June 26, 2021
Checking in one last time from the Seattle airport! We can’t believe it’s already been two weeks. We are overwhelmed with love and joy, and are so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to adventure around Washington with your kids. The last few days were some of the most special days we’ve had on this trip— not because they were the most adventurous or challenging, but simply because we had time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
As soon as we got off the ferry from the San Juan Islands, we headed south through Seattle, with Baker in our rearview mirror one last time, and settled into our final campsite near the coast. Before we could enjoy our big banquet dinner, we set out to clean our home (van) at the local carwash. Carlton sacrificed his dry clothes to give the entire van a rinse and Fiona followed closely behind with the scrubber while Naya vacuumed up the inside. It was a whole team effort! Once our van was clean, we hit up the local Goodwill to find some funky outfits for banquet. Anna, our resident thrifting expert, picked out some incredible graphic tees for a few of us, and John managed to find not one, but two superhero t-shirts! With our new swag in hand, we sped off to a lovely local Italian restaurant to dine on pasta and neapolitan pizzas. It felt a little wild to be back in civilization, eating at a restaurant together, but it felt so good! Julia, Yates, and Ainsley were probably the most excited of everyone to splurge on a nice dinner after all the backpacking food we’ve had!
After dinner, we all headed back down to the beach to catch the last of the sunset, and had a stunning view of bright oranges and pinks flooding the sky and bouncing off the still water. Naya led us in a Moonup that had us reflecting on the highs and lows of the trip, and asked us about goals we want to achieve before we turn 25. Fiona’s high was during the alpine start of Baker, and said she had full body chills while looking back at the view as the sun came up over the mountains. John, Oliver, and Jack all talked about how climbing Baker, while one of the hardest things they have ever done, was also one of the most incredible. Carlton couldn’t even think of a low of the trip, which is a testament to his overall positive attitude and outlook on life! We ended Moonup with a cinnamon roll hug, got one last look at the beautiful skyline and view of the Olympic Range, and headed back to our tents.
This morning was an early start, but we packed up camp in record time! They are absolute experts at setting up and breaking down a camp these days. Frankie and I are sitting in the baggage claim, as the last flight takes off from Seattle, feeling eternally grateful for the past two weeks. It felt like a trip of a lifetime for us, and we sincerely hope your kids walk away feeling the same way. We miss them so much already and hope to cross paths with them again one day!
Molly + Frankie
June 25, 2021
Hello! This is OLY B tuning in from the Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal!
The past couple days have been blissful. A real change of pace from Baker and the Olympics. Our ferry ride from Anacortes to San Juan Island really set the tone. From the stern of the observation deck, we had a breathtaking view of Baker. No one could believe we were there less than 24 hours prior. From the bow you could see the distant peaks of Canada and the Islands that would be our next home. It was Fiona, Yates, and Jack’s first time on a ferry and they were shocked how fast it moved. After the hour and half trip that seemed more like 15 minutes, we arrived in Friday Harbor. Seaplanes, speedboats, and sailboats littered the marina. After lunch on the beach and some ice cream, we spent a couple hours shopping around Friday Harbor. Ainsley and Julia bought matching pastel yellow sweatshirts that they still haven’t taken off! Our kayaking guides met up with us to distribute dry bags and brief us on our paddle the next morning. The group set up camp in record time that night— we really have meshed into one cohesive unit over these last 12 days! We spent the evening playing something that resembled volleyball and hanging out by the lake. Anna and Jack dominated on one end of the court, and at one point it was Molly + Frankie vs. Everyone. We played for hours! Ainsley and Oliver led Moonup on the beach which was a perfect ending to the most relaxing day of the trip so far.
In the morning we packed our dry bags and headed for Kansas Cove. The guides showed up shortly after with our vessels. The guides said we packed the kayaks faster than any group they’d ever had. After a little lesson in paddling and water safety, we set off. We made our way north along the beautiful coastline, stopping to eat lunch on a little cove. The guides prepared lunch, and we feasted on turkey bacon wraps with lettuce, hummus, peppers. The group was humming with energy. We loaded up again and ready for our channel crossing. As soon as we launched, Anna and Naya’s rudder gave out. As we waited for the guide to fix the cables, a pod of harbor porpoises breached right in front of us! No one spoke. We all just admired the small dolphins. it was truly a special moment. They would breach two by two, and it felt like there were about 12 in total! Speiden Channel was particularly rough but we had the current and wind on our side. Waves were crashing over our bows put we kept pushing. Everyone was having a blast! We even had two air force jets fly right over us! We took a quick break on the island just in front of our final destination, Jones Island. We completed our 7 mile kayak in 2 hours and that’s including lunch. Not knowing our group had just completed some of the most challenging tasks in their lives, the guides were throughly impressed. Compared to backpacking and Baker, the group decided sea kayaking was a breeze!
After unloading the boats and setting up tents and hammocks, we just relaxed. Everyone laid down finding their own little spot in the sun to curl up in, while others played football. Fiona found her new calling as a quarterback with Molly as the wide receiver! Naya volunteered to be our own personal island chef, and jumped right in to help the guides with the food prep. The food on this section was by far the best of the trip and we truly owe it all to her. We ate like kings and queens. When cook crew got ready for dinner the guides realized they forgot to pack the fuel hoses. The group quickly pivoted. Instead of waiting for our speed boat care package, we decided to cook over an open flame. With the help of Anna, Fiona, and Naya, Frankie made a little fire in the grill and the crew made chicken burritos with rice, tomatoes, lettuce, and beans. It was absolutely delicious! After dinner we invited the guides into our Moonup, and talked about the places we have been in our lives that bring us the most joy. We finished the day all circled around the fire, with the chilly island breeze on our backs, and a load of smores to feast on.
The next morning we slept in LATE and it felt GOOD. The group definitely needed a little break after a handful of 5AMwakeup calls in the past few weeks! We rolled out of our tents, cooked a nice breakfast of toasted bagels, scrambled eggs with spinach and sautéed potatoes and veggies on top. It was incredible! Just after breakfast, the boys rallied the group to go on a 3 mile hike around the perimeter of the island. It was beautiful! We explored the rocky coastline and even found some tide pools where Anna pointed out a few anemones and tiny fish! Out in the ocean, we were mesmerized by the different currents crashing into each other and creating a symphony of waves in the water. The water was crystal clear! After our hike around the island, we went back to camp and basked in the sun. John, Oliver, Carlton, and Jack played football with a little boy that had been camping on the island as well, while the rest of us laid around and soaked up some rays. Just before dinner, everyone went back to the western side of the island in order to find the sun and hang out on the harbor dock. Oliver was the only soul brave enough to swim! He said the water was so cold, he almost lost his breath as soon as he jumped in. Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the sun (and a quick swim), the group went back to eat a lovely pesto pasta dinner prepared by Naya, Yates, and Ainsley. We had another incredible moonup around the fire led my Jack and Fiona, and finished the night with an epic game of Mafia. Jack was the mafia and made it almost halfway through the game before he was discovered by Julia and Ainsley!
We woke up early the next morning, loaded up the kayaks, and said goodbye to our island home. Our paddle that day was expected to take nearly 3.5 hours and we crushed it in 2! We had a big channel crossing, but the group was incredible and pushed through it. We saw several jellyfish along the way and a few more bald eagles! The strongest paddle award has to go to Oliver and Ainsley, who could turn on turbo mode and flash ahead of the whole group without warning. It was awesome. The current and the winds were, once again, in our favor, and we rolled into the harbor just before lunch time. Our landing spot was a beautiful little harbor, with candy shops and ice cream parlors scattered throughout! You KNOW we stopped and got some double scoops. We made our way back to our campsite, where Frankie led the group in washing our tents, group gear, and organizing the entire Uhaul (which was quite the job). Fiona and Naya went to the market with Molly to get food for our last few meals, and came back with all the fixings to have a good old fashioned cookout that night! Fiona, Anna, and Carlton helped prepare cheeseburgers with caesar salad and watermelon on the side for dinner. It was delicious and so comforting. The group had chosen Carlton and Frankie as LOD’s that day, and they led us in a Moonup where we talked about what we are going to take away from this trip when we get back. A lot of people said they were excited to be less attached to their phones when they get back into the real world, and Carlton mentioned that he is going to try and be more present in the moment and not focus to hard on what is “next”. We loved that. It felt good to have a moment to reflect on the last few weeks, the last of which flew by so fast.
We can’t believe today is our last full day together! We are so proud of this group for taking on leadership skills, pushing themselves, and opening themselves up to new opportunities, without a fear of failure. This morning, it was evident that this group had evolved like crazy over the last few weeks. Oliver, John, and Yates, all of whom had never cooked a big breakfast before, made the group an incredible meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, and avocado on toasted bagels! The entire group pitched in to clean, even if they weren’t on cook crew, and the kids organized and loaded the Uhaul without our help or direction at all! Naya and Molly (our LOD’s for the day) led the group in a morning huddle where Naya read this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eargerly and without fear for newer and richer experience” We are doing our best to do just that.
Here’s to the last day together! We are full of love and gratitude.
Molly + Frankie
June 21, 2021
Hello loved ones! We are tuning in from our campsite on the rocky coast of Washington, preparing to head out to the San Juan Islands tomorrow. We are finally showered and feeling good in our fresh clean clothes! Sitting here, watching the sunset over the bay, it’s hard to believe the day started at our campsite in the snow at 6,000 ft!
We are SO excited to tell you about our last four days in the Mt. Baker wilderness. It was absolutely epic! It all started on the drive up to the beautiful North Cascades, when we caught our first glimpse of the mountain that would soon be our home for the next four days. Mt. Baker towered above all others. It looked way too big to be the mountain we were going to summit. When we checked the map and found out it was, in fact, Mt. Baker, the van exploded with excitement (and a little bit of nerves!). We were up for the challenge. After a late night arrival at our campsite in the mountains, we prepared for another four days in the backcountry. We woke up early to meet up with the guides and were finally en route to the trailhead. We parked the van and immediately got stuck in the snow, but Carlton and Oliver led the group in pushing it out and we set off for the trail! The guides led us through thick cedar woods, over glacier fed creeks, and deep snow banks. After about 3 hours of climbing up with heavy packs, we made to a clearing where we would see our destination— a campsite at 6,000 ft. Jack, Yates, and Anna led the charge up a rather daunting ridge line for the last hour of our hike. Despite a slight fear of heights, Julia and Ainsley powered through and conquered their fears for the last stretch. It was a pretty grueling hike and Frankie and I are so incredibly proud of everyone for pushing themselves up that mountain. When we got to our goal elevations, we all found a nice place to dig out an even platform for our tents in the snow and set up camp. The guides even carved out a “kitchen” and “dining hall” in the snow! Our campsite had views of the North Cascades Range, the Olympic Range, Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak, and even a view of the ocean to the west with the San Juan Islands popping up. Not to mention Mt. Baker was standing tall right above us!! It was absolutely incredible. After everyone settled in to our stunning campsite, Naya, Oliver, and Carlton grabbed their crazy creeks and used them to sled down the snow bank next to our campsite. The entire group was howling in laughter. We packed in cold pizza for dinner, and enjoyed a Moonup at dusk, with purple and pink mountains as our view. Life was GOOD.
The next morning, Ainsley and Yates were chosen as LOD’s and led us through our day of mountaineering school. The sun was beaming down, and it honestly felt like we were sweating at the beach even though we were in the snow! We split up into two groups and headed to some steeper snow banks to learn more technical mountaineering skills. We started by learning how to efficiently walk up steep snow in our crampons with an ice axe, and practiced walking around in groups of four while tied together by ropes. We learned the duck walk, crossover step, how to clip into a fixed line, and how to pace ourselves while walking in a group. We also practiced safety protocols while traveling on a glacier, such as self and team arrest should someone slip and fall on the ice. To practice this, we would slide down the ice in our rain pants, and grab our ice axe, flip over, slam the axe into the snow, and kick our feet rapidly into the mountain to stop our sliding. After a few practice rounds, we were absolute pros. Since we could really only boil water on the mountain, and not cook our typical meals, we feasted on some ramen, instant garlic mashed potatoes, and summer sausage for dinner. We packed up our packs and went to bed around 7 that night, so that we could get some sleep in before our 3AM Alpine Start the next morning! Most of the group agreed that mountaineering school made them feel safer on the glacier, and walked away from it feeling empowered and ready to conquer the summit the next day. Yates, Julia, and Ainsley, unfortunately, felt a little too overwhelmed by the thought of climbing up the glacier the next day, and decided to hang back at camp with Frankie while the rest of the group pushed for the summit. While they chose not to push for the summit the next day, they still woke up with the group, boiled water, and hyped everyone up for their big day, giving the group an energizing and encouraging farewell!
Next thing we knew, it was 2AM and we were all waking up, eating breakfast by the light of our headlamps, strapping on our crampons, and getting each other psyched for the climb. The energy was HIGH. Summit day baby!!!!!! We put on our boots, strapped on crampons and helmets, put on our packs and grabbed our ice axes, ready to take off hiking under the stars. Oh the STARS were incredible!!!!!! The big dipper has never looked bigger. John and Oliver led us in a morning huddle, hyped us up, and we took off up the mountain. The group absolutely crushed the first hour of hiking, while the sky around us slowly got lighter. We were slipping a bit, but feeling more sure footed than we had in three days. Fiona was giggling for the entire first hour in the dark, and Anna decided that was her favorite part of the whole hike. I can’t even describe how magical it felt to be climbing up the mountain with the sky slowly waking up all around us. After the first few hours of hiking, the mountain ranges around us were turning purple, pink, and orange with the sunrise. We looked back to the south to see the sun hit the very top of Mt. Rainier, a sight we will never forget as long as we live. After our first 15 minute hiking break, we got into rope teams, tied up, and spaced ourselves out on the ropes ~15 feet apart from each other. Our pace was slow, but steady. We put one foot in front of the other, and practiced our high altitude breathing as we ascended up past 8,000 ft, still climbing. This climb was no joke, and I was so proud of the positive energy that was still radiating from the group. Even though Naya was having a tough time mentally on the way up, and Anna was feeling a bit nauseous, they both powered through and absolutely crushed the climb. It was so incredibly energizing to watch them both fight through their pain and decide to keep going. It took an insane amount of courage, grit, strength, and determination for each of the members of this group to keep climbing for hours and hours, in windy glacial conditions, and we could not be more proud! After about 5 hours of climbing, we finally made it to the Sherman Crater, at around 9,600 ft. The Sherman Crater is the sight of geothermal activity that reactivated in the 70s, when steam started to come out of the volcano. We were able to stand on the edge of the crater and see the steam coming out! The sky had been pretty clear up to that point, but suddenly there was a wave of mist coming over the peak of the mountain, and descending upon us. With about an hour left to climb to the summit, the guides decided that with the weather deteriorating rapidly, they wanted to take us back down the mountain and avoid getting trapped by wet and windy conditions on the summit. Within 5 minutes of that decision, while we were preparing to descend, it started to rain on us. It was a very real moment on the mountain when we realized that we are not in control up there, and conditions truly can change at any moment. We were so glad we had incredible guides who had been tracking the weather the entire morning. We felt very proud of ourselves for making it all the way to the crater, and decided that it was as good of a “summit” for us as any! It was truly a moment when we recognized the value in the journey over the reward of the final destination. We hugged each other, celebrated, and took in the incredible view before deciding to quickly descend out of the rain. John and Jack tore down the mountain first, through three hours of a grueling descent. They didn’t even stop to take a break for the first few hours! While it was a gnarly 10 hours on the mountain, Carlton and Jack still had so much energy, and said they felt like they could keep going for another few hours! Following closely behind, the rest of us hauled down the mountain, through rain and wind, eager to get back to camp and into our warm sleeping bags. We made it back to camp around noon, where we celebrated, drank hot cocoa, ate lunch, and warmed up. Most of us took 3-4 hour naps that afternoon, massaged our feet, and got some much needed rest. We feasted on mac n cheese and oreos that night before climbing back into our sleeping bags to prepare for our big hike out the next day.
Fiona and Anna led us the next morning as we cleaned up camp, packed our packs back up, and finally left our home on the mountain. While we had once in a lifetime views and a summit day for the books, our group was ready to get off the mountain and camp back on dry ground again. The climb down took around 3 hours, through sloshy snow that made quite a few people slip and fall! The group was miraculously still radiating positive energy, helping each other up, and encouraging each other to push through to the trailhead. Carlton showed incredible peer leadership that day, and I personally saw him help at least four people get back up on their feet throughout the hike. We finally made it out of the snow, drove back to REI, dropped our gear, and headed out to the coast to shower, have Moonup on the beach, and feast on some burgers! Watching Baker in our rear view mirror gave us absolute chills. We could not believe, just 5 hours before, we were camping halfway up that beautiful, majestic mountain. Our Moonups definitely turned a corner that night. Something about getting through the last four days in the snow and conquering Baker brought our group closer together, and the energy in the group was tangible. Anna and Fiona read a quote at Moonup about the intricate connectivity between people, and how one person’s actions will have a strong impact on those around. Our group felt that so deeply. Our hearts are full, we are feeling strong, proud, and grateful. We feel alive!!!!!!
Until next time!
Molly and Frankie
AND HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL OF YOU INCREDIBLE FATHERS OUT THERE!!!! We have heard nothing but great things about y’all. You are so loved.
June 16, 2021
Hello friends and family!! We just made it back to our van after three incredible days exploring the rugged coastline of Olympic National Park. The sun is shining, country music is blasting, and goldfish is being consumed at an impressive rate. While it feels good to be back in our home (the van), we already miss the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
We asked a lot of your kids during the first few days of the trip, and they have blown us away with their grit and determination. As soon as we picked everyone up from the airport, we drove west to our first campsite on the Olympic Peninsula. In classic PNW fashion, it rained for most of that day, night, and into the next morning. Did we let it stop us? Absolutely not! We found a covered picnic area to feast on our pizza and start learning hard skills for backpacking. All within the first few hours, our group learned what to bring on their backpacking trip, how to pack a pack, how to scout out a campsite, how to set up a tent, staying healthy in the backcountry, animal safety protocol, and the role that leadership behavior will play on our trip. We finally got to take a break from all of the lessons and went down to the dock to have Moonup. It was Frankie’s first time seeing the Pacific Ocean!!! When a seal popped its head up out of the water next to us during Moonup, we knew it meant this was going to be a special trip. Naya and Carlton were chosen as the first Leaders of the Day (LODs), as we knew they would set a good example for the group having both done Moondance trips before.
The next morning started off in a light drizzle, but we managed to cook a hearty breakfast under the rain tarp. Our first cook crew (Ainsley, John, and Anna) made us delicious egg, sausage, and avocado breakfast sandwiches with a selection of berries on the side. It was an incredible last meal before heading back into the backcountry! By the time we drove to the coast, the clouds moved away to reveal crystal clear blue skies. It was so energizing! Our trail started off meandering through a thick evergreen forest before dropping down onto the beach. We cannot express our excitement when we first caught a glimpse of the waves crashing along the shore! We got our boots sandy and headed down the coastline. The 7-mile trail definitely kept us on our toes, leading us up coastal cliffs along fixed ropes and ladders, through a dense cedar forest, and back down and around to remote backcountry beaches. The trail is not for the faint of heart, but every single person in our group absolutely crushed it, even with a 65L pack on their back! We finally settled at our campsite where the dense, dark green forest meets the ocean. The ocean in front of our campsite had bright blue waters with massive sea stacks scattered throughout. Some of the sea stacks even have their own little ecosystems on them, covered in flowers, shrubs, and pine trees! We couldn’t stop talking about how special it was to be on a beach like this. We were in shock! Jack kept saying he couldn’t believe this was in the United States. Feeling incredibly lucky, we set up our tents while the cook crew served us up some fajita bowls for dinner. After a long day of preparing, driving, and hiking, we were wiped and went straight to bed.
After a much-needed sleep-in day, Yates, Carlton, and Oliver helped make the crew some chocolate chip pancakes! The group decided to use the day to recover from our hike and rest/explore the coastline. John, Jack, Oliver, Carlton, and Anna came along to explore the tide pools that were exposed at low tide that morning while Julia, Ainsley, Naya, Yates, and Fiona soaked up the much-needed rays on the beach. We saw several crabs and anemones in the tide pools that were exposed earlier that morning, while two bald eagles circled above head! There were so many bald eagles along the coast that we almost got used to seeing them! We had quesadillas for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon playing games on the beach, bonding, and soaking up the sun. We had stir-fry that night, loaded with carrots, broccoli, onion, and mushrooms, served over noodles with a curry/soy sauce seasoning and chicken on the side! A backcountry feast!
During dinner, Yates noticed something spraying up out in the water. We quickly realized there was a pod of orcas a couple hundred feet off the coast! We all sprinted down to the beach in time to see a handful of orcas swimming south along the coast. Their fins were huge! At the same time, a bald eagle was circling one of the sea stacks off to our right, and a seal had popped its head out of the water below. It was truly a magical moment. To top it all off, the sunset across the water painted the entire sky bright orange and created the perfect environment for our Moonup on the beach. Fiona and John were our second LODs, chosen by their peers for their exemplary leadership shown throughout the first day of backpacking. We talked about what we look for in a best friend and finished the Moonup with a quote about the importance of having a good attitude. We went to bed that night with the moon shining down on the ocean and the waves as our own personal sound machine!
We got an early start this morning, led by Oliver and Anna, our third set of LODs. Tide was low this morning and allowed us to walk on the beach among the tide pools and sea stacks almost the whole way back. Our group crushed the trail! Oliver, Carlton, and Jack set a strong pace at the front, and we made it back in record time.
We finally made it back to the vans and are headed North with Mt. Baker on our minds! We are so excited to see what we are able to accomplish on this next section of the trip and are feeling up to the challenge. We send our love to you all! You have blessed us with some incredible children. Until next time!!
Molly and Frankie
P.S. Here are some shoutouts from your kids!! We have been hearing nothing but great things about you all. They love you so much!
Tricarico’s – Trip has been great so far. Can’t wait to tell you all about it. Happy Father’s Day Dad!
Tobins- having a lot of fun out here. I’m doing well. Hope y’all have fun at the beach. Happy Father’s Day dad!
Hardacre’s – having a great time and miss you lots, also happy Father’s Day! Love you both!
Johnson’s – having fun. Have a good Father’s Day. Love you. And love you too mom.
Hilsman’s – having a lot of fun. Miss you and love you. Happy Father’s Day!!
Martin’s – having a blast. Have a great Father’s Day. Love you!! See you soon.
Pease’s – having a great time here in Washington! Hope you have a great Father’s Day. Love you tons and can’t wait to see you when I get back!!
Elste’s – I’m having such a good time!! Love and miss you so much. Also have a good Father’s Day dad love you.
Edmiston’s- Miss you guys so much!! See you soon. Happy Father’s Day dad!! Love you
Krehbiel’s- Happy Father’s Day!! I love you and miss you so much. See you in a bit!
June 13, 2021
Hello Olympics 1B 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!!