July 8, 2022
Well folks, we did it. Coming to you one last time from the Denver airport!
We arrived late evening on the 4th at our campsite and immediately began working on our cookout. Burgers and hotdogs were on the menu, with everyone eating until they were stuffed. We then had an awesome Moonup and proceeded to snuggle into our sleeping bags under the stars. The night was epically topped off when two (super random, might I add) fireworks burst high in the sky right before bed. It felt like a sign that we were truly in the right place at the right time. The next morning we woke up ready for our last day of activities together. We all piled into the van and hit the road for River Runners one last time. It was time for the exclamation point to our time together – the Royal Gorge. We got to the HQ, suited up, and in no time we were back on the river. Everyone loved it. McLain and Grace “rode the bull” (sitting on the very front of the boat), Mary and Margaret steered, and, per the usual, there was a huge splash war. We were on the river for most of the day, and even got to stop for a delicious lunch on the bank. After hitting the class four rapids with names like “wallslammer” and “toilet bowl”, we emerged victorious from the Arkansas. It was a great way to end the trip and many agreed it was one of their favorite memories.
After leaving River Runners, we decided to tackle some housekeeping items – mainly laundry! After a brief stint at the local laundromat and a breeze through the nearby Goodwill, we were headed back to our campsite. We dined on chicken pesto pasta for dinner and hung out under our well-loved “Nemo Shadow Caster”, a fancy way of saying a rain tarp. Our Moonup was full of laughs and reminiscing, as we talked about our goals for the year ahead of us. Our LODs, Oscar and Grace, helped bring it home and we all went to bed anticipating our final day together. We woke up Wednesday morning and after crushing some breakfast burritos (Penn ate like 3) hit the road for Denver. The drive featured about 10 bathroom breaks, (Hedges, we’re looking at you), but ended up being a great way to spend some together before the goodbyes started. We arrived at our campsite mid-day and began the task of winding down. Gear was cleaned, showers were taken, and the reorganizing began. After a few hours of it, we decided we’d had enough and it was time for some fun again. We piled back into the van and headed for our favorite place, Goodwill. The outfits were incredible. Helmets, goggles, suit jackets, and Hawaiian shirts were the norm as we headed for our final dinner together. McLain looked like a fashionable businessman while Porkchop donned an outfit that looked like he was literally ready for the alter. It was awesome.
After dinner, we obviously had to stop for ice cream one last time to complete the trip for real. Upon arrival at the shop, we had a mini-dance party in the parking lot, because why not? After our short intermission, we walked into our ice cream “rolls” shop, where they roll your ice cream right in front of you. We stood, in our outfits, watching them make our ice cream in great anticipation. After everyone received their order, we headed back for one final Moonup. Led by Sean and Lizzie, the Moonup was a good one. We talked about what Moondance means to us and why we came and then proceeded to “cowboy camp” under the stars. We awoke bright and early this morning to get to the airport. With sad but full hearts, we said our goodbyes and departed our separate ways.
We simply cannot express what this group has meant to us. In so many ways, they were the quintessential squad that reminded us why we do this job. Your children have changed us for the better, and we are forever grateful that they were a part of Colorado Trial. We love them and are so proud of not only all they accomplished but who they are as people. Thank you for sharing a little bit of them with us this summer.
Until next time,
Lizzie, J-Mo, and Grace.
July 5, 2022
We have officially entered the home stretch, and are savoring our final moments together.
We camped at Elk Creek Campsite on Saturday night, a favored spot amongst leaders and students, and slept with rock climbing on our minds. We awoke Sunday morning ready to meet our guides in Taylor Canyon and begin our adventure. Everyone crushed it, with each student climbing multiple pitches and jumping right in. Oscar was our breakout star of the day, climbing every pitch multiple times and even trying one “one handed”. Sean tackled each pitch with ease too, and the girls took the walls on like pros! It was awesome.
After a full morning of climbing, we piled back into our chariot and munched on some PB&Js while headed towards Crested Butte. We arrived in CB for our town day and ran straight to the ice cream. From there, we shopped around for souvenirs and took in the beauty of Crested Butte. Mary and Sylvie bought sweatshirts, while all the girls got matching bracelets to commemorate their time together. Spencer and Penn got cookies from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory, and McLain tried a panini wrap for the first time. It was the perfect town day and everyone got to experience a little bit of local Colorado! Upon arriving back at the campsite, we entered regroup mode, as we reorganized the vans, played frisbee, and even took a dip in the reservoir! Grace, Margaret, and Mary all dunked into the water after a workout, and the boys took a swim too. All the while, we were accompanied by a double rainbow that shone maybe the brightest we had ever seen. After our afternoon activities, we were treated to a “appetizer” of Mac and cheese with crushed Hot Cheetos cheffed up by McLain, Hedges, and Remy. This was followed by the crowd favorite Mediterranean bowls, and everyone ate until they were stuffed! It was a great day. Our LOD’s, Margaret and Hedges, led us in a Moonup to round out the day, and we all fell asleep under the stars.
We awoke Monday morning and immediately threw on Party in the USA for the 4th of July! Everyone crushed some oatmeal and then got ready for our second day of climbing. Once again, it was a day of crushing the rocks, as everyone took on slightly harder climb but just as rewarding pitches. After everyone had a chance to climb, we got back in the van and headed for a special holiday treat. We dined on pizza and frozen yogurt for lunch before hitting the road back towards the Arkansas River.
We are currently en route to our last activity, rafting the Royal Gorge! We are so sad that this trip is winding down, but cannot wait for the next few days with your children. They are so special and we feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend these two weeks with them!
We’ll check back in one last time, but for now it’s off to the rapids!
Lizzie, John Morgan, and Grace
July 3, 2022
Good morning from Crested Butte!
We have conquered the backcountry and emerged ready for rock climbing.
We awoke Thursday morning ready for the trails. The morning was packed full of lessons, with everything from “what to pack” to “how to pack” on the agenda. Once everyone was ready, we loaded in the van and began our journey south. After a brief stop at the Dolores food market for some last-minute essentials, we made our way to Kilpacker Trail Head, our starting point for the day. After learning how to put a pack on, everyone strapped in and laced up to start our hike. On the agenda was a 2-ish mile hike into our favorite campsite. It’s a great spot right next to the Dolores River with views of 14ers all around. Everyone crushed it, as it was the first time backpacking for many. Upon arrival, we cheffed up some delicious vegetables, chicken, and quinoa bowls that everyone demolished. Our Moonup was successfully led that night by Oscar and Penn, and we all nestled into our sleeping bags for a good night’s rest.
We awoke the next morning to a breakfast of pancakes and fresh peaches, a real treat. Everyone ate until they were stuffed, and it was probably the best backcountry “brunch” any of us had ever had. After a brief huddle, we decided that it was going to be a day of choice. They kiddos got to decide which wild attraction they wanted to hike to for the day. J-Mo headed up a group that wanted to do a hike to Navajo Lake for fly-fishing! The hike ended up being 8-miles round trip, what an accomplishment for Grace, Spencer and Sean! Lizzie led Mary, Sylvie, and Sean on a hike to see a bridge that overlooked the rushing Dolores River. Hedges, McLain, Penn, Oscar and Remy decided that they wanted to explore the general nature around camp. Grace led this crew on a hike around camp exploring whatever they stumbled upon. This group loved stumbling upon open patches of grass where they could play frisbee, before hitting the trail again.
It was a great day and everyone got to do exactly what they wanted to do. The evening was filled with bracelet making, and I can confidently say that your children will be coming home with A LOT of bracelets. Dinner was a feast of potatoes, butternut squash, spaghetti, and green beans! McLain and Remy were named Leaders of the Day at Moonup, and we all fell asleep to the sound of rain on our tents.
The next morning was yet another test of adversity, as we woke up to a thunderstorm closing in. Instead of being disappointed, everyone was game for a rainy morning of playing “Mafia” and the “Moo game”. We ate oatmeal with fresh berries and sautéed sweet potatoes, and all sat in a circle laughing for hours. It was the perfect relaxing day that everyone needed. As the day wound down and the weather cleared, we were able to get out and move a little. Dinner was ramen with sautéed veggies, and McLain taught everyone “his way” of making ramen. It was delicious and the perfect end to a backcountry section!
We awoke Saturday morning ready to hike out. There was excitement in the air as it was Remy’s 13th birthday, so we knew it was going to be a good day. After a short trek to the van, we loaded in and had two things on our minds — showers and food. The first was easily done, as we made a brief pitstop at our last campground for showers and repacking. From there, we loaded back in and headed for Dragonfly Restaurant in downtown Montrose. Everyone ordered burgers, chicken fingers, and mac and cheese and ate until we were stuffed. After a brief restock at Walmart, we headed out to Elk Creek Campsite on the Blue Mesa. We wound down the night with vanilla cake and a birthday celebration for Remy, followed by a Moonup let by Oscar and Sylvie, our LOD’s. It was a great day.
From here, it’s off to rock climbing and some fun in Crested Butte. We’ll check back in soon!
Grace, J-Mo, and Lizzie
P.S. – some shoutouts!
Spencer – Hey! I loved the first part of the trip especially the rough rafting. Can’t wait to experience the rest Moondance has to offer.
Penn- Hey mom and dad (and Tucker and Goose) I have really loved the trip so far and I am so glad that I did this thanks for sending me, see you guys in 4 days!
Remy – Hi I am having fun. Thank you for sending me. See you In four days. Can’t wait for the next 4 days.
McLain- hi parents. I am a very dirty person right now. I love you so much and can’t wait to see you. It has been such a cool adventure and I am bonding with hedges. Love u (hi whiskey and milo and auggie)
Hedges- Hi father and mother I am very dirty and I can’t wait to see you. Say hi to Addy and Dex for me.
Mary – hi mom and dad I miss you and Jane and Kate and lucky and sissy bye love y’all
Margaret – hey mom and dad I’m having a great time and can’t wait to see y’all! Say hi to Avery and the dogs for me!
Sylvie – hey mom and dad! im having so much fun here and can’t wait to see everyone. i hope you had fun at floatilla! love you tell everyone i say hi!
Oscar- hi how are you see you soon. Say hi to Roland for me thanks
Sean- hey I am doing great thanks for sending me here I am having a lot of fun see you in a couple days tell kiwi I say hi. Also dad please make sure I have a window seat near the front. Thanks for understanding. I also miss you guys a lot see you soon
Grace- Hi mom and dad I miss y’all so much! Tell Campbell that I got her a surprise here in Crested Butte, too. I really miss Lony, Roxy, Kai, and Max so much! Love u bye
June 28, 2022
Colorado Trail checking in!
After assembling in the Denver airport Friday afternoon with lots of smiles and hellos, we headed to the van to get this show on the road. Instantly we knew this was a great group, as we bumped some tunes and headed down the road towards the Arkansas river. Upon arriving in Salida, we hit up Moonlight Pizza, where everyone crushed some delicious pies and continued to get to know each other. From Moonlight, we headed towards our first campsite of the trip. Everyone gathered around as the first lesson – tent set up – was shown. We also learned how to pack for our rafting trip and how to stay warm and dry!
After our lessons, we had a bit of a surprise up our sleeves – Sean’s birthday party! We ate cake and sang happy birthday under the Colorado stars. His present was a balloon-jar contraption filled with sour gummy worms, his favorite candy. It was awesome. After the legendary party, we gathered for our first Moonup of the trip. Moonup- our nightly gathering to discuss the day and continue to get to know one another – was a hit, as we gave nugs to a great first day and named our Leaders of the Day, Grace and birthday boy Sean.
The next morning, we awoke bright and early to conquer the rapids. After arriving at River Runners just outside Buena Vista, we hopped in boats and took off down the Arkansas river. The girls plus Oscar and Spencer (aka Pork-chop, as we have learned to call him) took the first boat, while the rest of the boys took on the second. It was an awesome morning battling some class two and three rapids, and everyone was pumped to see what the afternoon held. After stopping for a delicious lunch, we hopped back in our boats to float to our campsite for the night. Spencer and Sylvie got to take the helm at different points as they learned from our guide how to control the boat from the back. Mary and Margaret conquered the front as we took wave after wave. Upon arrival, we got set up and hung out, getting to know our guides Andy and Quinn and learning all about being a river guide. After a delicious dinner of tacos and brownies, we hit the hay for some more well-deserved sleep!
The next morning, we awoke to the smell of sausage and eggs, and knew it was going to be a great day! We dined on breakfast burritos and talked about what the day was going to hold. After getting back in the rafts, things were already off to a fun start. We took on the “toilet bowl” rapid with ease, as we all learned to paddle together to conquer the class three rapids. It was a day full of big belly laughs, as McLain swam from raft to raft, and everyone got a chance to steer the boat. Penn blocked Hedges from the gnarly waves, while Hedges powered through the “Twin Falls” rapid by digging his paddle deep. Remy made everyone laugh with his stories on the raft. The girls raft got stuck on a rock at one point and everyone laughed so hard as we had to jump up and down to get it off. It was a classic Moondance “best day ever”.
After getting off the river, we boarded the bus to make our venture back to River Runners. The back of the bus was knee deep in the “cup game” (a riddle from John Morgan that puzzled literally everyone), when we noticed that the bus wasn’t quite working anymore. We pulled over and all got out and realized there was a bit of an engine issue. We weren’t going to let that get us down though! Everyone circled up in the rain and played a game our raft guides taught us with the paddles while we waited for another bus to come get us. Once again, many belly laughs were had and I’d say it was a real lemon to lemonade situation.
Upon arriving at River Runners, we loaded back into the Ford Transit, our chariot, and headed to our campsite. We dined on fajitas that night and at Moonup discusses our favorite moments from the day.
We cannot say how thankful we are to have a chance to get to know your kids and spend a little bit of time with them this summer. We can already tell the next few weeks are going to be a blast. From here, it’s off to ziplining and then to the Sand Dunes! We’ll be sure to check back in soon.
Until next time,
Liz, Grace, and J-Mo
June 25, 2022
Hello Colorado Trail Families!
We heard from the leaders last night that the whole group arrived safely into Denver yesterday. 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 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 also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!