Egan and Sam G. fearlessly stood at the summit of Warrior 2 as the wind howled over the summit ridge. The climbed proved to be worth every step for we could see the Grand Teton from the top! After returning to our campsite, Bridget was brave enough to jump in the frigid waters of Donald Lake to cool off her soar hot muscles. An ice bath well deserved!

Every afternoon after a day of walking we would find ourselves at a beautiful camp ground next to a lake, each one seemingly more magnificent than the next. Taylor logged lots of miles on the trail but found a new talent fly fishing. He spent countless hours at Blue Lake honing in his new skills. As we all hung out on the bank on the lake Will entertained us all with his incredible story telling abilities. Also, Henry kept us laughing during our afternoon ritual of card playing in the Bug Out.

We are so thankful for this opportunity to spend time in one of our country’s most precious wild places. Even more so we are grateful for the friendships we have made on the first of our many adventures together. While our time in the Winds was shorter than we would have liked, we are ready to tackle climbing school and prep for our summit bid of the Grand Teton. Stayed tuned!


Wild Times in the Winds!

July 23, 2018

Well folks we’re back from an amazing adventure in the Wind River Range. We all feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend this past week together in one of the most beautiful and unique mountain ranges in the world. We walked along crystal clear rivers, summited awe inspiring mountains, jumped into freezing alpine lakes below craggy granite peaks, fished until brilliant sunsets faded night, laid down in flower filled meadows, and laughed until it hurt.

We were so impressed with everyone and their strength and determination throughout the trip. As the oldest in the group Natalie set the tone with how to be a leader in the backcountry. Her tent mate Ashlyn stepped up as a leader when Natalie needed some tender loving care. Our first night, Lizzie found out that she was a wizard in the kitchen. She and Sam M. Knocked the pad Thai out of the park. They chopped up veggies, cooked noodles, and stir fried the living daylights out of it. The crew absolutely loved it. Also, Davis discovered a new found talent for flipping pancakes. Breakfast for dinner never tasted so good.

While on the trail, we had the opportunity to summit on of the peaks on the Cirque. Egan and Sam G. Fearlessly stood at the summit of Warrior 2 as the wind howled over the summit ridge. The climbed proved to be worth every step for we could see the Grand Teton from the top! After returning to our campsite, Bridget was brave enough to jump in the frigid waters of Donald Lake. An ice bath well deserved!

Taylor logged lots of miles on the trail but found a new talent fly fishing. He spent countless hours at Blue Lake honing in his new skills. Will entertained us all with his incredible story telling abilities. Also, Henry kept us laughing during our afternoon ritual of card playing in the bug out.

While our time in the Winds was shorter than we would have liked, we are ready to tackle climbing school and prep for our summit bid of the Grand Teton.

Stayed tuned!


Get Grand!

July 16, 2018

Hello Families!

We heard from Jonas and Rachel, and the trip is off to a “grand” start! Stay tuned for more updates from the leaders over the next few weeks.

  • Moondance HQ

Students

  • Natalie
  • Ashlyn
  • Lizzie
  • Egan
  • Sam
  • Taylor
  • Sam
  • Davis
  • Will
  • Bridget
  • Henry

Staff