June 26, 2021
It’s hard to believe that we are checking in for the last time, but the past two weeks have been so, so full and we could not be more proud of our group and we are so grateful for the time we got to spend together. We usually give these updates chronologically, but we cannot wait another line to share that ALL 12 OF US SUMMITED MT. BAKER!!!
We started our mountaineering section in the town of Sedro-Wooly, where we met our climbing guides—Eric, Grayson, Chase, and Liam. We then loaded up our heavy packs (we needed over 20 bars a person to fuel our climb!) and started our hike up to basecamp, with Lili and Parks leading us as LODs. This hike would end up being the most challenging journey of our trip, as we carried our packs through the dense forest, across rivers, and over snow fields in the alpine. Needless to say, this group crushed it! Although we were exhausted, Biz, Harrigan, and Parks kept us all laughing, which propelled us through any difficulties of walking on snow in mountaineering boots for the first time. Sarah and Finn were especially helpful in pointing out the beauty of our surroundings as we climbed out of the trees and jagged snow-capped peaks started to fill the horizon. Meanwhile, Jed did what he does best and found his way to those of us that were struggling most and ensured we all made it to camp as one strong group.
Our second day on the mountain consisted of catching up on some much needed sleep before going to mountaineering school! We learned techniques for walking both up and down steep slopes on the glacier before snapping on our crampons and getting a feel for the increased traction. Annabelle was quick to get a hang of the gear and helped the rest of the group learn how to efficiently attach the crampons and wield an ice axe. Next, we practiced self arrest and group arrest techniques, which are methods to stop yourself our team members from sliding after a fall. Murphy mastered the self arrest technique and demonstrated by sliding down the snow three times and coming to a complete stop by flipping over and digging her crampons and pick of her ice axe into the snow. After school, we snacked heavily and rested our legs for our summit bid.
Summit day! In order to take advantage of the best snow conditions, we woke up at 2:00 AM and were on the trail by 3:30. We woke up with a little bit of nervous energy, but Elizabeth and her constant smile brightened up a quick huddle before we hit the snow. The first few hours of the climb were illuminated by the stars, moon, and our headlamps. By the time we began on rope teams, the sun was just rising. The beautiful colors of the sky definitely made the uphill climb a bit easier. After just four breaks, we reached the final stretch before the summit section (which just happened to be right next to an awesome crater!). Everyone was exhausted, but so determined to reach the top. In less than an hour, every single one of us was bursting with joy at the summit of Mt. Baker- an accomplishment that we will never forget. The amount of joy that was on that mountain was contagious; grins were from ear to ear. Shortly after enjoying the peak, we started our descent back to the campsite, enjoyed some well-deserved rest and dinner (Mac & cheese- a fan favorite), had Moonup and went to bed. We were beat- rightfully so!
The next morning we got an early start, hiked back down the mountain and enjoyed our last van ride back to the Seattle area. The kids LOVE our van rides; the playlists are always a hit (queue up Taylor Swift’s Love Story and see what happens). The last day is always banquet day, so we hit up the local Goodwill, everyone picked someone else’s name out of a hat, and chose a silly outfit to wear out to dinner. It was so fun! We went to a local restaurant, Huckleberry Square, and everyone enjoyed a full meal complete with apple and peach pie, with ice cream on top! Our final Moonup was so special; everyone was so reflective on the time we spent together and the memories we have made.
We just got all of the kids off through security and onto their flights. Saying goodbye to this group was tough; the amount of happiness and joy they have filled our lives with in these past two weeks is truly remarkable. We shared adventures, laughs, challenges, stories, and unforgettable experiences. But, above all else, we have twelve friends that will be forever. We are so, so grateful.
For the last time, that’s all for now. Onto our next adventure…..
Reece + Jackie
June 21, 2021
Reece and Jackie here again. We just finished our backcountry section of our trip and it couldn’t have gone better. Blue skies, sunshine, and an awesome weather forecast started the trip off on a great note. Elizabeth and Harrigan were our LOD’s for day 1 of backpacking, and they fearlessly led us seven miles to our campsite on the beach. We learned all things orienteering, from compass orienting to map scaling and reading. It was awesome to see Elizabeth and Harrigan really take charge and lead the group through some of our more difficult sections of the hike, including scaling beachside cliffs using ropes and ladders. They all crushed it! We both agreed that they were the strongest day 1 backpackers we have seen, especially considering it was Annabelle and Lili’s first time backpacking!
Once we arrived at our campsite, we set up camp and relaxed on the beach as Jackie and the cook crew prepared dinner — chicken stir fry! Parks tried yum-yum sauce for the first time and proceeded to add it to every subsequent meal. Needless to say, it was a hit, and the kids loved learning how to cook in the backcountry using our Whisperlite stoves. After dinner, we watched the sun fade into the teal blue water and the sky turn a million hues of pink. We have never seen a more golden hour, hour! We ended the successful day with Moonup and Oreos— the perfect combination.
Day two began leisurely, as we let everyone sleep in and have a slow morning. We enjoyed a hash brown casserole for breakfast (yes, Parks added yum-yum sauce) and planned our day hike. Our LODs were the first girl power duo of the trip- Murphy and Sarah! They planned out the day’s route with our help and decided on a four-mile hike to a nearby waterfall. Girl power was no joke- our leading ladies set an awesome pace and kept everyone smiling the entire time! We told trail stories the whole way, sharing everything from embarrassing stories to favorite homemade meals to biggest goals in life.
After our hike, we laid out on the beach and learned how to purify water! Lili quickly became a pro and leader at this, taking the title of Aquamira Queen. She continuously helped fill everyone’s water up, even when no one asked her to do so. It was another beautiful day, so of course we had to hop in the Pacific Ocean!
We have an unspoken rule that if it safe and feasible, we get in every body of water. Finn was one of the first ones in, of course, and set the tone for a fun, easy-going evening. Jed and Annabelle led our cook crew with Reece and made an awesome home-style meal of veggies, chicken, and mashed potatoes. Then, our chefs surprised us with a blueberry cake for dessert! Again, the sunset was amazing and we even saw baby seaIs bob up and down in the water. We then finished the day with Moonup and prep for an early start to the next day.
A 5 AM wake up call was a little crazy, but we had to make sure we hit the trail before the tides came in. Finn and Biz rocked it with setting a great attitude and pace throughout the whole seven mile trek back. Parks kept us laughing the whole time and Jed was the best at choosing the best route to get down the cliffs. We finished the trail tired, but most importantly together. As soon as we got in the van and had lunch, the kids immediately fell asleep. We’re now on the way to our next adventure- Mt. Baker! But first, some shoutouts:
Murphy: Hey dad, Happy Fathers Day, I miss you! Hey Mom, I miss and love you! Tell Nick and Johnny I miss them!
Finn: To the rest of the Reid family, I love y’all! Dad, I hope you enjoyed your Father’s Day gift. I am having a great time and can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Sarah: Happy late Father’s Day, Dad! I love you and am having so much fun!
Harrigan: Hey Mom & Dad! Love you guys. Happy birthday Dad and Happy late Father’s Day! I hope Arlo and Fluffy are doing well.
Parks: Mom and Dad I love you and miss you and hope you’re having a great time!
Jed: Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having a lot of fun and can’t wait to tell you about it. I love and miss you!
Biz: Hey y’all! Happy late Fathers Day and early birthday, Dad and Mom! Say hi to the dogs for me. Love you!
Lili: Hi Mamachka and Papa! I miss you both and hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day, Dad! I read your postcards and I hope Nina is having a fun time so far. Love, Lili!
Annabelle: Hey! Love you guys and can’t wait to see you soon! Happy late Father’s Day, Dad! Hope Leopold is doing well! I am having so much fun! Love, Annabelle
Elizabeth: Happy Fathers Day, Dad! Miss you, Mom! Having the best time here. Love y’all and see you soon.
That’s all for now! On to our next adventure….
Reece + Jackie
June 18, 2021
Jackie and Reece here checking in from the Puget Sound after an absolutely PACKED first five days. After meeting our new friends in the Seattle airport on Sunday, we loaded up in the van and headed to Mt. Vernon, WA and set up camp at a campground steps away from the ocean. It wouldn’t have been a proper introduction to the Pacific Northwest without some light rain. Thankfully, Parks, Lili, and Finn were quick to help set up a tarp to keep us dry. With bellies full of pizza and salad, we called it a night to sleep off the jet lag.
On day 2 we filled up on sausage, eggs, and fruit thanks to Jed, Annabelle, and Biz. Before making our way to Anacortes and taking the ferry to Friday Harbor, we played a game of look up, look down and Sarah claimed the title of reigning champ when she beat Reece in a moo-off (I’m sure the students will be eager to demonstrate when they get home).
While on the ferry, Harrigan made sure that group got to know one another quickly as he led card games and have everyone laughing continuously. Once at camp, the sun made its first appearance, and we spent the afternoon playing spike ball and tossing the frisbee. Later we got our first introduction to our sea-kayaking guide, Kado and Tristan, before capping the day off with some ice cream by the water.
On our first day of sea-kayaking we met our guides early and learned how to pack a boat, fit a spray skirt and life jacket, and perform perfect paddling technique. The weather could not have been better with blue skies and warm temps. Our objective today was to paddle a little over 13 miles from Jackson Beach on San Juan Island to Jones Island, where we would spend two nights camping. Murphy and Finn quickly established themselves as the boat that would set the pace for our group.
After a few hours of paddling, we had mastered our paddling and we stopped at a secluded beach for a delicious lunch of turkey, bacon and avocado wraps. Elizabeth led the group to a bluff along this small island and reminded us to capture the moment as she pulled out her GoPro for our first group vlog. (Group vlogging has become a silly staple for our group)
We leisurely woke up to some beautiful Washington sunshine (we really won the lottery with sea kayaking weather) for our second paddling day. After a leisurely morning and great breakfast of breakfast potatoes and scrambled eggs, we hit the water once again and began our morning paddle. We were so excited to see tons of jellyfish and seals (even a baby pup!) We loved listening to our guides, Kato and Tristan, share stories and knowledge about the wildlife, land, and ocean patterns. We then went back to the island, enjoyed some BBQ sandwiches, and rested.
In the afternoon we went on a beautiful hike all around the island and simply had to stop at the sandy beach area. Since it was sunny and blue skies, Jed led the group into the water. It was definitely a bit chilly, but we were having so much fun having a splash flight (boys vs. girls, of course), that we didn’t mind. We got back to our campsite, prepped a wonderful dinner of pesto pasta and sausage and mushrooms, and headed to the western side of the island to scout out the perfect sunset spot (shoutout to Harrigan for the site selection). Then, Finn and Sarah led us in a great Moonup right on the bluff and we watched the day turn into night right before our eyes.
The last day of kayaking was bittersweet: we were eager to get on the water once again but so sad to leave our awesome guides, Kato & Tristan, (or Uncle Kato & Uncle T). We once again had the most perfect weather for our final paddle and Annabelle and Parks led the group (even the guides!) across a channel crossing, and we safely reached Roache Harbor just in time for a picnic lunch on the water.
After that, we went back to our Lakedale campsite, enjoyed some fun games including giant chess and tetherball, cooked some dinner and played the most in-depth game of Mafia known to man (we are sure the kids will tell you all about it!)
That’s all for now! On to our next adventure…
Reece + Jackie
June 13, 2021
Hello Olympics 1A Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Seattle, and they are headed to their first campsite! 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 at least 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 shoutout mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what were up to this summer!!