July 31, 2021
I cannot believe that this is the last update we are writing y’all! The last time we checked in, we had just finished up backpacking and were anxiously awaiting our Mt. Baker summit bid. It is my greatest joy to share with you all that all of our team got to the top of that mountain!
Our mountaineering journey began when we met our guides, Nikki, Alan, David, and Axel at the ranger station before our initial hike to base camp. All of the kids were excited but nervous as we packed our final pieces of gear into our backpacks before heading out on our hike to base camp. It was definitely a tough hike, as our kids can tell you, but spirits were still pretty high even though the challenge was high.
After the initial climb up, we all happily settled at our campsite, which had 360-degree views of the North Cascades mountains. We gratefully enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous sunset and reflected on the hard work we had accomplished that day. Then, we got into our sleeping bags and rested up before our climb.
The next morning, we enjoyed a few extra hours of sleep and an oatmeal breakfast. We then got on all of our mountaineering gear: crampons, gaiters, ice axes, and all, and headed to the snow to learn from our guides at ‘mountaineering school’. We had an absolute blast rolling around in the snow and learning how to self-arrest ourselves from the mountain, how to climb uphill, and how to breathe like a mountaineer. Yasha was especially great at boot-skiing downhill!
After ski-school, we rested a bit and MC and Pericles had a great time reading by the lake with Jackie. We had a great dinner of Indian curry lentils and pita bread and then hit the hay pretty early, as we had an alpine summit attempt to focus on in the morning! Charlie and Reed kept us laughing with their endless jokes and banter, as they got to be tent buddies during this section.
10:30 PM rolled around before we knew it, and the summit bid began. The nervous energy was palpable as we packed our gear up and began our initial start to the summit. Crampon malfunctions proved to be light-hearted and frequent, and we appreciated the laughter that inevitably came with it. Grace and MC were hilarious as they cheered people on and kept the “real” energy going throughout the climb up, and Virgina Ann had her southern charm shine through in the best of ways. It was a tough, technical climb; there is no sugar coating that, and Chris and I are so grateful that all of our students were so beyond up for the challenge. Simply put, they absolutely crushed it!
Erin and MC were the LOD’s for our last day together. Of course, they were great, positive role models for the rest of the group. As an LOD, Erin decided to let the group go to a local, PNW-staple espresso house to get fresh teas and coffees for the group. It was a great start to our last long drive together. We then got to our campsite, packed our belongings, and went to banquet. The restaurant was quite surprised when we rolled up wearing clothes we had picked out for one another from the local Goodwill. Marge hilariously dressed Jackie up in the most eccentric outfit: it was awesome.
Silly-ness aside, this group was wonderful. We laughed together, challenged one-another, and made lasting memories. Chris and I are so grateful that we got to spend the past two weeks with this wonderful group of kids. We cannot wait to see what adventures they conquer on their own. We sure will miss them in the meantime, though.
That’s all for now…. onto our next adventure.
Chris & Jackie
July 26, 2021
Jackie and Chris here once again, this time checking in after our completion of an AMAZING backpacking section! Truly, it was an absolute blast. We began the section with Erin and Reed as LOD’s leading our hike to camp. Jackie taught them the basics of map orienteering, and then they taught the rest of the group, showing them the route we were about to embark upon. Then, they took the lead at the front of the pack, calling the shots and directing the group on which paths to take. It was so cool to take a step back and see them really shine as leaders.
After our 7-mile hike in through the Olympic National Forest, we arrived at our campsite, Toleak Point. The kids were definitely ready to get there, and once we did, we all shed our packs and shared a celebratory snack together as we looked over the scenery of our home for the next three days: the Pacific Ocean. Marge told us all about how it looked like scenes from Survivor. We then got to an in-depth discussion on who in the group would win in Survivor; the verdicts are Yasha and Erin, hands down. Then, we set up our tents and cooked a delicious dinner of chicken stir fry, rice, and fresh veggies with yum yum sauce and teriyaki to top it off. We then saw a classic Pacific Northwest sunset and got to see the literal full moon rise as we began Moonup. It was a dream!
The next morning, we surprised the kids with a much-deserved sleep-in morning! After making a great, leisurely breakfast of loaded Mexican hash browns, we spontaneously decided to jump in the water to cool off, with Charlie and Pericles in the lead. Then, we “laid like lizards” in the sun to dry off. We got to relax on the beach, learned about water purification and hydration, and played lots of Spades (Grace is a CHAMP at cards). MC finished her first book and excitedly started her second! Chris then led the group on a hike to a nearby waterfall and Yasha kept the group learning, pointing out multiple characteristics of the surrounding plants, and specifically, mushrooms. We learned so much! VA had a bit of a headache, so she stayed back and hung with Jackie and spent some quality time life chatting and watercolor painting the beautiful surroundings of hazy oceanic bluffs. After everyone regrouped, we made a classic backcountry cookout of hot dogs and baked beans, and then we surprised the kids with s’mores quesadillas: a Jackie original. Then, we all played like little kids in the sand as the sun set: giggling and shrieking with joy as we all raced and cartwheeled away. Pure bliss.
We had an early morning today with a jam-packed schedule. The kids were so great about the early wakeup call and got the camp cleaned up in record time. We were so proud that we had barely any complaints on our 7-mile journey back to the trailhead. We did the hike back almost an hour shorter than the hike there, which was GREAT time. Then, we loaded up the van and caravans to the Seattle REI (the flagship store!) to get our gear rentals for our next adventure: mountaineering! The kids absolutely love van time because we get to JAM out to about every genre of music on the planet. We capped off our travel day with a local food stop dinner: an authentic PNW drive in diner. The kids were thrilled when we let the, get burgers, milkshakes, AND fries. Don’t worry, parents, we have fruits and veggies on deck for tomorrow. 🙂
Now, onto Mt. Baker! The adventure continues…
Happily, Jackie + Chris
July 22, 2021
Hi pals! Chris and Jackie here after an eventful start to our awesome trip! We began our adventure at a front country campsite about two hours from the airport. We got to know each other over ice-breaker games, pizza and salad dinner, and an epic soccer game. We even got supplies to make welcome signs for Pericles, whom was arriving the next day! We ended the day with Moonup by the water and got to see our first West Coast sunset together. Chris and I knew that day that we had a special group.
The next morning we enjoyed a big breakfast of M&M pancakes, sausage, and eggs. It was a pretty packed day, so we hit the road to Anacortes and hopped on the ferry to the San Juan Islands. Yasha taught the group a cool new card game, Resistance, on the way! Our LOD’s Grace and Reed were awesome in showing the group the route we were traveling that day on the map of the islands. Once we arrived, we had lunch on the dock, met up with our kayaking guides to touch base, and enjoyed some much-deserved ice cream. Since we are in the PNW, it makes sense that the majority of the group opted to try marionberry and huckleberry flavors. After that, we checked into our campsite for the night and got our signs ready to pick up Pericles! Everyone was so excited to have our little family complete! We gave him a warm, Moondance welcome at the local airport, complete with music, cheering, and hugs. We got back to the campsite, and Virginia Ann showed off her Mama Bear cooking skills with an awesome welcome home Greek dinner for Pericles, and played sand volleyball (which quickly proved to be a fan favorite)! Everyone found it hilarious that I (Jackie) am absolutely terrible at the sport, but was fiercely dedicated anyways, diving (and falling) for every ball that came my way.
The next morning we packed our dry bags and got ready to hit the water! Everyone was so willing to help each other pack up, which was so great to see. We got to Roche Harbor, packed our boats, and got on the water. Our LOD’s, Yasha and Marge, worked with our guides and established the route that we were kayaking that day and led the way. The paddle was great, and we even saw some seals and bald eagles on the journey! We arrived at the island we were staying at, set up camp, and relaxed. We played lots of games: frisbee, ultimate, and charades. Our favorite moments, however, were times spent sitting on the grass together as a group, laughing and sharing stories. We capped off the day with a Mexican dinner and had Moonup on the bluff overlooking the water and caught a glorious sunset.
Our next LOD’s, Erin and Pericles, got to decide the plan for the next day. To our (pleasant) surprise, they decided to skip a sleep-in morning and tackle the day early with a morning paddle. The water was beautiful, and saw some more wildlife and our guides taught us some really cool facts about the islands and horticulture. After we got back to our morning paddle, we had lunch on the island and enjoyed a rest hour! While most took cat naps in the shade, Jackie and MC read on the beach. It was so relaxing! We then went on a hike all around the island and finished on the North Side where every single one of us spontaneously jumped in the (freezing cold) water! It was awesome. We winded down the day back at our campsite with some yoga and an epic game of ultimate uno, taught by one of our great kayaking guides, Colleen.
The next morning we paddled back to Roche Harbor in record time— a channel crossing that takes on average 1.5 hours only took us 50 minutes! We took advantage of our extra time and surprised the kids, taking them to a local lavender farm for fresh lavender ice cream and room to explore before we headed back to our campsite. Of course, we had to have a rematch of sand volleyball, but first our LOD’s Charlie and MC helped Jackie with a grocery resupply. Charlie was thrilled that we had his favorite meal on the menu: a special grill out of mashed potatoes, street corn, steamed broccoli, and steak! Him and MC even got to pick out a group dessert: lemon cake and fresh berries. Needless to say, bellies and smiles were full as we ended our first section.
Now, onto backpacking! The adventure continues…
Jackie + Chris
July 17, 2021
Hello Olympics 3A Families!
We are thrilled to report in that the whole group has arrived safely in Seattle. 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 post up to 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 shout out mid-way through! You can follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!