July 12, 2019
Hello from Jackson Airport! The last member of our Moondance family just departed on their flight! Today has been a blur as we sent everyone through their gates and on their way back home! It’s been bittersweet saying goodbye, but everyone was more than content with the memories we made with our time together.
This morning was a very early one, waking up to stars still in the sky! With a starry sky, and drowsy eyes, we piled into our van for the last time. Patrick took some extra motivation to get dragged out of his sleeping bag, but everyone did a great job being timely! Tommy was a huge help with his headlight, finding any forgotten items in the camp before we departed.
We had spent our last night together enjoying the city of Jackson and a great view of the Tetons from our campsite. Departing from the Wind River a Range, we had a few last second errands to run before we hit Jackson. Our beloved van was in desperate need of a wash, so Laney, Grace, Maddie, and Anna were nice enough to help him out! A car wash turned into a hilarious water fight, with the girls controlling the water gun! With both the van and the group soaked, it was time for an actual shower. Moving on to the nearby aquatic center (which was unbelievably nice), everyone took a well-deserved shower. Feeling refreshed and hungry, we headed to a local burger stand that wasn’t quite ready for 14 hungry Moondancers! After we finished bombarding them with orders and got our food, we hit the road for Jackson! Plenty of singalongs made for a quick trip, and soon we arrived at our campsite. We didn’t stay long, however, because we dropped our stuff off and went to explore Jackson!
In Jackson, everyone enjoyed a bit of free time. A thrift store was visited, with plenty of great outfits to go along. All Brooks needed to complete his outfit was a donkey to go along with the sombrero and leather vest he bought. Graham went full beach mode, choosing some very colorful Hawaiian clothes. Charlie found a huge wide brimmed hat that made him look like a rice farmer. We’re still trying to figure out what Henry was dressed as because he was wearing pieces of clothing from every country possible! Once we were wearing our new identities, we headed to a Mexican restaurant for our banquet dinner! Burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas were devoured across the table. Finley and Jack couldn’t get enough of the chips and salsa, forcing the waiter to make trips on a regular interval. After a delicious dinner, we enjoyed ice cream in the town square. The city was packed due to a festival, so we saw all sorts of events going on! With the sun beginning to go down, we headed back to our campsite.
Our last Moonup was our best and longest one yet! We spent hours sharing our favorite memories of the trip, laughing hysterically at each one. We decided to spend our last night sleeping under the stars, which didn’t disappoint. Everyone went to bed in our usual sleepover style circle of sleeping bags, enjoying one last night away from their bed.
Anna and I cannot express how much fun we’ve had with the kids over the past two weeks. Watching everyone conquer fears and grow close has been a highlight of our summer. We hardly felt like leaders, instead feeling like friends just adventuring with an awesome group of people. Remarkable things can be accomplished when remarkable people come together, and that’s exactly what happened. We are so blessed to have met your kids, and we wish them nothing but the best going forward! As always, it’s not a goodbye but a see ya later Moondance family!
July 11, 2019
Hello from the road!
We are currently on our way back to Jackson for our last night together! The kids couldn’t believe it as we reminded them that tomorrow was airport day. What a way to spend the last part of our trip, though! Four days in the Wind River Range proved to be the camping trip of a lifetime. Our first day began at a ranch outside of Pinedale where we joined up with our guide, Connor. Connor was very familiar with the Winds and knew a lot about the surrounding Native American history, so he was able to point out important landmarks throughout the trip. Everyone got a last second nap as we drove to our trailhead. We parked the van and everyone began to load up their packs! No space was wasted as everyone stuffed our supplies into their bags. Brooks explained how it was his “gain season”, so he won the heaviest pack award by carrying two tents and kitchen supplies! The hike to our first campsite was around three miles, so everyone had time to get acquainted with their pack’s weight. Henry wasted no time in getting his hands dirty by slipping in a mud pit! He took it like a champ and looked the part for the rest of the hike. We quickly learned how annoying mosquitos can be, as we got swarmed throughout the hiking trail. Tommy dressed to impress; covering his entire body so that he was completely mosquito proof! Finally breaking out of the wooded trail, we hiked the last mile across spacious meadows to our first site. The rest of the day was spent fishing in a nearby lake, which turned into more of an untangling of lines than actual fishing. Jack and Charlie taught everyone how to properly cast while Patrick and Finley tried their luck swimming to a rock in the lake (they made it up to their knees and turned around). Dinner consisted of wood fired pizza! I say wood fired because our stove wasn’t cooperating, so our guide helped us build an oven for our pizzas over the fire. It was a really fun way to make dinner, and definitely filled us up. Post Moonup, everyone quickly dove into their tent to escape the cold wind and went to sleep. Next morning was cold, but we got to sleep in until the sun warmed us up! We had a short, but difficult hike to our next campsite. We hiked uphill until we reached the peak of the valley for lunch. At the peak we found heaps of unmelted snow! Laney and Grace started a surprise snowball fight, in the middle of July! Graham caught most of the snowballs, looking like a snowman afterwards. Holding true to its name, the Wind River Range had high winds, especially in the valley as we ate lunch huddled behind rocks for cover. The rest of the hike was an epic downhill trek, with the steep decline taking all of our focus. We hardly noticed we had arrived at our campsite because we were so focused on helping each other out! Our second campsite was amazing, set right before a lake with many streams feeding in. We got right to fishing, and this time caught more than just a tree! Tommy and Patrick both caught a trout, while Anna had some on the line but they took the fly! Swimming and fishing took up the rest of the day until dinner. We ate and cooked under the cover of our hanging bug net in the center of our campsite. Tents were quickly filled again post Moonup due to wind, but everyone stayed up yelling from tent to tent until we fell asleep.
Another morning of sleeping in led to a beautiful last day in the Winds! Today was a day of relaxation as Maddie, Grace, Laney, and Anna hit the lakeside beach! Some of the guys went to fly fish, while everyone else chilled in hammocks by the campsite. The day went by too quickly, but fish were caught and tans were acquired! Dinner was chicken fajitas, which was our favorite meal of the camping trip! Patrick acted as head chef, sautéing peppers and onions to go with the chicken and rice. Graham and Jack acted as the meal’s entertainment, telling jokes about their fishing adventures earlier in the day. Our last Moonup camping followed dinner as we enjoyed no bugs due to colder temperatures. The stars were out as we enjoyed the serenity of our surroundings, with the sound of small streams nearby. We had a great last Moonup, and this time decided to sleep under the stars! We had packed our tents earlier that day, so we laid out our ground pads and sleeping bags in a circle. That night concluded with good laughs and better stars!
The following morning we woke up early and finished packing our packs for our hike out. Our five mile hike out was mostly downhill, so it felt more like three miles! Beautiful views and plenty of passing people helped pass the time as well. Upon reaching our beloved Jackie Chan the Van, we said goodbye to our guide Connor and loaded into the car! Tired and hungry, everyone took the opportunity for a brief nap. We are currently on the way back to Jackson where we will spend our last night under the watch of the Tetons! One of our favorite camping spots, it’ll for sure be a terrific last night.
We can’t believe it’s almost over! The kids have been the highlight of our trip, and we will be sad to see them go, but we will be happy knowing they’re back with their families! Get excited Moondance family, Airport day tomorrow!
July 11, 2019
Sorry we’ve been out of reach, but we’ve all been working on our Chaco tans on the Salmon River! After four days of rafting we are strong as could be from all of our paddling. As Brooks would say, “I’m not even worried about it” because had such a blast anyway!
Tuesday morning was an early one so that we could get a fresh start driving to our drop-in point on the river! Despite our efforts, we took an accidental detour as we got a little lost in our van but got to see more of Idaho’s rolling hills. Some heavy rain created pre-trip concerns, but we got lucky and it cleared before our drop in! The first day started off with a bang! Rapids, waves, and awesome wildlife were just a few amazing features. Jack and Laney took their places “riding the bull” on the front of the rafts; catching the biggest waves head on. Everyone was quickly soaked and loving it! The water proved to be a nice break from the sun, and we found ourselves jumping off the raft during the calmer sections. By midday, we had worked up our appetites enough for a lunch break. Our guides pulled us off to an open beach where we could swim and throw the frisbee while our cook crew made lunch! Ham and turkey sandwiches were made while we reapplied sunscreen and filled up on water. By this point, we had made our bets on who would have the worst farmer’s tan by the end of the trip, with Graham as the leading vote getter. Back on the river, we experienced what the guides call the “trust game”. It involved two people standing on opposite sides of the raft locking paddles. You leaned back with tension on the paddles to see how far you could lean out of the raft. Tommy and Henry took a million tries (each funnier than the last) but eventually got almost parallel with the water and holding their pose! More games followed until we reached our camp for the night; a beautiful beach with plenty of room for spike ball and frisbee! Our guides surprised us with a dinner of hamburgers on the grill! Talk about a cheeseburger in paradise! The guides joined for Moonup on the beach as we recapped our day and talked about how good the food was. The sky cleared up as the stars appeared, and we decided to spend on our first night on the beach under the stars! Shooting stars and constellations were the scene as we fell asleep the first night!
Happy Fourth of July! People began to stir on the beach the second morning as the smell of bacon and pancakes drifted through the air. Brooks and Grace, our LODs, helped make breakfast and encouraged people out of bed. They led morning huddle as we watched Brooks devour eight pancakes! His appetite was astounding and didn’t diminish once during our trip. Henry and our guide, Tanner, helped ready the rafts for the day with their “Wolfpack” skills. Today was our most exciting day of rapids as we immediately fought through level 3 and 4 rapids! Maddie and Patrick helped the guides scout a route through the gnarly rapids by landing the rafts and proceeding on foot. Patrick and Maddie kept the rafts in check by leading the stroke tempo at the front during the waves. Finley was a water magnet during these parts. We watched him move from seat to seat, but every wave seemed to have its sights set on Finley! He responded by paddling the hardest and really helping the guides out of the harder spots. Grace and Brooks called for a lunch break to replenish our energy as we took another long water/food rest. Graham was the reigning champ of our water chugging contest… don’t let dehydration ruin your vacation! Post lunch involved some calmer waters, allowing us to continue swimming until we reached our next camp. This camp was a long stretch of beach with a shallow sandbar for swimming. Dinner included some delicious garlic bread, Caesar salad, and spaghetti! Despite being stuffed, Tommy found the energy to challenge Tanner (the guide) to a race down the beach. The following events were epic. We all lined up along the racing path to create lanes for the competitors. With Tanner counting down, Tommy and him got ready to race. Everyone cheered as they took off. Tommy smoked Tanner on the first stretch, but Tanner had (strategically) forgot to mention the race was there and back! We considered it a tie in the end as everyone laughed. Post racing, the guides showed us how they do fireworks on the Salmon River. It involved everyone’s ground pads by slapping them on the water surface, so that they echoed like a firework throughout the surrounding canyon. Jack made several people jump when he unleashed an unsuspecting firework that sounded like a cannon! We fell asleep shortly after, tired from our celebrating.
The third day held a lot of sights to see. Big horned sheep, deer, and rare birds came out of hiding to say hello during the first half of our day! We stopped at a great spot for some cliff jumping which involved awesome views. Charlie and Anna helped capture the perfect GoPro video by being the first to make the jump into the water! Everyone jumped off and climbed back to cheer on Laney. Laney was hesitant to jump at first, but with everyone cheering her on she made the leap!!! It was absolutely awesome to watch, and definitely was a highlight of rafting. The rest of the day was spent lounging on the rafts and working on our Chaco tans. Upon arriving at our last campsite, we were forced to set up our tents for the first time due to some heavy rain. However, it didn’t last long and it turned into a wet dance party instead! The guides broke out s’mores for an early celebration of…. Charlie’s birthday!!! Since they wouldn’t be with us the next day, the guides wanted to have their own celebration in honor of Charlie’s big day. It was a bad night to be a marshmallow as everyone had their share and more of the s’mores. If s’mores weren’t enough, a rainbow broke out after the sky cleared! Best pre-birthday celebration ever. We slept in tents that night just in case of further bad weather.
Our last morning was bittersweet as our rafting journey came to an end. But… more reason to celebrate because CHARLIE’S BIRTHDAY! Charlie got a special birthday breakfast from the guides in honor of his big day. By this point, everyone had become masters of loading the gear boat so the guides barely had to touch a thing. Finley and Anna oversaw the loading as LOD’s. A brief ride down the river concluded our rafting trip while we admired the elegant river houses lining the sides of the Snake River. We landed the boats right inside the Washington State line! Everyone changed into dry clothes and thanked our awesome rafting guides as we hopped into the van.
We are currently on the road back to Wyoming for our backpacking trip! Rafting was our favorite so far because of all the awesome memories we made and great food we ate. Everyone is excited to take in some more great views and make even more memories!
July 2, 2019
Howdy from Jackson, Wyoming!
We have loved getting to know everyone, and we can’t wait for the next section of our adventure! The past three days have been spent conquering steep rock faces and defying gravity at the base of the Tetons. We began way back by welcoming our new Moondance family on Saturday at the Jackson airport. Patrick was the first to arrive, and soon everyone was rolling in to meet their new friends! Time in the airport was pretty relaxing as we played some icebreakers and taught each other our favorite card games. Charlie, Jack, and Hobson kicked the hacky sack to each other from across the baggage claim area while Henry, Patrick, and Anna took advantage of the super comfortable lounge chairs nearby. Snacks were quickly devoured and last second text messages were sent! After collecting everyone’s electronics (Let the unplugging begin!) we piled into our beloved friend and ally, Jackie Chan the Van, and headed towards our campsite. Our site had an amazing view of the Teton Range which helped make getting out of bed easier each morning. Everyone helped unload the van as we began to set up our camp! Setting up the tents was a breeze for Finley and Graham as they set theirs up perfectly the first time!! After a little rearranging, everyone else had set up their sleeping quarters for the next couple of nights. Starving and ready to explore, we headed into Jackson to eat! We grabbed some pizzas from a joint called Pinky G’s and headed to a park to enjoy. Patrick surprised everyone by devouring four MASSIVE slices of pizza! Honorable mention went to Brooks with 3 & 1/4. Post dinner, we decided to have the first Moonup of our adventure at the Wedding Tree! The tree is located at a beautiful hillside spot, with a break taking view of the Tetons during sunset. Everyone reflected on our first day together as the sky was painted shades of orange, purple, and pink from behind the Tetons. Following a terrific first Moonup, we drove back to our campsite with ‘Sweet Caroline’ blasting at full singalong volume. Everyone felt exhausted from the day’s travels by the time we arrived, so we retired shortly after arrival in anticipation for our first day of climbing!
The next morning brought a very important holiday to our campsite… FINLEY’S 15TH BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! We all woke up early and sung happy birthday around his tent as we woke him for his big day. He arose from his tent, sleepy but matured with a new year’s worth of wisdom. For his first 15-year-old breakfast, we made everyone birthday breakfast sandwiches! We quickly scarfed down our food and headed towards our friends at Exum Climbing. Our guides got us fitted for the day ahead with helmets and harnesses. Our destination for the day: Boulder City in the Tetons. We hiked into Boulder City, awed by the massive rock formations and size of the Teton Range. The first half of the day was spent bouldering and learning how to repel. Madeline proved as knowledgeable as the guides during this part; showing the group where to place their feet and correcting any faulty knots. After getting the fundamentals down, we were ready to climb! The ‘Crack of Doom’ was the hardest climb of the day, frustrating everyone but Anna who scaled it in less than 20 seconds!!! One of our guides’ mouth actually dropped, and it was hilarious. No one had to wonder where Tommy was during the day, as we could hear him attempting to wiggle through the tight spaced ‘Wormhole’ tunnel nearby. His efforts drew a crowd, which eventually broke into wild applause as he emerged victorious! Our Leaders of the Day (LOD), Henry and Anna, decided it was time to break for lunch and mapped out the rest of our day. We finished lunch and decided we still had some energy left for climbing. This time, it was Grace’s turn to drop mouths as she also conquered the crack of doom!!! We decided to end on a good note as we hiked out from our first day of climbing. Henry and Anna found a nice lake nearby that we could cool off in after our active day! The ‘cool off’ turned into a ‘freeze off’ as all the guys swam to a rock to capture a good jumping spot. Brooks and Graham showed everyone how to properly cannonball, becoming the winners of our first big splash contest! Tired and ready to change, we headed back to camp. Dinner that night consisted of approximately 40 hot dogs (Thank you Madeline and Laney!), but before we ate we decided to get some more exercise. Brooks sparked an impromptu hike on a mountain across from our campsite. What we thought was a brief hike turned into a deceivingly long and steep trek to an amazing view of the Tetons. Brooks, Finley, and Patrick kept everyone motivated after each new peak by yelling encouragement as people moved up the mountain (Awesome to witness!). Upon reaching the summit, some people sat down to catch their breath while others gazed at the surreal view we had found. We got our eyeful of the Tetons and descended to a nice dinner to replenish our strength. Just when we thought our day couldn’t get any better, cupcakes appeared for FINLEY’S 15TH BIRTHDAY!!!! Another chorus of Happy Birthday broke out as Finley blew out his candles, and everyone cheered as we passed around some delicious cupcakes. Not long after, everyone retired to their tent after an exhausting day. Talk about a birthday!
Everyone slept well and hard, waking up the next morning to the smell of Jack and Anna cooking breakfast. No time was wasted as we ate and headed to Teton Village for our second day of climbing. Today was promised to be a challenging day, so everyone was excited. We started with a gondola ride to the top of the South Teton, where we saw a black bear from the lift!! A solid hike was required to reach our climbing spot, where an epic snowball fight followed. From there, we split into climbing teams and each group paired with a guide. Anna Betts and I walked around to different groups and stations, watching everyone perform some amazing feats. The day consisted of repelling down steep faces and multi-pitch climbing in pairs. Today was definitely more advanced than yesterday, but with tougher climbing came greater views! Jack hesitated before repelling, but he crushed it after some encouragement from his group! Henry and Tommy showed us how to use perfect teamwork during pitch climbing, posting the fastest team time of the day! Lunch followed the pitch climbing as everyone ate and enjoyed the views. Post lunch included more climbing, where Graham showed everyone how to walk up the rock without using his hands! More climbing continued until our arms and legs were too tired. A gondola ride down proved to be a well-deserved reward for a hard day of climbing. Thanking our guides, we piled into the van and headed to camp. The rest of the day was spent napping in hammocks and throwing the frisbee across our site. Pad Thai was the dinner of the evening and we all enjoyed each other’s company while sitting in our crazy creeks. Due to an early next morning, we decided to sleep under the stars that night! Great weather led to a great sunset and a really enjoyable Moon-up. Stories and memories of the first couple of days were shared until everyone drifted to sleep under the night sky.
We are currently writing from McCall, Idaho! Tomorrow begin our rafting journey on the Salmon River! Even though we have a long drive ahead of us, spirits are high as we saw a beautiful sunrise on the way out. We will miss the Tetons and conquering dizzying heights, but we are so excited for our next adventure to begin!
June 29, 2019
Hello Big Wild families!
All is well in Jackson, and everyone has arrived safe and sound. Hobson and Anna, their fearless leaders, are so excited to have everyone there and begin their adventures. We can’t wait to hear about rock climbing in the Tetons!