July 27, 2022
If you’re reading this, that means you made it home safely. Here’s a recap from the leaders to reminisce!
Hello everybody! We are writing this update after we have all said our final farewells to our incredible group and spread our wings as we all head back to our homes across the country. We already miss this group of kids dearly and the indescribable joy they brought into our lives over the past three weeks! The past three weeks have been filled with countless belly laughs and contagious smiles as we made our way across Washington and Oregon, conquering every challenge in our path. It has been such a treat to lead this group of students and we will miss our little family.
Our final few days of the trip were some of our very best as we paddled our way down the Deschutes River. For our first day of rafting, woke up bright and early to ensure that we would be hitting the rapids before the crowds flooded the river. It was a beautiful morning as we glided down the river, admiring all of the breathtaking landscape around us. This part of the Deschutes River is especially beautiful as it is home to many herds of wild horses! We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these majestical animals on top of the mountains as they enjoyed their morning graze. The rest of the morning we spent paddling our hardest to cover as much group as possible before lunch. Michael and Jake did a great job of setting an efficient pace for our raft and helped us cruise through many miles as a team. Once we finished nearly ten of our twenty two daily miles, we pulled over on the riverbank to enjoy some well deserved lunch. During our lunch break, Prater and Rowan found themselves thoroughly entertained with the natural whirl pool on the riverbank. Before we knew it, they had inspired everyone to get in and we all spent the next hour letting the current take us in circles and circles while dying of laughter. Bram and Loring spent their lunch break exploring the riverbank and jumping off of a nearby riverside cliff with our guides! Once we had full bellies, we loaded up back into the boats and carried on down the river to our campsite. After a long day of paddling, we reached our camp and were blown away by the beautiful mountains and rocky cliffs surrounding us. We quickly helped our guides set up camp and spent the afternoon playing a competitive game of charades. Joie Beth’s acting was the fan favorite and left our whole group in tears after her hilarious movie impressions. Loring showed off his angler skills by teaching the group how to fly fish. Although he did not catch anything, he still had a great time! For dinner we enjoyed a lovely pasta dish and some dirt cake for dessert before getting ready for our moonup under the star covered sky. We stayed up a little later than normal this night admiring the sky above us and soaking in one of our last nights together. Addy and Rowan even taught us all about several constellations and it was very special to watch their eyes light up because of the beauty of this night sky.
Our second day on the river started off with a beautiful pastel colored sunrise that lit up the entire river valley. We woke up early and enjoyed some delicious bagels before hitting the river to head to our take out point. Our second day on the water was slightly more action packed than the first, as we had several class three rapids to conquer. Before we hit the big rapids, our students learned the basics of raft guiding and even got the chance to guide the raft for a few minutes themselves! Michael, Jake, and Loring proved themselves as strong paddlers and definitely have a future as raft guides. Before we exited the river it was only appropriate for our group to have a playful raft war and try to push each other off the rafts and into the freezing cold water. Hannah took the first tumble and Michael had a sneak attack on her and threw her in. She retaliated with another sneak attack on Jake and before we knew it, a battle had started! We spent the next hour cruising down several rapids and trying to dunk each other in the water all while having the time of our lives! Once we said a hard farewell to our raft guides, we headed back into Washington and got some much needed rest to prepare for our last day together.
Our final morning together was bittersweet as we were excited to get to spend another day together, but sad that this would be our last one. We had a slower morning as our group all took some much needed showers and enjoyed some delicious reece’s puffs, sausage, and eggs for breakfast. We spent our final day soaking in our last hours together as a little family and did some student paperwork to reflect on our adventure. For the evening, we headed to the local Goodwill in Olympia, Washington to pick out the most ridiculous outfits we could find to wear to our pizza banquet dinner. Once we were dressed in our finest attire, we headed to our final meal together and scarfed down some delicious pizza and ice cream. For our last evening, we shared a heartfelt and emotion moonup as we all cherished the final moments we had together. We headed to bed as early as possible to get some rest before we all headed our separate ways.
Looking back on our trip Will and I cannot express how proud we are of this crew for their growth and maturity as a team over the past three weeks. From summiting high alpine peaks in the North Cascades to completing a difficult traverse of Monkey’s Face in Smith Rock State Park, it’s safe to say we did it all. It has been a true honor and privilege to get to lead this group of students over the past few weeks and Will and I cannot thank you all enough for giving us the opportunity to get to know them. The relationships that they have made with one another and with us are irreplaceable and we are eternally grateful for their adventurous energy and compassion. We will never forget this group and hope that they will always look back on their time spent in the Pacific Northwest and remember all of the incredibly accomplishments they achieved. We hope they continue to be as adventurous and curious about the world around them as we have seen them be the past three weeks. Signing off for now, it has been a real treat.
Frannie and Will
July 25, 2022
Howdy avid readers! We are writing to you after saying farewell to our climbing base camp at Smith Rock State Park and a day that will stay in our memories for a lifetime. As we head toward the finish line of our trip for some sweet white water rafting, we laugh about how it only feels like yesterday that we stepped into the van for the very first time!
Day one of our trip to the great state of Oregon started with a heck of a van ride to the border of Washington and Oregon. While the van ride seemed like awhile we had no shortage of fun while jamming out in the van. Joey and Bram had some song request that made the whole van break out into a screaming harmony! Once we arrived at our next campsite, we set up camp, did some housekeeping, then decided to have some relaxing fun. The boys threw the frisbee around and did some fly fishing along the river while the girls played some card games around the table. Rowen was practically impossible to dethrone as the queen of spit, yet was challenged by all! After a few games we all decided to get our feet wet and g for a quick dip in the river. Then it was time for a bbq, we had a feast prepared by our expert Pit masters Addy and Michael. Then a dinner of watermelon, BBQ chicken sandwiches, lemonade, and baked beans was served! We wrapped up our evening with a Moonup before hitting the hay.
Day two kicked off with a bang as we ventured further into the depths of Oregon. We awoke to a sunny morning where we cheffed some sausage egg and cheese bagels before our next stop. When we arrived in Smith Rock we starred in awe at the beauty of the rock formations that surrounded the campsite. We explored around, practiced our climbing skills, and avoided the scorching heat of Smith Rock. As the sun left for the day, it left a colorful cascade of colors in the sky that left us speechless. Loring and Prater showcased their nimble feet and wildlife knowledge as they avoided a Bull snake along the path before bed! We then climbed into our tents as we prepared for day one of our climb the next morning.
Day three was full of excitement as we rolled up to our climbing guides to learn about our days itinerary. Our guides broke down some basic safety procedures, fitted us into our helmets, and fitted our feet into our tiny climbing shoes (just the way we like em). We then headed to our first few pitches along a rock formation named the pumpkin patch. Our wonderful guides then taught us how to tie our harnesses into the belay rope using a figure eight follow through. While our other students learned how to belay our climbers and how to ensure that our belayers have the climbers back at all times. We then faced the rock face on and all summited each and every crack of the wall! Hannah climbed up the first section of Pumpkin patch in the blink of an eye, while Loring impressively kept up with her on the belay every step of the way! After our day, we decided it was too hot to bake around camp and went to shell head falls to escape the heat. Steelhead gave us the chance to catch up on our tan, practice our strokes, and take a jump or two off some rocks into the river below! We stayed cool until dawn where it was decided a burger was the only solution to our hunger. After some good food at a great local stop, we returned to our temporary home at Smith Rock for a rest of champions.
Day four upped our skill level as we hiked deep into Smith rock to face our next series of challenges along a pitch known as Spider man. We each completed a series of pitch climbs that exhibited new challenges such as using a crack to climb the rock and using handholds the size of a pebble to push ourselves up the wall. Our guides saw that we had more left in the tank and after cleaning up our first few pitches, opened up a few more to really challenge our students. One of the climbs, was a very difficult summit that Jake, Michael, and Rowan took on with no hesitations. Our day was far from over as we headed into our town day in Bend, Oregon. While in Bend we enjoyed a series of food trucks, ice cream, and some local shopping spots that made us wish we could stay for more than a day. We then headed back home to a nacho taco dinner and got our mental preparation in for the biggest climb of all Monkeys face.
Day five was the biggest day of them all. The monkeys face, located in the middle of Smith Rock State park, requires a multi pitch climb that incorporates a combination of repelling, climbing, and traversing all into one terrific outing. In order to reach our challenge, we had to go through another obstacle know as Misery Ridge, a very steep mile hike that gave Desolation Peak a run for its money. We are proud to report that every single student made the trip into the monkeys mouth which includes a thirty foot traverse between two standing rocks and a 280 foot repel back down. We were so incredibly proud of each one of them as they conquered their fears in one heck of a challenge. Prater, who had her reservations at first, had a heck of a climb and made the monkeys face look like a jungle gym at a playground. All in all, it was an amazing way to end our climbing portion with every single member of our group proud of the work they put in.
We can’t put to words how much fun we’ve been having, but as always we try our best! Our group continues to grow closer each and every day and it is amazing how a group of strangers has become family in only two and a half weeks. We are so pumped to raft the Deschutes and will be seeing you all soon.
Will and Fran
Prater- hello mom and dad! Thank you for sending me on this amazing trip. I am having so much fun and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love you!
Joe Beth- hey guys! Miss y’all and can’t wait to see you soon. Thank you guys for sending me on this experience. Love you and give Bogey a kiss for me!
Hannah- hey guys see you soon! Thank you for letting me go on this trip, it’s been incredible. I have loved it all!
Addy- hi guys! Miss you! Thank you for sending me on this trip , my favorite part has been the backpacking. I can’t wait to see you all soon!
Rowan- hey guys! Thank you so much for sending me on this experience out in the Pacific Northwest. Love you guys!
Loring- hey parents! Thank you so much for letting me go on this trip. I’ve had the best experience of my life. I can’t wait to tell you all about it and see you soon!
Michael- hey guys! I’m having a blast on this trip! I’ve made some great new friends. Thank you so much for sending me on this trip. See you soon!
Bram- what’s up guys! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip, I’ve had the best time. Love you guys and see you soon!
Jake- hello mom and dad! I’ve had a great time on this trip. I have become a great outdoorsmen! Thank you for sending me on this excellent adventure. I’ll see you soon, love you!
July 19, 2022
Howdy folks! We are reporting live from Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands! We just successfully completed our sea kayaking section where we paddled nearly 15 miles. It was a new and exciting challenge for our group but everyone enjoyed their time on the water and the beautiful wildlife that is found on these unique islands.
We woke up early for our first day of kayaking to go meet our guides and learn how to pack our kayaks. We arrived at Rosch harbor and were pleasantly surprised by the quaint market and lively energy around this marina. We spent the morning exploring the docks and admiring all of the beautiful boats and local seafood stands. Jake and Bram especially loved the harbor and were fascinated with all of the huge fishing boats that continued to pull up to the docks. We also explored the markets around the harbor and enjoyed learning about the local jewelry makers and their pieces of art. Once we finished exploring the area, we split into our kayak groups and loaded up all of our dry sacks into our boats. Once all of our packing was complete, we were off into the sea! The first half of our paddle consisted of a beautiful ride down the coast of Spiden Island as we headed towards our final destination, Jones Island. Our guides, Rachel and Molly, told us about how Spiden Island is owned by the owner of Oakley sunglasses and is a popular hunting destination! We also learned about the local marine life in the area such as Orcas, harbor seals, and porpoises. We finished our paddle for the day with an intense channel crossing to reach Jones Island. Although it was challenging, Michael and Rowan crushed the channel crossing and showed off their strength as strong paddlers. Once we settled into camp we enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner and some yummy Oreo desserts. Addy discovered a new favorite combination, Oreos and peanut butter and we all were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed her discovery!
For our second day of kayaking we got to sleep in later than normal which was a well deserved treat. We scarfed down a delicious egg scramble before we hit the water for our next adventure. Today’s adventure consisted of a daily paddle to a private island two miles away where we planned to stop for lunch. Prater and Bram started us off strong by leading the pack across a Chanel crossing. During our paddle, we were greeted by some local harbor seals and beautiful views of Mount Baker! Once we arrived at the island, we were immediately drawn to the wildlife surrounding us. Hannah, Rowan, and Loring spent the afternoon lifting up rocks on the shore to find all kinds of unique marine species living under them. We got to see anemones, starfish, and lots of different kinds of kelp! It was really amazing to see the entire group so interested in discovering the wildlife around us. We enjoyed a peaceful lunch on a chi before heading back to Jones island for our afternoon activities. Our paddle back was difficult but Joie Beth and me (Frannie) made the paddle much more enjoyable by belting lots of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber for the group to enjoy. We spent the afternoon playing card games, especially our new favorite game Spit. Will and Rowan quickly demonstrated their skills and somehow managed to beat everyone in the group! After a delicious dinner we enjoyed some great s’mores by a campfire before heading to bed to rest up for our last day on the water.
We woke up on our third and final morning of sea kayaking feeling strong and confident about the progress we had made as paddlers. After another great breakfast, we filled up our waters, loaded the kayaks and started our journey back to Rosch harbor. We cruised along during our channel crossing even as we paddled against the currents and made it back in record time. Once we hit the harbor, we said farewell to our guides and headed off to our next campsite. Before we hit the bed we enjoyed a refreshing cone of local ice cream at the end of the pier. Once we finally got to the campsite we set up camp and headed over t the volleyball court. With Joie Beth on the whistle reffing an intense game of volleyball, it was the girls (and Will!) that prevailed as our champions. Lastly before our long night’s rest, we had our moonup and packed our bags for the long road trip to Oregon the next day. It’s hard to believe our trip is halfway over, and we can only hope the remaining portion will be half as fun as our time in Washington.
Goodbye for now!!!
~Will and Frannie
July 15, 2022
Hey there folks, checking in from the amazing and wonderful Pacific Northwest. We just finished our journey into the North Cascades, and it was quite the adventure indeed. We pushed ourselves to new heights and developed a strong bond through the challenging trails, amazing laughs, and delicious meals along the way.
Our first day started with a decent down to the water taxi from the trailhead to Ross lake. We boarded the boat and were shipped off all the way up to the end of the lake where we would begin our backpacking adventure. The girls were the first off and after arriving at Hozomeen, they took a hike to the Canadian border to check out the land that our northern neighbors have to offer. When they returned, we all regrouped and headed off to our first campsite. We started with some brief uphill but with our encouragement from our LODs, Loring and Rowan, we arrived at our campsite in record time. We were all in awe at the beauty of this campsite with its glistening lake and tall jagged peaks above it. W spent the afternoon learning useful backcountry skills and took a dip in the stunning lake around us. To top off our exciting first day we made a delicious BBQ chicken dinner, and all shared our favorite moments from the trail that day. We ended with a Moonup under the stars and got into our sleeping bags as we rested for the exciting day of travel ahead.
Our second day consisted of a much longer hike deep into the woods to reach our next campsite. We quickly packed up camp and headed off to Nightmare campsite guided by our LODs Addy and Bram. Our hike consisted of lots of riddles and singing. Joie Beth showed us her love for Taylor Swift and kept us occupied during our hike with lots of great singing! We stopped for lunch at a secluded campsite along the way where we enjoyed our favorite lunch, peanut butter and Nutella tortillas and trail mix. Once we arrived at camp, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing next to a beautiful river and continuing to bond as a group. Although this campsite did not have the same breathtaking views as Hozomeen, we still managed to make it an incredibly eventful afternoon filled with laughter. Addy and Bram helped me cook a delicious backcountry Jambalaya to fill us up after a long day of hiking. We all scarfed down our meal and worked together as a team to learn how to set up a bear hang for the evening. We spent the rest of our night playing riveting group games and finally got some well deserved rest.
Our next two days saw us travel from nightmare to lightning creek in order to prepare for our biggest challenge yet, the summit of Desolation Peak! Once we arrived to the campsite on the first day we cooked a hearty meal and headed to bed in advance for an early wake up call to start our half marathon round trip journey to the peak. Our morning started with a quick breakfast and filling our water bottles as we traversed along the ridge line to the base of Desolation. Once we arrived, we prepared our minds and our legs for as the near 4000 feet of elevation gain over the course of 4.7 miles. We began our ascent by trekking through the mossy forest and then into high alpine meadows. We stopped for a lunch break on our hike in a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers of every color. Once we scarfed down some pb&j tortillas, we continued to the summit. Our last mile was definitely the most challenging but Prater and Jake helped keep our group’s energy high. As we approached the peak, Jake, Michael, Bram, and Loring sprinted to the very top to meet ranger Jim who was stationed upon the very top of Desolation Peak. Ranger Jim showed us his ranger station and the equipment he uses to keep an eye out for wildfires. We then played in the snow and had an exciting snowball fight before sitting down to take in all that we accomplished! To celebrate our hike, Will and I surprised our group with some delicious and well deserved snickers and jolly ranchers. Hannah had the group smiling and showing each other thier now colorful tongues! We then headed back down to our campsite after some good treats to prepare a feast of pancakes for the group to devour!
Our final day woke up with our heads a little higher knowing that we had just successfully submitted the day before. We quickly packed up camp and said goodbye to our home for the last two days and headed to our last and final campsite. Our hike today was relatively flat and rode along the beautiful Ross lake so it was a very relaxing and day for our group filled with spectacular views. We arrived at our campsite in the early afternoon and spent the afternoon doing one of my favorite activities during backpacking, cooking all the extra food! The girls and myself spent the afternoon making a feast filled with popcorn, quesadillas, and leftover pasta. The boys spent their afternoon washing off in a nearby creek and exploring the campsite. We headed to bed with full bellies and feeling a little cleaner! For our final morning we hiked to a nearby dock where a water taxi picked us up and brought us back to the trailhead. We said our last goodbyes to the North Cascades and headed back to our van. To celebrate completing our first section of the trip, we went to a local restaurant in Marblemount, Washington where we devoured some delicious burgers. Will and I are incredibly proud of this group and all that they accomplished during our backpacking section. It was not easy, but everyone came together as a team to help each other out and we all had a blast along the way! Today we are headed to the San Juan Islands to begin our sea kayaking section of the trip and can’t wait to see what this next adventure has for our group. Until next time!
-Frannie and Will
July 7, 2022
Hello Pacific Northwest Families!
We heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Seattle. They have had a great first couple of days and are preparing for their backcountry section! 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!