July 31, 2022
On Cloud 9
As much as it saddens us to update you all, all of our girls are officially off and headed home. With teary eyes and overflowing hearts, we send them back home to you. The past two weeks have been monumental and life altering for us and we hope your girls have been impacted in the same way!
Our final night included enough pizza and pasta from Via Marina in Seattle to sink America, an emotional final Moonup, and laughs that could be heard across the state. We reminisced on our favorite memories, laughed at inside jokes, and talked about how this trip impacted us and what we wanted to carry home from it. From a hope for declined cell phone usage, to a greater amount of confidence, these girls gained some incredible things from this trip and it was great to hear all of them!
Before heading to the airport this morning, we had to do one final stop for breakfast. We found a delicious coffee shop where we all devoured coffee and breakfast sandwiches that were arguably the best we had ever had! Post breakfast, we hit the road for SeaTac airport where we would soon say our saddening goodbyes. After extended hugs and some tears, we said goodbye to our girls. While our time in Washington together may be over, we have a few final words to give the girls, so Ellie, Emma, Elizabeth, Kacie, and Kat.. if you’re reading this, here ya go!
All of you are stronger than you will ever believe. You became best friends with 4 other girls within days of being here and did some amazing things together. From surfing with Shaun, backpacking to beautiful views, and summiting Mt. Baker, you did it, and more importantly, you did it together. Don’t let these friendships fizzle. You’re all amazing humans and will continue to do amazing things. Watching you all form friendships with one another was awe inspiring and we truly hope they will continue to blossom. Moondance friendships are one of the most special things about this program, we hope you noticed it, too. Lastly, don’t forget to live in the moment. Let the stress of school go sometimes. Don’t get bogged down too much with soccer, tennis, figure skating, or anything else you find yourself doing. Have fun doing all of those things, but remember they don’t define you. You’re all worth so so much more than a grade on a test or a statistic after a sporting event! Oh, and put your phones down every once and a while, turn off your headlamp, and look up and around you. You may be surprised in what you see.
Parents, thank you for giving us a fraction of time with your girls. We truly cannot ever repay you. Don’t be surprised if they come home with a smile that’s a little bigger, a laugh that’s a little louder, increased confidence, and the Moondance bug! Give them a hug from us, we miss them already!!
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 30, 2022
Hi everyone! It’s official.. all of our girls are mountaineers as ALL of them summited and descended Mt. Baker!! We could not have been more proud of the grit and determination they showed, and we could go on about it forever, but we will give a little update of how our Baker adventure went first!
It started off with meeting our amazing RMI guides, Seth, Josh, and Michael, who would be the reason we all got up the mountain. We caravanned to the trail head where every girl strapped their mountaineering boots and ice axes (no we did not use them like in the movies, unfortunately) onto their bags and hit the trail for base camp! Our hike up to base camp proved to be toasty warm and challenging, but it really set the tone for the rest of our time spent on Baker as each girl persevered through the heat and hills and made it to base camp in record time! We could not have been more proud of Kacie’s fortitude she showed and her tenacious attitude that kept her going. She laughed her way all the way up to base camp and kept the humor rolling. Emma kept the absolute greatest attitude the entire time, and put the group’s needs ahead of her own as she was checking on all of her friends at each break that we took! Her sweet spirit is SO appreciated!
Once we made it to base camp, the girls set up their tents at the perfect angle with arguably the most beautiful view of Baker. Our second day consisted of many many rest steps and learning how to properly walk in the snow! Those skills we learned got us alllll the way to the top, and Kat even said that without the incredible instructions and tutorials from our guides, summit day would have looked a whole lot different. We totally agree that mountaineering school day was an absolute must, and even ended in some sliding in the snow. Elizabeth even had the brilliant idea to take their Crazy Creeks to the snow and slide down! These girls look for an adventure and for fun in every activity they do and we sure do appreciate and love it!!!
Our summit day began around midnight and with groggy eyes, but excited soles, we hit the snow for our climb ahead. Our climb consisted of several repetitions of an hour of climbing and a break. At each break, the girls recharged with fruit leathers and granola bars, and continued on. After about 5 hours of climbing, all 7 of us found ourselves at over 10,780 feet, looking over hundreds of miles on Mount Baker’s summit! We could see Seattle, Canada, Mt. Ranier, and even more! The smile we saw on Ellie’s face on the summit truly said it all; she gave that climb everything she had, and came out successful! She helped hold our group together on summit day with her great attitude and positive reinforcements to everyone else!
I wish we could put into words how proud we are of all of these girls. Every single one of them pushed themselves mentally and physically and did something that so many people cannot. Whether or not they come out of this trip wanting to climb Mt. Everest next, we know that they are coming out with increased confidence in themselves and their abilities. One thing we have been stressed is for the girls to trust us, themselves, and others, and summit day truly reinforced that idea into all of their minds. They put so much trust in themselves, us, our guides, and the mountain and came out greater because of it!
As we drive out and head to our final campsite, we cannot help but to dread airport day tomorrow. It has been magical to see the friendships that have been formed on this trip and to see the altruistic spirit of each girl. We all care about each other so so deeply and are holding onto these last 24 hours we have together. Fingers crossed it goes by slower than the previous two weeks did.
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 25, 2022
Hello Olympics families and friends!!
Liv and MG again!
We have just completed our backpacking section of the trip and we have to start off with saying that these girls can CRUSH some miles! They not only hiked over eighteen miles over the span of our time in the back country, but they also gained over 5000 feet in elevation! The route we did proved to be challenging, but these girls were all up to the challenge. Every day, we were amazed at the positive attitudes, high spirits, and pure enjoyment that these girls had. On the trail, Kat kept everyone entertained, sparking up any conversation that she could! We couldn’t hold back our laughs thanks to Kacie and Ellie cracking jokes constantly and keeping the conversations light and silly. One of our favorite parts about all 5 of the girls is their willingness to show their true selves. None of them hold back, they love to laugh and be fun together!! Their laughs seriously never stop, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that!
Not only are spirits always high, but we can also see leaders thriving and growing. Elizabeth leads by example in everything she does. She silently helps us with everything, without being asked and is always willing to lend a hand! Emma has an eye for beauty, always pointing out the beautiful scenes and views we pass. On a day of backpacking that was more difficult than the others, we found ourselves faced with probably the most beautiful view of a valley, lake, and mountains that we had seen so far. Emma was so appreciative of it and pointed out that in order to reap benefits, sometimes you have to endure a struggle. These girls are wise beyond their years and haven’t stopped impressing us since airport day.
As our tortilla eating, Sriracha indulging, belly laugh having, “moo” filled backpacking section ended, we had a few more surprises for the girls up our sleeves! Not only were they greeted by Sunny Ds in the van, they also got to experience a good ‘ole Washington cheeseburger as we stopped at a local burger hot spot, Frugals, for a post backpacking delicacy! After enough milkshakes, burgers, and fries to sink America, we hopped back in Sassy (our van (short for Sasquatch)), and hit the road towards our campsite, Sequim, again, to take some much-appreciated showers, reflect on our time in the back country, and prepare for our next adventure; Mt. Baker!!
As our short time together is coming to an end way too quickly, we cannot help but to hope these next six days go by slower than the trip has so far. We have loved every minute spent with your girls and are holding onto these last days with our whole hearts. We will touch base after our trip up Mt. Baker, but for now the girls have some shoutouts for all of you!
Olivia and Mary Gray
Kat: Hi Mom and Dad I’m having a blastttttttttt feelin adventurous
Emma: Hi Family and ruby! I’m having so much fun and am so excited to climb mt baker
Elizabeth: Hi Mom and Dad I’m doing great and I miss you guys. Enjoy your vacay and hug the rat for me
Ellie: WHADUP!! This trip has been wild and scenic for sure. Hopefully the beach trip was bearable but I’m sure y’all had some fun or at least some good stories now. Monteagle peeps…HOLA! Can’t wait to see y’all in a week;). Lifeguards/ power through!! Miss y’all tons but il y’all are having a blast. Can’t wait for the ocoee! Miss u Halsey and TTTTTTTT. Have fun this week in monteagle, love you!! Oh and ya love y’all mom and dad;) thank u sm for planning this trip for me! It’s been a blast and can’t wait to tell u abt all the details!! Adios!!!
Kacie: hey guys I’m havin so much funnn and I miss y’all so much
July 21, 2022
Hello from Washington!! Olivia and Mary Gray here and we have loved every second with our five amazing girls the past few days! Over our time together so far, we have shared belly laughs, had thought-provoking conversations, made friends with every passing dog, and eaten oh so many hash browns. The rest of our two weeks together are bound to be unforgettable!
Our trip started off on a great foot with Ellie and Emma being the first two to arrive to the airport. Delta baggage claim definitely saw its first dance party as Ellie led the move to stand on a bench and dance as the other girls arrived. Post airport, we made our way to our first campsite where the girls found themselves playing cards until the sunset. Kat kept the group energy high, making everyone laugh uncontrollably! Olivia and I looked at each other at one point during the night and both knew instantly that this group was something special and it was going to be a fun two weeks together!!
The girls woke up early (without us even waking them up!) on day two with so so much excitement for surfing! Kacie had a grin from ear to ear and was radiating all morning because she was so excited. When we got to Westport beach, we all not so gracefully slipped into our wet suits and hit the beach with our guides. A new record must have been set on that first day because every single girl got up on the board and surfed waves! It was unheard of to do that, but these girls are constantly impressing us! Don’t be surprised if your girls come home with a burning desire to buy a surfboard, Kat is already talking about getting one! After a morning full of surfing, we headed back to our campsite where Elizabeth led the girls in a yoga and stretching circle. They even practiced and surpassed perfection on their “pineapple” and stand up techniques from surfing! We had a fake birthday party for Ellie because who doesn’t love to eat birthday cake and fake people’s birthdays?! We devoured Greek bowls for dinner and before Moonup, ate our weight in s’mores by the fire! Leaders of the day, Ellie and Emma, led us in an incredible Moonup that got the group thinking and curious about each other early in the trip. Big ole nugs for that!! The girls stayed up giggling; rumor has it they haven’t stopped laughing since they’ve been here!
Our second day consisted of even more surfing, with all the girls getting up once again! We seriously think they all might have found their long lost passion! Kacie hasn’t stopped smiling since she first got up (plus a million more times after that) and Kat keeps talking about how cool it was and how she wants to surf at home now! It’s so so much fun to watch these girls love what they’re doing and love on each other. After surfing, we had a quick parking lot lunch before heading to our second campsite, Sequim. Here, we will learn how to pack a pack for backpacking and some other important tools that will guide us through the next 5 days in the Hoh Rain Forest!
We’re off for now, but will keep all of you posted on our backpacking section; we know everyone will crush it! They haven’t stopped impressing us since they have been here and we don’t think the impressing will stop any time soon!
Until next time,
Olivia and Mary Gray
July 18, 2022
Hello Olympics 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!