July 2, 2022
Hey folks, as you read this message, we have sadly said farewell to all of our students for the summer. Out trip was full of some of the best memories that will surely last a lifetime! Will and I were so sad to see our group go, but we know they have created relationships with each other that will extend far beyond this trip. Our last few days as a group were spent whitewater rafting the Deschutes River in Oregon before making our way back up to Washington to camp one last night before hitting the airport.
Our first day following our completion of Monkeys face started with a tour down the Deschutes. We arrived at our incredibly remote but beautiful campsite on the riverbank meet our guides and learn about the trip ahead of us. To prepare us for our incredible rafting ahead of us, Claire and Miller cheffed up a delicious barbecue sandwich dinner. It was clear that this was our group’s favorite meals and left everyone feeling very full before we started our raft. The next morning, we woke up very early to head out on the water. For our first day, our guides had planned for us to raft 22 miles and camp on a remote riverbank. We had a safety briefing, and each split up into two rafts to embark on our river adventure! Complete with several class three rapids and some lazy river stretches, our first day allowed some of us to take a breather and enjoy ourselves. After the challenging climb on Monkey’s Face everyone needed some much-deserved down time. Others decided to use their lazy river stretches to conquer the raft by throwing all the other riders off! William and Smith fought hard side by side in the front of the raft to be the most dominant rider, but it was Caiden who surprised us all with a clean form takeover as he was riding the bull of the raft! While the chaos continued, Olivia, Hailey, and me used our down time so take a lovely nap on the back of the raft. We were serenaded by Caleb’s spectacular cover of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” the whole way as we floated down the river. For lunch, our guides provided us with delicious sandwiches on a beautiful riverbank. We even had the opportunity to go cliff jumping into the river at our lunch spot! Although it was shockingly cold, Claire and Camille stepped up at the opportunity and jumped right in. After over 20 miles of paddling, we set up camp along the river. Our campsite sat across from the railroad tracks, and we got to look out as the trains came strolling by! We ended our night with an amazing burrito that our guides cheffed up with assistance from our LODs Claire and Caleb. Before we hit the bag for bed, we had an exceptional moon up and got ready for another morning of padding.
Day 2 started off by us packing up camp, making some bagels, eating the sweetest strawberries, and getting back on the water. Our second day on the water was significantly more challenging and had many more rapids to conquer. We spent the day cruising down the river and facing every rapid we approached with strength and perseverance. Our group especially loved the boxcar rapid that was formed from a derailed boxcar almost fifty years ago! Hailey shined as she led the raft with motivational tunes to keep us paddling hard! On my raft, Sienna and Olivia took on the challenge of riding on the front of our raft through one of the toughest rapids, Mr. Snappy. Although they were completely drenched, they conquered this rapid with lots of laughter and impeccable “bull riding” form. After nearly seven class three rapids, we finally reached our end destination on the river. Our trip would not have been complete without one final hoorah with everyone jumping into the water. Caiden, William, Henry Smith, Claire, and Camille all took on the challenge to throw Will into the water. Although they were unsuccessful, they all gave it their best effort and somehow managed to get pushed in themselves. Once we landed on shore, we helped our guides unpack all the gear and enjoyed one last lunch together before heading back into Washington for the evening. To use some of our leftover food, we made a huge breakfast for dinner. Everyone took on a role of cooking up a different food item! William’s delicious bacon was definitely the crowd favorite.
For our final day together, we woke up bright and early to hit the road towards Olympia to get some housekeeping done before departure. We hit the car wash, then off to a local park to reflect on the great trip and great accomplishments. We spent the rest of our day sharing all our memories and laughing to all the good times! We then surprised the students with our final banquet! Which included heading to the thrift store to find our finest attire and grubbing at the perfect spot. Our dinner destination was a retro pizza parlor with huge pizzas and tons of pinball. We scarfed down some delicious pizza and headed back to our campsite to have one final moon up. This moon up was very sentimental for everyone as we reminisced on the incredible three weeks we spent together. We shared one
last final group hug and headed to bed early to get ready for the travel day ahead.
It’s been less than a day since we separated as a group and Will, and I already miss it! It was truly a pleasure to get to lead this group throughout the Pacific Northwest over the last few weeks. Will and I were blown away by these students’ maturity and growth as a team throughout the trip. We cannot thank you all enough for sharing your children with us this summer, we miss them already! We hope they continue to keep in touch with each other and us. Farewell for now!
With much love,
Frannie and Will
June 23, 2022
We are writing to our avid readers on our way to the next part of our incredible adventure in Oregon: rock climbing. We had a splendid time on the San Juan islands, enjoying ferry rides, ice cream, the biggest laughs, and most importantly some sea kayaking.
Before we kicked off our adventure on the water, we first had to travel from the Mainland to the San Juan Islands. To do this, we had to board our van and Uhaul onto a huge ferry that would take us across the beautiful water and land us in the heart of the San Juan Islands. We spent the ferry ride admiring the new scenery around us and even saw several porpoises! Upon our arrival to the islands, we headed to a local park to play some spike ball and eat lunch while we waited for our campsite to be ready. Caleb and William stole the show and impressed us all with their spike ball skills. While some kids spent the afternoon mastering spike ball, others decided to create an Eno village and spend the day relaxing in their hammocks. After an action-packed afternoon, we headed to our campsite to get prepared for our sea kayaking adventure. To end our day, Sienna and Henry Miller used their cooking skills to help us prepare a delicious cook-out filled with hot dogs and yummy fresh fruit.
Our first day on the water included meeting with our guides and going over the plan for our trip. We learned the basics of kayaking and how to effectively steer and control our boats. We then partnered up, packed our clothes into dry bags, and took the water by storm! We were all quickly impressed with the beauty of these waters and learned lots from our guides about the local population of orcas and seals. After a few minutes of paddling, we quickly realized that the current was not in our favor, which was going to make the paddle ahead quite challenging. Despite the tough conditions, all of our students powered through the oncoming waves to reach our campsite on Jones Island, in record time. Claire and Henry Smith impressed us on the water and led the group by a landslide. Once on Jones Island, we explored our new home for the next two nights. We set up camp in a beautiful field right next to the ocean and spent the evening walking around the island. Claire and Camille explored the beaches and found some cool crabs and shells along the way! After running around the islands, we scarfed down tacos and enjoyed a stunning sunset before bed.
Day two we had some remarkable exploration around new islands. We were peacefully awoken with a cool breeze and the smell of the ocean. After a fulfilling breakfast, we packed up our kayaks with snacks and headed out for our daily adventure. On our 2-mile trip (which some say felt like 20!) we circled Smith Island and got to see some incredible wildlife. Olivia pointed out a few river otters playing in the water, and Hailey was truly impressed by the sight of a bald eagle circling above. It was amazing to see these unique animals in their natural habitat. We then headed back to the island, to spend the afternoon hiking around. Our guides took us on a scenic trail that looped all the way around the island. Sienna and Caiden kept us all thoroughly entertained as we stretched our legs before the kayak back to the mainland the next day.
For our final day of sea kayaking, we had an early morning to ensure that we would be paddling with the current and not against it. After a delicious final breakfast with our guides, we set off back to the mainland. During our first hour of paddling, we had a difficult channel crossing that challenged our whole group. As we expected, our group rose to the occasion and motivated each other to complete the difficult paddle. We were especially grateful for William and Caleb’s singing during that challenging hour. A group favorite is the boys cover of Tyler Childer’s “Feathered Indians”. Once we arrived back on the mainland, we said our thank yous and goodbyes to our amazing guides and headed on our way back to camp for the evening. To celebrate our group’s accomplishments on the ocean, Will and I decided to surprise everyone with a well-deserved ice cream stop. Cookie dough seemed to be the crowd’s favorite! We concluded our evening with a great meal and a laughter filled moon up where we reminisced on the past few days.
Today, we are currently on the ferry back to the mainland where we will start our journey south to Oregon this afternoon. Will and I are so excited to start the rock-climbing section of our trip in a few days and explore a new state! We are so proud of this group and all the challenges they were able to overcome during sea kayaking. Cheers to Oregon and continuing our adventure!
Frances and Will
Olivia: hey guys i miss y’all having so much fun. I love everyone here. See y’all soon love y’all
William: hey y’all I I’m having a ton of fun and I love climbing. I have also made a lot of friends and learned a lot.
Caleb: Miss y’all a lot but I’m having the time of my life.
Henry Miller: Hey! I’m having a lot of fun. Can’t wait to tell you about it. See you soon!
Claire: Hey! Miss y’all so much can’t wait to see you and tell you about everything.Love you!
Caiden: Hey family! Moondance is great. I love everyone in the group¡ We have hiked and climbed a lot. I love to climb but hiking. Thank you for sending me¡ #3 weeks not long enough 143
Smith: I can’t wait to see you guys. I love all my new friends they are so fun. Having the best time.
Hailey: hey guys, I am having so much fun and everyone is so nice. We have hiked lots, sea kayaked, and today we climbed so,egging called monkeys face. Miss you!
Sienna Larren: hello mother I have been doing many activities including summiting peaks and not showering for 9days quite unbelievable. I have made many companions and friends from the south I might come back with an accent say hi to Joyce and I have slept in a tent every single night and the bathrooms are interesting to say the least.
Camille: hey guys! I miss you and the animals so much. It’s beautiful out here mom would die over how beautiful the plants are. I love my leaders and my friends.
June 19, 2022
PNW 1A reporting live here fresh off the trails of the North Cascades where we just completed our six-day backpacking section. We are extremely proud of this group and the many successes they have accomplished as a team over the past week. Throughout our first week together as a group we have hiked, cooked, swam, and shared enough laughs to last a lifetime. To kick off our trip we had a smooth first day at our first campsite where we learned the basics of camping and ate a delicious pizza meal. William impressed us all with his knowledge and ability to quickly assemble his tent and was a great help to the other students who had never camped before. After a filling meal, we gathered for our first Moonup together and headed to bed early to prepare for our busy day ahead.
Our first full day consisted of a travel day from outside of Seattle up into the North Cascades National Park where we spent the day prepping for our backpacking section. Caleb and Caiden impressed us all with their cooking skills as they cheffed up our first breakfast of sausage, eggs, and hash browns. Once we enjoyed our first breakfast together, we set off into North Cascades National Park to prep for our big adventure ahead. At the campsite, we learned how to efficiently pack our packs, purify our water, and many other important backpacking lessons. To close out the day, we had a dance party while we made quesadillas. Sienna quickly stole the show and showed us all her amazing music taste and dance moves. After our dinner dance party, we had another great Moonup and headed to bed early.
The next morning, we jumped right out of bed and headed to Ross Lake Dam trailhead to begin our first day of backpacking! Our first day started out strong with an amazing ferry ride to our first destination rainbow point. We then traversed alongside Ross Lake on a scenic hike to Devil’s Creek where we posted up for the first night. Henry Smith and Henry Miller used their combined knowledge and namesake to pick the most beautiful campsite along a ridge that gave a magnificent view of our future journey down the Ross Lake Trail and the peaks that surrounded it. Throughout the entire first day of hiking, Claire stood out as a very important leader for our group and was always there to help out any member of the group whenever they needed it.
Day two started off with a bang as we made some awesome breakfast sandwiches as we backpacked farther down the lake to Lightning Creek. Camille stepped up to her leadership role to help encourage and pump up the rest of our students throughout our trek. We spent some time along the beach as the water levels were low and ended our night bundled up beneath the sunset telling our favorite stories.
Our next two days at Lighting Creek consisted of getting ready and completing our biggest summit of the trip. In order to conquer Desolation peak, we not only hiked 13 miles, but we also had total elevation changes of over 8000 feet! Desolation peak offered a handful of challenges, but through the face of adversity, everyone showed their immense grit and determination to reach the top! Olivia was able to keep the group spirts high in the back of the pack while keeping the pace up. Once we reached the summit of the peak, we all enjoyed some well-deserved Hershey kisses and took in the breathtaking view in front of us. On our descent, we celebrated our accomplishment by singing our way down the mountain. Hailey took the reins on this activity by belting all of the words to Tyler Childers’s “Feathered Indians”. That night we closed out our long day by laying out on the beach and admiring the beautiful peaks around our campsite.
We spent our final day in the backcountry at Big Beaver trailhead relaxing and enjoying the quant campsite. Caiden helped us all revive our tired bodies by leading us in a group yoga session. We spent the day munching on some delicious pancakes with extra Reece’s Pieces to celebrate all of our accomplishments over the past week. As we gathered for our last Moonup, we reflected on all of the regress we had made as a group over our backpacking section. It was truly incredible for Will and me to see our group bond and learn how to work as an efficient team throughout the past week. We hiked back to the van this morning feeling like we had grown into one big family! Tonight, we are spending the evening prepping to head out into the San Juan Islands for our sea kayaking section. Will and I are incredibly proud of this group and the amazing job they did completing our very difficult backpacking section. We can’t wait to begin our adventures in the ocean tomorrow!
Frannie and Will
June 11, 2022
Hello Pacific Northwest Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Seattle. The trip is off to a great start and headed to their first campsite, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventures.
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!