July 1, 2021
Wow, we cannot believe this incredible 3 weeks has come to an end! Looking back our first night in anchorage seems like months ago with the friendships that have formed over this time. These kids challenged themselves in so many ways and created an environment of love, joy, and positivity for one another through each element of this trip.
After we finished our overnight raft, we headed out of Chickaloon and into Anchorage for our final sleep in Alaska! At the campsite, the kids faced off in an Iron Chef competition that left us speechless. They worked the whisperlite stoves like pros and made us two incredible meals. Louise’s genius moose pie dessert took her team’s meal to the next level but ultimately the handwritten menus and fresh picked flowers from Payton and Miles along with Elena’s professional hostess-ing made us choose them as the champions.
Once our feast was cleaned up, we played a massive game of golf with three decks of cards. Kennon helped deal the giant deck and fuel our competitive spirits. It was so fun to play with all 13 of us even if Ella still doesn’t totally understand the rules. Our last Moonup, led by Barclay, was beautiful and a chance for the students to really show how much they appreciate one another.
The next morning, the kids were up bright and early ready to take advantage of our day in town. We walked through gift shops while Lulu hunted for the perfect pair of authentically Alaskan pajama pants. Once everyone secured their sweatshirts and gifts we feasted on scrumptious cinnamon rolls and the world’s best hashbrowns. To top off our day we got ice cream from a local shop, Will made sure to try the Fruity Pebbles flavor.
Back at camp, we finished off our disposables with photo shoots that featured us holding up Henry and Lulu leaping to be in the background of every picture. On the bus ride to the airport everyone got into our final singalong with a great rendition of Umbrella and Pocket Full of Sunshine.
It was hard to say our teary goodbyes at the airport but it just reiterated how special this group of students is. We were consistently amazed by their confidence, tenacity, and humor. Also, we want to say thank you to the parents for allowing your kids to come out to Alaska and experience these unforgettable weeks. We are so lucky to know them and cannot wait to see what else they conquer in life.
All the best,
Sierra, Walter, and Emmy
June 30, 2021
Guess who’s back with another action packed trip update? This unreal Northern Lights team! Backpacking in Alaska is no joke and these kids have taken on the responsibility and difficulty with ease and joy.
To start, we got dropped at the trail head in the rain. With our packs heavy and heads high, we trekked through tall evergreens on ATV trail and headed up a steep ascent to our first campsite.
Our second day brought more rain but chipper spirits, Payton and Elenas riff off, Will explaining how he would take on this trail on his mountain bike, Kennon checking in on everyone because of his everlasting kindness, Barclay dishing out musical knowledge, and a sweet Moonup led by Ella and Payton.
On day three we slept in and woke up happily to sunshine, a welcoming kickoff for the solstice. We trekked west and headed for higher ground in the foothills that rolled along. We came up some abandoned mining equipment and a bush plane landing strip. Henry set up a shelter to hide us from the rain that had blown in and eat some lunch under. We made the hard decision to not cross Chitna Creek but found our silver lining in the form of a rest day on day four at this beautiful landing strip – turned – campsite.
On our rest day, while we had to say goodbye to Will, the kids found some mountaineering spirit and summited a nearby peak that offered remarkable views of the valley below. Ella finally won her first round of Uno, as well.
We trekked back down the trail on day five and soaked up some glorious sun on the shore of a river where Louise took advantage of the weather and snoozed soundly on the banks.
Day six brought our last big push and the kids crushed it! Under blue skies, the kids were challenged with the uphill and muddy terrain, but continuously had great attitudes and came through strong into camp where we enjoyed Miles’s jambalaya.
On day seven we had a short hike in kind weather and made camp early. This allowed some of the kids to tackle another nearby mountain summit that offered 360 views and even a glimpse of the glacier we had climbed just a week prior! Will made a surprise return that further sparked joy in the group.
Our last day in the bush we made the few mile hike out to the trailhead. We celebrated with some ice cream and a chill afternoon at camp with rafting on the horizon.
Rolling right into rafting, we put in above some incredible rapids and the kids responded to the guides commands with grace to navigate the waters effectively. Lulu’s wishes came true when we spotted moose three times along the trip! We made camp on a beach and then finished the last section on the second day in rainy but mesmerizing clouds that padded the surrounding mountains.
The backpacking and rafting sections were such a treat and the group excellently maneuvered challenges and reveled in their success. Just a couple days left and we are savoring every last moment!
All the best,
Walter, Sierra, and Emmy
June 18, 2021
Hello and hiya from the Great North! After our stunning weather kayaking it was only bound to happen that we got hit with some heavy rain as we headed out to tackle the Matanuska Glacier, but that did not stop these incredible students from keeping the laughs and spirits high as we all pushed out of our comfort zone.
Kennon fearlessly kicked us off, being the first one to climb the ice pitch set up by our guides. Payton struck the most iconic pose halfway up the wall that sent everyone reeling with laughter. Elena’s ascent was preceded by some jitters from her but followed up by her immense pride and accomplishment for her conquest after she crushed it. As more got over the wall, we were taken on a short hike to look into a massive crevasse. Louise made sure to get some footage of that stunning shot! After our cold but amazing day on the glacier, we piled into vans and got cozy in our sleeping bags for a nap. The day concluded with Grillmaster Ella flipping burgers for dinner and an insightful Moonup led by Will and Barclay.
Rising early, we set out for the glacier again, this time under stunning blue skies. The group trekked deep on the ice to reach a new and more challenging route to climb. We came upon a 30ft crevasse that dropped down into a crystal blue glacial stream and the guides set up three routes for us to climb. Miles pushed himself to try a harder climbing route and Lulu made sure to get her action shot as she climbed her way up and showed a cheery smile as she dug her spikes in. Henry sported an American Flag bandana and shorts while climbing, which he claimed was the ticket to his successful completion of one of the routes. We headed out of the glacier, transitioning from our large crampons to our micro spikes and eventually just our boots as the terrain required. We enjoyed a nice dinner of quinoa, vegetables, and chicken and filled our stomachs as we tucked away for a very deserving sleep with the backpacking portion of our trip on the horizon.
Till next time folks and Happy Father’s Day! Here are some special shoutouts from the crew!
Hi mom and dad! We went ice climbing on a glacier and it was amazing! Can’t wait for the rest of the trip!-Will
Happy Father’s Day almost dad! Thank y’all for sending me on this trip, it’s been great. I love y’all so much-Henry
To whom it may concern, we just finished ice climbing! Also, make sure to tell mason I saw a moose and a bear, but no polar bears yet- Elena
Hi family! We just finished sea kayaking and glacier climbing and getting ready to go backing packing for 8 days. Hope you guys aren’t missing me too much, see you soon!-Ella
Hi famjam! We just finished ice climbing and we are about to embark on our 8 day backpacking trip… Having fun! Love and miss y’all! Happy birthday Susu! ~barclay
Happy early Father’s Day to the BEST dad out there! We just ice climbed the last two days, and the glacier views were so cool. Prepping for backpacking today and will be in the backcountry for the next 8 days…! – Louise
Happy Father’s Day (again) dad! We just finished ice climbing and are prepping to go backpacking for the next 8 days. Thank y’all for this trip, love y’all! -miles
Happy Father’s Day dad!! There’s so many dogs here but one is very sus of us and just barks 🙁 We’re about to go backpacking and we just did ice climbing and it was really scary and hard but I did it!- Lulu
I saw a moose, and a bear, ily -Peyton
Happy Father’s Day dad!! Ice climbing has been amazing! We are preparing to backpack and we’ll be out there for 8 days. I’m super excited and I miss you guys so much. – Kennon
June 16, 2021
Here we are in Alaska! Sierra, Walter, and I could not be more stoked on these amazing kids!!
Our trip started with name games and airport pizza as everyone rolled in. Ella quickly became the airport MVP when she pulled out a Hacky sack to goof around with while we waited for everyone to arrive. Back at camp we went through a great Moonup then got some well-deserved sleep under the literal midnight sun.
Thanks to the excellent leadership of our first LODs, Lulu and Will, we broke down camp and hopped on our bus to Whittier right on time. We listened to the kids’ favorite songs while munching on some snacks as we passed through stunning mountains. After conquering the tunnel to Whittier we landed out our campsite.
Once in town, we soaked up the sun and sparkling blue water. A few ice cream cones and philosophical questions from Henry later, we had our sea kayaking orientation and got fitted up in bibs and rubber boots.
Bright and early we hauled all our gear and kayaks on a charter boat which took us across Prince William Sound. It had stunning views and gave us the chance to have even better naps. Once off the boat we paddled and paddled and paddled some more through the Nellie Juan with the sun always shining. After a long day we arrived at camp and Barclay and Miles cooked up an amazing stir fry dinner for the group. With full stomachs and tired arms we headed off to sleep.
The next morning we set off for exploration around the sound. We poked in and out of beaches seeing an abundance of bald eagles and seals. The day became longer than anticipated as winds picked up, but with Kennon and Louise as our LODs, they helped keep a positive attitude and mindset as we worked after our day of paddling to set up camp.
For our last full day out in the water, we saw everything: waterfalls, icebergs, the Nellie Juan glacier, a bear, and stunning granite faces known up here as “little Yosemite”. As we paddled on, Elena kept busy taking stunning photos of the 360 Mountain Views around us. Payton’s infectious laugh carried over the sound as the calm water let us chat all through the day. We came to camp and ate dinner with the glacier, a waterfall, and distant Chugach mountain range all in sight.
An early morning and calm paddle took us over to our pickup beach where the kids were organized and helped our guides load the boat with efficiency. With a quick turnaround in Whittier, we headed off to get ready for ice climbing!
We cannot wait to see what the rest of this trip holds with this hilarious and energetic group!
-Emmy, Walter, and Sierra
Lulu- miss you and Nicky and Bella! We just came back from sea kayaking!!
Payton- love you guys (also happy fathers day dad<3)
Miles- I’m having a lot of fun miss y’all also hbd tyler and happy fathers day dad
Elena- Miss you mom (and everyone else) we just finished sea kayaking and I’m having so much fun!
Kennon – miss you guys so much (Cisco and Sadie especially) sea kayaking was amazingly beautiful
Will- miss y’all alaska is so amazing, I can’t wait for the rest of the trip,
Henry- Living in the wild has been great, miss you all. Happy Father’s Day soon. Love you all
Louise: I’m having a BLA$T! The weather has been great and so were the views while kayaking.
Ella: Hi guys! I’m having a bunch of fun and miss you guys tons and the dog ! Love you guys!!!! (Text Ryan that I miss him please):)
Barclay: Love and miss y’all so much!! Having a lot of fun! Happy birthday Madi! happy Father’s Day! 🙂
Sierra: Hi fam and friends I miss you guys, but this is by far the coolest job ever! Also Happy Father’s Day Dad I love you!!
Emmy: Mum! Dad! Will! JB! I miss you all! Much love my guys
Walt: Hey Brose’s and friends! Having a time wrangling these wonderful kids around Alaska! Love and miss you all. Say hi to Frank and Kitty for me
June 11, 2021
Hello Northern Lights Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Anchorage last night, and they 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