July 22, 2021
Surfing is a success!
Our first night after rafting near Point Reyes National Seashore, Phillip, Margaux, and Tyler walked around to other campsites scavenging for one of three items to make s’mores for their leader’s birthday and they came back hands full! We roasted the S’mores over a small fire and enjoyed the chocolate, roasted marshmallow, graham crackers concoctions. Phillip and Margaux started Moon-up right with a singing of Happy Birthday. However, it must be noted that this day was the day before Anna’s birthday and the party had already started.
Despite the moisture of the ocean in the air, the group opted to continue “mega bed” and woke up damp but with no regrets. We took advantage of our agenda free day and slept in. We ate a full breakfast of cheesy eggs, hashbrowns, and sausage. We then drove into Point Reyes National Seashore. Unfortunately, the clouds covered the landscape and it was hard to see the ocean. However, the group still sarcastically ooo’d and ahhh’d at the shore, enjoying it nonetheless. We took a short walk to the famous Point Reyes lighthouse and then made our way back to the campsite. At the campsite, the group enjoyed a lazy day. Many took naps, played cards, hacky sack, and chatted for the remainder of the afternoon. Tyler invited Lea and Margaret in a hilarious game of Go Fish. Lea could not handle herself with laughter over how silly the game choice was.
We woke up early the next morning to head straight for surfing and although the group was worried about the low temperatures, we were all surprised by how warm our wet suits kept us. Once suited up, we headed straight for the ocean. Tyler’s previous experience proved beneficial as he ended up further out attempting to catch the big waves which resulted in a mix of success and washing machine tumbles. Elijah and our guides were right out there with him. Everyone else was testing their skills with the shoreline waves and finding bits of success here and there. It was a tough day to learn as our guides explained the waves were pretty rough. Margaux and Zoe were found on the beach “cobbling” as they call it. Anna, Lea, Margaret, and Alina joined them and made a huge drip castle. With only 15 minutes left to surf, Lea, Margaret, and Anna headed back into the ocean to catch a final wave for the day. Cooper, Phillip, Will, and Andrew were in the ocean the whole morning. The group felt the day of surfing ended too soon and we’re looking forward to one more to follow.
After our morning surf lesson, everyone could not say no to the Taco Bell on the beach! After enjoying beach side tacos, the group headed to the grocery store which is only notable because they somehow pulled off purchasing a birthday cake for Anna while she was shopping for dinner! They were able to keep it a secret all the way until an after dinner surprise when Margaux and Elijah lit candles in the van and opened the door to Anna’s surprise! Elijah and the crew made a terrifically tasty meal of tortellini, asparagus, green beans, and garlic bread as our final homemade meal together. (Yum!) Then, out of nowhere, the cake came out of the van with candles lit! It made for a birthday that was just as magical as the unicorn on the cake itself.
Our second day of surfing was less rough and we were happy about that! Phillip, Andrew, Elijah, Tyler, and Cooper headed straight for the outback, past where the waves break, to catch the big waves! Will, Anna, Margaux, Alina, Margaret, and Lea stayed closer to shore with the smaller waves and had fun working on their paddling and pop-ups. Margaret and Anna were convinced by the guides to try to head to the outback and sadly, neither of them made it and they laughed at their struggle as they watched the guides do it with ease. Andrew, Tyler, and Elijah were the last to stay in the water in the outback while Anna and Will were the last in the water closer to shore. All in all, a successful day of surfing and an amazing way to end the trip!
Afterward, we hopped in the car and headed to the nearest Goodwill to hunt down our dinner outfits. Dresses were a must and all 5 girls found their perfect fit. Tyler ended up in a full cheetah print outfit, Andrew found American flag overall shorts, Will wore hunter orange shorts and an American flag shirt, and Cooper and Phillip wore all Hawaiian print everything and aviator sunglasses. Before hitting the restaurant in our new outfits, we took advantage of our large chunk of free time and headed into San Francisco. We stopped at the classic Painted Ladies first, then drove down Lombard Street (yes, we did it in the 15 passenger van), then stopped at the Fisherman’s Warf before getting a final view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove along the coast to our final banquet dinner, where the dresses we put on and pride for America, cheetah print, and the island life were displayed. Dinner was delicious! But even better we’re our final views of the ocean – sunset waves crashed along the shore line as songs were sung as loud as possible in the back of the van. We ended the evening with a long moon-up, reminiscing about our time on the
Today was airport day. With teary eyed hugs we all said goodbye one by one as everyone heads back home. We feel so lucky to have gotten to spend this time with each of these amazing kids. Thank you to all their parents that made this trip happen for them. We miss you all already and can’t wait to hear from you soon.
Anna & Elijah
July 19, 2021
Wow! What a trip that was!
We were sad to leave Shasta but amazed that we accomplished such a feat. As we drove away from Lake Siskiyou, the mountain towered over us, and the group stared in amazement and Margaux stated “that’s crazy we were up there” – a statement that any of us could have said and certainly agree with. We stopped at the local post office on our way out of town to send post cards out to our families. We are hoping they arrive home before we do!
Once on the road, we broke up the 4.5 hour drive to the Middle Fork of the American River with a stop at the California classic, In & Out. The group was surprised by the stop and thankful for good eats! Lunch was followed by a reading from “Back to Telos, The Adventures of Orion and the City of Light” from Tyler. This book was something we found at the crystal shops just before our climb and Anna read the first few chapters at the base camp site. The group exclaimed “Aww” when Tyler read “The human ability to heal is immense. When they gather in groups of twelve or more, their energies are intensified, and a special energetic frequency is created. It is powerful enough to transmit frequencies of love, healing, and compassion from their hearts to the damaged areas of the planet.” And he finished it with saying “Guys, there’s twelve of us!” We laughed as this book is certainly other worldly!
Once at the campsite, dinner was in the works as so was a wrestling match amongst the boys. Cooper was hilariously the ref as chants were made for Will and Tyler who were in the ring. This was only preparation for the boat “fights” that would happen on the river.
With an early wake up, we were off toward our rafting destination. We met our guides where they had bright red life jackets, bright blue helmets, and a bright yellow bus ready for us. We climbed in the bus and were on our way to the river! When we arrived at the river, we hopped out of the bus, and carried our boats down to the water. The first rapid, named Cold Cup of Coffee, was properly named and just the wake up we needed. Following Cold Cup of Coffee, the rapids were nearly non-stop until lunch. However, we stopped during a flat-water section where there was a large rock to jump off of. Everyone joined regardless of how cold they were from being splashed in the rapids.
Right before lunch we had two students get bounced out of the boats! Andrew was first and was saved by the ankle from our raft guide. As the other boat looked at the scene, Zoe fell backwards into the water and headed down stream to flat water ahead of us. Andrew was back in the boat at this time, and everyone was laughing with Zoe as she was hardly able to swim back to the other boat since she was laughing so hard. We laughed at lunch as we replayed the events.
A delicious sandwich spread was provided for us by our raft guides, Helen, Gaitor (aka Rudy however we still don’t know his real name), and Rowan. The group sunbathed on the rocks before hopping back in the boats. The second half of the day included smaller rapids and the raft guides surprised us with inflatable kayaks! Will, Tyler, Cooper, and Phillip were the first to try them out and they rocked it. But what was more impressive were the 9 people we fit on one kayak! The raft guides called it a record, although I’m not sure you could truly say everyone fit given that the kayak was hardly above the water. The gear boat, and rafts were the first to make it to shore along with Cooper, Zoe, and Anna who were the only ones not on board the 9 person, hardly floating kayak. Needless to say, the 9-person kayak took a bit longer to get to shore.
Once on the shore of our campsite, Phillip and Andrew got everyone started on rock skipping. Alina proved to be talented in this! Tyler and Lea went with Helen up to a nearby rock which created a play wave that they surfed in. The group spent a good amount of time on the sloped beach, watching the river in their crazy creeks and chatting about things and answering questions like “If you could be any animal what would you be?” Which was posed by the raft guides as they made dinner. Even more entertaining was Elijah’s nap which he took on the raft that Tyler then untied from the shore and walked down stream for 25 or so yards to tie up again. We all watched as he woke up in blatant confusion. The fact that Elijah didn’t wake up while Tyler moved him continues to confuse us all!
Everyone was feeling very hungry for dinner and feasted on fresh salad, pasta, roasted red bell peppers, grilled chicken, and garlic bread. It was delicious and being on the river made it taste all the better. We were surprised when the guides even had dessert for us! Delicious angel food cakes with blueberries and whipped cream. Margaret then led in a camp song about the “cookies” at camp. We had Moonup an went to bed as soon as the sun went down. We all really enjoyed Alina’s question “What are you looking forward to in the next 12 months?” The stars were bright, and the moon sat half full in the early evening sky.
Breakfast was equally delicious – breakfast croissant sandwiches served with fruit, coffee, and coffee cake. Day 2 on the water started with the kayaks out which quickly turned into different missions of tipping people off of them. Having the kayaks out also naturally resulted in an attempt to beat the record of 9. And it happened! We got all twelve of us sitting on the kayak, some people on top of each other, hardly balanced, and certainly submerged under the water. Again, Margaret led us in a camp song that suited the situation. Meanwhile on the boats, the wrestling started up again and no one was safe. Students were getting pulled off the boats left and right from swimmers in the water who were sneaky as well as those on the boats who were far less sneaky.
About halfway through our time on the river, we stopped with Rowan who was guiding the gear boat to help him unload all our goods and carry the boat up to a truck. Margaret, Margaux, Alina, and Lea could hardly help as they laughed so hard, they struggled to breathe at their own dance moves. In the end the job was well done and we paddled across the river for lunch where Alina surprised us with a flip that inspired the rest of us! Anna went next with Zoe, Tyler, Cooper, Phillip, and Andrew to follow. Zoe and Phillip made us crack up as Zoe on her first try just jumped, then almost made the full rotation the second time.
Once back in rapid territory, we portaged around the first one called Chunder Falls as it requires the boats to be sent down alone and then a raft guide below to jump from a rock into the boat to retrieve it. It was amazing to watch Gator as he flew down to the first raft and then circled back around and climbed up the rock to do it all over again. Four rapids followed with small sections of flat water where the boat battles started back up again.
The day seemed to have flown by as we approached the takeout. After carrying the boats up to the bus, we hopped back in and drove away from the river still in our life jackets and blue helmets. Back at the van we celebrated the two-day trip with our raft guides and cold sodas.
We are now at our next campsite near Point Reyes National Seashore. We can not wait to see what we can explore tomorrow!
July 16, 2021
Summiting Mt. Shasta is now complete!
We ended our time in Yosemite National Park with a sunrise viewing of El Capitan giving us the chance to soak in the natural wonders of giant walls carved by glacier. We were sad to go but ready for the next adventure! We began our journey North for Mt. Shasta shortly after the sunrise viewing – a hefty 7-hour drive but worth it even if only for the Costco pizza!
We arrived at Lake Siskiyou late afternoon and the group immediately began gearing up for our climb of Mt. Shasta. Thankfully, packing for Mt. Shasta doesn’t look much different from backpacking so the group knew what to do. However we had far less food to pack this time, which means much lighter packs! (Yay!) We enjoyed tacos made by Elijah that night and most enjoyed much needed and desired showers. However, some opted to live in the dirt from backpacking – rugged! Sleeping under the stars was a must at this site.
The next morning the group finalized packing their backpacks which included their group gear and tent pieces. Pancakes were served for breakfast and the group then made quick work of packing up camp and loading the trailer. In the adorable town of Mt. Shasta, we met our mountaineering guides, checked over our packing list, and rented clunky mountaineering boots and bright orange helmets. A bold mix of excitement and nerves were in the air.
Before heading out to the trailhead, the group stopped at one of the many crystal shops in Mt. Shasta to learn about the city of Telos that exists inside Mt. Shasta, and the Lumerians who inhabit and protect the mountain. Will, Tyler, Cooper, Phillip, and Andrew couldn’t walk away without ponchos and Margaux found a small troll token item she named Geoffrey that would be used as a lucky charm in the summit attempt.
Unfortunately, from town we couldn’t see Mt. Shasta herself, however half way through our bumpy drive on gravel roads toward the trailhead, we could see through the smoke of the recent fires that impacted the area. At the trailhead, the group was quiet as the uncertainty of what the mountain would offer lingered. We hiked about 3 miles to our base camp site which has beautiful views in all directions. To the North, Mt. Shasta towers over and to the South, layers of mountains lead your eyes to Lassen Peak in Lassen National Park. We ate pasta for dinner and then the guides briefed us on how to summit Mt. Shasta successfully and safely. Afterward, we had moon-up and did a final fill of our water bottles before crawling into the tents.
Just 5 hours later, our guides woke us up bright and early at 2am. Margaret and Cooper debated about whether this meant it was early morning or late at night. We all agreed it was early morning. Will sang to Anna’s small group while Tyler was attempting to sleep while standing up. Zoë was extra positive as she had saved up all her positivity for this day in particular. Meanwhile, Elijah’s group was lead by Margaux in singing “It’s The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Lea lead Elijah’s group on the hike following Nick, the guide. Phillip and Andrew were right there with them for the day. The climb was tough. Loose rocks and sand galore. Margaux and Alina had trouble with the altitude and Margaux was able to push through to the summit. She met the rest of the group at the top and celebrated with amazing views and even better snacks. The way down was arguably just as tough if not tougher than the way up. Zoë and Anna laughed as they slowly made their way into camp last to prevent Zoë’s knees from exploding. However, Andrew and Phillip lead the pack as the boys literally ran down the mountain which looks almost more like skiing with the loose sand and small rocks. They had a blast!
Back at camp, everyone enjoyed relaxing in their crazy creeks, napping, reading, and a warm meal of ramen and quesadillas. Alina was feeling better and her and Elijah happily greeted everyone as they arrived back. Moon-up was early and students expressed their pride for each other and themselves which was quite moving. With Moon-up complete in the daylight of the early evening, some students fell asleep as early as 7:30pm. Others enjoyed watching the shadow of the mountain grow into the evening and just the start of stars appearing in the night sky. Needless to say, everyone slept long and hard that night.
Our final day of mountaineering was just 3 miles back down to the trailhead from base camp. We feasted at a Mexican restaurant and topped it off with ice cream from our campsite general store. While we ate our ice cream, we all laughed hysterically as Margaret showed us everything she knew about riding horses on the toy machine just outside the general store. The group spent the rest of the day enjoying the lake and doing laundry at the campground. Alina suggested breakfast for dinner, and she was right; french toast for dinner was a crowd pleaser!
We are impressed with the hard work and effort this group put into their climb of Mt. Shasta. They deserve a round of applause and a rafting trip to top it off! Wish us a fun time on the river!
Enjoy these shoutouts from your kids!:
Zoë: Hey! I didn’t tear an ACL on the mountain. Also, this weird girl from Miami won’t stop following me -Zoë
Margaux: Hi guys, tell Cosmo happy late birthday. I miss you so much and can’t wait to tell you about the trip. Also this weird girl from Nashville is following me 😉
Margaret: hey mom and dad! I hope Alaska is pretty. Give Piper and the pups love from me!
Alina: Hey I’m having fun say hi to Freddie and daisy for me
Lea: Hey fam! I’m having so much fun and feel great. Love y’all:) see you soon
Will: To whom it may concern, I hope that all is well in your current location. All kidding aside, everything is going great, I love you all so much, and I can’t wait to see you all again!!
Phillip: the group is great and we’re having a great time. Love you!
Andrew: Hey. I’m having the best time, and my group is great.
Tyler: there is one percent on the I pad so I couldn’t leave a shout-out
Cooper: Please pet Charlie for me
July 13, 2021
Since our last update we have gotten to explore the beautiful backcountry of Yosemite National Park! We spent the past six days backpacking through the southern part of the park and it was an amazing time to say the least. Our first campsite set the bar high. It had beautiful views and was right next to a creek with endless waterfalls and swimming opportunities. The next morning, we decided to explore the area before hiking. We found a giant pool under a spectacular waterfall to swim in. Phillip and Cooper kept the adventure going by finding the best cliff jumping spot of the whole trip. Andrew showed some stellar care for the group and ran back to camp to make sure everyone could find our new and exciting swimming hole. He led the second half of the group back and really brought everyone together. We all had a great morning of swimming and cliff jumping.
Our trails took us further into the backcountry and eventually to the amazing Buena Vista Lake. Will was a great source of positivity throughout the long day. He constantly kept the group motivated and laughing with his quick-witted jokes. After a long day of hiking the group enjoyed a great swim off to cool off and relax. Tyler swam out to his own little island to take in all the scenery. Zoe and Margaux found an island of their own to soak in the sun as well. The group never stopped exploring our amazing camp site. Lea was always a part of every adventure and exploration around the area. She inspired everyone to start exploring all that our camp had to offer. The camp featured a large boulder field over the lake that everyone spent the day climbing around on. We all sat together on top of the rocks looking down on our tiny camp and the clear blue water of the lake.
From Buena Vista Lake, we did a long and scenic hike back to our original camp. The group was very excited to get back to our super fun campsite. As soon as we got there, packs were dropped, and swimming was happening. Hanna as always was the first to jump in on the fun and kickstart the next adventure. We returned to our favorite spot for cliff jumping and swimming. The spot was home to deep water and a waterfall to run our heads under. After five days of backpacking, it was quite the shower. Alina was constantly in the water getting all the fun she could with our last night at this spot. It was a great time with great people.
That night we all enjoyed dinner together and another night spent under the stars. Dinner was prepared with lots of laughs along with our students showing off their new backcountry cooking skills. The night would have been incomplete without Margaret’s singing of all her old camp songs. Which we now all know multiple by heart now. We all sat together eating soup singing those silly new songs under the star filled night. It was a night full of laughs and smiles.
Today we said goodbye to the backcountry and hiked out to our original trailhead and getting to explore Yosemite Valley. The whole group was awestruck by seeing El Capitan and Half Dome. They truly are unbelievable. We spent part of the day just sitting under El Cap and taking in just how grand it is. It has been a really great past week for this group. We are now gearing up to go climb Mt Shasta and can’t wait to get climbing!
July 6, 2021
Our first activity is officially in the books and me (Elijah) and Anna are so excited for all that we have to come with this awesome group we have. We picked everyone up from the airport on Friday, but it already feels like we’ve known each other much longer. From the airport we headed to our first campsite as a group at the beautiful Portola Redwood State Park. The whole group was blown away from giant redwoods all over the campground. It was a great spot to start our trip.
The next day it was time to head inland and get to the Yosemite area. We had a fun day of travel with lots of good car jams. We got to camp with plenty of time for a lot of games. We all got in on the action, playing frisbee, hacky sack, and a group favorite, spike ball. The group spent the afternoon getting psyched for the next few days that we would spend doing some awesome rock climbing.
On Sunday, the group spent the morning doing some backpacking prep and learning skills that would give us all a successful and fun time in the backcountry. Then, it was off to rock climbing in the incredible Sierra National Forest. We met our guides and got stoked on climbing some granite. Andrew learned to belay and absolutely crushed climbing. Tyler, Hanna, Phillip, and Cooper all showed off their past rock-climbing experience and tackled harder routes with no problem. You would have never known it was Will or Margaret’s first time climbing with how natural they looked climbing out there. We ended climbing early afternoon all feeling accomplished and ready to celebrate the 4th of July. We celebrated with burgers and some red white and blue desert.
Today was our second and final day of rock climbing. Today we got to see the group tackle some harder and more vertical climbing routes. Alina, Zoe, Margaux, and Lea all absolutely crushed one of the hardest and tallest routes out there. It was so awesome to see them each reach the top of a difficult climb. But of course, they made it look easy. It was a great day of climbing with amazing views and an even better group. Today wrapped up with more backpacking prep as we get ready to head out into the backcountry of Yosemite national park. We can’t wait for all the great adventures to come.