July 29, 2019
WOW these past two weeks have flown by. Anna, Bailey, and I are currently sitting in the Jackson Hole airport watching our last plane of students fly out, and we could not feel more fulfilled than we do right now. This was such an incredible group and we are so grateful for the time we got to spend with each and every student!!!
Yesterday was a whirlwind, but at last we got our much-needed showers!!!!!! Ridley (as always) helped us pack, unpack, and repack the u-haul several times that morning as we started to prepare for our group’s departure from Jackson. After cleaning up our backpacking gear, we got the chance to spend the late afternoon in Jackson’s town square, where we explored as a group and bought some souvenirs!! Bailey helped Henry pick out the perfect cowboy hat, and Giles, Katie, Anna, and Cindy all bought vastly oversized Jackson Hole sweatshirts!! Katie bought everyone some lollipops from the candy store, and the entire group scarfed down some ice cream at the famous Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream Shop. We made sure to get a group picture under the antler arch before setting off for banquet dinner that night at a local Mexican restaurant.
One of our all time favorite moments as a group was actually in the van blasting music on our way to banquet dinner and singing at the top of our lungs!!! The energy did not stop during dinner and we sang the entire way home with Henry, Luke, Katie, and Anna DJing. They played a lot of great stuff, but we always made sure to finish our drive into camp with the group favorite “Space Cowboy” by Kacey Musgraves.
We finally made it to our campsite in Jackson, which happened to be the same as our first campsite together, and it brought back a lot of memories for the group. After setting up camp, Henry and Blythe, our LODs, led us in one of my favorite Moonups to date. We all shared our favorite moments from the trip that all brought smiles to our faces. Katelyn, Giles, and Katie all talked about the glorious day we spent picking blackberries and apricots in the orchard along the Salmon River. Jack and Cindy concluded that rafting was the best part of the trip, with Cindy pointing out that Henry planning the water war/raft heist was her singular favorite moment (and we all agreed!!!). We also talked about what we personally got out of this trip, and we were so proud to hear how reflective and contemplative everyone in this group could be. We have never seen such intentionality in a group so young, and it completely warmed our hearts!! Charlie mentioned that he feels more confident in himself and his ability to reach out to others after this trip, and Blythe, Katelyn, and Giles all feel rejuvenated, empowered, and a little bit more ready to face this next year at school than they were before. As leaders, it is incredible to hear that these kids feel impacted in any sort of way, and we could not feel more proud to be a part of this process. We finished off the night with a huge group hug and went to sleep under the Wyoming stars for the last time!
So, here we are in the airport on the last day and we already miss this group so much! We are so grateful to you, parents, for allowing your kids to spend these last two weeks with us. Thank you for raising such intelligent, compassionate, and adventurous souls! We are leaving Wyoming with full hearts and some life long friendships, and we could not be more grateful!
Molly, Bailey, and Anna
July 28, 2019
We made it out of the woods!!! We haven’t showered in 9 days but our hearts are FULL and we are thriving!!!
(don’t worry we are en route to showers and will return everyone home clean!!!)
Just four days ago we learned how to pack our packs under the stars and now we are seasoned backpackers! After meeting up with our legendary guide, Connor, we took off deep into the Wind River Range. Giles and Charlie were our first LODs for backpacking, and they crushed the hike! Always checking in on the group and spacing out our “packs off” breaks, we could not ask for better leaders that first day. we climbed up and out of the wooded forest and into a vast prairie-like meadow with giant granite boulders surrounding us. We all agreed it felt like we were in a fairytale!! The group absolutely crushed that hike into our first campsite and had enough time/energy to explore around at camp. Bailey started some fishing/casting demonstrations and Jack even caught a fish that first day!!! We learned how to treat our fresh stream water that day, as well as use backcountry stoves. Blythe, Ridley, Cindy, and Katelyn made us fajita bowls for dinner, and we wolfed it down after burning so much energy on that hike earlier! We talked about our all time favorite meals at Moonup that night and shared what we personally did to overcome the hard hike we had earlier that day.
After sleeping in for the first time in what felt like forever, Charlie, Giles, and Jack made us some AMAZING M&M pancakes, and we said goodbye to our first site. Luke and Cindy (our LODs) led us on a steep incline up and through a big pass. We hiked uphill for a while, but everyone pushed each other and I heard nothing but words of encouragement!! At the top of the pass, we took a much-needed lunch break while Blythe, Giles, Ridley, Henry, Anna, Katie, and Cindy all ran through a snow patch that had still not melted. Ridley and Blythe even loaded up on snow and snuck up on the group with an arsenal of snowballs!! We unloaded our lunch and enjoyed the view looking out at some of the most beautiful peaks in the whole range. We descended after lunch into another meadow, and set up camp next to Blue Lake, our camp for the next two nights! Blythe, Ridley, Giles, Charlie, and the leaders all took the polar plunge and swam around the beautiful lake. We basked in the sun for an hour or two before setting up our “bug-out” and cooking a massive thanksgiving dinner!! Katie, Anna, and Henry made the feast, and it took the group nearly two hours to finally finish all the food!! It was incredibly delicious, but we all definitely felt like we just ate a full thanksgiving dinner and I swear we would’ve loosened our belts had we been wearing them. For Moonup, we hiked up to a lookout spot with a 360 degree view of the range as the sun set behind us. Luke and Cindy prompted us to live in the moment these last few days together, and we all started to realize our time together was slowly coming to an end! 🙁
Day three of backpacking was left without a plan!! The LODs, Charlie and Katelyn, talked to the group and everyone decided they wanted a chill day, left open for the group to explore the water and the mountains around us. Anna, Katie, Henry, and Jack spent the morning learning to fly fish, and ultimately caught multiple fish each!!!! Cindy, Giles, Luke, Charlie, Blythe, Catelyn, and Ridley all jumped in later on in the afternoon and took a shot at it too!!! Katie, Anna, Jack, Catelyn, and Henry all ended up catching at least one Brook Trout, if not multiple!! Ridley even claims he had a 6 foot trout on the line but it got loose at the last minute and took the fly with it. True story. Henry whittled nonstop throughout the day, and the rest of the group hiked around and explored through the woods. The day was filled with card games, naps, exploring, day hikes, and fishing, and it was the perfect day to fall in love with the Wyoming backcountry. Luke and Catelyn (our one true cajun!!) cooked us up some jambalaya for dinner that really hit the spot!! Later on, Catelyn and Charlie led us in a Moonup that challenged us to reflect on our biggest strengths and weaknesses, and we got to soak up that 360 degree sunset view for the last time.
We woke up before the sun this morning in order to get an early start on our last day together!! We hiked out of the winds with golden light slowly bursting over the top of the granite peaks, and we could not ask for a better last morning in the woods together. We are dirty, grimy, and definitely smelly, but we all have smiles on our faces and a connection that could only be forged in the backwoods!!! Our next adventure entails showers (!!!!!), a day trip to Jackson, thrifting, and a final banquet dinner together!!
Molly, Bailey, and Anna
July 24, 2019
With full blown Chaco tans and heavy hearts, we are leaving Idaho after four days of unforgettable rafting on the Salmon and Snake Rivers. It is hard to leave this lifestyle of sleeping on the sand under the stars every night, eating incredible meals, and spending the whole day on the river soaking up the Idaho sun.
Day 1 of rafting was a blast! We met up with our guides Drew, Robin, and Ian, and they taught us the rafting basics before jumping into our boats! We split up into two rafts and tore down the Lower Salmon. Blythe was the first one in the water even though it was windy through the canyon, and motivated everyone else to jump into the water! We hit some class three rapids that morning and quite a few people chose to “Ride the Bull” through the rapid, holding onto the nose of the boat with one hand and waving the other hand in the air like a true rodeo star. Luke and Cindy (our LOD’s for the day) set up an amazing sandwich lunch with the guides on a sand-bar type island while the rest of us buried ourselves in the warm sand. We started our afternoon river section by playing trust games on the boat. Two people would stand on the side of the raft and hold the bottom of the paddle and link the paddle handle with the person on the other side of the raft. Slowly, each person leaned back until (ideally), each person was fully trusting the other person with all of their weight as their body started to hover out of the raft and over the water! The Anna’s were the first ones to successfully trust each other and let themselves go sideways out of the raft, while still holding on to each other’s paddles. Nearly everyone else fell in! At our first campsite, Jack grilled us burgers and Katie and Blythe cut up fruit and veggies for an amazing first dinner on the river. It was such an incredible day rafting through Green Canyon, surrounded by impressive basalt columns and tall granitic walls, and we could not be more thankful!
After a long first day of rafting, we found out that our group was obsessed with sunscreen (especially Katie), and we were thankful that we brought so much extra. They were also obsessed with getting chaco tans, especially Ridley and Giles who already had impressive lines on their feet. On our second day, we paddled through several rapids, including some class 4 rapids that we had to get out of our boats to scout. Everyone paddled hard through them though, and the runs were all successful! We saw several bald eagles along the canyon that day, and Bailey, Luke, and Henry even spotted 3 black bears high up in the hills across from our campsite! We were so thankful Luke brought his monocular so that we could all get a chance to see the small, black moving dots way up high. Our campsite was a huge beach with a great swimming eddy that Charlie never quite stopped swimming in and enough room to play a hardcore Guys vs. Girls game of touch football. Even though Jack, Ridley, Henry, Luke, and Charlie all showed off their football skills, the girls smoked them 14-7! After football, Katie and Anna led the group in an acapella rendition of “Since You Been Gone”, where each person had a part to sing. It was actually pretty impressive for our first song together!! Later on, Katelyn and Henry made us spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and we closed out our day with Moonup on the beach under the stars.
That brings us to Charlie’s Birthday!!!!!! 14!!!!!! We woke the group up with a birthday song and a giant French toast breakfast. Everyone decided the rafts today should be boys vs. girls, and that turned into a day full of raft water wars. Henry was always on the lookout for wildlife, and Ridley was able to point out a herd of big horned sheep all along the rocky canyon walls! We went cliff jumping where every single member of the group made the large leap into the water, even Katie, Henry, and Anna who all conquered their fear of heights. It was an amazing moment that brought our group even closer (if that’s possible). Charlie even yelled, “14!” as he leapt off the cliff, which was an epic way to enter his 14th year. We entered the Snake River that afternoon and roped up into a mega boat for our last section of rafting. We camped out at an orchard in the middle of the canyon where Blackberries, Apples, and Apricots were growing for the public. We spent a few hours picking blackberries and used them in a Funfetti cake for Charlie later that night! Katelyn collected enough fruit to fill her hat and we all felt like we were in an oasis fairytale land for an afternoon. Later on we did a leadership grid activity and learned a little more about how we naturally lead a group. Anna, Katie, Giles, and Cindy are all “Relationship Masters”, which is evident by their loving and nurturing nature toward the group when they lead. Our spontaneous motivators are Blythe and Henry, which is pretty self-explanatory!!!! All of the other boys are Drivers, and lead with a strong sense of direction and clarity. Finally, Katelyn is our sole Architect/Analyst, who is the information and analysis seeker in the group. Everyone really enjoyed figuring out their leadership style a little bit more, and we are eager to continue to use this knowledge on our backpacking section! Overall, Charlie’s 14th birthday was a success as Molly and Blythe made a flower crown for Charlie, and Anna, Blythe, Cindy, and Katelyn, all made him bracelets for his birthday! We all chowed down on fajita bowls, cake, frosting, fresh blackberries, and gummy bears that night and had a Moonup, once again, under the beautiful Idaho stars!!!!
Katie and Ridley helped make our last breakfast together on our island oasis, and we loaded up our mega raft for our last few miles on the Snake River. We went through a few tough rapids in our mega boat, and even saw a fishing boat catch a 5 ft Sturgeon! We finally hit our takeout spot and unpacked the rafts for the last time. We were incredibly blessed with perfect weather all week, and it’s going to be hard not to sleep on the sand under the stars every night, but are currently on the road and off to our next adventure in the Wind River Range! Jack and Anna are our LOD’s today, and get the task of keeping everyone entertained, hydrated, and happy during our long journey back to Wyoming. We can’t believe we only have one more activity left, but we could not love each other more, and are so thankful for the time we have had together!
Molly, Anna, and Bailey
“Mom and Dad, thank you so much for letting me go on this trip! It’s so beautiful here, and we have seen all different kinds of wildlife. Oh, and I’m also getting tan so that’s a plus. I can’t wait to tell you all abut the trip! Love you!” -Giles
“Hey mom and dad, I am having so much fun and I am excited to see you guys. We have been rafting and climbing and are getting ready for backpacking. We have seen tons of wildlife including moose, sheep, coyotes, and lots black bears. Missing you guys and Will, Libby, Ahah, and Bella, can’t wait to see you guys.” -Luke
“Mom and Dad, I miss y’all and I can’t wait to show you my Chaco tan and tell you about all of the cool things that I’ve done and all of the wildlife that I’ve seen. Love y’all.” -Katelyn
“Hey Mother and Father! Having so much fun and see lots of cool things. Can’t wait to tell you about the four states have been to and show you all the pictures and videos! Love you!” -Blythe
“Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having the best time and having really cool experiences. Thanks for this amazing opportunity to come on this trip. Love you and can’t wait to see you!” -Cindy
“Hey Mom and Dad I am having an amazing time, and have seen lots of wildlife specifically moose, lots of black bears, deer, bald/golden eagles, coyote, marmot, elk, big horn sheep, sturgeon, and wild turkeys. We have finished rafting and rock climbing, and will next start backpacking. Can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love you and miss you all, give Pepper a hug for me and tell Tristan I say hi.” -Henry
“Hey mom and dad I miss you so much! I am having the most fun time here! My leaders are awesome and I just finished with rafting and can’t wait to get home and say hi and take the longest shower of my life! Tell Henry and Holly I said hey, I love you guys so much!” -Charlie
“Hey everyone! I am having a great time here! It’s super duper pretty. Y’all are going to love it. Rafting was so fun and the food was very good. Say hi to the dogs for me. Tell Michael I can’t wait to see him! Love y’all!” -Anna
“Hey everyone. Just finished up rafting had an awesome time. Bringing back amazing memories. I slept on the beach watching the stars for three nights straight. We are about to start backpacking wish me luck say hi to Duncan. Can’t wait to see you all.” -Ridley
“Hey guys!! We just finished rafting and it was so pretty. The food was also amazing. I miss you all so much and can’t wait for Europe! Tell the dogs I miss them! I hope the bachelorette was good Abbie and Lily!! Love you all and can’t wait to see you all soon.” – Katie
Hey guys! We just finished rafting and it was so much fun. I had a blast going down the Salmon and Snake River and seeing the amazing views of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The food has been amazing and how it works is each day there are two or three people selected to help with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So I have been picked for help one day while rafting and I got to grill out burgers for everyone and it was so much fun. The rock climbing was also very fun and we got to see some amazing views of the Grand Teton and Jenny Lake. I am having fun. I’m looking forward to start backpacking and can’t wait to see you again! -Jack
July 19, 2019
We have fallen in love with the Tetons almost as much as we have fallen in love with this group!!! Right off the bat, Giles and Charlie entertained us in the airport with several riddles and games as we waited for the rest of our crew to arrive. Once at our first night’s campsite, our group mastered the art of setting up a tent and we shared a family-style pizza feast with the sun setting behind the Tetons behind us. We were inspired by both Giles and Charlie’s energy in the airport, so we appointed them as our first Leaders of the Day (LODs) to get us pumped up during our first day of climbing. We got up bright and early to a spread of breakfast sandwiches and berries before we hopped in the van to meet our climbing guides. On our way up in the Gondola, we saw a black bear right below us! Henry and Jack got some good pictures, hyped up for the rest of the day. Our first day of climbing was all about learning the essential knots, belaying, and the skills required to tackle a multi-pitch climb! Katelyn won the knot tying race at the beginning of the day, absolutely crushing the figure-eight knot with ease. We split into three groups and worked on edging and smearing our feet with our rubbery approach shoes. After practicing for a while, our groups headed down to the start of our multi-pitch climb. This part was all about communication, and everyone had to be loud enough to call out to their belayer. Blythe’s voice could be heard from the mountaintops, shouting, “This is Me!!!” every time she was ready to climb. Henry and Luke absolutely conquered their fears of climbing on the wall as well, and that was so encouraging for the rest of the group!!! The group climbed up 5 pitches total! It was incredible to see them using the same skills that climbers use to climb the Grand. Level 1 climbing school day was complete and we could not be more amped to come back to next day and continue to practice on the wall.
After climbing, we made our way to a lake nearby and Ridley, Jack, Giles, Cindy, Charlie, and Blythe all took the polar plunge!!! Ridley actually took the plunge multiple times, and it was hilarious to watch him continuously run in and straight out of the frigid water. Anna and Katie skipped rocks while the rest of us basked in the Wyoming sun, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day. PSYCH!!!! We surprised the kids with a trip to the Jackson Hole rodeo that night! Blythe, Henry, and Katelyn made us delicious made-to-order quesadillas with onions, peppers, chicken, cheese, and hand-made guacamole before we headed back into town for the Rodeo. We saw bull riding, barrel racing (our favorite), bronco riding, and we even watched Charlie, Henry, and Luke ran into the center of the arena with the other kids at the rodeo for the sheep wrangling competition. Although they didn’t grab any bandanas off the sheep, we had a blast watching them run around the stadium in a sea of kids and sheep.
The next morning, we headed to a new climbing spot on a slab of gneiss overlooking the Tetons. We crossed a beautiful lake and saw a huge moose with antlers as soon as we got off the boat!!! It was such an incredible moment. Once we made it up to our climbing spot, Katie was the first one to make it to the top of a route! We deemed her the climbing queen. Katie, Jack, Giles, Ridley, Charlie, Katie, Anna, and Katelyn were the ones to tackle all three routes, although everyone took several laps on the wall. We were incredibly impressed by the group’s ability to apply all the techniques they learned in the last few days. If the climbing wasn’t incredible enough, the views were breathtaking. Luke even had his monocular out in between climbs and was constantly on the lookout for wildlife among the trees. It was such an incredible day of climbing that I even heard Giles say she could see herself becoming a climber later on in life! We stopped and enjoyed some huckleberry ice cream on the way back to our campsite and escaped the sun for an hour or two. Luke, Charlie, and Anna made us chickpea pasta with sautéed onions, chicken, peppers, and red sauce for dinner, and it was our favorite meal yet. That night, we made a little drive to a spot called the “Wedding Tree” to watch the sun set behind the Tetons. Katie and Jack led us in a Moonup where we talked about our role models/inspirations in life (most of them said their parents!!!!), and they shared a quote about focusing on the roses in a thorn bush rather than the thorns in a rose bush. It was such a special moment as we watched the sky burst into oranges pinks and purples on our last night in Jackson for a while.
We woke up veeeeeeery early this morning and headed out for Idaho!!! Everyone sends their love from the road; we are vagabonds now and headed west for the Salmon River!!!!
Molly, Anna, and Bailey
July 16, 2019
Hi Big Wild Families!
All students have arrived in Jackson and the group is headed to their campsite for the night! We are so excited for them to begin their adventure!