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Midnight Sun 5 • July 6-July 19, 2021

Farewell For Now, Pirate Crew!

July 19, 2021

After a late night of train horns, seagull screeches, and all the other crazy sounds of an urban campground, we woke up sleepy eyed and bushy tailed for the last epic day in The Last Frontier. As we packed our duffels and broke down camp for the last time, there was a sense of finality and somber that this was it. Our family would be dispersing today.

We made the 20 minute walk into Anchorage to Polar Bear Gifts & More to not only purchase our banquet attire, but to find thoughtful gifts for our loved ones back in the lower 48. An hour in the store passed like a blink of an eye and soon we were strutting in our new garb to Fat Ptarmigan for pizza. We wolfed down 8 wood fired pies and stopped by the iconic Wild Scoops for what was certainly the best scoops of ice cream we’ve ever had. Coffee and White Raven (Alaska’s cookies and cream) were crowd favorites, but a few brave souls opted for Fireweed (Alaskan flower) or Rhubarb Crisp.

We then followed the sound of a music to the second Sunday festival where we took over the corn hole boards and danced in the bubble machine. Unfortunately, the time then came for us to head back to camp and load up our luggage for the final time.\

In ticketing area, we had part one of the final Moonup. Tyler shared the Bon Vivant Manifesto, encompassing the feelings only felt on a Moondance  adventure. Reality setting in, the homies and Kailey said goodbye to Tyler – this initial goodbye was bittersweet, but would not prepare us for the final goodbye to come. Through security, the group quickly got McDonalds to-go and set up part 2 of final Moonup at an empty gate in Terminal C. Kailey FaceTimed in Tyler, and we  spilled feelings for the last time as a family. Tears flowed as the final goodbye came. We were all surprised how strongly we felt for each other. Two weeks, no phones, just us. An opportunity of a lifetime in the Alaska backcountry with people we will never forget.

We as leaders, cannot be more proud of our Pirate Crew.

Adam – We will miss your emotionally driven strength, and unique humor
Alston –  We will miss your selfless demeanor and inclusivity of those around you
Connor – We will miss your hilarious one liners and witty accents
Isabelle – We will miss your willingness to try anything and adventurous spirit
Ives – We will miss your good heart and ability to step out of your comfort zone
Joe – We will miss your enthusiasm and uplifting attitude no matter the situation
Lucy – We will miss your inner strength and drive to overcome any obstacle
MacKenzie – We will miss your poise and maturity beyond your years
Marguerite – We will miss your unwavering positivity and infectious smile
Owen – We will miss your genuine care for others and exceptional expedition behavior
Robert – We will miss your kind heart and authenticity
William – We will miss your competitive spirit and underrated wit


ARRGH - Ye ol' Update from The Land Where the Sun Don't Set

July 18, 2021

Hello from the road!

We are on our way back to Anchorage from rafting Copper River.

The rafting section of the trip was a blast, filled with well deserved warmth, sun, and great food. After 6 days of cool temperatures, glaciers, and trekking, we really made the most of our time on the Copper. Thus update involves Pirate Wars, great expedition behavior, good food and SUN. The guides brought a pirate flag, which immediately turned a relaxing rafting trip into a VERY active game of capture the flag.

First and foremost, the MVP(irate) award goes to William. His fierce intensity with a bucket and defensive strategy is something to be admired. Alston led the girls strategy – working every angle to steal the boys paddles and make the biggest splash. On more than one occasion Ives was held hostage in effort to trade her for the flag and/or information. Both Connor and Robert sacrificed their bodies for a chance to snag the flag, resulting in them being stranded from their own home base and remaining captive in an enemy raft for over an hour. Girls prevailed in stealing the flag, but were betrayed by their guide when they gave the flag to a triumphant Adam. MacKenzie and Lucy joined Adam in celebration on their boat with intimidating and taunting tactics. Marguerite, always the ray of sunshine, continuously exclaimed “This is SO fun!” Needless to say, Pirate Wars were a hit!

On the shore we camped on large sandbars with views of the Chugach mountain range (famous for backcountry skiing) and Mt Drum. We ate delicious meals of pasta, pancakes, and hamburgers galore! Without weight constrictions on how much food we could carry, our guides went all out!

Joe shined during this part of the trip, building fires and leading the group to efficient and on-time wakes and starts on the river. Owen, true to character, was always looking out for others, picking up stray gear and making sure all were included in activities. Isabelle, too, was in her element in the sun. With years of hard work at the pool, she really came into her own bringing good sunshine vibes and great conversation. The section ended gazing at a sun setting (as much is it can in a place where it doesn’t truly set) over a glacier river splitting into two channels around the beach where we sat by a fire.

We are headed to the airport tomorrow…very sad for Kailey and Tyler and jealous of the folks back home who get to see them everyday!


Ice Climbing and More In Alaskan Paradise!

July 14, 2021

Hello again from McCarthy, AK!

This week we went backpacking in the Donoho  Basin. We are some of the few people who can say we hiked THREE glaciers within TWO days! While weather wasn’t perfect, we made the most of it and seriously rocked some trails! We went ice climbing on the Root Glacier which has the tallest ice fall outside the Himalayas. MacKenzie, Owen, and Robert led the way! MacKenzie was a true superstar. While she is the youngest, Tyler and Kailey were impressed by her leadership and maturity. Robert displayed true expedition behavior by carrying extra weight to lighten the load for others. It was a cold day and William saved a lot of hands from freezing by donating gloves to those whose were wet. To keep morale up, Alston shared her snacks and in return, everyone cheered her to the top of the tougher of the two ice routes. Owen got the guys psyched on dishes, initiating the guys to be the best washers of the crew! At Moonup, Connor shared a childhood memory of a Cardinal-Red Sox game with his dad that opened the door for others to feel comfortable sharing as well.

Next day we had a long, 7-mile hike to the most beautiful view many of us have seen – a scenery of alpine lakes, glaciers, and Donoho Peak. From afar, Donoho has the profile of an alligator, when the glaciers are full it looks as if it is swimming in ice. Very cool. Glacier travel with crampons was new to everyone. Lucy, especially, showed strength in her perseverance of this technical endeavor. On arrival in Upper Donoho Basin, we quickly set up camp before rain clouds caught up with us. Ives truly broke out of her comfort zone in this backpacking section. The next day, our day hike brought us to a lookout point of Gates Glacier. Our guide, David, introduced us to a game called “Rock Rock”. Essentially back country skeet shooting, Joe was the only one successful after many, many rounds.

Our final day hike out of our Donoho Basin base camp brought us to Kennicott Glacier, where we cruised down the Kennicott highway – a flatter stretch of ice. We found an area blocked from the wind for a charcuterie lunch. Adam, truly loved the reindeer sausage. After lunch, we happened upon the largest ice cave our guides had ever seen! We then returned to camp to escape the cold downpour. Marguerite kept spirits high with her smile and positive attitude.

Our final day we hiked out to McCarthy, but not before stopping by a famous blue pool. Isabelle was the most courageous, convincing Alston to join her in the polar plunge, while Owen led all the guys to take the leap. As a reward, we went to the local restaurant, Potato, for a delicious meal.

Today we are off to the rafting section where we hope to get our fill of wildlife and sun!

-Until next time, Tyler and Kailey


First Adventures in the Last Frontier!

July 9, 2021

We started out the Midnight Sun trip on an excellent note, getting to spend some great quality time with our first student to arrive, Owen! When the rest of the crew arrived, we immediately devoured three pizzas while organizing ourselves amongst the chaos of all the Northern Lights groups also sharing the airport space with us. After going over some basic Moondance protocols, we made our way to our campground to get settled in for the evening. Although it was raining a bit, this did not dampen the spirits of this rockstar crew. We did our first official Moonup of the Midnight Sun trip underneath the tarp all crammed together. Owen and Marguerite were chosen as the first Leaders of the Day (LODs) to assist with the following day’s logistics.

The next morning, we woke up ready for the day! After a tasty breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter and tangerines, we loaded into the Saint Elias Alpine Guides’ van for our transfer to Chitina. Our upbeat groupmate, Joe, helped keep us entertained on the semi-long and bumpy van ride. Upon arriving to Chitina airstrip, eight students and Kailey quickly hopped on two separate bush planes. Ives, Isabelle and Marguerite joined Leader Kailey in the tiny 5-seater while Adam, Owen, MacKenzie, Lucy and Alston flew behind them in the slightly larger Beaver plane. Connor, Joe, Robert, William and Leader Tyler waited for the next bush plane to arrive and in the meantime took a quick dip in the river running below the airstrip and passed the time playing Hacky sack. Everyone had an absolute blast on the plane rides, with nearly perfect weather flying over the Kennicott Mine and glaciers we would be ice climbing and exploring in the following days. Upon arrival, our outfitters gave us a tour of the Kennicott mine. We learned much about the copper mining process as we hiked the 14-floor abandoned mine. Adam showed off his strength by lifting a large wrench used to tighten the structure’s stability cables. After the mine, we set up camp along the creek in McCarthy where we ate delicious spaghetti and played outdoor games. Joe and Robert squeezed out a big “W” in cornhole. Isabelle was amazing at including all the girls in activities and making sure their tents were close for sleepovers! That evening, Robert led us into Moonup with a soothing acoustic song. Many great responses were shared for our Moonup question, including William’s goal of jumping into as many rivers and swimming holes as possible throughout the trip. Joe and Alston were chosen as LODs to begin our backpacking section the next day. Joe for his enthusiasm and Alston for her compassion and flexibility! She is always the first to share snacks, offer a Crazy Creek, and do anything to make sure the day goes smoothly.

The next morning, we began with the “duffle shuffle”, packing our packs before heading out on the backpacking section of the trip. After getting sized for our mountaineering boots at the SEAG main office, everyone joined in a round of hacky sack before hitting the trail. Upon arriving to camp, we quickly set up the tents and stored our food in bear boxes to avoid any chance bear encounters! In the afternoon, Kailey took the guys on an afternoon “creek hopping” expedition. Connor particularly enjoyed climbing up a river, hopping from rock to rock – he didn’t even blink an eye when his feet got soaked!

We all huddled under a tent for Moonup, sharing our dream vacation spots. Ives is particularly excited to discuss her dream location of Morocco with Tyler since he has led the Spain and Morocco Moondance trip. MacKenzie and Adam were chosen for LODs for ice climbing the next day! Alston loved MacKenzie’s trail conversation – she will be a great leader for ice climbing tomorrow. Here we come Root Glacier!


Safe Arrival in Anchorage!

July 7, 2021

Hello Midnight Sun 5 Families!

The group has arrived safely in Alaska late last night. They are off on their adventure today! 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!


Students

  • Adam
  • Alston
  • Connor
  • Isabelle
  • Ives
  • Joe
  • Lucy
  • MacKenzie
  • Marguerite
  • Owen
  • Robert
  • William

Staff