July 12, 2019
Greetings from the Pacific Northwest! We are writing from our beautiful campsite on San Juan Island after three days of sea kayaking through several other of the San Juan Islands. The amount of shared memories, stories and inside jokes make it hard to imagine that we were all a bunch of strangers a week ago. These past five days will be hard to put into words.
All the students made it safely to the Seattle airport on day one and we drove North through Seattle and to our waterfront campground near Anacortes, WA where we ate pizza for our first meal together. Between dinner, a walk along the bay, and lots of hacky sack (Jack was the master hacky sacker) we quickly got to know one another. As Moondance alumni, Asher, Helen, and Thomas introduced the group to our very first Moonup, a ritual to close out every day, and we shared “why we are here” and “what we want to get from this trip”.
The next morning started as Helen and Asher got the group up and going as our fist Leaders of the Day (LODs). We packed up our tents, loaded the van, and headed to the ferry which took us from the mainland to San Juan Island. The group took the initiative of creating a count-off as a way of staying together. We then met our sea kayaking outfitters, Hannah and Mary (affectionately nicknamed San and Juan), in Friday Harbor and they gave us drybags to be used to pack all we would need for the next three days on the water. We settled into a campsite on the island, packed our bags and indulged in some ice cream. Helen and Asher helped cook dinner and then lead us in Moonup before we all fell asleep.
Thomas and Anna got us going the next day as LODs as we met our guides by the water, loaded up our 2-person kayaks, and hit the water. The sun quickly burned off the morning fog and treated us to a beautiful, clear day with incredible views of the green rocky coast, clear water, and distant mountains. The paddling was challenging, but the group quickly displayed great tenacity and grit. We spotted numerous seals and even a sea otter and her babies. For lunch we picnicked on a small island where we explored tidal pools and found Dungeness Crabs. After paddling another mile or so we reached an ideal campsite on Jones Island with a big grassy field where we later had an intense series of soccer games. Lea, Mae, and Adair found a giant piece of sea kelp on the beach that served as an excellent jump rope. As the sun set across the water of this beautiful island, we did Moonup, roasted s’mores, and Asher told a scary ghost story around a fire. Finally, we rested our tired muscles for the night before another day on the water.
Day four was lead by Jack and Lea. We had a slower morning and feasted on a delicious breakfast of sausage, eggs, and hash browns. Our kayaks were lighter as we would return to the same camp for the night. We took a leisurely paddle across a channel to Orcas Island where we were treated to another ice cream shop. Together we explored Orcas Island, the biggest of the San Juan’s, on foot and found an awesome view from the top of a rocky cliff. We returned to Jones Island where we spent the afternoon and played another long game of soccer. We reflected on our adventures thus far and slept to the sound of rain hitting the canvas tents. At this point the group already felt like a family and as leaders we are extremely pleased with the positive group dynamic and strong bonds that have already formed.
Today Sarah and Arthur got us going early as we took down camp and had a very hard paddle against the current back to San Juan Island. Adair and Mae impressed us all with their strength, paddling the heaviest boat on the hardest day. We eventually reached our van, ate pulled pork sandwiches for lunch, and then explored the small island town of Friday Harbor.
The first leg of our adventure was a success and we are very pleased with the group so far. The rocky, green coast of Washington State was more beautiful then we could have imagined, and we are excited to move inland tomorrow to get into the North Cascades that we’ve seen peeking out in the distance. Both the students and the leaders would like to thank you, the parents for sending us all on this incredible Moondance Adventure which has already shattered expectations. Wish us luck as we head into the North Cascades for six days of backpacking. We can’t wait to share more of the many stories we will create.
Will, M.C., and the PNW crew.
July 6, 2019
Hello Pacific Northwest Families!
We heard from our Trip Leaders that all students have arrived safely in Seattle, and the trip is off to a great start. Stay tuned for more stories from their adventures.