July 26, 2022
HI FAMILY AND FRIENDS!
Writing to you from the Anchorage airport to announce that all of your kiddos have departed and are headed home to the lower 48!
Our time together has surely been eventful, and we would expect nothing more for our final day. We woke up this morning and served up some cinnamon roll pancakes with a side of fresh strawberries. We had a few tasks to complete on our last morning. Julie Anne and Grace headed the thorough cleaning of group gear, and Guy and Grey were wizards at loading the U-Haul with everyone’s duffels. Then it was time to head downtown.
Our first stops where local souvenir stores, where Tessa, Archie, and Finn purchased funky hats. They had both moose and raccoon hats to dawn for our excursion. Sari picked out a cool outfit to wear home on the plane. For banquet, we shared a delicious meal of pizza and sandwiches at the Fat Ptarmigan. Mason devoured a kid’s pizza and Grayson convinced others in the group to order Shirley Temples. After lunch, we walked to a Sunday artisans market. Ava, along with Grace, Grayson, Tessa, and Julie Ann had face glitter done at one of the stands. Then we headed to Wild Scoops for local handmade ice-cream. Afterwards, we sat in the sun listening to live music in the park soaking up our last moments as a group.
After the excursion, we made our way to the airport where many hugs were shared and tears shed. Peter waited to board in the last possible group just to stay with his new friends for a few more minutes. Just as the trip began, we had a few moments to chill with Finn as he was the one with the first flight in and the last flight out. Cheers to the longest visitor of third session!
We want to thank you for sharing your children with us for the past two weeks. This group created a special bond in such a short amount of time! We wish them all a wonderful, relaxing remainder of the Summer!
BIG LOVE,Frankie and Fran
July 20, 2022
“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them”
Hi friends and family,
I am writing this now from 3,000 ft in an Alaskan bush plane. We have officially returned from backpacking and are on our way to rafting. What a wild couple of days we have had. This group has come together so quick. It is truly one of the great joys of being a leader. We lead for the moments where we don’t have to. Where we can sit back and watch. They went into the Alaskan bush a team and came out a family. This group’s tolerance for adversity is truly incredible. These past couple days have seen low lows and extremely high highs. You have the choice of how you respond to the rain. They accepted and ran with it, and we are so proud of them.
Last we left y’all, the group was gearing up to go ice climbing. That morning, we woke up to a breakfast of milk, cereal, and fruit. Then, we met up with Jake and Ryan, our ice climbing guides, to head to the ice. After a short half mile walk, we laced up our crampons and hopped on the glacier. Tessa was first to take on the wall and she made it to the top! Sari confronted her fear of heights on the wall. We all hung out in our crazy creeks, watching and cheering each other on. We ate a lunch of peanut butter and jelly. Before leaving the ice, our guide, Shayden, showed Archie how to use an ice axe. We hiked back up to camp and enjoyed a lovely thanksgiving style dinner. Because of all the rain, we had the burn ban was lifted. We had our first backcountry fire of the summer. I can’t even tell you how excited everyone was! We roasted s’mores over the campfire and had Moonup. After a long day on the ice, we were ready for bed.
The next morning, we woke up to some heavy rain at camp. Morale was low till we ate hashbrowns, eggs, and bacon all huddled up in our rain gear. All of our tents, packs, and clothes were soaked. From then on, the main objective was to keep everything else dry and actively dry our gear. We ultimately decided to just hang out at camp for the day instead of hiking. We worked to dry some of our wet gear using our body heat and our sleeping bags. Mason and Guy were a huge help in making water runs so that we could have a steady stream of hot chocolate flowing to keep everyone warm. We ate veggie wraps for lunch and lounged around in our tents. We needed some serious rest after the past couple days. Deciding not to hike ended up making our trip so much better. Moisture management was certainly the right move after how wet everything got. We ate pesto pasta for dinner and that lifted morale for sure. It’s tough to brave the elements, but this group proved to be tougher. Alaska is no joke.
The next day it was finally time to hike again! We woke up and had a breakfast of granola and milk. We broke camp and headed across the glacier. After successfully crossing the ice, we stopped for a charcuterie lunch at the top of a hill that had a great view of the glacier. This was our original campsite we were supposed to go to the day before. That’s where we discovered Grey’s love for crystal light packets. To make up for our rain delay, we hiked two days of our itinerary in one — something no session had done before. It was quite a challenge… intermittent rain, a slick glacier, and a soggy boggy Donahoe basin. We made Moondance history. We hiked until the late evening before making it to camp. To celebrate our long day, we had a celebratory dinner of Mac and cheese. We had Moonup in a tent. 14 people packed into a 4-person tent. It honestly went better than you’d expect. A testament to how close this group has become.
The next day was another packs off kind of day. We slept in a little bit before having a couscous dish for breakfast paired with hot chocolate. We then split off into a few groups to do some adventuring around the basin. I think Finn spent the most time wandering around the camp. He was truly the most curious of the group. There were a few cool ridge lines that offered different views of the basin, as well as the Kennecott and Gates glaciers. Frankie played some tunes on the guitar while we read. The view was unmatched. Probably my favorite moment of the summer. We had veggie chili for dinner with tortilla chips and beans. Then we sampled a dessert buffet of cookies and chocolate and nestled in for the night. The next day would prove to be our hardest day yet.
We woke up to rain but a warm breakfast bagel. We had 6 miles to Kennecott, and it would be a wet and cold 6 miles. We started off absolutely flying. The group was moving so fast. Our guides were so impressed. We clocked in the fastest Donoho Basin crossing of any other trip this summer. We ate lunch overlooking the root glacier. The LODs (Mason and Julie Anne) and one of our guides scouted our route across the ice. Directly in front of us was a 500-foot steep cliff that we would have to descend. On our way over the first time, we climbed it in 30-40 mins. It took us all of 5 mins to get down. Gravity is pretty helpful. Sari, even though she wasn’t feeling well, was absolutely crushing. Her ability to overcome anything is truly amazing. We strapped our crampons on next to a bottomless moulin. A moulin is a hole in the ice that water flows hundreds of feet down into the glacier. A literal pit of death but also very beautiful. Keeping our distance, we circled around the hole and made our way out onto the ice. We hit a flat section and the wind was at our backs. We crossed again in record time.
Just before hopping off the glacier, one of our guides found a blue pool. A moulin that was completely filled with water. Ava would prove to be the bravest. We jumped in first and everyone followed. The water is a chilly .5 degrees above freezing. A true polar plunge. We all agreed that Grace and Peter had the best reaction. Our socks were so wet and cold they stuck to the ice. After everyone jumped, we quickly layered back up and made it off the last little bit of glacier. On the way there, Grayson and Tessa’s crampons broke, but that didn’t stop them from conquering the final bit of our glacier hike. We kept walking and laughed about how if that happened an hour earlier, we would have been in trouble. We were so glad it happened so close to the edge. The rest of the group unlatched their crampons and started up the last uphill toward the Kennecott flat.
We made it back to our original campsite and then pushed on to the old mining town. Once we hit the flats, Guy took a big group and led them through the last bit to our pickup point. There was a van waiting for us, and we all loaded up. After a quick trip, we were back in McCarthy. We set up camp and made our way into town. There, we told them that we would be eating at a restaurant called “The Potato”. Best restaurant in town. It was spectacular. We ate so much and, after five days in the backcountry, a burger never tasted so good! We headed back to camp full of food and full of life. Very thankful for our place in the world and proud of how far we have come.
We will check back in after rafting. We cannot wait to get on the river. Until then we hope you are all well. We miss you dearly.
Frankie and Fran
July 15, 2022
Hi friends and family,
Frankie and Fran here, tucked into our tents after the first day of backpacking. Our campsite is absolutely beautiful, giving us stunning views of a few sun rays hitting the Chugach mountain range. We look around and can see the root glacier, fireweed mountain, Mt Donahue, and Mt Blackburn is tucked away behind the clouds. It’s nice to relax here after a busy first few days of the trip. Our first morning, we rose early. We devoured a hot oatmeal breakfast, broke camp, and hit the road to Chitina. Our wonderful friends at SEAG picked us up and drove us on the 5 hour van ride. We mostly slept, but in between naps we had Frankie’s playlists to listen to. Once in Chitina, it was time for our first bush plane ride! Archie made an awesome copilot. Although a bit cloudy, we saw the entirety of our backpacking route from 5,000 feet above. We also got a glimpse of bonanza mine and the town of Kennecott. People ice climbing on the glacier looked like ants. Tomorrow we will be those ants to other people flying in the air! After landing, we made our way into Kennecott where we had the opportunity to tour an old copper mine. Mason and Peter were the first to look down the 14 story elevator shaft. Did you know this mine was the site for John Denver’s “Country Roads” music video? After the tour, it was time to set up camp and prep for backpacking. We enjoyed a wonderful spaghetti dinner before gathering for moon up. Our first Leaders of the Day (LODS), Grace and Finn led the moon up. They had a great skit and asked us all what we would want our last meal to be. Julie Anne said she would want Jaliscos, a Mexican restaurant from home. After a long day, everyone was super ready to get some zzzzs.
This morning, we woke up and broke camp pretty efficiently. Then our guides, Shayden and Clint, brought out delicious pancakes, bacon, and oranges. We happily munched for a little before learning how to pack our backpacking packs. We spent a couple hours finishing our trip prep. We were fitted for ice boots and crampons before hitting the trail. Grey fueled up for the trek with some crystal light in his glacier water. It was a beautiful day to hike, not too hot and a bit cloudy. We passed quite a few day hikers on the trail too! Once we arrived at camp, we set up tents, ate a few snacks, and drank a couple nalgenes. Everyone spent time exploring camp and taking in the views. Sari was a great help in assembling our dinner of pizza pockets. We hung out for a little while soaking up the chilly evening and playing music on the speaker. Tessa almost finished her first book of the trip! Ava and Grayson found a cool spot a little up hill that gave a great view of the glacier and of Donahue basin. Guy was eager to help our guides with the dishes. After all the camp chores were finished, it was time for the LODs, Ava and Mason to run moon up. Julie Anne and Grace gave shout outs for their Dad and Mom who have birthdays this week. We had a sweet lighthearted moon up before retiring to our tents. Now it’s time to get quality rest for our ice climbing adventure tomorrow. Talk to y’all again soon!
Frankie and Fran
July 12, 2022
Hello Midnight Sun Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Anchorage. 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!