July 10, 2019
Day 1: Airport Day
Greetings from Alaska!! We are so excited to have all of our students here. We started off our trip with some local pizza in the airport! After scarfing down some Uncle Joe’s pizza, the group dove in a lively card game. As the students began to get to know each other and settle in, we couldn’t help but huddle up as leaders to giggle in excitement we are about the group. We could tell it was going to be a good group right away! After only being able to learn about our kids via paperwork and phone calls, actually meeting them gave us a real sense of the excitement that lay in store for us. Once everyone had arrived, we headed from the airport to our first campground in order to get some much needed rest after a long day of travel.
Day 2: Travel Day
We woke up to a smorgasbord of bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, and wild Alaskan salmon. Nick tried smoked salmon for the very first time. He loved it! With full bellies and a packed-up camp, we hopped on the Magic Bus to drive to Nova in order to get ready for our first activity. The drive to Nova was absolutely stunning! As we drove from the seashore into the mountains we could feel the group’s excitement building! Once we got to Nova, we ate lunch and spent the afternoon learning about the wilderness of Alaska and playing games. Preston won a very exciting game of taps which sparked plenty of friendly competition among the group. After some games we walked down to the riverbank. Janie read to us about the Enneagram. She told us about its 9 different personality types and the strengths that each of us possess within those categories. Anna, Hannah, and Nick all laid down in the river to cool off. The whole group got a little wet shortly after when a rainstorm took us by surprise! Once the rain subsided, we cooked some delicious burgers and chatted under our tarp shelter. As the night wound down, we settled into our tents weary but anticipatory of getting on a glacier the next day!
Day 3: Matanuska here we come!
To kickstart our day, we ate a hearty meal of breakfast burritos. After cleaning up breakfast, we packed our lunches and extra layers and walked to the gear hut to meet our guides. They fitted us in some snazzy ice climbing boots, sturdy harness, and spikey crampons. Sydney couldn’t help but do a little jig to show off our new flashy gear that would help us take on the glacier. We hopped in the vans to take a quick ride up the road and across the glacial melt river to our trailhead at the terminal moraine of the Matanuska Glacier. Jaws hit the van floor with heavy thuds as the glacier emerged into view! What an awe-inspiring sight. It being all of our first times to see a glacier, all eyes were glued to the window. We got out in the parking lot and began to gear up to make our approach. Allie had to run back to the van with her bandana to mop up all the drool that had inevitably covered the floor and seats. Once the van was clean and everyone was geared up, we started our hike into the terminal moraine of the glacier. With huge piles of rocks and mud everywhere, it was not a stretch to believe we had suddenly found ourselves on the moon or maybe in a quarry or construction site. Our guides explained that the glacier (which is essentially a massive river of ice) had scraped and crushed all of these rocks from the surrounding mountains, carried them down the valley it was carving, and piled them all here where the ice ended. We reached the foot of the glacier and stopped to put our crampons on. These allowed us to walk on the ice with ease! It was a short walk to our first ice climbing spot where we congregated to get a safety talk as well as tips and pointers before we started to climb. Once we were all well informed the guides set up the routes for us. Charlotte and Margaret’s hands shot up to answer the question of who would go first! They crushed it! With the whole group cheering them up the ice, they made ice climbing look easy. We spent most of the rest of the day climbing but at the end we got to check out an ice cave that was beginning to form with a little creek of melted water flowing down into its seemingly endless bottom. Back at camp the group enjoyed some rest and relaxation down by the riverbank. After dinner we had Moonup where we shared plenty of fun stories and laughter. Katie laughed so hard for so long that she could speak for about 5 minutes! We went to bed with tired limbs and full hearts ready for the next day.
Day 4: The Bahamas
Our second day of ice climbing started with a long hike through the moraine and over the glacier to get to a stunning canyon of ice with a deep blue pool in the bottom of it. The guides call this spot the Bahamas because the water is so beautiful and clear. Our climbing was a bit different this time in that we had to repel down the big wall and then climb back up. This offered a unique “challenge by choice” that allowed the students to go down as much as they wanted to and then climb back up. Robert and Luke impressed everyone going all the way down to the bottom of multiple routes and then climbing back up with ease. After everyone had their fill of climbs we headed to explore another ice cave. This time however we could go all the way inside to the end of the cave. On our climb up into the mouth, Susan stopped to have a quick icey photo shoot. The stunning backdrop made for some excellent photos. The group had so much fun sliding around on the cave walls and posing for funny pictures. On the way back from the glacier we stopped for ice cream! It was a perfect treat to end a perfect day. We made enchiladas and sat around talking after dinner for close to an hour before Moonup! We got into our tents that night very fulfilled and ready for our first day of backpacking!
Our first activity was an absolute blast! We cannot wait to see what lays in store for us. Your kids have really hit the group running and are already all so close. We can tell that this trip will certainly be the trip of a lifetime! Tomorrow we head full steam into the woods. Stay tuned for our next update after backpacking and rafting!
Reece, Allie, and Anna
July 7, 2019
Hello Northern Lights families!
The group has arrived safe and sound in Alaska, and are already getting a good night’s sleep at their campsite so that they can hit the ground running. Next up, ice climbing!