July 27, 2022
If you are reading this, that means you made it home safely! Here is a final update from the group last night!
Well our last student is in the air and we can’t believe that the summer has come to an end. Our last two days were filled with laughs, reflection and lots of hard goodbyes. After finishing Monkey Face we began our trek back up to Seattle, but not before rewarding the kids with a surprise pizza party at a local restaurant. Everyone was exhausted and hungry after our difficult morning and the three pizzas and cinnamon twists were gone in no time! Then we headed back to the van where most of the kids took a well deserved nap. When we arrived at the campsite we started cooking our last dinner on our beloved Coleman stove. We decided to go all out and made cheeseburgers and Mac and cheese. Albert headed the clean up crew afterwards and then AP and Beckett led moonup. Instead of answering a question we all gave three compliments to the person to our right. It really showed us how close we’ve become as a group. Then, Jack and Laudie were chosen as our final LODs. After moonup, the kids decided to cowboy camp so that everyone could sleep under the stars.
Our next day consisted of some more travel and preparation for the end of our trip. To break up some of the more tedious tasks, we decided to include an ice cream stop in historic Olympia. The ice cream shop is known for its delicious custard flavors so both Mary Stewart and Ana Collins tried their Tigers Blood custard. They both said it was delicious! Our next stop was a Goodwill where everyone could pick out a funny outfit for the banquet dinner. Jack came out with a lace dress while Frank Y came out wearing a full pajama set and cowboy hat. However, Frank C took the prize for best award with his cheetah print shirt and lace jean shorts. The best part is that he was pulling it off. After we all got our outfits we headed to a car wash to clean and organize all of our gear. Avery and AP did a great job organizing the food while the other students focused on cleaning out the van. Then we headed to camp and showered before dinner. For banquet we went to a yummy Mexican place and definitely confused the workers and other customers with our outfits, but we couldn’t stop laughing about it. For final moonup we reflected on our favorite moments of the trip and our biggest takeaways with a sunset over the pacific in the background. The spot felt weirdly similar to our first moonup spot and everyone agreed it was a real full circle moment. We can’t thank you enough for sharing these kids with us for the last three weeks. We couldn’t have asked for a better group to do this with!
Rachel and Drew
July 25, 2022
Climbing? Climb on!
Today we finished our last activity of the trip and it was the most rewarding one yet! Rock climbing provided many opportunities for our students to try new things and face their fears, and these kids crushed it. Our first night in Smith Rock was a hot one so the leaders surprised the kids with a local food stop at a delicious Mexican restaurant. Everyone enjoyed the food and some time in the AC. After that we headed back to camp and had moonup with great view of the sun setting behind the cathedral-like rocks surrounding our campsite.
The next morning we met with our rock climbing guides and got fitted in our gear. Then we hiked out to the wall we would be climbing that day where the guides taught us how to belay one another before we got started. Beckett and Avery showed off their impressive climbing skills by shooting up the wall without a problem! After a few hours of climbing we headed into Bend, OR for our town day. We took the kids to an awesome food truck spot where they had lots of options for lunch before exploring downtown Bend. There are lots of neat shops there, and we ended the day in the park where everyone did a “haul” of what they bought. Then we headed back to camp where we made personal pizzas for dinner. After dinner the kids threw a mini dance party where the boys ended up in a dance battle. Frank Y and Frank C came out on top.
Our second day of rock climbing was tons of fun and a bit less stressful as everyone was more familiar with the sport. Ann Price got really good at belaying and belayed five of her friends in a row! Jack and Albert showed off by attempting the hardest route, which even our guides had difficulty with. After climbing in the morning we hiked back up to the top where our guides had set up a 35ft repel for us. We all completed the repel in preparation for Monkey Face the next day and everyone killed it! Once we were finished we ate some lunch and headed to a waterfall where the kids could jump off rocks and swim, but first we stopped at a local ice cream shop and tried out their famous huckleberry ice cream. After swimming at the waterfall for a few hours we went back to camp for some much needed showers and dinner. Ana Collins and Mary Stewart helped us prepare chicken gyros and a Greek salad which was a major hit. Then we had moonup and went to bed early in prep for Monkey Face the next day.
One of the most difficult parts of climbing Monkey Face is getting up the trail, Misery Ridge, to get there. However, our kids are seasoned pros at hiking uphill after Desolation and flew up the trail in no time. Once we got up there, the guides explained how the whole thing would work. First we would traverse across the gap between the two cliffs to the mouth of the monkey. Then we would climb up the face and repel 180ft down. Although the kids were nervous they kept a great attitude through the whole experience and did an amazing job at both pushing past their own fears and encouraging others to do the same. Laudie, in particular, stood out as she was one of the more timid climbers the first day but absolutely shot up the face and did the repel in no time. Finishing out the trip with Monkey Face is a powerful end to an awesome three weeks but it was also bittersweet knowing that it was our last activity together. We know you can’t wait to see your kids but we are very sad to leave them.
Bye for now,
Rachel and Drew
July 23, 2022
Hello Pacific Northwest friends and families!!
After a relaxing few days on the Deschutes River, we are heading further into the desert for our final section, climbing at Smith Rock State Park! This trip has gone by so quickly. I guess time does fly when you’re having fun!
Our time on the river began when we met with our guides and helped them load our rafts with our gear and food for the next few days. The weather in Oregon is very different from what we’ve been experiencing in Washington. Our first day here was nearly 100 degrees! We escaped the heat with a dip in the river. Once the sun went behind the mountain, we set up dinner and ate BBQ chicken sandwiches, potatoes, and salad. Mary Stewart said it was her favorite meal so far, especially the Asian salad! We had two questions at Moonup that night. For the first question, everyone shared a scary moment from their life and then we each said something that we liked about ourselves. Moonup has become a favorite time of day for many of the students on our trip, and it has been an awesome way to learn more about each other.
The next morning started early as we needed to get on the river before it got too hot. We made sandwiches and ate breakfast provided by our guides and then split into two rafts after a brief safety talk. Beckett and Frank Y were at the helm of the first raft, excited to brave the icy water during the rapids. The first section of the river was relatively calm until we got to our first class three rapid, “White Horse”. Before going through it, our guides pulled over on the shore and we hiked up to get a full view of the river. There, they showed us how to scout a rapid, which is a common practice in whitewater rafting where you check out the rapid before going down it to get a sense of what the best route would be. After they taught us how to scout it, Frank C was the first to figure out the most optimal route. Then we headed back to the rafts, excited to take on White Horse. The rapid was long and bumpy with several rocks and wave trains to go over. Everyone had a blast!
After making our way to the other side, it was time to stop for lunch. After eating, our guides showed us a great rock to jump off of into a deep part of the river. Anne Price and Laudie jumped off the rock together several times, saying something funny with each jump. Meanwhile, AC was swimming near the shore and discovered something that even the guides didn’t know about. Right near our lunch spot, there were several whirlpools and, if you let the river take you, it would spin you around through each whirlpool. Before we knew it, everyone was in the water being pulled and spun around, laughing at how silly it was. We stayed like that for the next twenty minutes until it was time to get back on the boats.
The second half of the day consisted of lots of flat water and almost everyone took a post-lunch nap in the sun. After we woke up, the guide on Drew’s boat taught them the good line/bad line game which kept everyone busy for a while. Then Albert started a water gun war between the boats which felt amazing after baking in the sun for a few hours. Once we got to camp we all took refuge in the shade of the trees and played cards before dinner. Then we feasted on chick pea masala and a greek salad prepared by our guides. That night everyone opted to sleep under the stars and it was beautiful.
Our final day rafting began with bagels for breakfast before we started out on the river. We decided to have a boys raft, led by Rachel and a girls raft led by Drew. The boys started off the day with some raft games. First we walked along the edge of the raft until someone fell. Then we had one person stand at the helm while everyone else spun the boat. After some prodding, we got Jack up on the boat and he impressed even himself with how long he stayed on. The girls created another game where they would bounce on the edge until they all ended up in the water, but soon the games had to end as we headed to our final rapids of the trip. The boys boat when down first followed by the girls. On the first rapid of the day, Avery got thrown out of the boat but everyone worked together to get her back in quickly and she was a great sport about it. We finished out the day with some more games and some awesome chicken salad wraps. We can’t believe we only have one more activity together and are very sad it’s coming to an end. Luckily the best part of the trip is still ahead of us and we get to climb Monkey’s Face in a few short days!
Bye for now,
Rachel and Drew
July 18, 2022
After hiking nearly 35 miles over the last six days we have finally returned from the backcountry!
This past week has been filled with lots of challenges and triumphs. Our backpacking route began with a water taxi ride that dropped us off at our lunch spot. After eating our first backcountry meal and going over some basic protocols, we hit the trail for our first hike. During this time, we got a glimpse at the beauty of the North Cascades. The trail followed along Ross Lake which is a bright blue glacier-fed lake surrounded by giant snow-capped mountains. We moved quickly and got to camp with some spare time to rest before starting dinner. Ann Price and Frank C helped us cook pizza bagels while the rest of the students explored our campsite.
The next morning, we woke up the kids with eggs and hash browns for breakfast. After eating and packing up camp we gave a map lesson and showed everyone the route we would be taking for the rest of the trip. Then we began the hike to our next campsite. It was a hot day in the cascades and everyone was exhausted by the time we stopped for lunch. Our LODs, Laudie and Frank Y set up the meal for everyone and treated us to some Nutella as a special treat. Shortly after, we arrived at camp and everyone headed straight for the lake to wash off the dirt and sweat from the day. The water was ice cold but it felt amazing on our sore muscles. After everyone dried off in the sun, we ate an early dinner and went to bed by 7pm in preparation for our biggest day of the trip, a 14-mile hike (round trip) to get to the desolation peak by sunrise. We woke the kids up around midnight to begin our ascent. The first two miles were relatively flat, and we had an awesome view of the moon over Ross Lake. Mary Stewart kept the group alert and moving by singing loudly and encouraging everyone to join in. After the first two miles, we began to climb up the mountain. The trail became incredibly steep and difficult as we trekked up switchback after switchback. Beckett and Jack kept Drew distracted as they traded life stories in the back of the group while those in the front focused on getting up each new hill. After a few hours of hiking, we passed the tree line and got an awesome view of the lake as the first signs of morning began to show. At that point, it was becoming very difficult to keep going as it felt like we’d been walking straight uphill forever. However, our goal was to make it to the top for sunrise and there was no turning back now. When we reached the final mile, we pulled out our speaker and used the music to encourage the kids to keep pushing. We could finally see the top of the mountain just as the sunlight was beginning to show over the peaks. We practically sprinted the last bit and made it to the top with time to spare. Everyone celebrated our victory and we surprised the kids with candy bars and cookie butter at the top. Then we got to enjoy a truly breathtaking sunrise. Afterward, we headed down and enjoyed some pancakes before settling in for a much needed nap at camp. After a few hours of rest, we went for another swim in the lake and enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the sun. Avery and Albert helped us cook noodles with Thai peanut sauce and chicken for dinner and then we had a peaceful moonup before heading to bed. The next morning we ate a quick breakfast and hit the trail again for a 7 mile hike to our next campsite. Everyone was tired and sore from the previous day but the hike was a breeze compared to Desolation. Ana Collins and Laudie stayed busy by trading stories back and forth on the trail and claimed they knew everything about one another after the day was finished. Our campsite the next night was deep in the woods next to a rushing river and we kept the bugs away with a fire while we ate jambalaya. During moonup we all shared a piece of advice we thought everyone should hear and drank some hot chocolate. It was a relaxing end to a long day.
During our last full day in the backcountry we hiked over 9 miles until we were practically at the Canadian border. The hike was long and hot, but these kids have trail legs now and we were at camp before we knew it. The best part of the day was our lunch break at Lake Hozemeen, a crystal-clear lake with a great view of Hozemeen Mountain. We got a chance to cool off in the water and ran into a park ranger there who taught us how to spot loon birds. For our last dinner we made a backcountry thanksgiving with mashed potatoes, turkey and green beans, followed by some more hot chocolate before bed. The next morning we were picked up by the water taxi again. The boat ride gave us one last look at the beauty of the cascades and showed us just how far we’d come since day one. It was a nice way to see all the progress we’d made. We can’t say enough about how proud we are of these kids for how they’ve grown over the course of the trip. Each of them has pushed themselves beyond what they thought we could do and we can’t wait to see what else is next.
Bye for now!
Rachel and Drew
A word from the kids!
Mary Stewart- hey mom and dad I’m having the BEST time. I love my group and backpacking has been a blast
Ann Price – hey mom and dad! I’m having the best time, thanks for sending me! Love y’all so much! Tell Luke I said hi!
Avery- hey mom and dad I’m having a great time, have the best late birthday ever see you soon. Love y’all!
Laudie- hi mom and dad! I’m having a great time and I’ve met a lot of great people! Tell Grace I said have fun at camp. Love y’all!
Ana Collins- hey family! We are having so much fun! See y’all soon! Love y’all! Let’s go to Bulldog Burger when I get back!
Frank Y- hey mom and dad! I really miss y’all! I hope Lucy is good. I’m having a lot of fun! Thanks for paying for this trip!
Jack- hey dad! Hope you’re doing well! I’m having a great time! Can you get me La Fonda when I get home?
Albert- Hi mom and dad I miss you guys! I’m having fun and it’s all really cool! Wish y’all were here to see it
Frank C- make sure Peter isn’t doing anything stupid and please bring the dog to pick me up
Beckett- I’m having so much fun and have met some great kids here. I can’t wait to hang out with the cousins with you. I have so many stories to tell
July 11, 2022
Wow, the first five days of this trip have flown by!
Our time together began in the airport, followed by a ride through Seattle where we got a chance to see the Space Needle. Night one consisted of pizza and our very first moonup where Frank Y and Laudie were crowned as next day’s LODs (leaders of the day). The following morning, we set off for the San Juan Islands on a ferry! It was many of our students first time on a ferry. After arriving at the harbor, we drove the kids to Cattle Point where we got to explore the rocky shore and see an old light house. Then we headed to our campsite and made grilled cheese for lunch. Our campsite had lots of fun activities, so the kids took advantage of the volleyball court, bikes and the lake. The floating dock on the lake was by far the biggest hit. Albert and Mary Stewart led a spirited game of king of the hill, and everyone had a blast. For dinner our LODs helped us prepare teriyaki chicken and noodles. Then it was an early night in as we prepared for our first day of sea kayaking.
The next morning, we embarked on our first adventure together. We paired up into sea kayaks filled with all the gear and food we would need for the next three days. Drew kept Avery busy with “the hat game” a fun riddle that would eventually become the focus of the whole group for the next two days. Once we reached the island we would be camping out and set up camp the kids began a game of BS while our awesome guides set up dinner. BS soon shifted to an ultimate frisbee match where Beckett dominated his competition. It was taco night on Jones Island, and everyone was so stuffed after dinner… but not too stuffed for s’mores! Jack helped our guides collect firewood and we all roasted marshmallows. Everyone took this opportunity to show off their techniques. Anne Price roasted a perfect golden-brown mallow while others opted for the burn technique. After that we had moonup and everyone shared the movie they would most want to live in. Then it was off to bed in preparation for another big day.
The next morning our guides spoiled us with a big breakfast scramble. We had eggs, sausage, tomatoes, cheese, and potatoes, plus a few extra fixings. It was delicious. Ana Collins was a major help by chipping in on the dishes afterwards. Then we set back out to see for another day of kayaking. It was a beautiful day, and the water was calm. Frank C spotted the first seals of the day, and everyone got a chance to see them swim by. We sat up lunch on a small island where a group of us went for a polar plunge in the ocean. It was many of our first times ever swimming in the Pacific. That evening after dining out on a big spaghetti meal, we saw a beautiful sunset over the ocean. It was magical.
The next day was Frankmas! (aka Frank Ys birthday) Sadly it was also our final day on the kayaks. The paddle back was difficult because the currents were against us, but the kids pushed through like pros. After landing in the harbor and saying goodbye to our guides, we headed back to camp for showers and a birthday dinner. We made chicken Alfredo with broccoli and surprised Frank with a cake and some Capri Suns. Then we drove to the other side of the island to catch another beautiful sunset and have moonup. Tonight’s moonup was very special as many in the group began to open-up We are so stoked that it’s only day 5 and can’t wait to see what else this trip has to offer!
Bye for now!
Rachel and Drew
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 sea-kayaking 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!