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.
The A team
Aka Anna and Findley
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
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!!