July 1, 2022
Today we said goodbye to everyone in Seattle. It was a bittersweet moment as we are sad to see everyone go but so proud of how much they have accomplished over these last three weeks. It was a real full circle moment sitting in the same spot we began in, but this time as great friends. Our last days together were filled with laughs, silliness and lots of reminiscing.
After many early mornings in Smith Rock, we were treated to a late start on our last full day. Abe woke up early and helped us prepare breakfast before the rest of the students got up. Then it was time to head out and begin our end of trip duties. On the drive we played our final round of a music game where each student gets to choose one song from a category, and we all guess who picked what. Abby was the easiest to guess because she knew every word to her song and sang the whole thing! We stopped for lunch in a beautiful park in historic Olympia. The park had an awesome playground and after we were done eating, we played on the jungle gym. It was so fun to watch kids enjoy themselves on something so simple. It was really a testament to how much everyone has learned to live in the moment and enjoy what’s around them. After lunch we treated the kids to an ice cream stop at a local shop. The place sold custard too and it was so delicious. Nolte tried out the flavor of the day – lemon custard with a blueberry swirl. It was the best choice by far. Then we headed to the thrift store to pick out our outfits for the banquet. Ayla and some of the other girls picked out our outfits but Sebastian and Alex took the cake for most outrageous clothes.
Before we could head to dinner, we had to clean and organize all of the equipment we’ve been using on the trip. The kids were a huge help in getting our van and uhaul in great shape. Emma took charge of cleaning out the van while Channing and Ann Reid channeled their love for organization into the uhaul. We finished up in record time and headed to our last campsite to shower and get ready for banquet.
For dinner we went to a sandwich and fish place in Olympia. Our group was truly a sight to see in our new outfits, and our waitress at the restaurant loved it! During dinner we gave out paper plate awards as a way to remember some of the funny things that the students have done over the course of the trip. Emma received “the walking dead” award because of how many times she swore she was dying when hiking uphill.
After dinner we had a brief photo shoot outside and then headed back to camp for our final moonup. During moonup we reflected on what we would miss most about the trip and what we’ve learned that we want to implement in our lives back at home. As a leader it was very moving to hear what everyone has gained from this experience. After we wrapped up moonup, we sat around talking and laughing about our favorite moments from the trip. Time has really flown by these past few weeks. We can’t believe it’s already come to an end, but we are grateful for the time we’ve gotten to spend together.
Rachel and Drew
June 30, 2022
Oh wow, this trip just keeps getting better and better! We just finished up three action packed days at Smith Rock State Park. These kids blew us away with their perseverance and bravery. Our first day in Oregon was a hot one and we decided to cool off in the air conditioning with a local food stop. We tried out a Mexican restaurant that advertised the best tacos in town, and it was great! After dinner we had a Moonup led by Ann Reid and Alex where the kids shared something that they have been struggling with lately. We were really impressed by their willingness to open up.
On our first morning of climbing, we met with our guides to get fitted for climbing shoes and harnesses and to go over some safety precautions for the next few days. Then we hiked down to our climbing routes. Our climbing guides explained the difficulty of the routes on a “salsa meter”. Our first three routes were rated mild, medium, and spicy. Ayla and Sebastian were the only students to complete our first spicy route! After we wrapped up climbing for the day, we took the kids to Steelhead Falls, a beautiful waterfall with awesome places to cliff jump and swim. It was the perfect way to escape the desert heat, and everyone had a blast. For dinner Abe and Nolte helped prepare some chicken gyros and a Greek salad. Everyone agreed that it was both refreshing and delicious.
Day two of climbing brought more challenging routes and a chance to practice our repelling skills before we tried out Monkey’s Face the next day. Abby had some trouble at the beginning of the day’s most challenging route but stuck with it and made it all the way to the top! After a few hours of climbing, we had lunch under a big, old ponderosa tree and then headed to our repel spot. The guides set everything up, walked us through the safety protocol and then we all got the opportunity to repel off a cliff in the park. After we completed that, we headed to Bend, OR to explore. It was a blast getting to see what Bend has to offer. Then we headed back to camp for dinner, moonup and to prepare for our big day.
The next morning, we woke up extra early to meet our guides at Monkey Face. In order to get up there you have to hike the aptly named Misery Ridge Trail. Channing led the group up and kept a positive attitude to get everyone through it.
Once we got to the top, we could see the challenge that was ahead of us. Our climb of Monkeys Face involved a traverse to the mouth of the monkey, a climb up the side of the face, and then a 180 ft repel. It is a daunting task, but our kids gave it their all. Emma stood out in particular. She was our second student to go and had an awesome attitude throughout the whole experience. Despite having some trouble initially, she persevered through the toughest part of the climb and made it all the way to the top. After everyone had a chance to give monkeys face a try, we headed back to Washington for the last few days of our trip where we had a celebratory cookout and Oreo cake desert. We are so proud of these kids and everything they’ve accomplished this trip, but so sad that it’s coming to an end. We can’t wait to see what these last two days have in store for us!
Bye for now,
Rachel and Drew
June 27, 2022
Greetings from Oregon! We just got off the Deschutes River and are heading towards the final section of our trip. We can’t believe how fast the trip has flown by. Our time on the Deschutes began when we met our guides and helped them pump the rafts and load them for our adventure. After we finished helping them, we had another round of pizza bagels (a group favorite) prepared by Sebastian, Emma, and Ann Reid. The kids have become such good chefs that we barely had to help at all. After dinner we had an awesome moonup where we took turns hyping each other up. Everyone in the group has gotten so close that it’s wild to think that most of us only met two weeks ago.
The next morning, we met the guides by the river for breakfast and a safety talk before heading out on the rafts. The Deschutes River is a class three river, so we mostly hit class two and three rapids on our trip. Although the air gets really hot in the area, the river stays icy cold. It’s a great way to escape the desert heat. Alex was the first in our group to brave the cold water and take a dip. Before our first class three rapid we pulled off on the riverbank and our guides showed us how to scout out a rapid. Nolte guessed the correct route on his first try! After crossing through the rapid we stopped at a great place for lunch with a cool cliff jumping spot. Abby was scared to jump, but with some encouragement faced her fears! After lunch we hit a few more rapids and then spent the rest of the day floating down the flat water. The landscape in the areas is so unique, there was plenty for us to admire during our float.
Once we got to camp and got set up, everyone used our downtime to relax in the shade. Abe and Channing helped our guides prepare an amazing pasta dish with garlic bread and salad to go with. Everyone agreed it was one of the best meals of the trip. Our guides joined us for moonup, and we all shared a memory of our favorite birthday. Because there was no chance of rain and so little light pollution that most of the group chose to sleep under the stars. The night sky was beautiful, and you could even see the Milky Way!
Our next morning started early, and we hit the river for the last 14 miles of our trip. On the first rapid we encountered the guides gave us an opportunity to “ride the bull” which is when you sit on the front of the raft holding on to the rope through the rapid. Ayla and a few of the other girls were the first to give it a try! After playing some games on the flat water we geared up for our final class three rapids. First was “Mr. Snappy” a tricky rapid to maneuver but everyone handled it well and managed to stay in the boat. After we finished all the rapids a bit of a war broke out that ended with everyone in the water. It was the best way to finish our time on the river. Now we are heading to our final section and couldn’t be more excited to conquer monkeys face.
Bye for now!
Rachel and Drew
Channing- thank you so much for giving me this gift
Abby- thank you so much for this glorious once in a lifetime experience!
Ayla- thank you so much for providing this awesome trip! I appreciate you guys so much!
Ann Reid – thank you so much for this once in a lifetime opportunity
Emma- thank you so much for letting me go on this amazing trip and these amazing experiences and for taking care of my fish!
Abe- thanks for letting me go on this trip!
Sebastian- thanks for letting me come!
Alex- thanks for sending me on this life changing adventure mom and dad!
Nolte – thank you for this trip! It’s been so much fun!
June 23, 2022
Out of the woods!
Today we finished up our backpacking section! After six days in the breath-taking North Cascades National Park, we are finally back in civilization. Our backpacking adventure was filled with amazing views, yummy meals, and lots of laughter. On the first day we hiked down to Ross Lake where a water taxi took us across the lake to our drop off point. During the boat ride we got our first glimpse at the snowcapped mountains that would surround us for the next week. Then we tested out our trail legs as we embarked on our first hike of the trip.
Sebastian kept the group busy with a game of 20 questions during the hike, something that would become a trend over the next few we days. Once everyone had their tents set up, Ayla, Emma and Abe made everyone pizza bagels for dinner. They were extra delicious after our hike. That night we had moonup at our coolest spot yet, since our first camp site looked over the lake and gave a great view of the mountains. Ann Reid made everyone laugh super hard with a hilarious story and we spent the rest of moonup laughing because of her. It was an awesome way to end our first day in the back country.
The next day brought sunshine, nice temperatures, and another great hike. Our LODs, Abby and Alex, impressed us with their ability to take on responsibility all day. They oversaw purifying everyone’s water, carrying lunch and dividing up group gear, and they crushed it! We arrived at our campsite with enough time for a polar plunge in the lake. It was cold but very refreshing. That night we shared some jambalaya and had moonup right by the lake.
The next morning, we surprised the kids by making moon mash, a moondance specialty of pancake mix, fruit, peanut butter, and Nutella. It was a sweet way to start our day. Because we had two days at the same campsite, we got to explore the area on a day hike. Everyone packed a day pack and headed up the mountain. The first two miles of the hike brought difficult switchbacks, but the group handled it with grace. After coming down the mountain the group went out by the lake to relax. The group was starting to really bond! That night we had a more serious moonup and everyone was able to open up and be vulnerable. It was beautiful to see and was made even better by the gorgeous scenery.
On day four of our expedition, we headed back to our original campsite, and it felt like returning home. Before we left, Nolte helped us make pancakes for the group. He continues to impress us with his excellent expedition behavior! During the hike, Channing and some of the other girls passed the time by playing STAR on the trail, a fun game where you try to guess different movies. For dinner that night we had loaded grits and Abe helped the clean crew by finishing the leftovers!
For our last full day in the backcountry, we decided to push the kids and see how far we could make it up Devils Dome. We started our hike around 8:30 am and did not return to camp until nearly 6 pm that evening. The kids really showed us their strength and perseverance. We ended up gaining over 4000 ft in elevation, and the view from up there was by far the best one of the trips so far. It makes sense why they call the North Cascades the Alps of the Americas! For dinner we had a backcountry thanksgiving meal after our long day. Our final backcountry moonup took place in the same spot as our first one and it really felt like a full circle moment. The group had accomplished so much, and it was nice to reminisce on it together.
On our final morning we completed our hike back to the water taxi in about half the time it took the first day. It was really a testament to how far the group has come. After a final back country lunch, we hiked our last mile and practically ran back to the van. Once we were back at the campsite, we took some much needed showers. We surprised the kids with dinner at a local burger joint and it was the perfect way to round out our adventure. Backpacking has brought our group even closer together and showed everyone that they can do whatever they put their mind to. We can’t wait to see what else this group can do!
Bye for now!
Rachel and Drew
Channing- happy birthday mom!!! Tell Charlie I say hi when he gets home!
Ann Reid – miss you guys!! And I miss Sam! How is coco??
Abby – I miss y’all! And I miss Benny!!
Ayla- miss you guys and Gracie!!
Sebastian – I miss you guys! and Maggie! Make sure dad reads this
Alex- miss you guys so much! See y’all in a week
Abe- miss you so much! How is Zach at theater? See you soon
Nolte – miss y’all so much! See you in a week! Happy Father’s Day dad!
Emma – hi mama! hi papa! love you guys! how’s Ryder?
June 16, 2022
Hey PNW 1B friends and families!
Today marks the end of the first section of our trip and tomorrow we take the ferry back to the mainland to start backpacking! The kids have been awesome and have worked well as a group from the start. We kicked off night one with some pizza and games. Then we had our very first Moonup where Abe and Ann Reid were selected as our first leaders of the day. That night everyone sat around the picnic table telling stories. The kids were laughing so much that it was hard to believe that everyone had just met.
Our first full day started with a ferry ride to the San Juan Islands. The boat had great views of the ocean and the islands, and we even got to see a family of orcas surface near our boat! It was a great way to kick off the trip. Once we got to the island, we had the whole day to explore our new home. For lunch, we stopped at a local park and Emma and Abby helped prepare grilled cheeses for everyone. After that, we settled into our campsite on a beautiful lake, and everyone had a chance to explore the grounds. For dinner Alex, Nolte and Ayla helped us prepare delicious burrito bowls. Then we had a nice moonup where the group discussed where they would like to be in 5-10 years. During a post-moonup game of two truths and a lie, Sebastian had the whole group belly laughing with his answers.
The next day brought strong winds and currents which disrupted our sea kayaking plans. Instead, our awesome guides took us to some local spots on the island. We enjoyed a day hike at the islands’ point where we stopped for lunch on the stony beaches. Everyone was in great spirits during the hike, and it got us really excited about backpacking.
The next morning, we kicked off Abby’s birthday celebration with a delicious breakfast scramble provided by our guides. Fortunately, the weather was on our side, and we were able to embark on our sea kayaking expedition. We kayaked around five miles in total with one challenging channel crossing. The guides were very impressed with the kids’ strength and endurance during the paddling. Channing led the way at the helm of the triple kayak for most of the time. Once we landed at our destination, we ate some specialty sandwiches. There was even an option to make PB&Js with locally made jelly! Before dinner, the group played a round of fishbowl, a game that is quickly becoming a favorite around here, and then we enjoyed some loaded Mac and Cheese. Unbeknownst to the kids, the leaders and guides snuck a cake onto the kayaks to celebrate Abby’s birthday which we surprised them with for dessert. It was a big hit!
Our last day of kayaking was a long but fulfilling one. The current worked against us at some points, but everyone handled it like a champ. Emma distracted everyone with a fun riddle and Ann Reid kept people motivated. We also got to see some cool wildlife. A seal came within three feet of Ayla, and then, a little while later, the whole group got to see another seal lounging on the rocks as we rode by. After lunch, on the docks the leaders rewarded everyone’s hard work with some doughnuts. We spent the rest of the day exploring some historical sites on the island. We are sad to say goodbye to our little island but psyched for what else the Pacific Northwest has to offer!
Bye for now!
Rachel and Drew
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 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!