Trip Finder

Trip Updates

Northern Lights 2 B • July 5-July 25, 2022

Checking in from Alaska!

July 24, 2022

Come on in, the water’s fine!

The final days of our trip saw our crew return to Nova for an awesome overnight whitewater adventure on the Matanuska River. This exhilarating ride down the river was an absolute blast and had everyone smiling, laughing, and thankful for one last grand adventure in the Last Frontier.

The day before we got on the river, we first celebrated Katherine’s birthday. With a plethora of birthday decorations—including a birthday girl sash and party hats— we started the morning with funfetti pancakes and ended it with birthday cake, with plenty of games of mafia and cards played in between! The highlight of the celebrations came from Patrick, who entertained all of us with an absolutely hilarious birthday dance, which he learned from his spring job at Chuck E. Cheese. The next day, we got up bright and early and got out on the Matanuska River with our Nova guides John, Becca, and Coffee. After receiving a safety talk in the morning, getting suited up with dry suits, and eating a delicious breakfast whipped up by Mitch, we got out on the river. Liv was ready to go from the start; sitting at the front of her boat with her natural can-do attitude, she on the class three and four rapids with a smile on her face. After we got to a bit smoother part of the river, Will and Madeleine jumped at the opportunity to “ride the Bull”, sitting on the absolute front of their boats and really feeling the motion of the boat as it went over lower class rapids, an absolute thrill ride for both of them! To cap off this day’s activities, Lukas did a front flip off his boat that impressed everyone in the group, including our guides. Once we arrived at camp, Cate gathered up a bunch of wood and got a fire going— even though all the wood was wet— and she had some really insightful answers at our Moonup, which we had around the fire.

On our last full day, we packed up camp, had a delicious breakfast, and got back on the river for our final paddle. Caroline kept her whole boat entertained and smiling with some hilarious stories and made the time fly by. Maggie brought some international flair to her boat, and had everyone singing the opening to the Chinese National anthem, which she sings each morning at school in Hong Kong. Tristan had his boat positively motivated with upbeat encouragement, and also had everyone involved in some deep boat conversations as we paddled along.

As our time in Alaska comes to an end, this group has bonded in ways only a Moondance trip can bring about. The laughs were endless and the growth was tremendous. Mitch, Ruth, and I could not be more proud of all that this group has accomplished and all of the adversity they have overcome. It will be with teary eyes that we say our “see you laters” (not goodbyes) tomorrow evening!

With love,

Northern Lights 2B

Perseverance Learned in the Mountains!

July 21, 2022

Hi to all of those following along!


These past seven days in the Talkeetna Mountains have taught this group grit, perseverance, the ability to weather the storms, and most importantly how to laugh and learn from one another. With a lot of ground covered, comes a longer trip update too. So, we will take it day by day to fill you all in on the action.


On the first day, we set out from the trailhead, our packs the heaviest they would be all of the backpacking trip. We were sure to snap a ‘before’ photo of everyone and then we set off into the Alaskan wilderness. As one of the LODs, Madeleine took the lead in the front of the pack. She fearlessly led the group up the steep ascents. It was fascinating to watch the fir trees disappear and the peaks appear. At our first campsite, we made some pad thai and sat by the lake we all swore we would polar plunge into the next morning.


And sure enough, we plunged the next morning! It was awesome to see everyone run into the water, laughing and letting out some “Wow! That’s cold water” exclaims. We packed up our packs after some warm oatmeal and tea and headed up the steep climb the group would later name, “Blueberry Hill.” The group crushed the climb thanks to the steady pace set by Liv in the front of the pack. After lunch on the trail, we made it to camp shortly after and set up tents. The campsite reminded us all of Lord of the Rings or a fairy garden with the grassy patches of moss and rolling hills. That night for dinner, Maggie and Liv helped us make BBQ chicken quesadillas. They were a hit. After lots of laughs, Moonup, and hot chocolate, we were off to bed to prepare for our next day of hiking.


We practically woke up in a cloud the next day. It was neat to see the clouds block the surrounding peaks entirely. From our campsite, we had some up and down along grassy, moss-covered tundra patches. Maggie was a steady hiker throughout the day and kept us all moving. That was until we came across fossils Mitch spotted during our first session. Will and Cate found some particularly cool fossils. After that, we had one final ascent up the mountain to the first saddle. We made it in record time and just in time before it started raining even more. After the rain paused, we made some mac and cheese with some barbecue chicken. This crew really likes Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce if you couldn’t tell! That night, a group of us went up to the peak not too far away for a nighttime reflection. They came back and told the rest of us about the view.


While we couldn’t see much of the view through the rainstorm, the next morning, we were greeted with sunshine and warmer weather. Everyone was definitely excited to see some sunshine! We began our day with some downhill and then were met with many rocks going up to the next saddle. It was awesome to see Katherine get better each day with the steep rocky sections—her confidence growing with each step. Cate reminded us to all look around at our beautiful surroundings. Her ability to read the terrain and take in her surroundings is admirable. At the top of the second saddle, Caroline got to the top with enough time to turn around and cheer on the rest of the group. She is always quick to make us laugh and even faster at picking others up when they’re down. Patrick and Cate took charge as LODs on our fourth day. The two of them together helped to spot tons of wildlife, making this day even more exciting. It was awesome to see them encourage the group to keep going past our initial-planned stopping point. In that moment, the group’s energy was inspiring. The campsite that night was next to a flowing river that soothed us all to sleep after some taco-rice bowls.


On day five, one of our longer days, Tristan was consistently asking others in the group how he could help them. And when they were struggling, he always had a story and a smile to ease their nerves. We had a good bit of up and down, side-ways stepping, and diagonal walking all to get to the ATV trail. Everyone was a trooper throughout her long day. It is refreshing to be around such a group of enthusiastic teenagers. We talked the group through proper river crossing techniques and protocol before our first of many crossings. By the end of the day, they had the technique down! That night, with some wet socks, we settled into a cool campsite and enjoyed pesto pasta by the river.


Our last full day of backpacking included more river crossings with stunning mountains around us. The rain set in just in time for us to traverse through the boggy, mud puddles and ATV trails. Lukas had us all laughing and hollering as he splashed in the bog. Lukas’ joy for the little things in life and never taking himself too seriously is contagious; so contagious that Will and Tristan hopped in soon after. That night, at our campsite on top of hill with a view of the Chugach Mountains, Will brought us all back to the core of why we do what we do in the backcountry with the quotation he shared. (I’ll paste it below so you all can enjoy it too.) Will has been great about keeping everyone grounded with his calm demeanor and love for the outdoors.


We hiked out today and unpacked back at our basecamp. We enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant in Glacier View and might have even snuck in some glacier cookies (a warm cookie with fudge swirl ice cream on top.)


We could not be more proud of how this group crushed what we estimate was about 50 miles in the Talkeetna Mountains with heavy packs and steep uphill climbs. They kept their composure and most of all persevered with whatever weather, hill, or mountain came their way. It’s that kind of perseverance that makes you feel like you can do anything you put your mind to can truly only be learned in a backcountry setting like this.


The day after tomorrow, we will set off on our last adventure together: whitewater rafting. Thanks for bearing with me on a longer trip update—too many great things happened to leave anything out.


Ruth, Chris, and Mitch

Ice Ice Baby!

July 13, 2022

Hey NLT 2B followers,

The summer tour of Alaska continued as we pulled into Nova, our guiding company that took us out on the Matanuska Glacier, and our home away from home during the rest of this session. As Ruth and I pulled in with our freshly restocked van full of delicious snacks and meals, we were greeted with blue skies, smiling faces, and a game of Mafia— the group’s favorite campsite pastime so far on the trip. We could sense that next two days were about to be epic!

Walking out on to the glacier on our first day, everyone’s eyes lit up. After seeing them from a distance over the past few days, actually walking on one and being so up close and personal was a special experience for this group. Mitch, Ruth and I could see it on everyone’s faces how special this moment was, but we could also hear it in their voices! Madeline has hilariously inspired our crew to adopt a heavy usage of Canadian accents, and we heard many different interesting phrases excitedly tossed out as we walked over the glacier, including “the worst day on the ice is better than the best day on land, eh?” and “Oh buddy would you just look at all this blue ice, a real beauty eh?” Needless to say, this group is bonding in special ways that only Moondance trips can create! As we started climbing, Tristan showed off his enthusiasm to the rest of the group, moving so fast up the ice wall that our guides could barely keep up! He really inspired the rest of the group to step outside of their comfort zones. This included Katherine, who admittedly has a fear of heights. She did not let this fear overcome her, but rather conquered her fear and crushed the multiple routes of climbing during both days, it was so special to see! As we walked off the glacier, Caroline had us all bent over double in laughing attacks after a hilarious story she shared with the crew; she is genuinely one of the funniest girls I have met, and keeps the group’s spirits up at all times with her comedy and positive energy, this session would not be the same without her.

Our second day of ice climbing includes a longer hike on the glacier to get to the climbing section. During the hike, Lukas, Mitch and I had some incredible and authentic conversations that made the hike feel a lot shorter. He has embraced genuine conversation with others throughout this trip and always seeks to truly get to know the other members of the group, a special characteristic of his that inspires all of us leaders. Once we arrived at the climbing section, there were three routes set up of varying difficulty. Will quickly stepped up to volunteer as the first person to attempt the hard route, and he absolutely crushed it! Even the guides were impressed with how well he did. This feat motivated everyone else and got the positive energy flowing throughout the group. Liv struggled a bit during her first attempt on this day, but almost immediately went back on the wall to conquer her fears and got the route done with a smile on her face. Seeing her perseverance and joy after conquering this challenge might have been the highlight of my day! The climbing continued on for hours; the students successfully attempted different routes multiple times. I loved watching Maggie’s quiet confidence as she almost nonchalantly knocked out three routes with ease, a casual smile on her face the whole time. Cate looked like she had been ice climbing for years. She pushed herself throughout the day, finishing her last route on the hard section. She was the only girl in the group to attempt and accomplish this route, an inspiring moment to say the least! Patrick defined what this whole group has been all about over the past week. He started the day out with nerves about climbing any of the routes, but by the end of the day he had completely stepped out of his comfort zone, successfully accomplishing all three routes—including the hard section multiple times.

Overall, I could not be prouder of this entire group of students; we have a truly special crew in this section. Everyone genuinely encourages each other, pushes themselves beyond what they think is possible, and faces each challenge with a smile on their face. Ruth, Mitch and I are so excited for the days to come, especially the upcoming backpacking section.

Signing off for now with love,

Chris, Ruth, Mitch and all of Northern Lights B!


Glaciers galore & more!

July 12, 2022

Hi Families, friends, and those following along,

Our adventure began in the Anchorage airport when 10 students—6 girls and 4 boys—met each other. The group was quick to make connections and bond over music, movies, and TV shows they all liked. But it became most clear that night during our first Moonup, a time to reflect on the day and elicit deeper conversations, that each one of them came on this trip for a reason bigger than just for the fun adventure. Chris, Mitch, and I have truly loved the first week getting know everyone and have been so impressed with their positivity, resilience, and ability to connect with others beyond the surface-level. The real adventure began when we hopped on our bus to travel to Whittier. Although our sea kayaking plans changed the beginning of our itinerary, we were blown away by everyone’s eagerness to try new activities. We had the chance to explore Whittier, the town only accessible by a 2.5 mile tunnel, which surrounds Prince William Sound. In one neat, local shop, everyone bought matching bracelets with fossils and beads made from natural materials. While we made sandwiches, Will led the charge on skipping rocks into the sound. I’m pretty sure the record to beat is seven skips. We played basketball and several games of “knock-out” from the free throw line after our rock skipping. Patrick took the lead in most games on the court. After setting up camp and tents, with the help of Caroline and Madeleine, we made salmon stir fry with lots of veggies. Beside our campsite, we were able to walk alongside the river that was glacially fed and admire the mountains around us.

On the third day, we took a boat to tour the surrounding glaciers and Blackstone Bay. The captain and crew were so impressed at the group’s excitement to stand on the deck even during the rainy day. We were able to see Beloitte Glacier, Blackstone Glacier, and even witness some glacier calving. Calving is when ice breaks off from the glacier into the water. It was astonishing and somewhat mesmerizing to watch. We also saw many otters chilling in the water. Liv was great at spotting the otters. I’m convinced they even put on a show for us! As part of the glacier tour, we stopped on a rocky beach and skipped more rocks. Cate even spotted a skeleton that most people would call a sea otter, but she had the creative idea to prank the group that it was a “dragondeer.” She even came up with a whole origin story that had the group fooled for quite a while. After some yummy sandwiches onboard, we started to head back to shore. Back in Whittier, we regrouped and got some more layers to set off on our day hike on Portage Pass trail. On the way to the hike, we even spotted a bald eagle. Although it was cloudy, it was so much fun to hike up to the view and brave the rain (plus, we got to break in those hiking boots even more for backpacking!) That night, we introduced the game “mafia,” a detective group game, that had us all captivated so long that we had to make ourselves stop to make dinner. Liv and Lukas took the lead on chopping peppers and onions for our rice-taco bowls. After Moonup, we were off to bed in preparation for our next day’s activities.

On day four, Mitch made a delicious sausage, hash-brown scramble with some pancakes too. We then talked through the plan for the day: a train ride to Spencer Glacier, but not without first getting outfitted with some Helly Hansen rain bibs and jackets. The Alaska railroad was a great experience. We especially loved meeting the conductor, Vern; so much so that we all got a picture with him after the train ride. We all appreciated the rain coverage the train provided and being able to see the surrounding landscape. Katherine even spotted a moose from the train. Once we arrived at our stop, we got off and started to explore Chugach National Forest for our raft tour of Spencer Glacier. Although this glacier didn’t calve like Beloitte, the colors and features made it unique. Patrick and Caroline were quick to try out paddling with the oars around Spencer Lake. They even got the hang of it by the end of the trip. Will was a pro by the end too. Madeleine kept us all laughing in my raft and was sure to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. The adventure, although it wasn’t exactly what we had planned initially, was filled with glaciers and even more time getting to know each other. For dinner, we stopped at a local seafood shack for shrimp and fish and chips baskets—a nice break from the rain. We played more mafia that night and closed the day with a great Moonup. On the fifth day, ready for a break from the rain, we rode in style from Whittier to Denali State Park in a white limo. The group absolutely loved the limo ride and got a kick out of it. Lukas was sure to have a great queue of songs lined up for the ride, keeping us all singing. Once we made it to our campsite, we set up tents and made mac and cheese for lunch at a nearby pavilion. We were able to read about the history of Denali and the surrounding flora and fauna. When the sun came out that afternoon, our spirits were lifted. Caroline and Maggie made quinoa, sweet potato Buddha bowls for dinner. Everyone loved it! That night, Liv and Will posed the question to the group asking about the most challenging thing everyone had overcome. Due to everyone’s maturity and respect for others, it was incredible to hear about the resilience this group has for challenges that arise.

We woke up on day six, eager to hike in Denali State Park on the Curry Ridge Loop. Tristan and Maggie led the way on the 6-mile loop. We even spotted some moose tracks, so we were sure to be on high alert for wildlife. The hike was beautiful, and we had great conversations the entire way up and down. Although it was too cloudy to see Denali, the surrounding ranges impressed us too. With PB&J tortillas at the top, we got the fuel we needed to go back down. We headed off to our next campsite in preparation for ice climbing the next two days. That night, we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner and all shared during Moonup about our favorite holiday memory.

We are so excited to get to ice climbing on day 7 and 8 on the Matanuska Glacier. Stay tuned for more updates on all of our adventures. Thanks for following along!

Ruth, Chris, and Mitch


Arrived in Anchorage!

July 7, 2022

Hello Northern Lights Families!

We heard from our leaders late last night 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!

-Moondance HQ


  • Caroline
  • Cate
  • Katherine
  • Lukas
  • Madeleine
  • Maggie
  • Olivia
  • Patrick
  • Tristan
  • William