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Pacific Northwest 1A • June 10-July 30, 2021

So Long Farewell!

June 30, 2021

Dearest followers, PNW 1A sadly closing out, after just saying goodbye to the last of our children. The last day and a half have been filled with fun, reflection, joy, and a bit of waterworks. Upon arriving to our campsite after rafting mid heat wave, we made a spontaneous dash into the cool waters of the lake. Mason joined the group with a solid cannonball off the dock, while Henry at the same time ultimately succeeded in his quest to push Jacob in the water. For our last home cooked dinner of the trip, we had a cookout of delicious burgers and dogs thanks to the cheffing of Helen and Cal, including toppings of lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado, cheese, and ketchup. This delicacy, paired with chips, grapes, and fresh cut watermelon from Mason made for a sumptuous, fabulous, rumptuous, marvelous, and wondrous feast. Henry by far stole the show here, ultimately taking down a final kill count of 3 burgers and 4 dogs. Following dinner, Jacob, after having seen a basketball court we’d passed prior, got the group energized to grab a sphere and hit the courts for a game of headlamp/starlit poetry in motion.

 

Next morning, we woke up bright and late, headed to our final campsite, and got energized to some cleaning to the sounds of Taylor Swift on the car speakers. Sydney and Cal here lead us all in truly a shockingly impressive deep clean of the van, while Mason and co. conducted final cleans of dishes, all while continuing to jam to 2000s Disney classics. All cleaned up and with paperwork out of the way, we hit the much anticipated thrift store to get outfits for our banquet night at the pizza parlor, where Sydney and Margaret won top costumes as Adam Sandler and “Mr. Worldwide”, respectively. Following banquet, we settled in to a bittersweet last moonup led by Helen, who spearheaded everyone to write heartfelt letters to each other to be read after parting, and Julia, who provided glow sticks and preemptive tissues for all. With our wee children not wanting to put the trip to rest, us leaders dozed off to the honestly heavenly sounds of Margaret on the guitar, with everyone singing along softly to “Rip Tide”. We similarly woke up (not too long after) early this morning to Cooper leading a chilling rendition of van favorite, “Feathered Indians”, before sadly hitting the road for our last adventure to the airport and back home. The past few hours here have been a blur of emotion, with Blythe getting us started this morning in farewells filled with tears and hugs. It’s been hard to say goodbye to each of our children, but we have felt such gratitude at the opportunity this past 3 weeks to know and grow close to them, particularly as we’ve witnessed such growth and perseverance in each. We cannot emphasize enough how incredible this experience has been, forever leaving our hearts with memories of true joy and purpose. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful children with us this summer.

 

  • A Team,
  • Anna and Findley

Rafting on the Deshutes

June 29, 2021

Your Pacific Northwest adventurers here, fresh off the rapids! We’ve had a fun filled 2 days paddling through rapids and basking in the sun of the desert terrain while rafting along the Deschutes river.

 

The night before we got on the water we got to our campsite at early afternoon in the heat of the 100 degree day and enjoyed swimming in the water and laying out in the sun. Margaret and Helen even discovered a natural lazy river and floated in numerous circles while convincing others the join in. We met with our amazing rafting guides, Jacob, Emma, and Sam, to get a run down of the trip, grab our dry bags, and pump up our rafts so they’d be ready for us to get on the water early the following morning. We indulged in a dinner of bacon mac&cheese and grapes, thanks to cook crew Julia, Cooper, and Sydney, before sleeping on tarps alongside the river to watch the stars.

 

When we got on the cool water in the morning our group wasted no time before participating in rafting shenanigans. When on flat water, in between splashing through class III rapids, piracy between our two boats inevitably ensued, including themes of walking of the plank, the taking of hostages, the boarding of each other’s ships, betrayal of ones own boat, all out splash attacks, etc. Jacob proved here to be an absolute warrior at getting people in the water. When not engaged in battle, Mason took up the guide’s offer to steer the boat with their oars, and kept us safe and dry! For lunch, we stopped off for deli sandwiches on some rocks, off which Julia and Cooper schooled us all on proper jumps. After an afternoon of more rafting, we pulled in for the night off the river below a class III rapid, which the guides allowed us to swim through, and Henry even did it twice! Once at camp, we unpacked and feasted on some Thai coconut curry thanks to our guides and the prep help spearheaded by Blythe. Afterwards, we played multiple games of laughter filled mafia, where Margaret and Sydney proved to be quite sneaky as partners in crime, and where Cals exploits earned her the “agent of chaos” award from our LODs. Our guides then surprised us with cake and strawberries, before we all settled in together for a heartfelt riverside moonup and then bedtime under the starlit sky.

 

This morning, we woke up bright and early to an oatmeal and cereal breakfast, before hitting the river again, getting into more piracy and rafting. We went through a few really fun series of waves, with Julia even deciding to eject mid rapid! We enjoyed one more all out war between the boats that saw everyone flying off into the water one way or another, before finally reaching our pull out point. Here we feasted on a deli meat sandwich and chips lunch, said goodbye to our incredible raft guides, packed up our things and hit the road to our next campsite. We are now here all set, fresh off an ice cream stop at a local joint in Hood River our last hurrah in Oregon. We are excited to enjoy our last hours remaining in the trip, before seeing you all soon!

 

-A team


Climbers and Desert Enthusiasts Alike!

June 28, 2021

PNW 1A here checking in fresh off our climbing section at Smith Rock, exhausted but feeling accomplished after an incredible and hot 3 days of climbing. On our first morning, we got up bright and early with the sun to beat the heat, then met with our wonderful guides to go over all safety protocols, as well as what the routes would look like for the next few days. All set to go and harnessed in, we blinked our eyes and realized Cooper was already at the top of the route, setting the tone for the section and establishing Cooper as our top climber. The group’s perseverance manifested itself throughout the day. Henry, despite having some skepticism for ropes and climbing, pushed through and made it to the top of the route. Meanwhile Helen, after claiming she couldn’t climb any higher while 4 feet up the route, kept at it and pushed, clawed, scampered, jugged, traversed, and crimped her way up to the top anyways. After climbing, we spent the afternoon cooling off at Steelhead Falls, where Cal relished cannon balling off the cliffs, and even taking the leap of faith off the waterfall! Before leaving, we basked in the sun on the cliffs, while Sydney serenaded us on the guitar. We feasted on chicken curry that evening, before enjoying a moonup overlooking the gorge of Smith Rock, lit up by the moon and stars, and being inspired by the slam poetry of Mason and Cooper.

 

Next morning, again bright and early, we crossed the river and hiked up to our next climbing location, where we jumped right into it with now a day’s worth of climbing under our belts. We practiced our rappelling skills, important for our next day at Monkey’s face, while continuing to climb routes, where Sydney flexed her teamwork skills by doing an awesome job belaying much of the group. We closed the climbing day with a rock scramble suggested by our guides, which turned out to be a huge hit. Following climbing, we hopped in the van and headed towards Bend for some town time. After some window shopping in the streets, we headed for the park by the river, where Margaret showed off her skills in a fun filled full group game of ultimate frisbee. Worn out and hungry, we headed to the local food truck lot, where Blythe persuaded us all to get the chicken and waffles for dinner, we didn’t regret it! We then headed back to Smith Rock, where for our final night in the canyon we moonuped on the rim facing a stunning sunset, and were treated to a special performance from Margaret as “Mr. World Wide”. With an extra early wake up this morning, day 3, we hiked Misery Ridge, and standing there in stone, as the great watchtower of Amon Sul of old, the Monkey’s face greeted us with the backdrop of the rising sun turning the peaks of the snow capped mountains in the distance pink. This sight sent bolts of excitement throughout our entire group, and Julia was eager to lead the charge, first across the Tyrollean traverse to the mouth of the monkey, then up the nose of the monkey, and lastly down the 400 foot rappelling drop, much of which free-hanging in mid-air. After initially considering backing out, Jacob finally flipped the switch in his head and did the whole thing, received with group hugs back at the top. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience for all of us. As Mason put it in between bouts of ooing like a monkey, “that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever done.”

 

Proud of our climbing accomplishments, we are now at a campsite by the Deschutes River, ready for rafting!

 

– A Team


San Juan in a Million!

June 22, 2021

Ahoooooooy me Mateys!!! PNW 1A here fresh off the high seas of the San Juan Islands. We’ve had an awesome couple of days exploring these beautiful islands carrying all we need by our boats.

The day before we got paddling, we woke up and enjoyed a hearty breakfast before catching our ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday harbor. Everyone was excited for the ride but Julia was especially thrilled to have our van and U-Haul drive right onto the boat. Once we got to Friday Harbor, a beautiful and cute seaside town, we explored a little and enjoyed some ice cream under a bright and sunny sky. When we arrived at our campsite, we met with our amazing sea kayaking guides, Mary and Hannah, to get our dry bags and get a run down on what the next few days of paddling would entail. Julia graciously offered to clean the van while Helen, an established cook crew asset, helped cook a delicious spaghetti and garlic bread dinner. We then enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the water while anticipating the next few days that we would spend on the islands surrounding us. Following Moonup, we watched the stars light up the sky, while Cooper schooled us all in an impeccably played game of mafia.

Our sea kayaking adventure started bright and early as we hustled to pack up camp and get on the water.  It was a nice and sunny day on the water but once paddling the current put up a fight against us. We had a late lunch stop them quickly got back in boats ready to cross over the mile long channel to get to our basecamp island. Shortly after beginning to paddle, we heard a piercing primal shout from Mason alerting us to a pod of Orcas. Our guides expressed how special this was, helping us appreciate all the more the experience of this rare occurrence. Rejuvenated, everyone gave the rest of paddle their all and remained spirited, and despite difficult winds and current we arrived on the shore of Jones Island. We feasted on a dinner of burritos prepped by our wonderful kayak guides along with the help of Blythe and co, before finishing off the night with s’mores and a fireside Moonup.

After a much-needed sleep in we awoke to an already prepped breakfast with all the fixings including eggs, sausage, cheese, potatoes, spinach, and more – quite the treat! We spent the morning relaxing by enos, exploring the island, and having the table of spike ball run by Sydney and her incredible volleyball form. In the afternoon, cooper led a swimming charge in the chilly water while Margaret spearheaded a group of Mama Mia singing paddlers onto the water. After a wonderful dinner of pesto pasta that left all stomachs happy and full, we jumped into boats to enjoy the sunset from the water in a calm, cool, clean, clear cove, where Cal found a sweet spot for an echo across the rocks and stated “this is the coolest thing that’s happened on the trip!” We then returned and were treated to a fire curtesy of Henry, after which some retreated to tents while others slept in enos under the starry sky.

On our paddle back to the big island, Jacob and Blythe were speed demons in the water and kept the pace throughout the morning, while we saw seals basking on rocks and even a baby sea loin. When we arrived at our docking point of Jackson’s Beach we emptied and moved boats before reuniting with our vans and heading to our campsite on the island. Once we set up camp, everyone got clean and cozy enjoying a well-deserved shower, before feasting on a cookout of hotdogs and hamburgers. We are now making our trek to Oregon for an incredible couple days of rock climbing and exploring at Smith Rock – anticipating the infamous monkeys face!

 

Some shoutouts from the kids…

Sydney – Happy late Father’s Day I love and miss you both. See you soon.<3

Julia – Hey FAM SQUAD, never been happier:) I miss y’all see you soon!!

Mason – Happy late Father’s Day dad!! I can’t wait to see both of you when I get home.

Cooper – hi pitts fam, I hope all is well in Charlotte. We’re a little more than halfway through our trip and I’m having an amazing time. Also happy late Father’s Day dad i hope it was wonderful, i miss u all

Blythe – hi! happy late fathers day! I’m having the best time and we’ve seen the coolest places. Love and miss the fam & the pups! <3

Cal -hey guys I’m feeling a lot better and all I have left is rock climbing and rafting which will be fun. I love and miss you guys and I’m exited to see y’all again. Also tell dad I said happy late Father’s Day.

Helen-hey fam!! I’m having SUCH a good time here! We’ve got one week left and I miss y’all slightly. I LOVE it out here 🙂 Happy late Father’s Day Jerome! Love and miss y’all! See ya soon!

Margaret – hey Gene Gene and Christoph! Having a great time- I have seen and experienced so many new things! I love the people out here and it will be a bittersweet goodbye, can’t wait to see you all!

Jacob – hi mom and dad and Aydin. I miss you guys so much and I can’t wait to see you soon. Aydin I hope you have fun at camp and go lightning

Henry- I’m having a lot of fun! happy Father’s Day. See y’all soon.

 

Sincerely,

The A team

Aka Anna and Findley


Backpacking in the Books!

June 18, 2021

Happy trails from your fresh out of the backcountry Pacific Northwest A team!

 

Our trail legs have fully set in and we’re ready for more! We’ve truly had an incredible time in the beautiful North Cascades these last few days. Our first day and a half were mainly focused on prepping for our backpacking, and in downtime we were treated with great guitar playing and sing a longs lead by Margaret, Cooper, and Sydney. Our current favorites are “Starting Over” and “By and By.”

Once we finally got to the Cascades our jaws dropped at the towering peaks above us as we water taxied across pristine Ross Lake to start our backpacking section. On the trail, Julia quickly kept the group engaged with stories and laughs on the trail. At camp that evening, Blythe led a group of bold souls into the lake for a great polar plunge, and following we enjoyed a whisperlite feast of yummy chicken teriyaki.

The next morning we were up and at em and continued along the lake to our next campsite, where we enjoyed more swimming, guitar, relaxing in the sun, and hunkering down through the rain, as well as an early pad Thai dinner. In preparation for our midnight call of destiny…

At approximately 0:00 hours, in the pitch black dark and pouring rain, we began our ascent of the aptly named Desolation Peak, where we would ascend 4,500 feet into the sky and gaze out across the Cascades lit up by the morning sun. Cooper did an incredible job as leader of the day navigating us all the way to the top, while Sydney provided unrivaled moral support by encouraging everyone to push through, and even carrying extra group gear.

On top of Desolation, we were rewarded with truly astounding views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as “extra mile” candies that lasted maybe 5 minutes. Climbing this mountain was truly one of the most physically and mentally challenging but rewarding things many of us have ever done. Everyone in the group was visibly moved by this realization they can attain goals that had previously seemed insurmountable. We returned to camp after a long day feeling tired, yet accomplished.

Our determined Cook crew of Mason, Helen and Julia held strong prepping plenty of well-deserved mac & cheese while the others cuddled up and napped in one tent. The sun came out for a beautiful lake side Moonup after a long day, before getting in sleeping bags and getting some extra Z’s. 

The next morning started later but the group proved to be efficient in getting camp together and breakfast in their tummies quickly, even with sore legs from the previous days challenging hike. We had a long trek today with some uphill sections, but with the help from and leadership by our motivating LODs, Cal and Helen, energy was kept up on the trail and we had a lunch stop at a beautiful spot along a rapid flowing creek along a small walking bridge. The group quickly set up tents and some planned out the best spot to stack their enos to hang out at our new campsite around the side of desolation. We fell asleep that night to the natural sleep sounds of the roaring creek beside us. 

Our last full day of backpacking started with some yummy pancakes with blueberries and chocolate chips. Jacob helped distribute group gear, getting it ready for everyone’s packs. Fueled on that we hit the trail ready to crush the last full day, knowing we were heading to an incredible campsite alongside Lake Hozomeen. Along the way when we stopped for lunch and Cooper enlightened us on a trick he crafted, adding GORP (our version of trail mix) to his peanut butter tortilla.

When we got there many decided to take a swim and again set up Enos, that they braved during the night to sleep under the stars. We had a fantastic dinner of backcountry pizzas, all spearheaded by our pizza master chef Cal! During the process of cooking everyone’s individual pizzas Helen kept us entertained with her clever card tick that still leaves us curious. We were in awe at the beautiful sky of stars above us as the snowcapped mountain peaks and trees reflected in the lake water, while we had our last Moonup in the backcountry. 

Our last morning was bittersweet, as we watched the sun once more light up the beautiful rock faced mountains towering over Hozomeen while eating oatmeal and snacks, and packing up for our last hike of the Cascades. Having almost reached the lake for our boat pickup, we came to a fork in the trail where we weren’t entirely sure which way to take, but Mason boldly volunteered to get some extra cardio in and jog ahead with Findley to scout out the trails, and quickly had us on the right track.

We then all boated back across Ross Lake to our van, getting views and feeling accomplished at all the close to 40 miles we had hiked over the past six days, while enjoying ice cold Mountain Dew curtesy of our gracious boat driver.

We are now on the road to the San Juans, happily tired and ready to get kayaking! 

Until next time,

Findley + Anna


All Have Arrived!

June 10, 2021

Hello Pacific Northwest 1A Families!!

The whole group arrived safely in Seattle and they are headed to their first campsite! We have heard from their 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 at least three trip updates throughout the next few weeks. This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shoutout 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

  • Jacob
  • Blythe
  • Henry
  • Sydney
  • Cooper
  • Helen
  • Margaret
  • Julia
  • Mason
  • Cal

Staff