June 17, 2021
Hello everybody! We’re back and have so much to tell you! We’ve spent the last three days exploring the climbing routes in Smith Rock State Park, a legendary park in central Oregon. After making our introductions to our guides for our first day on the wall, James, Diana, and Patrick, we sized ourselves up for helmets, harnesses, and climbing shoes. We then headed to a nearby rock face. For many of us, this was our first experience rock climbing. With the help of our guides, we became familiar with the belay system and began attempts on the six routes they set up for us, cleverly described to us by our guides as “mild, medium, and spicy” in regard to their difficulty. Ava, always eager to challenge herself, jumped at the chance to attempt the “spicy” route (in more technical terms, a route with a whopping 5.10a rating), and impressed us all by making it all the way to the top! Soon after, both Trent and Carter gave the route a shot and both succeeded in sending it! We’ve got some natural born climbers on our hands. After spending so much time learning to climb, it was only fitting that we also learned the inverse of climbing – rappelling. This skill had us using a belay device to descend 30 meters down to the ground! Belle showed a lot of perseverance and bravery during this section, pushing herself to complete the challenge despite some initial hesitation. After a packed first day, we said goodbye to our guides for the night and headed back to the campsite to enjoy a bit of free time. We were lucky enough to have access to a basketball court at this campsite and everyone spent most of their free time playing knockout! The game was spearheaded by George, who picks up a basketball every chance he gets! After a thoughtful Moonup accompanied by a beautiful sunset over the mountains, we hit the hay to prepare for another packed day of climbing in the morning.
Oregon welcomed us with some light showers the next morning, but the sky soon cleared up and the sun helped dry off all of our new climbing routes. With a days experience under our belts we were excited to take on the six new (and more difficult) routes which our guides had planned for us. After examining the wall for a moment, Annie was the first to take on the most difficult route of the trip, rated a 5.10b. After crushing this new challenge, she told us from the top of the wall that she “did it for the climbing shoes.” Teddy also took on this extreme route, and after spending a good amount of time on the wall he opted to be lowered before reaching the top. Unphased by this, he decided to reattempt after some rest and conquered the challenge! We had so much fun both climbing and belaying each other up the walls! Sadie has become quite the master belayer. She even learned how to lead belay and used this new skill to belay one of our guides up the wall to set up a new route! Ivey kept us entertained all day with her new reality show, “The Moondance Hour.” She spent her time interviewing her friends as they started and finished their routes, keeping us laughing the whole time with her spunky personality. We finished the day of climbing with another short rappel and got back in the van for a visit to the nearby town of Bend, Oregon.
After jamming out to some tunes in the van, our crew arrived in Bend! We split into two groups and hit the town! Out of all of the stores we visited, the two favorites were a local candy shop and a souvenir shop where all of the girls bought matching sweatpants! Our next stop in Bend was a local burger joint for dinner. We picked up our burgers and fries and headed to a nearby park to enjoy our meal. Obviously, no dinner would be complete without dessert! With this in mind, we hopped back in the van to head to our final stop in Bend – a gelato shop recommended to us by one of our climbing guides! It definitely hit the spot after a long day of climbing in the sun. Following our frozen treats, it was time to hit the road back to camp. Singing along to the radio in the car made the drive fly by. Back at camp, it was showers and straight to bed for us all in order to prepare for our early rise the next morning!
The next day, we all woke up bright and early to cook up breakfast, pack up camp, and head to Monkey’s Face! The day began with a short but steep hike up to where we’d be spending the day. Monkey’s Face is a rock formation at Smith Rock that looks, quite appropriately, like the face of a monkey. First on the itinerary for today was to complete the Tyrolean traverse from a nearby rock to the mouth of Monkey’s Face. To do this, each student clipped on to a wire bridging the gap between the rocks, hung down from the wire in their harness, and pulled themselves along until they reached the other side. Once there, they completed a short climb up the face, where they met another guide. This guide set them up for a rappel, and each student then rappelled about 60 meters to the ground. The level of bravery and strength we witnessed from each and every student was unmatched, and we are so incredibly proud of them all. They were all so supportive of each other, and shouts of encouragement echoed all across the golden rock faces of Smith Rock.
We’re writing to you now from our next campsite, which is on our way back north to our next destination – North Cascades National Park. We’ll spend the next few days preparing for our big trip into the backcountry! When you hear from us again, it’ll be on the tail end of our 6-day backpacking trip! See you then!
Claire & Chaucer
June 14, 2021
Hello from the Pacific Northwest! Over the past four days, our students have found themselves in the forest, the desert, and on the river, getting a taste of the many environments Washington and Oregon have to offer. After meeting each other at the Seattle airport and getting our first hellos in over a game of cards, we headed to camp. Our first campground was surrounded by tall pines, and we considered ourselves lucky to spend our first night together in such a beautiful place. We bonded in the twilight over several games of Anomia (our new favorite card game) and Trent showed us how it should really be played after winning back-to-back games.
The next morning, the students rose to the smell of backcountry breakfast sandwiches, skillfully prepared thanks to the handywork of Ava and Carter, our first LODs, or Leaders of the Day. After breakfast, we headed toward our “put in” for white water rafting, a beautiful campsite along the Deschutes River, which we would soon float down. We grilled plenty of vegetables for our fajita bowls that night, and in order to practice proper LNT (leave no trace) we knew we couldn’t leave them uneaten. Luckily, Annie pulled a hero move, eating all of our leftovers to save us from another trip to the sump hole. The next morning, we hit the water in our rafts, accompanied by our friendly river guides. One of them, Jack, taught us about the “dunk and giggle,” an effective way of getting a swimmer back into the raft. Sadie was keen to give the technique a try and enjoyed pulling all her friends back into the boat after they jumped into the water to swim, everyone giggling the entire time.
After a long and exciting day on the river, we pulled up to our campsite for the night where we got to enjoy some beautiful river and mountain views. Our guides treated us to a delicious meal, and we fell asleep to the pleasant sound of a light rain hitting our rain flys. The next morning, our trusty LODs, Ivey and Teddy, led the whole crew in working together to break down camp and we hit the river once again! After gaining some experience on our first day of rafting, some students jumped at the opportunity to get behind the oars, a spot typically reserved for our guides. Belle was quick to volunteer to be the first in her boat to give steering the raft a try! Our guides even informed us at lunch that more than one of our students may have a future in the white-water industry. After two action packed days of rafting, we are now en route to the next section of our trip in the great Pacific Northwest! George has been keeping the whole van entertained the entire trip, and we know he’ll keep us laughing all the way to Smith Rock, where we’ll spend the next few days rock climbing! That’s all for now, folks! Next time you hear from us we’ll all be professional climbers!
Talk to ya soon!
Claire & Chaucer
June 10, 2021
Hello Pacific Northwest 1C 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!!