July 13, 2021
It is hard to believe that we are writing our final trip update of this incredible, unforgettable trip. Reece and I are so proud of all ten of our awesome students for simply diving right into every section of our trip. Their attitudes were amazing the entirety of the trip, which made it that much more enjoyable to paddle, hike, and climb. We are going to miss them so much!
Our last section was definitely the most challenging: mountaineering Mt. Baker, Washington’s fourth highest peak with an elevation of 10, 781 ft. We are so proud to announce that every single one of us made it up to that summit, and many of our kids said they accomplished the hardest thing they have ever done in their life. That was such a magical moment for us as a group, one that none of us will ever forget.
Our Baker adventure began when our mountaineering guides met us at our prep campsite during our gourmet breakfast of granola bowls, croissants, and green juice. Our guides: Kira, Erica, Avery, and Andy introduced themselves and quickly became part of our group. We drove the way up to the trailhead, unloaded our gear and backpacks, and got ready for the hike to base camp. The four hour hike up was challenging for sure, but once again, we never once heard a complaint. Zeph was an awesome leader during this hike up because despite his fear of heights, he kept the whole group entertained with his iconic storytelling during the most difficult uphill ridge section. After we arrived at our base camp, we set up our tents and relaxed in the mountain sun. We had a pizza dinner, relaxed, and got some much-needed rest before our summit prep day of mountaineering school.
The next morning, we enjoyed a sleep-in morning, had an oatmeal breakfast, and went to school! Reece hilariously took “first day of school” pictures of each student before we started, so I’m sure you’ll see those soon. Weez was one of our awesome LOD’s for the day, and definitely kept us entertained and laughing as we learned the (literal) ropes to mountaineering. Our guides taught us everything we needed to know about crampons, ice axes, walking in mountaineering boots, and mountaineering technicalities. We practiced how to self-arrest ourselves on the ice, and we even got into rope teams and rehearsed what the following day would look like. After sliding around in the slow for a bit, we played an epic game of “Red light, green light” to showcase all of our newly learned skills. Bradley was an absolute star and won with flying colors.
After mountaineering school, we went back to camp, made an early dinner of lentils, curry soup, chicken and pita bread, and Jackie surprised everyone with Yogi Bedtime tea to get the group in the mindset of going to sleep, despite the fact that it was early afternoon. We had to get enough shut-eye for our alpine summit bid, after all!
12:30 AM was our wake-up call to summit our mountain. Surprisingly enough, when we woke up the kids, they were all SO ready: laughing, pumped up, and prepared. The nervous excitement of the near summit bid was definitely fueling their speed as well; we were about a half an hour early to start! We began the climb shortly before 2 AM and hiked up to the base of the glacier. After that, we split up into rope teams (where we had two girl power teams, I must add!) and got to the real climbing of the day. This was definitely challenging, however; M-Rob set the pace and was cruising up that mountain like no tomorrow. Lolo, Laney, and Bradley joined Kira on her rope team, the “Swaganeers” were the most encouraging group; they continuously motivated one another up each section of the mountain, and even though there were challenging bits, they absolutely crushed it. We were so excited when the entire group arrived up to our spot right before the summit, and we were all able to summit as a group. Even better, right when we reached the very top, we surprised the kids with full-sized candy bars to enjoy as they took in the view and appreciated the magnitude of what they just accomplished. We made sure to sign the summit log before beginning our second half of the climb: the descent.
Ruthie and Martha were with Jackie’s rope team, and it was so special to see both sisters get each other both up (and down) the mountain. Their little sibling jokes and quips definitely had us laughing. After we got back to camp, we enjoyed lunch and a much-needed rest. Then, we surprised the kids with a make-shift spa day: we had berry infused glacier water (read: Berry mioadded to our purified water), face masks, and options for hot stones (nearby rocks that were in the sun). It was so silly and fun, and it was awesome to see Huck totally embrace the “Alpine Spa”. Simply put, it was the perfect way to finish the afternoon.
The next day we hiked out and began our long, jam-packed last day. Eddie kept the awesome song requests flowing, and of course we listened to “Gaslighter” about ten times. We returned our rental gear in Seattle, went to Goodwill to choose each other’s banquet outfits, and had a surprise coffee stop, and got to our final campsite to prep for banquet. Ruthie and Lolo dressed us leaders up like we were going to prom; matching jacket and dress and corsage and everything, and Laney even did our hair and makeup. It was hilarious! We then enjoyed an awesome banquet dinner, complete with local fruit pies to top off the day.
Airport day is always tough, and this one is not an exception. It was so awesome to see this group come together and truly become a family throughout the past two weeks. We shared SO many laughs, smiles, and memoires. Most importantly, we all made friendships that will last for a very, very long time. It has been an absolute pleasure being their leaders, and we are so grateful that you all shared your wonderful kids with us. OLY 2A will definitely be missed, but we are so excited to watch each of our one of a kind students thrive in their next adventurous season of life.
Lots of love. And, for the last time, that’s all for now. Onto our next adventure….
Reece + Jackie
July 9, 2021
Reece and Jackie reporting back again after an AWESOME backpacking section! Despite the majority of the group being first timers, we absolutely crushed the trail, if we do say so ourselves. We eagerly began our first day with Edward (Eddie) and Bradley (B-Rad) as our LODs. Reece taught them the basics of orienteering a map, and then Eddie and B-Rad taught the rest of the group, showing them everything from the distance of the hike to impassible regions. It was awesome to step back and see their leadership shine!
We were amazed by the morale on the trail; I don’t think we once heard a complaint during the entire hike — and it’s a hard one! We enjoyed many great trail conversations, getting to know one another through laughter and storytelling (the best way to spend time, especially in a place as beautiful as Olympic!) Martha (Mars) kept us all giggling with her one-lined hilarious humor. The kids were awe-struck when we reached the beach and saw the blue Pacific Ocean and the huge rock formations out in the distance. B-Rad, Lauren (Lo-lo) and Laney (Lane-dawg) excitedly explained us the similarities of the scenery on the beach and that of our favorite show, H2O (yes, mermaids are real). Once we reached our campsite, we relaxed, learned how to properly gather and purify water, and set up camp. Then, cook crew helped Reece make a fantastic backcountry dinner of chicken stir fry with veggies. After that, we had a great Moonup on the beach and Lo-lo pointed out the cutest baby seal pup bobbing in the ocean behind us (Which Ruthie – aka Rue- of course LOVED).
The next morning began leisurely as we let the kids sleep in before Huck made us a hearty breakfast of Mexican-style hash browns. The girl power LOD duo of the day, Laney and Ruthie, chose the plan for the day: a waterfall hike and chill time on the beach. Before we prepped for our day hike, it started “aggressively misting” as Reece says, or raining as the rest of the world would say. Morale was a tad lower than normal, but Miles (M-Rob) quickly stepped in and had us giddily cackling as he spontaneously ran into the water. As he said, “Why not have fun in the rain?!” That shifted the energy totally and everyone was ready to take pm the day. Believe it or not, the weather cleared up just then. Our hike to the waterfall was so great, and Weezy reminded us to slow down and appreciate the little things as she captured them both in the moment and behind her Cannon. Once we arrived at the waterfall, we enjoyed lunch and then led the group in an exercise to learn about each other’s leadership styles: the NOLS Leadership Grid. The kids absolutely loved this exercise and begged us to do another exercise just like it- stay tuned to hear all about our Enneagrams 🙂 We then hiked back to camp and relaxed a bit before Huck and Weezy helped Jackie in making honey siracha chicken, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies. Then they surprised the group with backcountry brownies! We ended an awesome day on the peninsula with another meaningful Moonup.
This morning we woke up with the sun and started our hike out back to the trailhead. We were so proud to see how efficiently we packed up our tents and camp, despite how early it was. Zeph led the group morale, checking in with everyone throughout the hike and keeping motivation high. We completed the hike in just about four hours, which was so awesome. Right before we got off the beach we saw a beautiful, hazy rainbow, signifying a vibrant end to an awesome section.
That’s all for now! Onto our next adventure…. But first, some shoutouts!
Eddie: Hey parents! Having so much fun, about to climb a mountain be home soon!
Lauren: Hi Mom and Dad! I miss you but I’m having so much fun! Give Bear and Bailey a pet. Wish me luck on Baker. Love, your granola girl.
Laney: Hi! I miss you but having SO much fun. We hiked 18 miles in the past three days! Love you!
Martha & Ruthie: Hi Mom and Dad hope you don’t miss us too much! We love you!
Miles: Hey Mom and Dad! In the van right now, went swimming yesterday! I love you!
Huck & Weezy: Having fun, still alive, and we miss you and love you!
Bradley: Hi guys! I’m having such a fantastic time. Now we are going to climb Mt. Baker. Thanks for the swag hiking gear. ILY and IMYSSM.
Zeph: Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having fun! Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Reece + Jackie: Thank you all for sharing your wonderful kiddos with us and Moondance!! We are overjoyed.
July 5, 2021
Reece and Jackie here checking in from the San Juan Islands for our first update of the trip! The past five days have been absolutely incredible and we’re stoked to share some of the highlights!
After a smooth travel day to start things off, we loaded up the van to head to Bay View for our first night camping together. Thankfully, our group seemed to bring good weather with them and we had blue skies and temps in the 70s to enjoy as we learned to set up our tents and got our first introduction to Moondance. For dinner we drove into Mt. Vernon, picked up some pizzas, and got to know one another as we ate in a nearby park. We were all pretty exhausted with jet lag, but we were excited to have our first Moonup on the beach. Laney made sure we got our fill of laughter before going to bed as she taught us to play a game called poison dart frog.
Our second day started our time on the San Juan Islands. We traveled from Anacortes to Friday Harbor via ferry. The ferry trip flew by as we stood on the top deck and watched the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains pass in the distance. Once at Friday Harbor, we enjoyed some turkey roll ups by the water and met our kayaking guides, Hannah and Amy, for the first time. We learned how to pack a dry bag and where we would be paddling the next day. With the group filled with excitement for our first adventure, our Leaders of the Day, Ruthie and Edward (aka Eddie) decided to cap off the afternoon by taking our group to get ice cream. With full bellies we headed to our campsite on the island and set out to explore. Our journey led us to a secluded beach and an empty field that was perfect for spike ball. Weezy and Zeph took on Huck and Ruthie in spike ball and the four of them played for well over an hour. After that, Miles taught the group the card game Egyptian Rat Slap (aka Egyptian Elephant) and we spent well over an hour competitively playing away. Laney remains our Egyptian Elephant champ.
The next morning we met our guides and got on the water! We enjoyed a three and a half hour paddle to a nearby island that we would call base camp for the next few days. After we arrived, we set up camp and started on dinner—chicken burrito bowls. We then embarked on a sunset hike and our leaders of the day, Laney and Huck, led Moonup on the bluff overlooking the sun fade into the sea. The perfect end to a perfect day!
The next morning we had an awesome breakfast of veggies, eggs, and breakfast potatoes and enjoyed a long hike around the island, with Bradley and Zeph leading the way at the front of the pack. We then hit the beach and enjoyed some much appreciated R&R. Jackie then led the group in a yoga vinyasa flow and the island deer came so close to us they could have joined the class! It was so cool to see all of the awesome wildlife on the island. We capped off the night after a fan favorite dinner of pesto pasta and mushroom vegetable medley with a sunset paddle led by our awesome guides. As we paddled into sunset, we thought life couldn’t get much better, but then our guides surprised us with homemade salted fudge brownies on the water. Talk about serendipity!
The next morning we woke up early, had some gourmet oatmeal granola bowls with fresh berries and yogurt and hit the water for our journey back to the harbor. Miles was a powerhouse and stayed in the front of the pack the entire paddle home! We arrived back to the harbor and were excited to see all of the festive 4th of July decorations! We all then got to shower, have lunch, and head back to our campsite.
The LODs, Lauren and Miles, got to go on a resupply shop with Jackie and were able to pick out a treat for the group’s 4th of July celebration. The group was ecstatic that they chose iced vanilla and mocha lattes (a real special treat!). Then, Lauren graced us all with her much-anticipated karaoke rendition of “God Bless the USA.” It was a hit, to say the least. After relaxing at the campsite, we had an epic cookout with burgers, baked beans, watermelon, chips, and strawberry-rhubarb pie. It was so awesome to hear Martha and Ruthie say it was their favorite 4th of July they’ve ever had. We ended our amazing day overlooking the water, watching the sunset, and laughing as we shared stories and made memories together.
Now we are off to the Olympics as we begin our backpacking section.
That’s all for now! Onto our next adventure….
Reece & Jackie
June 30, 2021
Hello Olympics 2A 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!!