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Big Wild 3C • July 13-July 26, 2021

Goodbye Jackson!

July 26, 2021

 

Hello Big Wild 3C families!

 

As we wrap the last few hours of the trip before your sons and daughters return home, we reminisce on all of the wonderful moments we have shared with one another and look back with great joy.  Since you’ve heard from us last, the adventures and fun times have continued and we’d love to fill you in!

We finished out our last long drive of the trip with a grocery store stop in Jackson.  Izzy took control of the shopping trip along with Bo and Oliver who were great assistants. We then made our way towards the Tetons to our campsite!  It felt great to get settled somewhere after many days of moving around and being on the road. The afternoon consisted of activities led by SJ’s enthusiastic attitude including frisbee, spike ball, and bottle cap baseball- a creative form of whiffle ball played when there is a distinct lack of ball- invented by Timmy and Quinn. There was no shortage of fun and laughs. Everyone was happy, living in the moment, and making the most of one of our last few afternoons.  CR and Prater made what was deemed “better than anything the leaders have ever made” – a fajita bowl bar with seasoned and grilled chicken and all the fixings!

We woke up early the next morning and drove to the Exum Mountain Guides office, where they fitted us for shoes, harnesses, and helmets. After meeting our guides and getting equipment, we took a short ferry across Jenny Lake and climbed to our wall for the day. The first day climbing with Exum consisted of learning knots and doing a multi pitch climb. Over the course of the pitches, the kids climbed more than 300 feet into the air! Prater harbored initial trepidations about the climb and its intimidating height. However, she easily managed the climb and steadily conquered her nerves on the mountain. Thomas also overcame a fear of heights and turned out to be one of the strongest, most adventurous climbers of the day. We were all proud as we watched them overcome their fear and do something they didn’t think they could. We enjoyed lunch at the top of our climbing peak, with stunning views of the Jackson Valley and the Tetons to keep us company.  We practiced repelling skills after lunch before lowering ourselves down the steep rock face which eventually turned into an overhang. It was the perfect way to end our first day of climbing!

Our second day of climbing was highly anticipated after the fun we had on day one. We once again arrived to Exum early after taking in the beautiful views of the sun rising over the river and mountains at our campsite. On our way, we were lucky enough to see a Bison our in the sage fields!  That makes a third BIG WILDlife sighting for the trip – moose, bear, and bison! Today for climbing, we drove further into Teton National Park and had a short hike to a few climbing boulders. We were able to have a challenging yet laid back time depending on what you desired for the day. Oliver, Timmy, and Colin were eager to challenge themselves on this last day of climbing by taking harder routes up the boulders. We even had some timed races which Quinn inevitably won due to his lengthy reaches. SJ and AG opted for a less physically demanding day by learning how to belay. With laser focus and great awareness, they successfully belayed just about everyone on the trip!

After an early, action packed morning of climbing, we decided it was best to go to get some new funky outfits to wear on our town day and to banquet- we always want to make a statement!  After getting properly dressed, we had some free time to roam the streets of Jackson. Although some got a few souvenirs to remember the trip by, this trip of a lifetime is one no one will forget as stated by Max. For our last meal as a family, we ate at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Jackson. We finished off our meal by (fake) singing “Happy birthday” to Thomas and all split fried ice cream.  It was quite delicious!  For our final goodbye to Wyoming sunsets, we took the scenic route out to the Tetons to watch the sky turn to cotton candy before we landed on a perfect last Moonup spot in front of the most photographed barn in the U.S! We shared laughs and some tears of sadness about leaving but happiness about the time we had.  We want to thank you for sharing your wonderful kids with us. This time absolutely flew by but we will absolutely hold onto the special moments we shared for the rest of our lives!!

 

Much love,

Anna and John


And Away Down the River we GO!

July 23, 2021

Hello again!

Our first day of rafting began early in the morning but despite the early start, everyone was extremely excited for this next wild adventure.  We started the trip strong with a few class three rapids to begin with.  While the thrill of the rapids initiated many laughs and smiles, coming after backpacking, the leisurely times of floating Dow. The Salmon in between rapids getting to enjoy each other’s company was much appreciated amongst everyone. We cover quite a bit of miles per day (18-25!) so opportunities to swim in the beautiful canyons are always taken advantage of Thomas was especially excited to jump in any opportunity he got and encouraged others to do so as well.  Between time spent swimming, the two rafts of kids engaged in spirited rowing competitions. While there was no winner, the consensus was that we have some strong paddlers in our group. Our raft guides for the trip- Matt Parker (the elder statesman), Mason, and Trysta, were incredible. Matt steered one of the boats and Trysta helmed the other. The girls became fast friends with Trysta, and she led an impromptu hair braiding session upon getting to camp that afternoon. While Trysta braided hair, the rest of the group played Movies (organized and spearheaded by CR), chatted, and napped the long, peaceful afternoon away. The guides cooked us a delicious dinner of Burgers and mac n’ cheese, which the kids ate ravenously after a hard day’s work. Our post dinner activities included swimming and other water games. Timmy and Oliver practiced their form tackles and RKOs on John with the river water as their mat. After a brief push up competition, dessert was ready, and the whole crew tucked into s’mores over the open fire, with gorgeous canyon cliffs as our backdrop. We had a nice Moonup, and a sizable portion of the group stayed up to discuss deep thoughts and history. Their collective historical knowledge was very impressive, and Colin and Quinn were particularly insightful.

We woke up late the next next morning well rested from our first opportunity to sleep in in a few days. The guides greeted the bleary-eyed kids with a hearty breakfast of French toast, sausage, and grapes. After finishing breakfast, we packed our belongings in dry bags and embarked on the second day of rafting. It involved much heavier rapids than the first day, including two Class 4 rapids that proved to be crowd favorites. We also swam got to swim two rapids and float down the Salmon a river through gorges and canyons. SJ and Prater demonstrated their word class backflip abilities throughout the day, fearlessly launching themselves from the front of the raft during calm sections of the river. All in all, the kids covered 22 miles (!) this day.  Although tired from our longs days work, Max and Bo led the group in helping unload our baggage boat. It is so awesome to see them take initiative of the groups responsibilities and see the rest follow without needing to be asked.  After arriving to camp and setting up, we attempted to play camp games like Mafia or Killer Frog. Despite Colin’s expert abilities as a Mafia narrator, we quickly found that the group’s talents and energies are better suited for good conversation, rather than games. Our campsite only grew more beautiful as golden hour and then dusk descended on the beach. There was even a stag that surveyed our campsite from the far riverbank as we lined up to eat dinner. We ate a lasagna dinner and had Matt Parker’s famous pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Following a nice Moonup, the kids stayed up for more late-night conversations before collapsing wearily for some much-needed slumber.

Our last full day of rafting was fully taken fully advantage of. We began our day on our final stretch of the Salmon River. After only a few minutes of paddling, we arrived at a much-anticipated cliff jumping spot!  Everyone gleefully and fearlessly jumped off at the highest place. We all got a few jumps in before getting back on our rafts. Before long we saw our first major wildlife sighting on the Salmon- a black bear!  As we were paddling, Matt Parker pointed it out way up in a hill and we were even lucky enough to see it make its way down towards the water. This was truly a majestically, surreal moment for all.  Our last few rapids on the Salmon River were followed by floating through the Blue Canyon- where indigo-colored igneous rocks make the entire canyon a vibrant blue color- a magical swimming spot. We had lunch on a peninsula right at the Snake Salmon confluence!  We had a hearty taco salad and apple slices to fuel us up for paddling our next few miles on “Snake Lake” (what the guides refer to the. We because it is so flat).  Everyone an outstanding job paddling but Oliver was the most impressive of all. Trysta gave him the opportunity to sit in her seat and use her guide ores me he was a natural!  She was exceptionally impressed with his innate ability to read the water and stay in the main current. We persevered through some strong head winds and finally got to camp early in the afternoon excited to utilize more afternoon time with beach naps, great conversation, bocce ball, and a boat slide! The boat slide was a hit amongst upon all- even us leaders and the guides. You’re never too old to get a giggle out of launching yourself onto a slide into water. Timmy proved himself to be undefeated in bocce ball and even saved the game by using goggles to dive for a runaway ball into the water. While doing so, he swam passed a tarpon! We ate dinner as the sun set and then settled in for Moonup. One of our LODs, Izzy, asked the amazing Moonup question ‘Who is your biggest role model?’ Hearing each kid open up and share about themselves was special. After the Moonup, Izzy commented that she’s starting to feel close to everyone, like we’re one big family.

We woke up early to finish out the last 17 miles of our trip. The final leg was grueling and demanded nonstop paddling into constant headwinds for multiple hours. The day definitely tested our collective resolve, but each of the kids rose to the challenge. Anna Grace was especially impressive. She often sacrificed her break times to let others rest, paddled hard, and never complained. The entire group remarked afterwards that she crushed it on the raft. After paddling, we reached our put out spot in Washington and are driving back to Jackson to begin the last section of our trip, which is rock climbing!

This trip has been incredible so far. From the places we’ve been to the connections we’ve made, we are truly grateful to have gotten to share it with your kids. They are also grateful and wanted to let you all know how much they appreciate this experience:

 

What’s up mom and dad I miss you both so much and can’t wait to see you. I love this trip and am excited to get home but I know when ima ya home I am going to miss it and the people on it. I have some good friends and they are so cool and nice. Miss you and see you soon-Thomas.

Hey Mom and dad I miss both of you so much. We just finished rafting and before that we hiked around a set of mountains and stayed at a lake.  We are now going on a climbing trip and also going to Jackson hole.  Everybody on the trip is really nice and cool along with my counselors.  Miss you guys and I am going to see you guys soon-Timmy

Hey mom and dad. I miss y’all. Right now I think we are in Idaho we just got done rafting in the snake and salmon river. Before that we backpacked to a lake. We are about to go rock climbing and hopefully go to a rodeo. I love everyone in my group and leaders. Also Charlotte Reade, who we use to carpool with, is in my group! I’ll tell y’all about the trip when I get home. See y’all soon. I love and miss y’all -Izzy

Hey mom and dad! I miss you guys and Reid so much. I have such good friends they are amazing. My whole group is really good, everyone gets along and the car rides are so much fun. All we have left is climbing and we might go see a rodeo. We hiked around 14 miles total and it was really hard but me and my friend Izzy stayed in the back. We rafted almost 70 miles. I miss you guys so much and I will see you soon. -SJ

Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all so much. Right now we are driving to go rock climbing and we just finished rafting in the Salmon and snake river. We went cliff jumping and slept on the beach when we were there. I love everyone on the trip and we have had so much fun! Backpacking in Wyoming was definitely the hardest part but it was so pretty. We did 12 miles in 4 days! Can’t wait to tell y’all about it when I come home<333 Love y’all so much! -AG

What’s up mom and Dad! I’ve gotten close with everybody and had the absolute time of my life! I’ll tell y’all the details I have written down later, but in a nutshell, our trip was started with backpacking then spending nights alone in the mountains, to rafting in the deepest canyon in the US, to climbing beautiful mountains, all while traveling thru 4 states in less than a week, and making friends the whole time. -Colin

Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all so much but I haven’t had much time to think about y’all because I have been having so much fun. I have made so many new friendships that I am really excited to keep up with at home. So far we have hiked through gorgeous mountains, rafted through amazing canyons, spent time together on 14 hour car rides, and currently are driving to go climbing. I am having so much fun and I do not want to come home. I can’t wait to tell you about all of my adventures and all of the friends I have made. Love you! -Prater

Hi mommy and daddy! I’m having so much fun with all my new friends. So far we’ve been hiking and rafting. When we hiked I stayed in the front but the way up the mountain was really hard. The hike was supposed to be 5 miles but ended up being 7. The whole way there was uphill so on the way back it was pretty easy. After hiking we drove 14 hours to idaho for rafting! Rafting was definitely my favorite activity so far and we went through really pretty canyons and cool rapids. Next we are going rock climbing and watching a rodeo! Also izzy from Charlotte is in my moondance group and I’m so happy to be with her again! I hope bear is doing well and I can’t wait to see y’all again! I love y’all so much and am so excited to tell you all about my trip when I get home! – CR

Hey mom and dad. Im very happy you guys sent me on this trip. Im having a great time backpacking the Tetons on a 7 mile hike. I also had a great time rafting and I’m looking forward to climbing and going to a rodeo. Also I had my longest car ride ever which is 14 hours. Im excited to come back to Atlanta but for now Im having a great time. – Max

Hi mom and dad! The trip is really fun and there is a lot of activities and they are all very cool. The best part was the rafting and driving around in the car the hiking was very hard and hot. We hiked 14 miles. We also rafted 92 miles down the snake and salmon river. It was so fun. Now we are going to rock climb and rodeo. Love and miss y’all so much – BO

Hi mom and dad. The trip has been so much fun and it has been a great experience. The best part was the rafting. We rafted about 70 miles in three and a half days. We saw a bear while rafting and it was really cool. Also yesterday we went through 3 different states, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. I’ve had lots of fun and I miss you guys. – Love Quinn.

Hi mom and dad. The trip has been super fun. One day we went from Oregon to Washington to Idaho back to Oregon then back to Idaho. Miss you guys a lot and can’t wait to see you. – Love Oliver.

We’ll see you in a few days for our final trip update!


Into the Mystic and on to More Adventures

July 18, 2021

Hello to our Big Wild 3C fans!  This is John and Anna coming to you live from the Wyoming/Idaho border for our first trip update. We finished backpacking in the Wind River Range yesterday and had an early wake up today to drive from Pinedale, WY to the Salmon River where tomorrow we will start our rafting trip. Though we’ve only been out here for five days, we’ve had a lot of fun, and there’s so much we need to tell you.

On our first day, this group touched down in Jackson Hole around noon. We headed from the airport to Pinedale, where we purchased fly fishing licenses and enjoyed a pizza dinner in a nearby park. We then made our way to our campsite where we learned how to set up tents and had our first Moonup next to a picturesque pond surrounded by horses. On our walk over to our Moonup spot, we got our first taste of Wyoming sunsets, where the vibrant pinks in the sky meet the green and blue mountains to create a magical sight.  At Moonup, Sara James noticed there was a horse stuck in a barbed wire fence and petitioned us to help it. Izzy skillfully extracted it from the fence and then notified its owners. Suffice to say we were all impressed with their efforts and handling of the situation. We named Izzy and Colin our first pair of LODs (leader of the day) and got some much-needed sleep before our first day of backpacking.

We got up early on Day 2 to pack our backpacks, which is a skill that’s surprisingly hard to master but this crew did with ease.  We met our hiking guide, Connor, and began our scenic drive to the trailhead. Excitement brewed for this four-day endeavor in the car as we listened to sing alongs and looked out the windows at the towering mountains, bucolic rivers, and wildlife like sheep, antelope, and even a bald eagle.  After a quick lunch in the parking lot, we were fueled up and ready to hike!  We covered 6 miles, much of which was uphill, as we passed gorgeous mountain lakes and traversed saddles flush with wildflowers, nestled between imposing peaks. Walking 6 miles while carrying a backpack of supplies for the next four days in the backcountry proved to be difficult, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. We pushed through with positivity and strength.  Despite the hike’s degree of difficulty, Charlotte-Reade and Prater were at the front of the pack all day, setting our group’s pace and imploring Connor to tell them trail stories (he appreciated the conversation). We arrived at our beautiful base camp in the afternoon. We were lucky to call this place our home for the next couple of days.  Thomas quickly sought out a cliff jumping spot into the refreshing lake and was the first one to make the leap into the mountain water. That night we had a spaghetti and zucchini dinner, courtesy of Anna and Chef Max. The sunsets have yet to disappoint, and our spot for Moonup lent beautiful views of the setting sun above the glistening lake. While many found their first backpacking experience to be quite the challenge, these views made our hard day’s work well worth it.

The next day we relaxed, recharged, and appreciated our stunning surroundings after a physically demanding day. Our morning consisted of more cliff jumping; Anna Grace was the first in the water this time!  All followed and displayed their acrobatic prowess. Meanwhile, Thomas taught Timmy how to fly fish and the two enjoyed their time casting in Dad’s Lake. Around mid-afternoon, everyone sat in a circle at the top of a nearby hill to rest and converse. Connor brought out trail games, including clackers, which everyone enjoyed and Oliver had the idea to create a tournament out of the game. Bo won several of the impromptu clackers tournaments (rolling a few perfect rounds along the way). Timmy amazed us all with the highest score possible. Though not ideal, it’s pretty hard to do so we were still impressed. The day flew by and before we knew it, it was time to cook dinner. Colin graciously volunteered to help John prepare a delicious backcountry staple dinner of chicken, rice, and sautéed vegetables.  After dinner, we once again took in the views and expressed our gratitude for getting to share these wonderful memories with one another. Moonup that night was led by SJ and Max, who presented some of our best questions yet. We first shared our one item for survival if deserted on an island. Based on the responses, rest assured we would all survive. Next, we giggled over our most embarrassing moments.  Afterwards, it took no time to fall asleep despite our relaxing day. Something about the mountain air makes sleep all the better.

Day three of backpacking proved to be a perfect mix of relaxation and good hiking.  In the morning, after having a classic backcountry breakfast of oatmeal (a fan favorite), we played some more of Connor’s games he brought. The girls were the first to make their way to the lake for a morning dip followed by the rest of the crew. Everyone got one last exhilarating jump off the rock before eating lunch and heading out. Izzy was kind enough to make everyone sandwich wraps before once again putting on our packs and hitting the trials. This time we had an equally scenic hike back towards the trailhead to Meeks Lake. Despite being apprehensive about another day of hiking, we completed the 4.5 mile hike with ease and were at camp with plenty of free time. The afternoon consisted of greatly deserved relaxation and games in the shade. At this point, we feel like family and all the quality time we have spent with one another, making great friends and memories, has made everyone feel much more at ease in the backcountry. Timmy and Oliver did all of the preparation for dinner, proving themselves to have master chef-worthy chopping skills. While dinner was cooking, all the kids utilized their Wyoming fishing licenses one last time at Meeks Lake. Quinn caught not one but two brook trout!  That night, the boys executed their grand idea of a “mega-tent” where they would combine a four-person and three-person tent to make one big tent which could accommodate all the boys. We had our doubts of how it would work, but each boy contributed their visions for how to execute their innovative plan. The boys savored the last night backpacking all together in their mega-tent and even said that it was the best sleep of their life!

We awoke early the next morning to finish our backpacking section with a short hike before returning to our van. We couldn’t be prouder of how this crew has seamlessly bonded throughout this experience and grew in their confidence and perseverance.  We headed to Pinedale Aquatic Center to take much needed showers and have some free time swimming at their indoor water park!  Everybody tired themselves out, and their appetite for burgers and hot dogs seemed endless.  We camped last night by a lake with a sandy beach, the perfect place for a beach cookout!  We had a pretty early night after glimpsing a few scattered shooting stars. We got up early this morning for our drive which leads us back to the beginning. That’s a wrap for our first trip update!

Anna and John


Safe Arrival in Jackson!

July 13, 2021

Hello Big Wild Families!

The whole group arrived safely in Jackson today, and are off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

– Moondance HQ


Students

  • Anna
  • Bo
  • Charlotte-Reade
  • Colin
  • Izzy
  • Max
  • Oliver
  • Prater
  • Quinn
  • Sara James
  • Thomas
  • Timmy

Staff