June 30, 2021
As our adventure in Alaska draws to a close, we as leaders could not be prouder of the transformation that has occurred in these wonderful young adults over the last three weeks. After finishing our sea kayaking section, we spent our last night at a campground in Anchorage. We were excited to find that the hot water was seemingly limitless and took full advantage of hot showers before dinner. For dinner, we feasted on spicy chicken gyros which were a huge hit! Houston and Chloe, our LOD’s, got us started on a great Moonup. As we shared stories and our favorite moments from the trip, Harris reminded us of all the beauty we had seen, and it was apparent that this experience was nothing short of something special. Jay brought our final Moonup to a close with Bill Nye’s wise words: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” As our final night together began to wind down, we were inspired by the family that had formed from people who started out as strangers, and now shared so much love for one another.
Our final morning in Anchorage began with pancakes and a birthday celebration for Kate! After joyous singing and a pack of mega Motts gummies were given to the birthday girl, we were ready to take off and explore the city. We began by taking a walk to Bishop’s Attic thrift store, where we acquired our finest outfits for banquet. Annika and Bee selected fabulous 90’s maxi dresses complete with embroidery and beading from the “funky” section of the shop.
After strutting down the street to Lucky Wishbone, we sat in the back of the restaurant for our banquet feast. George ordered a full plate of chili cheese fries and a double jumbo burger, ensuring that he’d have a full tummy for the plane ride home. All the good food stuffed Owen to the point where he fell asleep at the table after finishing his milkshake! The group thought it was hilarious.
On our way back to camp before heading to the airport, we made one last stop at David Green’s furrier, where Sicily and Payton purchased articles of true Alaskan fur as souvenirs to commemorate their Alaskan adventure.
With packed duffel bags and full hearts, we headed to the airport and wished each other a heartfelt goodbye. As the three of us sit here and reflect on the amazing and awe-inspiring experience we’ve shared, we can’t say thank you enough for sharing your remarkable and wonderful students with us. This truly was the trip of a lifetime.
All the best,
James, Corley and Runa
June 30, 2021
Hello friends and family of Northern Lights C group! We have just completed an incredible sea kayaking trip in the Prince William Sound. This section was a challenging section, but the crew powered through. Our experience in the Sound included the most diverse wildlife we had seen the whole trip, and George made sure to help us point them out. His knowledge of the birds above truly impressed the crowd, and it was truly awesome. We were able to spot plenty of bald eagles as well as sea otters and harbor seals, even a possible golden eagle! Bee and Owen showed incredible persistence on the first day that motivated the group to keep pushing on. Our 9-mile day on the first afternoon was not an easy task, and the resilience from their boat was awesome. The mornings were chilly but team players like Annika kept us motivated, high spirited and moving. Houston and Chloe’s boat was hard to keep with considering how fast they were, and they provided grade A inspiration for the rest of the boats to keep the pace up! Payton and Jay led on day 2 and couldn’t have taken charge in a better way. Their navigation skills on the water seemed boundless and there was not a doubt in anyone’s mind with them leading the pack. Harris carried the team on his shoulders and kept everyone laughing with the strength of his humor. We can all agree there is no one quite like him with his humor and positive attitude. Kate showed boundless independence and could not have been tougher. Her perpetual positive attitude and seeming lack of struggle impressed and boosted the team in unimaginable ways! The crew also had an awesome banquet/ birthday celebration that kept the last day alive. Sicily kept the ball rollin with some seriously funny content. Her sense of humor was gold, and it really was a steppingstone to the finish line of our trek. Overall, the kayaking trip was a giant success.The crew couldn’t be more proud of each other and the stories shared and memories made will last forever. We truly will miss these activities with the gang and will never forget em. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the success of our last activity.
Now, here are some shoutouts from the group!!
Houston – Hey Mom and Dad!! We just finished our trip and are now chilling in Anchorage. It was such an amazing experience, and I loved my group and leaders! We will get on the plane tomorrow night, and I can’t wait to see y’all the day after that. I love y’all and will talk to y’all soon!!
Chloe- Hey y’all! Our group finished the trip today, so we are now in Anchorage until we leave for the airport tomorrow night. I had so much fun and loved meeting everyone in my group. I’ll see y’all Wednesday morning! Can’t wait to tell y’all everything!
George- Hey everyone! Alaska has been great, but I can’t wait to come home and see all of y’all again. Sea kayaking was incredible, we saw lots of cool wildlife. I’m actually looking forward to this red eye flight tomorrow because I can sleep. Miss y’all, see y’all soon!
Harris- Howdy guys it’s my last night away from home so I’ll see everyone tomorrow. I’ve kayaked about 40 miles in 3 days so I’ll be looking forward to taking it easy when I get home. I’m having gyros tonight so I’ll be a little bigger when I get home. Madz, I’m sure you’ve already planned a first date for when we get back and I can’t wait. Mere and Russell, I miss you guys and I’ll see you guys soon, I love everybody back home! I’ll see you guys soon!
Payton – hey homies. i just finished sea kayaking and it was so cool. it was really hard but i got through it. we did a total of 40 miles in the Prince William sound. everything we saw as untouched and it was just a pretty site. I just showered finally and feel really good. i’ll see y’all in 2 days when i land. i love y’all and will see y’all soon.
Annika – Hey everyone! We just finished the last section of our trip, and we are leaving tomorrow. I can’t believe how fast this trip went by. Im sad it’s already over but I also can’t wait to see you all again. This has been the experience of a lifetime, and I have so many stories to share with you all. Don’t worry we took showers today, so I won’t be completely gross. See you soon, and I love you all!
Kate – Hey mom and dad! We just finished sea kayaking and it was my favorite section by far. It was hard when it was raining but so fun and amazing when the sun came out. I can’t wait to get home and tell y’all about my trip. See y’all soon!
Jay – Hey Guys! Just finished sea kayaking and it was so much fun! I cannot wait to see you all. I’ve had so much fun. Right now we’re cooking out at the campsite and listening to music. It’s so great. Tomorrow we are in Anchorage and I get to join society again! Again, can’t wait to you guys. Love you.
Bee – Hi! We just finished sea kayaking! We saw a ton of seals! We got back to anchorage today and we all got to shower, I feel like a new person. We’re having our banquet tomorrow! I’ll see y’all on Wednesday! Love you!
Owen- Hi. Sea kayaking has been completed and it was actually harder than the backpacking. It’s like lifting weights for six hours. Still beautiful though, but a grind. The trip is now complete except for a day in Anchorage tomorrow which should be fun. Fair warning: I did buy some ridiculous clothing so don’t be surprised if I look like a homeless person. See y’all soon.
Sicily- hi mom dad Avery and Enzo. We just finished sea kayaking and it was so challenging but fun. I’m so excited to come home tomorrow. Make sure to keep the dog home when you pick me up because I don’t want him to get hit by a car at the airport. Mom make sure that you are prepared to do a lot of loads of laundry, I stink. Love you guys and see y’all soon.
Corley- Ahoy mainlanders, we have completed our kayakin section and the the trip as a whole. It has been a true adventure and I couldn’t imagine a more epic experience. We have seen more than ever imagined in the state of Alaska and I couldn’t be more pleased with how everyone handled the challenge. I love our crew and I always will.
June 24, 2021
The Northern Lights Crew just finished our rafting and ice climbing sections and could not be more psyched for our upcoming sea kayaking adventure. Our first day of rafting started with some killer rapids on the Matanuska River. George, Payton, Chloe, Annika and more all “rode the bull” bravely through the whitewater before lunch. The water was cold but the dry suits our guides gave us kept us nice and toasty.
After lunch we were treated to a float by our guides who did all the steering for us, letting the river do the hard work. The boat ride to camp was a nice change of pace and we were glad not to be carrying our gear on our backs. We ended up camping on a gravel beach looking at the high walled banks of the glacier fed Matanuska.
On the way down we were lucky enough to spot a few bald eagles and mountain goats grazing high up on the cliff sides. The guides were in charge of our meals for this section but Owen, Harris and Jay showed their expedition behavior by cleaning dishes and impressing the guides with their thoroughness.
The next morning we were awoken to the smell of sausage and eggs before we hopped back into our rafts and rode the river to our shuttle back to Nova where we began our prep for ice climbing. We then began our transition into the glacial ice climbing. The Matanuska glacier was an epic first sight driving in and it only became more beautiful the closer we got.
On the first day of the ice climbing section, we were led into the front country of the gigantic glacier we would soon climb. We stomped our feet, digging our crampons into the ice as we made our way deeper and deeper into the glacier. Stopping at the bottom of an icy slope, we feasted upon peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as the NOVA guides set up the anchor. We got harnessed up with our full bellies as we learned proper ice climbing techniques.
Houston led the charge up the wall. After each student climbed to the top of the pitch, we were led across the ridge to an overlook where we each took turns peering over at the bright blue crevasses cracking through the glacier. Bee and Sicily rappelled down the wall with grace and helped hide the group out of the glacier and back to camp. An even greater dose of adventure came with day two of ice climbing.
After hiking nearly two miles back into the glacier, we found ourselves surrounded by pools of crystal clear blue water and newly carved canyons in the ice. The wonderful NOVA guides set up three walls for the group to climb. Each wall stretched down into a crevasse, with a cobalt blue stream rushing through at the bottom. Kate did not hesitate to harness up, grab two ice picks, and take a crack at the most difficult pitches. After a lovely lunch along the ridge line, we packed up and headed back to camp to prep for our travels to Whittier.
Here are some shoutouts from the crew!
Kate – Hey mom and dad! We just finished rafting and ice climbing. Rafting was so much fun especially the rapids we went down. Ice climbing was hard but fun. It was very different than what I thought it was going be like. See you soon!
Sicily- hey mom dad Avery and Enzo. I had so much fun white water rafting and ice climbing. The glacier was like another world. I will see you guys soon and give Enzo lots of hugs for me. Love you guys!
Owen- Hey Mom and Dad. Stage 2 (rafting and ice climbing) has been completed; it’s definitely been the best part so far. Rafting was most excellent, I didn’t even have to row, which was a great surprise after backpacking. Ice climbing was definitely the best part: very beautiful and strenuous. I summited four walls, the most of anybody, and did the hardest one. The guides for both trips were amazing. See you in six days.
Annika- Hey Mom, Dad, Camille, and Mochi! Rafting was the perfect change of pace after our backpacking section, and it was so much fun. We also went ice climbing, and the views were so incredible. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. I miss you, and love you so much! Give Mochi a good belly rub for me.
Payton – hey fam. i just finished ice climbing today and it was really fun! i climbed up and down glaciers the past two days which was really cool. i also had so much fun white water rafting. i fell into the river while riding on the front of the raft and it was freezing but it was so fun. i hope everything is ok at home and that y’all don’t miss me that much. i finally took a shower 2 days ago which was nice. anyways i’ll see y’all in a week. love y’all.
George- Hey everyone! I rode the bull while rafting and ended up in the drink… The river we were on is super similar to the Snake river, y’all would love it. Ice climbing was crazy, I wish y’all could have seen the crazy pools and rivers in the ice. I just took my first shower two days ago, y’all would be amazed by the Afro. I’m loving Alaska, but I miss you all a ton and can’t wait to see y’all again. Love y’all!
Chloe- Hello Family! I’m having so much fun. The past few days I have been ice climbing which was so fun. I climbed up a crevasse with ice picks and crampons. It was really cool but kinda scary. We also finished our two day rafting expedition which was really cool and fun. I also rode on the very front of the raft like a bull, really fun!! Also I got a gravity shower two days ago and feel the cleanest I have felt in forever. And I saw a moose at our campsite yesterday and it was really big and cool. Can’t wait to see y’all soon!
Jay- Hey guys! still having a ton of fun out here. Too many good stories to tell- can’t wait to tell you everything when I get back. Today we went ice climbing on the glacier and it was pretty epic. We listened to music while we did it and it was just really fun. Tomorrow we are going to Whittier- you should look it up it sounds like a really cool town. It’s been so fun so far but I miss you guys and can’t wait to see you soon. Love y’all!!
Houston – Hey everyone! I hope everything is going well at home! We just finished rafting and ice climbing sections. I definitely have some stories to tell y’all. Tomorrow we are leaving for sea kayaking and then headed home. Love y’all and can’t wait to see you soon!
Harris- howdy fellas, I just finished ice climbing and rafting, so everyone’s break from me is almost over. I hope everyone is doing okay at home! To madz specifically I put no body on crime on aux when I had it for a little, I thought you’d appreciate it. I also saw a moose from about 70 feet away yesterday when I was cleaning my bowl, so you’re lucky I’m typing this in once piece. I love everyone at home, and I’ll see you all soon, goodnight to you guys at home, bye bye!
Bee – Hi! We went rafting and ice climbing this week, both were super fun! The glacier was stunning, I took some pretty awesome pictures I can’t wait for y’all to see! I got some cool socks and a really comfy shirt (it’s purple!) from Nova, which is the outfitter where we’ve been camping! We’re starting our sea kayaking trip on Friday, apparently there is a lot of wildlife and I’m super excited to take pictures of them with my disposable camera! Anyways, I love y’all and I hope you’re all doing well!
June 20, 2021
Northern Lights Crew just finished our backpacking expedition and wow, what an adventure!
We have covered some ground the last eight days and our team’s leadership and backcountry skills have grown leaps and bounds. George and Annika were our LODs (leaders of the day) for our first day in the Talkeetna Mountains and their positive attitudes and willingness to help other members of the crew carried us up steep hills until we broke through into the high country. The vistas were incredible and it was hard to find a tent spot that did not have postcard-worthy views. We also saw our first moose from a distance and it really hit us that we were in Alaska!
Our second day was led by Houston and Payton. Day two was marked by a seven mile trek through the mud and Houston’s strength was hard to miss as he inspired the team to dig deep and make it to camp. Payton’s humor kept morale high, even in knee deep mud. Jay and Kate kept us right on schedule for day three as we made our way towards Chitna Creek. We ate lunch at an old Super Cub landing strip in the shadow of the equipment that had carved it into the mountain. Kate made sure we ate efficiently so we could get on to camp, and Jay chose a perfect spot for our campsite.
While camp was being set up some of the crew hiked up the mountain closest to us to scout the way ahead and match landmarks to those on the map. It was awe inspiring to look down on the river valley below. After scouting our river crossing on day four, LODs Harris and Bee helped make the call to set up camp on the banks of the mighty Chitna to continue scouting for lower water levels on day five. Harris and Bee had us cracking jokes and really getting to know each other all day through Moonup although we still had not found a suitable crossing.
After waking up early in the morning day five and seeing that water levels on Chitna Creek had not fallen to safe crossing conditions we made the call to backtrack the way we came. Despite the setback, Chloe and Owen laid out all the positives of going out the way we came in over a massive pancake breakfast complete with all the fixins. After all we knew the coolest spots to camp, and got to see the beautiful places we hadn’t quite had time to see on the way in. On the way back to the trailhead, our team’s backpacking ability reached new heights as we covered ground faster and kept surprising ourselves with how quickly we made it to camp.
Day six had Sicily leading the pack as we followed moose trails back to the landing strip. We found huge caribou and moose antlers on the trail that we left where they were found (Leave No Trace) but took some amazing pictures. The Northern Lights group were old professionals by the time days seven and eight rolled around and were able to choose beautiful campsites that were only made better by the feasts that we cooked there. As soon as we got out of the woods, we were treated to a pizza party by Nova, our amazing outfitters before we started prepping for rafting. After such an amazing backcountry feat, rafting, ice climbing and sea kayaking sound like a breeze to the team and we couldn’t be more proud of what they have accomplished so far.
Shoutouts from the crew:
Annika- Hey Camille, Mom, Dad, and Mochi! Alaska is so incredible, and the backpacking was insane. The mountains are so beautiful, and we even saw some moose. We are about to go rafting tomorrow which is super exciting. I’ve met so many awesome people and learned so much about myself and the world. I miss you guys so much, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I come back. Also happy Father’s Day Dad! Give Mochi an extra treat for me! I love you all!
Bee – Hey Besties! I hope y’all are doing well! Alaska has been crazy, we just finished 8 days of backpacking and it was definitely an experience! I Please don’t kill my plants… love y’all <3 Happy Fathers Day Dad!
Sicily- hey mom dad and avery. I’m having such a good time in Alaska and I’m so glad you guys sent me here. We just finished backpacking and it was by far the hardest thing i have ever done in my life but we saw some amazing things and had such a fun time. I miss you guys so much and mom don’t forget to clean my room. Give Enzo lots of hugs and snuggles for me. Love you guys.
Owen- Hi. Alaska is good and I’m having a great time. We just finished backpacking and I’ve never been more motivated to get something done. But now there’s great parts ahead so that’s exciting. Tell Wyatt I said hi when he gets back. Love you. Happy Father’s Day, Dad, Papa Ben, Graham, and Jimbo
Harris-howdy y’all I am in fact alive. I hope everyone is dealing with my absence alright. Happy Father’s Day dad man and pop and love you mom and mimi. Hope you’re doing okay madz, you should be halfway through clone wars by now, and I hope you’re doing okay. I’ve never wanted a fat boys pretzel more then the exact moment half of my body was covered in mud in 40 degree weather. Hope Meredith and Russell get home okay. Love you all!
George- Hey! I’ve managed to not get eaten by a bear yet! I miss y’all a lot but Alaska is incredible. To Dad, you were right, it does not get dark here at all. To Mom, thank you for convincing me to bring so many layers. To Popu, I thought about your backpacking tips every day we were on the trail. To Nana, I miss your food a lot. To Datz, I’ve seen tons of interesting birds, I’ll need help with them when I get home. To Liza, give Mary extra love for me. To Mafe, I can’t wait to see you. I miss you and love you all, and happy Father’s Day Dad!
Payton – hey fam! hope all is well wake surfing everyday at the lake. i miss y’all a lot. i’ve made a lot of friends so far. we just finished our hiking portion of the trip and it was really hard, but it was great exercise. I have been eating food which is good too. all of my clothes are disgusting cause i’m covered in mud. i’ve learned to nature poop which isn’t fun but necessary. anyways, have a wonderful Father’s Day tomorrow Michael. Also to Yobob and Pops. I love y’all see y’all in 11 days.
Chloe- Hey Mom, Dad, and Noah! I’ve been having so much fun and everyone is really nice. Alaska is incredible and has not failed to amaze me. Y’all were right it doesn’t get dark, which I have learned to love. We finished our 8 day backpacking trip today feeling relieved, happy, and sore. The backpacking trip was probably the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done. We have been cooking, reading, eating, sleeping and just playing games today. Tomorrow we start rafting and I’m very excited to not have to carry everything on our backs. Miss y’all lots and Happy Early Father’s Day!!
Kate – Hey mom and dad! Tell Barret happy late birthday, I was sad that I missed it but I guess she was out of town anyway so it was ok. Also happy fathers day dad. I love you and miss you. And mom happy early birthday. Love and miss you so much too. I am having so much fun right now in Alaska and made lots of new friends. We just finished backpacking and it was hard but definitely worth it and I feel very accomplished. I am taking lots of good gopro videos so that I can show y’all all the fun things that I did! I hope all is going well with the kitchen and it is coming along fast. Most importantly tell the puppies I miss them and will see them soon!
Houston – Hey Mom and Dad! Firstly, happy Father’s Day Dad! Love you and I’m sorry I’m missing it. We just got done with the 8 day backpacking trip and I feel like I, as well as everyone else, has grown so much. It was such a journey and can’t wait to tell you about it! Tell Bradley and Bennett I said hello and that I miss them. It is such a treat to experience the real Alaska with great people. Can’t wait to see y’all! Love you so much!
Jay – Hey Mom and Dad! Hope you’re doing well. I have been having so much fun in Alaska! Backpacking was hard but super fun and we saw something like 16 moose in the backcountry. We are all friends now and I love my leaders very very much. We have been camping in the most scenic spots; there are some really beautiful vistas in Alaskan wild. Can’t wait to see you guys, tell Deac I said hello. Love you.
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