June 24, 2019
All of our chickens have just taken flight in order to head back home to the lower 48! While we will miss all of them dearly, we will forever cherish the time we spent together as a group in the Alaskan wilderness. Every single one of our students grew immensely over the course of our time together and it was a privilege to get to know them in such awe-inspiring place. Just like it was for your kids, it was our first time experiencing the Midnight Sun, and we couldn’t have asked for a better group to adventure with!
In our last few hours together, we began by waking up at our campsite in Anchorage and getting out of our tents like any other day and eating some classic instant oatmeal! Next we prepped ourselves for our evening flights by organizing our duffels and backpacks before heading out on the town for our banquet lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Our kiddos quickly made friends with the waiter and practiced their Spanish on a native Spanish speaker! It was a great last meal as a group and the food was delicious.
We had the opportunity to explore downtown Anchorage after filling up our tummies and loaded our packs with gifts for friends and family back home. There were so many great shops nearby to the restaurant and all of the kids got awesome relics to help them remember our Alaskan voyage when they get back home! We ended our town tour with a local ice cream stop at Wild Scoops where we tried locally made and delicious new flavors. There was an awesome little park area where we hung out while eating our ice cream, and the town was filled with people enjoying their Sunday afternoon- great people watching for sure!At this point, everyone has taken off from the Anchorage airport, and both of us wanted to give thanks to the families and Moondance for allowing us all the experience of a lifetime. We hope your kids have a great rest of the summer, and we wish you all the best!
Liv and Max
June 23, 2019
And just like that we are out of the backcountry!
After four days of rafting on a handful of rivers, we are back in Anchorage for our last night together as a group- it’s really bittersweet and we are both going to be so sad when everyone heads out tomorrow night!
Our first day of rafting began on the Kennicott River. We packed up our duffels, said goodbye to McCarthy, and headed off into the gray waters of the Kennicott (fun fact: the silt from the rocks makes the water gray)! Pretty soon after we left we were greeted by some fairly sizable rapids, but between our rafting guides and Sailor’s expertise, everyone got through them easily. Later, the Kennicott intersected with the Nizina, the second of the four rivers we rafted on this trip. The weather was great the entire time! Once we reached our camp for the night we had the opportunity to hop in the frigid waters to cool off from the sun. The water felt amazing but we had to get out quickly because the water had come from a glacier just hours before reaching us so it was a tad chilly! We cooked up a scrumptious Italian dinner while some lounged in comfy camp chairs and took in the beautiful scenery surrounding us. Charlie found plenty of rocks to skip on the river in our down time. Before heading to bed an epic dance battle took place with Ellie winning the grand prize for best dance moves.
The next morning we were woken up by the smell of bacon and pancakes on the griddle that were kindly whipped up by our rafting guides. It was a great way to start the day and everyone’s spirits were high when it was time to hop in the rafts to begin the day’s voyage. Blessed with another warm and sunny day, raft groups lounged and soaked up the sun while floating down gorgeous valleys filled with snow-capped mountains and SO many trees! Walker worked on getting her Chaco-tan on, while Tilden and Hudson jammed out with the raft guides’ music. Before we knew it, we were already crossing into the Chitina! After a long day on the river, we unloaded to yet another beautiful campsite on the riverbank. We had a great family-style cookout with veggie and regular burgers plus hotdogs, with all of the fixin’s! Matan was so kind as to help with cleaning the dishes. Right after that we had a nice bonfire with s’mores included, followed by a Moonup session to reflect on the day’s activities. Yummy food!! What a day!
Our final day on the rapids began with another delicious breakfast and clear sunny skies. Now an expert at navigating the waters, Thomas was the first to hop in a boat rearing to get going. All three boats had tunes playing as we floated down the Chitina river and after a quick lunch break to fuel up, a few daredevils jumped off the boat into the glacial water. Telling many riddles and jokes in the hot sun wore us out by the time we made it to the final campsite. In order to reenergize, Charlotte and Alessandra led a group to a float down a stream running next to our kitchen in our PFDs. The water was still icy cold so it was hard to stay in for long but the temperature sure did help to wake us up! Cooper held the record for amount of times floating down the stream and kept going back for more chilly fun! We found some perfect mud for face-masks and started a glacial facial train that led to a full on salon-style mud bath. By the time we had wiped all the mud off our bodies the rafting crew had prepared dinner and we devoured our food quickly before having a photo shoot as the midnight sun disappeared behind a mountain in the distance.
We completed our final leg of the rafting trip this morning ending up on our last river: the Copper! We faced some strong headwinds but pushed through with our paddling power and made it to the final takeout in Chitina. We are cherishing every last moment together and don’t want this trip to end!
Caio for now,
Liv and Max
June 19, 2019
Today we concluded our backpacking section of the trip! After 5 days of hiking with heavy packs on our backs and one day of epic ice climbing, I think it’s safe to say that the kids are rightfully proud of their hard work. After waking up in our site in McCarthy, our group headed to Kennicott to get our crampons and ice climbing boots fitted and meet up with our awesome guides for the backpacking, Paige and Ryan! We then headed on our way with a shorter hike to our first campsite at Amazon Creek. Even though it was less distance, our packs were filled to the brim with the food for the trip, so it was a little tough, but a perfect prep for the rest of the week!
We woke up at Amazon Creek and headed straight to the glossy glacier to get our climbing on! Ryan and Paige taught us how to fit our crampons on our boots and before we could say moulin (a large crack in a glacier), we were scaling 50-foot vertical walls of ice. Sailor was the first to hop on the ropes and was at the top of the line faster than you can imagine. He managed to get a nice shower from some dripping glacial waterfalls on his journey up the wall. Matan followed closely behind and impressed us all with his fancy leg work with his crampons. After everyone had a go at the vertical climb, we scampered across the ice to see our first moulin! Our guides set up ropes so we could lower ourselves down into the hole and Tilden made it the farthest down out of the whole group. As people explored the moulin, the rest of our group had a photo shoot in front of the Stairway Icefall, a 7000-foot-tall wall of ice off in the distance. Our day wrapped up with a filling pasta meal and we all drifted to sleep as soon as our heads hit our ground pads.
The day after ice climbing was certainly the toughest for the group. We woke up early and headed straight for the Root Glacier- today would be the day that we crossed the glacier and moved to a new campsite in the Upper Donoho basin! Alessandra was one of the Leaders of the Day (LODs) and helped motivate the group when we needed it the most. Crossing the glacier was difficult and everyone needed to be very careful as we traversed the ice. Once we successfully and safely crossed, we ate our lunch and Cooper, our other LOD, decided that we should make the longer push to get to the more beautiful camp site at the Upper Donoho basin. We whacked through the thick Alaskan brush using our gaiters and rain pants for a few long hours before reaching beautiful alpine lakes where we could fill our water bottles up. Hudson helped lead us through the bushwhacking, leading the way for the rest of the group. For the entire day, we had gray and overcast weather, but when we eventually got through the bushes and hills to the campsite, the sun came out! To celebrate our awesome day (6+ miles of hard work!), Ellie led the pack into a polar plunge in the lake next to our camp! It was an exhausting day, but rewarding, nonetheless.
We treated ourselves the next morning by sleeping in and had a mellow, relaxing day. Thomas whipped up some stellar peanut butter pancakes that everyone enjoyed for brunch. We had ourselves a lazy day filled with time to reflect on our difficult trek the previous day. During some of our downtime, Walker came up with the nifty idea of heading out on a day hike to get closer to the Gates Glacier. The journey was only about an hour but consisted of some of the most beautiful views of the mountain range thus far. After the hike, Charlie started a game of ultimate frisbee with the boys on the flat landscape of our campsite. Dinner was a booming barbecue quesadilla spread that was followed by a Moonup on the ridge of the mountain towering over our tents.
The next morning, we fried up some hash-browns before setting off to Lower Donoho! The weather was a bit rainy but that didn’t bring down the group’s spirits! We made it to the campsite in half the time it took to hike in, all due to our new expertise in backpacking and navigating the Alaskan terrain. Everyone had time for a quick nap before we made dinner under our tarp tent.
Today we finished off our backpacking section by crossing back over the Root Glacier! By now we were all experts in putting on crampons and we wandered back to Kennicott at lightning speed. It was an unusual feeling to be back in town and see people walking around! We helped our guides load up a van with all our luggage and headed back to the original campsite in McCarthy. The day ended on a high note with visiting one of the two local restaurants in town: The Potato. We ate until we couldn’t fit any more food in our bellies and after the meal, enjoyed some dessert of ice cream and hot cocoa. Charlotte was an exemplary leader of the day and cleaned up the whole table before our waiter had the chance!
We head out for our rafting section today and cannot wait to cherish our last few days together as a group. Below are a few shoutouts our group had for friends and family:
Walker — Hey fam! Hope the mount is fun. HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY MOM! See ya soon!
Charlotte — Hey fam, Moondance is super fun so far, but I miss all of y’all so much. Hugs and kisses to everyone (especially shadow) and Happy Birthday mommy! Love, Pookie Bear <3
Alessandra — Hey guys, Moondance is so fun, but I miss you all so much! See you guys soon!
Ellie — Hey fam! I hope the cruise is fun. I’m having a great time and I miss you guys a ton
Tilden — Alaska is sick, and I can’t wait for rafting. I am so surprised by how fast this trip went by and it has been beautiful
Matan — I’m having a great time in Alaska. Backpacking was hard but worth it. I’m really excited to start rafting. I miss y’all
Charlie — Hi mom and dad, Alaska is really cool and amazing! Just finished backpacking and I’m ready to start rafting. I’m hype. See you soon.
Thomas — Hi mom and dad, Alaska has been fun. Backpacking has had some pretty sick views but at times the hikes have been challenging. We are about to start rafting and I’m very excited. See you soon.
Hudson — Hey family, Alaska has been awesome. We finished our five-night backpacking trip today and begin rafting tomorrow. We got to eat at a restaurant tonight which was really nice. Tell dogs hi and I’ll tell y’all way more when I get home
Cooper — So we went on a six-day backpacking trip and one day we hiked for nine hours straight with like 50 pounds on our backs! Also, we climbed a glacier that was like 50 feet tall! We start our rafting trip tomorrow and I’m sooo excited. This trip has been so fun, and I’m bummed it has to end
Sailor — Hey mom, happy birthday hope you had fun and hope dad had a good Father’s Day. We just finished the backpacking section of our trip and I had a great time. We leave for rafting tomorrow. Tell G I love her. See y’all soon
We will be sure to update you after we get off the rapids in a few days!
Tata for now,
Olive Oil and Max-imillian
June 14, 2019
Hello from the Last Frontier!
Our group has ventured into the backcountry of the largest national park in the United States! We’ve had an amazing first few days together wanted to share with everyone what we’ve been up to in the expansive 49th state.
Our trip started at the Anchorage airport just a few short days ago, where we all met for the first time and hit it off immediately. Cooper knew exactly how to entertain the group while we waited for the final arrivals and pulled out a deck of cards to facilitate getting to know each other over a group game. After filling our bellies with some delicious local pizza delivered directly to the airport baggage claim, we hopped in the Magic Bus which gave us a quick tour of the area on our way to the first campsite. We had a bit of time before getting ready for bed so Charlotte introduced us to another group game that had us running around the whole campsite and kept the energy high. After a long day of travel, we were ready for bed and fell asleep quickly despite the midnight sun that persisted with illumination throughout the night.
Day two began with a long bus ride from Anchorage to a local airstrip in Chitina. We spent most of the bus ride listening to music, dancing in our seats (Matan, Charlie and Sailor had quite the moves!), and playing 20 questions. Once we finally arrived, we explored the river area surrounding the airstrip until we heard the buzzing of three bush planes flying right above us! The pilots were kind and excited to hear about our Alaskan adventure. We split up into three groups, boarded the planes, and fastened our seat-belts, ready to go! As soon as we took off we were immediately greeted by the beauty of Wrangell-St Elias National Park. There were snowcapped mountains to our left and right, and we zeroed in on the Root and Kennicott glaciers which were HUGE! The bush plane was an incredible experience, and we couldn’t stop talking about it once we landed in McCarthy.
After the flights, we moved on to the Kennicott Mine tour in Kennicott, which was run by one of our backpacking guides, Ryan. We had a small hike up to the top of the mine and he showed us a few plants on the way. Hudson picked as many spruce needles as he possibly could-I think I counted 15…! The mine tour was informative but also very fun for everyone. Afterwards, we headed to our campsite for the night and set up our tents before starting our grill out with delicious burgers (and veggie burgers) as well as some mashed potatoes. Walker was a whiz with the griddle and cranked out burgers like it was nobody’s business. We fell asleep quickly after with excitement in our veins for the adventures ahead.
This morning we spent a few hours prepping for our upcoming trip to the backcountry and Alessandra impressed us all with her packing skills. Our guides Paige and Ryan met up with us and taught us a bit about the mountains we’d be exploring in the upcoming days before we loaded up the van with our gear and set forth for our initial leg of backpacking. Thomas led the front of the pack on our way towards the Root Glacier setting a steady pace for everyone to follow. The views of the surrounding mountains we had seen from above the day before were somehow even more majestic as we got closer on foot. We slowly crept upon the Root Glacier and set up camp on the hillside above it. After exploring and setting up camp, we made a delicious fajita dinner that satisfied our very hungry tummies. As our leaders of the day, Tilden and Ellie, led us in an impactful Moonup that ended in opening a surprise “potato” filled with sweet treats!
We are very much looking forward to the days ahead and are headed out to climb on the glacier early tomorrow morning! We will be sure to keep y’all updated along the way.
Until next time,
Liv & Max
June 12, 2019
Hello Midnight Sun Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Anchorage last night, and enjoyed a night of well deserved rest together at their first campsite. We’ve heard from our Leaders this morning that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventures. Stay tuned!