June 25, 2019
Greetings from Jackson!
Today our Big Wild family tearfully parted ways at the Jackson airport after having a grand ole time together these past two weeks. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids and will miss them and their goofy grins dearly!
Since our last update, our crew traveled back to Jackson for a day in the wonderful western town. The van ride was fun to say the least with the kids singing their hearts out to their favorite jams! Once we arrived in Jackson yesterday afternoon, we set up camp at our campsite which overlooked the majestic Tetons that we have come to know and love.
Before hitting town, we enjoyed lunch and had a few furry friends join us. Mid bite into their sandwiches, Ruthanna and Emma spotted two moose trotting right towards us. Keegan and Fielder made some moose noises that brought our furry friends trotting right by our tents. Talk about an up close and personal wildlife sighting!
After making friends with the moose, our crew hit the town! The kids were beyond excited to shower off before wandering the streets of Jackson. Once we were all fresh and clean, we perused the shops looking for various memorabilia items to remember the trip by. Practically locals, MK and Abby got huckleberry flavored souvenirs while Emmy and Lanie got various Jackson Hole clothing items that they are wearing home today!
Decked out in Jackson Hole gear, the group devoured a hearty Mexican meal for our final banquet. There were plenty of laughs all around the table as Tanner and Jake finished their whole “monster” sized plates. It is safe to say that everyone left our final meal together more than satisfied and so happy to enjoy so many meals together for the past two weeks!
Upon returning to our campsite, we closed out the trip with a final Moonup as the sun set behind the Tetons! The group shared their biggest accomplishments with each other before closing out with our favorite group activity: “thunderstorm”. Brooks and Grayson led the way since “thunderstorm” is their specialty, and it inevitably left the group bellowing with giggles to end the night and trip.
We cannot thank y’all enough for sending your incredible children on Big Wild with us. It has been such a privilege to be their leaders and watch them grow as leaders themselves. We wish you all and them the best and will miss them dearly!
Eleanor and Chappell
June 23, 2019
A big hello from the wild Salmon River!
After four fun filled days on the river, our crew is closer than ever as we head back to Jackson to finish up the rest of our trip. Since you last heard from us, we took our van on a road trip to McCall, Idaho where we spent a beautiful night at our campsite before we started our rafting adventure. The kids had a blast dancing around the lake and taking pictures with our little dinosaur friend, Timmy, during sunset. Our Moonup that night was quite spectacular as we witnessed the sun fall over the lake and enjoyed deep belly laughs from everybody. We then got a good night’s rest before starting our Salmon River excursion.
The next morning, we met our river guides at the put-in and started our float trip down the majestic Salmon. It was a bit chillier than expected to start. However, after lunch, the sun started to make an appearance and spirits were high. Once we reached camp, a rainstorm hit us, but the sun made a bright appearance in time for the dinner and left us with a TRIPLE rainbow! We all enjoyed the scrumptious burgers that MK, also known as Chicken Master”, and Jake cooked up for us as we took in the stunning view of the mountains on the river. We ended the day with some sweet peach cobbler and an awesome Moonup on the beach after an intense game of spike ball.
On our second day of rafting, we woke up to the lovely smell of pancakes, eggs, and bacon filling our noses. The kids thoroughly enjoyed breakfast to say the least as there were no crumbs left behind. After packing up camp, LODs (Emmy and Keegan) led us in Morning Huddle to prepare us for our big rapid day of rafting. The weather was much better which made all of the splashing from the rapids even more enjoyable. Fielder and Lanie led one raft in the mind twister games of “Snaps” and the “Plane Game” which were a hit on the river. Meanwhile, Tanner (or should I say Kyle) and Grayson kept their raft in giggles with folk tales of the group with each member having an alternate name. We encountered some wild friends on our river journey that day as well including bald eagles, elk, and marmots! Once we arrived at camp, the kids were mesmerized by the large beach we called home for the night. Emmy, Emma, and Lanie whipped up some mouthwatering spaghetti and meatballs and Caesar salad which satisfied everybody after a long day of rafting. To top it off, the guides treated us with gooey brownies as we watched the sky turn pink on the mountains. The crew ended the day with a sunset photo shoot and an ample amount of laughter.
The next morning, we started the day off with a delicious French toast breakfast for our sweet Emmy’s 15th birthday! MK was thrilled to have her favorite food for breakfast which she had been talking about all trip. We also woke up to bright sunshine just in time for Emmy’s birthday! The kids had a blast this day since we floated at a leisurely pace and the sun was quite warm. Ruthanna and Abby gladly paddled the front of the raft to cool off, and Fielder and Brooks steered the rafts with the guides’ help. We stopped for lunch on a grassy island where the boys enjoyed an intense game of hacky sack while the girls practiced yoga and sunbathed in the sweet sunshine. After lunch, we had a short float to camp during which Brooks and Keegan played the paddle game which ended with them both in the water and everyone chuckling endlessly. Once we arrived at our final campsite, Jake and Emma (LODs) led the kids in setting up camp all by themselves. After camp was set up, the girls decided to polar plunge for Emmy’s birthday followed by an afternoon sunbathing nap by the whole crew. As the sun started to set, Abby and Grayson served up some fiery fajitas for our last night on the river. Following dinner, Emma, Emmy, Lanie, and MK sported their competitive side and showed the group their spike ball skills. Meanwhile, the rest of the group was busy preparing a special birthday surprise for Emmy. What kind of birthday would it be without funfetti cake and s’mores?! It is safe to say everyone’s sugar tooth was satisfied last night! We ended our rafting trip with a sunset Moonup reflecting on the best years of our lives to fit the birthday theme.
This morning we packed up camp and rafted to our take-out point on the Salmon and then started to drive back to Jackson. It’s starting to hit the kids that we only have two more nights together, and they’re taking in every moment together. It has filled us up to watch the group become a family these past two weeks, and we sure will miss this great group of kids! Be on the lookout for our final update on Airport Day!
Eleanor and Chappell
June 19, 2019
Hello there folks from the Grand Tetons!
What a time we have had together! The group has grown to become a family these past couple of days which couldn’t make us happier. Our crew just finished up a grand two days of rock climbing in Grand Teton National Park. Most of us had never rock climbed before but everyone finished the section climbing like pros. After we exited the Wind River Range, our group enjoyed a local food stop and devoured some delicious burgers and fries as a reward for their hard work backpacking. From there, we made our merry way back to Jackson to prepare for rock climbing. The kids were thrilled to have a shower and see the town of Jackson. We then surprised them with ice cream which brought even bigger grins to their faces. Abby decided to go local on us and try Jackson’s famous “Cowboy Coffee” flavor which didn’t fail to disappoint. Before we headed to our campsite, teams Elk, Grizzly, Trout, and Grouse scurried through the aisles of the grocery to get us the provisions we needed for the next few days. Team Grizzly (Tanner, Abby, and Ruthanna) finished with the victory by completing their list first. We ended the day by having a cookout at our campsite and enjoying the sunset behind the Grand Tetons.
The following morning we fueled our bodies with a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon before our first day of rock climbing. LODs (Ruthanna and Jake) led the team’s morning huddle before we hit the mountains giving us the inspiration we needed to start climbing. Our group then had the treat to take the ferry across Jenny Lake to our climbing school. With the Tetons on one side and the lake on the other, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful place to learn how to belay each other and climb! Fielder and Keegan blew the guides away with their knot tying abilities while Emmy and Lanie were crushing the self belaying. We were fortunate enough to have lunch by a waterfall where Grayson and Keegan made friends with a gopher who sat with us while we ate. After lunch, we did some boulder climbing before heading back onto the ferry. Grayson and Brooks successfully walked up one with their eyes closed which inspired the whole group to challenge themselves. Once we were back at camp, Emma, MK, and Emmy helped make some yummy quesadillas for the group while Jake and Fielder were crushing it at spike ball. After our bellies were full, we had Moonup where we all shared our highs and lows of the day and ended it with a cinnamon roll hug that left us all laughing.
For the final day of rock climbing, we whipped up some fluffy pancakes which gave them the boost they needed for the day. MK introduced strawberry pancakes to the crew which put a special twist on the breakfast. As we drove to the rock climbing site, nerves were high. However, after an hour of climbing, everyone had made it to the top of the wall. Tanner and MK overcame their fear of heights and made it up “the impossible wall” in no time. It was awesome to witness the kids cheer one another on while they challenged themselves showing us how close they’ve gotten as a group. Fielder, Lanie, and Emma (LOD) led the group in encouraging one another to push on even when the routes became tricky. Everyone left rock climbing feeling a sense of accomplishment and closer as a group. On the drive back to camp, we spotted not one, not two, but three moose grazing in the meadows which we had been waiting for all trip!
We ended the day with card games and some delicious pad thai cooked by Grayson, Brooks, and Lanie that left everyone satisfied. Moonup was a special one since we reflected on all we had accomplished on the trip so far. We have had an incredible trip so far and are looking forward to spending these last days together rafting the Salmon!
Until next time!
Eleanor & Chappell
June 18, 2019
Hey there y’all!
Big Wild has made it out of the Wind River Range so happy and healthy! The past four days have flown by as the group has grown together as a family. On airport day, we had a blast getting to know each other with group games and a yummy pizza dinner while we enjoyed the view of the Tetons together for the first time.
The next morning was an early one as we learned how to pack backpacks and hit the road to start our journey into the Wind River Range. The kids blew us away by their strength and endurance on their first day of backpacking especially since it was most of their first times backpacking.
Our Leader of the Day (LOD) Abby led us to our campsite like a pro. The campsite was our base camp for the duration of our backpacking trip with breath taking views of the Winds and a nearby creek! After a long first day, we filled our bellies with some sizzling fajitas thanks to our cook crew Brooks (LOD) and Fielder. We then had our first Moonup in the backwoods where we had a chance to get to know everyone a little more before we headed off to sleep!
The next day we hiked up to a lake where we enjoyed lunch and some fabulous fishing time. Keegan (LOD), an avid fly fishermen already, led the group. Jake and Grayson caught on quickly and were fishing like pros in no time.
Our trek back to camp was a rainy one; however, Tanner kept us in high spirits with his hilarious stories. Once we got back to camp, Lanie (LOD) began the tradition of playing group games while cooking up dinner which made dinnertime even more enjoyable! After dinner, we enjoyed a magnificent double rainbow followed by a spectacular sunset before we headed to sleep, lulled by the wonderful sounds of the Winds!
On our final day of backpacking, the group decided they wanted a challenge! So, we trekked through the woods and snow to Crow’s Nest. It was a steep climb up but we were so excited to see Ruthanna and MK face their fear of heights to experience the incredible view at the top! Although the hike was challenging, Emmy (LOD) and Emma expressed their enthusiasm for the experience and wanted to keep on hiking!
Our final night in the Winds consisted of a spaghetti dinner, a heartfelt Moonup, and some quiet time together as we watched elk cross the mountains as the sun set. We felt one with our surroundings and are so lucky to be fully immersed in all Wyoming has to offer! It was an amazing start to the trip and we are all looking forward to everything we have left to enjoy and the incredible adventures awaiting us!
Until next time,
Eleanor and Chappell
June 13, 2019
Hello Big Wild Families!
We heard from the group last night and they have all arrived in Jackson! The trip is off to rockin’ start, stay tuned for more updates to come!
– Moondance HQ