July 14, 2022
If you are reading this, your girls have officially made it home and we are in tears!
These past two weeks have been incredible and life-changing, we hope it has been the same for the girls. Over the past fourteen days, all five girls pushed their limits, made life long friends, and laughed a lot along the way. We cannot be more grateful and proud for the time spent with them. Thank y’all for giving us a portion of time with your girls.
Girls, if y’all are reading this, we have a few lasting pieces of advice to give y’all. Firstly, don’t take yourselves so seriously. We hope Moondance taught y’all that your genuine personality is the most fun and comforting to be in; carry this home with you and throughout your junior and senior years. Secondly, remember you can do hard things. Every single one of you pushed yourselves harder and further than you ever believed you could. Seeing you all set a goal and achieve it was incredible to watch. Don’t forget your accomplishments when you go home. You did so much and we want you to carry those things with you forever. Lastly, live in the moment. I know I know, we said it a ton, but it truly is one of the most magical things you can do. Living in the present time without any anxieties about the future will help you create genuine happiness and love. All of you deserve nothing less than that and we hope you continue to enjoy yourself in the present.
As we send your girls off, we knew they are carrying life lessons home that we hope that they will continue to carry forever. With their laughs a little louder, their smiles a little wider, their confidence a little higher, and two weeks they will never forget, we send them back to you! We hope we made a fraction of the impact on your girls that they made on us. They were a special group and will forever hold a place in our hearts! One last nugs to Washington for being beautiful and kind 🙂
With much love,
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 14, 2022
As we are headed to the airport, we want to fill you guys in on our summit!
Our last section of the trip has begun and the girls are thriving more than ever before! We started off at Squeam which is a bayside campsite. Not only were we fortunate enough to be by a bay with a dock, the sunsets did not disappoint! The girls found themselves pulled to the dock every night to see the beautiful sky. At Squeam, Lizzie perfected both BBQ chicken and plain quesadillas and made us the most delicious last campsite dinner before our Baker ascent (fun fact they didn’t know it was their last campsite dinner :)). The next day, we ventured to downtown Seattle to grab some climbing and hiking gear from REI where Elizabeth got the most comfortable Patagonia jacket we’ve ever laid eyes on. A post REI picnic was beyond necessary so we found a cute park and had lunch! Soon after, we headed back to camp to prep for our 4 day trip to Baker. Snacks were scattered and the girls were giggling as we packed our food and bags that would end up helping carry us to the top of Baker! Everyone got pretty tired after prepping, so thank goodness we had another surprise up our sleeve! We asked the girls to clean the trash out of the van because before dinner we needed to all take it to a car wash before it closed. Little did they know we would soon be pulling into the BEST bbq place soon after. Annabel seemed pretty excited to spray the colored foam and help clean the van, but was definitely more excited about our dinner surprise. I think the whole restaurant heard the girls’ squeaks as we pulled into the parking lot! Amanda had a blast being able to throw her peanut shells on the ground, she even started literally chucking them. Izzy must have set a record for most sides gotten with a single meal, and deservingly so because it was SO good. Not a single fry laid on a plate after the meal. OLY 2 definitelyyyy got clean plate club award. Post dinner, we got a good nights rest with thoughts of Baker in our head!
Baker base camp ascent day came, and we could tell the girls were a little nervous. However, they handled the hike up with confidence and poise. They even got to watch and laugh at leader MG take a muddy turn too quickly and wipe out. Good thing the snow helped clean her off! With the goal of reaching the top of Baker in mind, we all reached base camp and got our tents set up in the snow. With our camp still being a little over 5000 feet short of the summit, we got a good nights sleep and rested our legs. Before the girls closed their eyes for bed, Lizzie and Annabel found themselves sitting outside and enjoying and appreciating the beautiful views around us. Not only did we have a 360° view fo mountains (including Baker!), the stars also covered the sky. Lizzie urged everyone to come out and see the view, saying “Y’all are missing out. This is literally the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” which made us smile to see such true enjoyment and appreciation.
Our second day on Baker, we learned the proper way to walk in snow boots and how to walk up hill without getting too winded. BIG nugs to the rest step Mountainerring school ended just as it should, with the girls taking turns sliding down the snowy mountain!! We think Izzy may have loved sliding down the mountain the most (except when her boot came apart!) Don’t worry we fixed it!! For dinner, we took a chance on freeze dried meals and the Mac and cheese was definitely the biggest hit with Amanda, Elizabeth, Annabel, and Lizzie all getting and finishing theirs! The curry caught Izzy’s eye at first, but after seeing the Mac and cheese, she helped others finish theirs! After dinner, we went to bed as the sun was still out because we were going to have an earlyyyy wake up call the next morning for summit day!
2am struck and the girls were gearing up with helmets, ice axes, head lamps, and harnesses. Safety was our number one priority, and like what was said the night before at Moonup, getting up isn’t the goal, but getting down is necessary. We took off for the summit, and walked, took breaks, then repeated the process. The sunrise inspired us all to keep going, and Izzy exclaimed about how amazing it was. The tenacity we saw from each of the girls kept us going ourselves. They preserved through everything that Baker threw at them, including some crazy wind! After about ten hours, the girls found themselves on the summit of Baker. Summit snickers were welllll deserved and the girls hugged, rejoiced, and celebrated together at 10,781 feet. To say it was incredible and inspiring to watch would be an understatement. The grit and 100% effort that was given by every girl was so obvious to both of us and all 3 of our guides, as well. They all said it was the hardest thing they’ve ever done, it also that they did not think they could do it. This is a true testament to this group. They are capable of so much more than they ever could have and ever will believe. Proudness does not begin to explain the way we feel, and we know they feel the same way for themselves and the group.
As we went down Baker and headed towards the van, the girls got one last chance to see the snow and marmots (maybe their favorite new animal? Not quite sure). We made a push to the van where the girls devoured rice krispies and sun chips! Now, as we head to our last campsite for our last night of our 2 weeks spent together, we cannot help to feel a sense of sorrow to have to leave these girls. They have given us an unforgettable 2 weeks and we do not want it to end. We will check back in once they are in the air, but until then, thank every one of y’all again for sharing your girls with us. We could not love them more!
Mary Gray and Olivia
July 9, 2022
Hello us again!! We just completed our ~33 mile backpacking section in the Hoh Rain Forest and the girls absolutely crushed it!!! We could not be more proud of the grit and determination that all 5 of the girls showed during the trip. The first day was a pretty long trek, but it was made much easier thanks to Lizzie keeping everyone talking on the trail. She really has a gift for wanting to know and learn about other people and their lives— she truly kept everyone going!
After our first day, all the girls slept like a rock and we don’t blame them! We had a yummy breakfast, hash brown breakfast burritos with a twist, and headed off for our second day of backpacking. We gained a little more elevation, making it a more challenging day, but Annabel helped keep the positivity up in the group, even when everyone got tired and winded. Annabel not only kept the positivity up, but she also was and is always the first one to lend a hand when needed. At every lunch spot on the trail, she is the last to get her food and the first to offer to help to do anything. The things she does to help the group do NOT go unnoticed!
After our uphill day, we got a muchhhh deserved rest day and our girls slept so long (about 12 hours to be exact!!) and we got to hang out at the campsite all day. Our morning consisted of chip pancakes and rested eyes. During the day, we played cards, learned about each other, and genuinely lived in the moment. Elizabeth kept the group laughing (once she woke up!) and never fails to put a smile on all of our faces. She seriously has the greatest and most unique sense of humor we have ever seen. Not only does she keep us laughing, but she also made sure that every slug we passed on the trail made its way back to its home in the moss. What an angel.
After our rest day, we headed back on the trail to backtrack and head towards the van. Our snack bags kept us all going and Amanda even coined Goldfish a new name— cheesy fish. We can’t get the girls to be quiet at night because Amanda is always cracking them up. Their laughs can be heard from miles away… literally! On our hikes, we can really see the determination from Izzy. Although she is fighting a cold, she never complains about it and truly wanted to finish the backpacking section off strong. We could not have been more proud of the tenacity she showed!
On our last day, the girls broke down camp in record time. The clouds were hanging low over the river and the view was definitely one of our prettiest ones yet. After a little photo shoot and some admiration of the views around us, we hit the trail early to make it to the van. The girls were practically running once we saw the trail head sign. Once we made it out, Lizzie and Izzy both said “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but also the greatest” which we truly believe is a testament to this group. They looked adversity in the face, gave it their all, and came out successful. The idea of backpacking is not just the miles, but the company and the thinking that occurs while doing it. This group truly understood that as they walked off the trail as a different group of girls that began the trail 5 days ago.
After getting off the trail, we took off our boots and hit the road for what they thought was a road trip to our campsite. BUT it wasn’t! We surprised them by stopping at a local burger place where they devoured cheeseburgers and fries in record time. They all about had tears of joy when we pulled into the burger stop— it was priceless. They finished off their burgers with some ice cream and we hit the road to our campsite.. for real this time!
As we sit at our campsite and prepare for our Mt Baker climb, we can’t help but to reflect on the progress the group as a whole and the individuals have made. It truly is incredible to see what a little bit of adversity can do. These girls are smiling more confidently and laughing louder already, and we cannot wait to report back after Baker to all of you. Thank you for lending us your kiddos, we could not be more thankful for the time we get with them!! Not only are we thankful, but they are too! Here are some of their shoutouts…
Annabel- Hey! Miss y’all! Just finished our backpacking trip which was hard but SUPER BEAUTIFUL and now I’m about to take my first shower! So exited lol! Love y’all!
Izzy- hey fam!! I miss y’all so much- I thought about y’all a ton on the trail- 5 days of backpacking! We also surfed with funny hippies. Views are beautiful, and mom I can’t wait to tell you the stories of being out here! Having a great time 🙂 Today I take my first shower, wish me luck on mount baker! I can’t wait to see y’all <3
Amanda – Hey family! It’s been fun, (tiring as well), hope y’all are proud of me. I miss and love y’all. I’m stinky as I have not showered this entire time. Anyways byeeee.
Lizzie- Helloooo! I’m having an interesting time and learning a lot. I really love Moondance and I have met a ton of great girls. Super pumped to climb Mount Baker and I can’t wait to share all my mems with y’all.
Elizabeth- Ayo! This is awesome and different but super cool! But I miss y’all SO much! I’m not going to give away a ton but we’re summiting Mt. Baker in about a day then I will see y’all in ATL! Love y’all tons and tons 🙂
Nugs from Washington,
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 3, 2022
Olivia and Mary Gray here with our amazing new kiddos! They all successfully made it to Seattle, and we can tell this is going to be a special group! Elizabeth and Amanda really set the stage being the first people in the airport (and kept the BEST attitude as we chilled in baggage claim) as they rallied the group together on the shuttle once everyone arrived and kept all the girls giggling. The back row of the shuttle was a 5-seater, so we knew it was meant to be! After leaving the airport, the girls got some much-needed rest time in the van as we headed to our first campsite.
At camp, we were impressed by all the girls early wake up calls to get on their flights (shoutout Annabel for that 3am wakeup call)! On our drive, Lizzie kept us all entertained through some 4th of July traffic by introducing new van games. The fan favorites were definitely “OMG me too!” and the Umbrella riddle. The kids still haven’t caught on to the Umbrella riddle, but we will make sure to let you know the first one to crack the code!! Once we got to our campsite, we had a much-deserved pizza dinner! Izzy’s leftover cheese from the top of her pizza made for the best post-dinner snack. Our first night concluded with Moonup and the girls explaining why they chose to come on Moondance. All their reasons were so different, yet we couldn’t be more thankful for all of them are here. This is going to be an incredible 2 weeks and we cannot wait to see the things these girls accomplish!
Our second day began with a car ride sing along to the 10-minute version of All Too Well by Taylor Swift of course, then some crazy waves at Westhaven beach. The Pacific impressed us all, but the girls impressed us more with their quickness to get up on the surfboard. With wetsuits on and boards in hand, the girls headed for the water and crushed it. Annabel had surfed only once before this trip and was getting up on nearly every wave!! Big ole nugs, to our awesome guides who taught us every safety fact and surfing fact we needed to know to be successful! After surfing, we headed for camp where we got some well-deserved rest time! Dinner was a fan favorite for sure, Greek bowls! We had a surprise up our sleeve and concluded our night with a Moonup around the fire while making s’mores. Izzy may or may not have been the victim of melted, falling chocolate but she took it like a champion. Our LODs of the day, Elizabeth, and Amanda, led the charge in Moonup and crushed it. We appreciate so much how positive the girls are and how they love to get to know everything about each other. Lizzie especially loves asking people questions about themselves, and it just makes us feel so welcomed and loved!! Today, we surfed and once again everyone got up! It was a little chillier than our first day, but everyone stayed in the water and I think their laughs could be heard from Olympia. After a parking lot pita lunch, our full bellies were headed to our next campsite to prepare for backpacking. We could not be more excited to see these girls thrive in the backcountry.
Thank all of you, again, for sending your girls to spend 2 weeks with us. It has already gone by so quickly and we cannot believe we got so lucky. They are becoming accustomed to the Moondance life more and more every day and we know they will continue to thrive. Until next time!
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 2, 2022
Hello Olympics Families!
We heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Seattle yesterday. The trip is off to a great start as they prep for their backpacking section today. 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!