July 25, 2023
Salutations Big Wild Families!
This final section of the trip has been incredible. We had a formidable drive to where we would put in the rafts in Western Idaho but had incredible views all along the way. Fields of super blooming yellow flowers, gaping canyons, sweeping rivers, and vast plains gave us some eye candy to chew on. Meanwhile, Margot and Nina were the front seat DJ’s, playing a great mix of Taylor Swift, Lumineers, and Caamp to keep us grooving and moving. Once we got to McCall, we enjoyed the lake, set up camp, and ate dinner before grabbing heaping scoops of ice cream at the famous Ice Cream Alley. Lalah and Halliden led the crew singing songs on the drive back to camp.
Wake up came early on Saturday, as we still had to bus on over to the put in location. We had a gorgeous morning drive, winding through the golden grass of the mountains that enveloped the Middle Salmon River. We met our guides McKenzie, Emma, Rachel, and Lily, who welcomed us gregariously, helped us load our gear, and gave us our safety briefing before we set off. Our fleet had a boat with most of our gear, our lunch boat, a boy’s raft, and a girls raft. We tore up several river rapids and got to jump off a fallen tree before stopping for lunch. Everyone enjoyed the water splash over the raft to cool us down from the arid heat, and we swam just about every time we stopped for lunch. At our lunch beach, Michael, Nate, Robert, and George looked to climb up the large rocks that lay on the beach. After several attempts, they found a suitable path as the others lay in the sand below. After floating through Green Canyon, we reached a nice landing that would serve as our camp for the night. George was able to catch some bullfrogs swimming around in the eddy while Dylan and Margot helped our guides prepare dinner, grilled chicken, zucchini, and risotto. Meanwhile, Charlie, Nate, Robert, and Henry played spike ball in the sand. Our guides joined us for Moonup after dinner and dishes, after which we stayed up and gazed at the brilliant stars overhead.
We were in store for another excellent day on Sunday, as we woke up to the scent of breakfast burritos on the griddle. We packed up, ate our delicious breakfast, and again embarked down the river. We were in for some serious rafting, with two class-four rapids called Snow and China. For each, we parked the boats to scout the rapids with our guides, making sure we had the correct line to safely cross. We made it through both scathe-free, celebrating with “beaver tails,” a river tradition where the whole raft high-fives with their paddles, then claps the water in sync. Our afternoon was also electrifying. We got to swim through Cottonwood Rapid, which swished us around the whitewater for half a mile, and we spent most of our time in the calmer parts backflipping off the rafts. George, Nina, Addison, Robert, Charlie, and Nate all hit their first backflips ever while Lalah and Dylan helped coach. At camp that evening, Michael broke out his chess set, teaching many of the kids to play with Kyle’s help. After several matches, the crew moved over to the spike ball net for some more physical competition. We were blessed with a gorgeous sunset during our Moonup and had another lovely night cowboy camping beneath the stars.
Our final complete day on the Salmon took us through Blue Canyon and to the confluence with the Snake River near the lower end of Hells Canyon. It was a gorgeous day, as we were constantly passing towering rock walls, witnessing the great power of water to weave its way through the mountains. We were even paid a visit by a bald eagle, which made for a special moment of patriotism. After passing through the infamous Slide Rapid, we nestled onto an awesome beach within the canyon. The boys were quick to go investigate the caves not far atop the beach and do some more bouldering on the other rocks. Afterwards, we ate our sandwiches and helped link all of our rafts together, as we would ride down the rest of the river together as a barge. So, we cruised onward to our beach camp for the night. From there, we scurried on over to a nearby orchard, where the group picked apples, blackberries, and peaches; and got to feed them to the deer roaming through the trees. We also saw beautiful, big turkeys wobbling around the grounds as we savored the fruits. We brought some blackberries back to the beach to add into our dessert that night. Back at the beach, we talked about the trip before playing tug of war with our rafting throw bags and dry cans. Halliden and Robert and Caroline and Nate had a long series of games, with some rope burn to mark the grit with which they competed. We ate tacos til we bulged, then had a long Moonup before bed. Shortly after getting settled in our sleeping bags, we saw some storm clouds approaching across the night sky. Michael quickly set up a tarp and we fetched our umbrellas to bear the storm. Luckily, we only got a brief fleet of drizzling rain and were able to sleep sweet and sound.
We had to get moving early the next day so that we could get a head start on our drive back to Jackson. We began our day with a delicious breakfast sandwich, then packed up our things and motored down the river. We rode through class-three rapid Wild Goose on our way down the river, all conjoined at the sides of the raft. The waves splashed us all as we got to experience the final rapids of the trip. We bid McKenzie, Emma, Rachel, and Lily goodbye, loaded the van, and set off eastward. We cannot wait to enjoy our final day in Jackson before returning home!
Caroline and Michael
July 21, 2023
The crew has spent the last two days climbing up the craggy faces of the Teton mountain range. Our first day brought us to Teton Village, home to the world famous Jackson Hole ski resort. We took the gondola up to Rendezvous Peak, the main ski mountain at the village. Up top, we practiced tying figure-8 knots, stacking our ropes, and practiced our moves and techniques. To do so, we bouldered without ropes, with George and Margot setting the examples of how to traverse the rocks. From there, we hiked down the mountain to a large rock slab to start our vertical climbing. Dylan tied in first and led the boys’ climb while Halliden was the girls’ first climber, confidently sweeping up the mountain. Up on the top, we ate lunch in the shade with our guides before moving on to rappelling. Robert and Addison were a bit reluctant to make the awkward descent, but with the encouragement of our guides, leaders, and fellow students, they descended and clawed their way back up the rock. Lalah was determined to challenge herself and try a new and more difficult path than had been previously done, ascending with a contagious sense of pride. On the way home, Kyle led the group in karaoke. Back at camp, leaders of the day Nate and Addison helped cook a delicious Mediterranean meal of beef and rice with a Greek salad while the others played spikeball. All fed, we hopped back in the van to go to the Jackson Hole Rodeo. We had an awesome time dancing, singing, and watching the cowboys and cowgirls ride around the pen. George and Dylan led the group in a YMCA dance, while the girls all danced to Stayin’ Alive. The dance party continued on the ride home, as we all sang and danced to 2000s hits in the Wyoming night.
We had the pleasure of climbing in Grand Teton National Park the next morning. After gathering our equipment and getting to know our guides for the day, we boarded the ferry and set off across Jenny Lake. On the other side, we hiked over to Hidden Falls, raging with all of the recent snowmelt. From there, we gained some elevation to a more challenging rock face than we had encountered the previous day. After tying in, we started up the route, every pitch challenging the students and providing even more stunning views of Teton Valley and the lake below. The group of Nina, Henry, and Charlie beat the rest of the group to the summit and got some extra time to soak up the little nook in the Tetons. After our lunch break, we did some more serious rappelling. This time, we slid down the rope past caves and cliffs. Everyone participated, as our guide Wade was able to inspire everyone to overcome their fears and mobilize their courage. Everyone was in high spirits as we returned across the lake and headed to Jackson to enjoy some shopping in town. We look forward to heading to Idaho for our rafting on the Salmon!
Charlie: I miss you Mom and Dad.Thanks for the trip.
Nate: I miss you guys,Thanks for the trip
Lalah: Thanks mom and dad for letting me go on this trip!! Miss and love y’all!!
Addison: Miss y’all, the trip is fun thanks for letting for letting me come!
Kyle: Hey!! Can’t wait to see y’all soon! Got new clothes from lulu using daddy’s card please don’t be mad, I didn’t bring enough clothes. Also I have lots of cuts and bug bites idk how that’s how it’s going to look on the picture. Anyway tell seb I said hi! Thank you and I miss y’all so much.
Nina: Hey Mom, dad, and Amalie! I’m having a great time!! I miss you guys so much! Right now we’re in the car on our way to Idaho to raft!! Thanks for letting me come!! Love y’all and can’t wait to see you guys
Margot: Hiiii mom and dad!! I miss you guys so much!! I am having an amazing time:)) Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity!! Can’t wait to see you soon-tell Danny and Georgia I said hi and miss them!! Lovvvvveeee youuuu
Halliden: Hi mom and dad miss you thank you so much for sending me on this trip I am having so much fun love you!!
Robert: Hi Mom and Dad miss you so much. I am having a blast and doing tons of cool things. Thank you so much for sending me. I can’t wait to see you and the girls. Love you
George: Hey mom and dad I’m having so much fun. This trip is truly life changing and i have made so many new friends and experienced new things. The views here are insane and we saw 3 moose so far. Can’t wait to tell y’all everything when I get back. Tell Winston Connor and Ella I miss them so much. And also I miss mc so much. Thanks for sending me here I am very grateful.
Dylan: Hi mom, dad, Hayden, and chinny. Miss y’all a lot! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip, it has been a blast! I have got to experience some crazy things I never thought I would, and I am extremely grateful for it. I am also missing a shower and clean clothes every day a lot more than I ever thought I would. I sent a letter a couple of days ago with more details on the trip, but as of now we are headed to rafting in Idaho. Love and miss y’all!
Henry: Hey Mom and Dad. I hope all is well. I am having so much fun! I met some cool people, including Dylan and George who are from Atlanta. I miss being clean and my bed, and everyone in Atlanta of course. I am about to raft and I couldn’t be more excited.
July 20, 2023
Hello Big Wild Families!
This morning we began our backpacking section with breakfast burritos and instructions on how to pack a backpack. We munched and loaded up the vans and set off. Our guide, Zane, met us at the trailhead as we prepared for our adventures. We were set to backpack seven miles to our campsite for the evening. Upon our first few miles, Charlie and George were eager to lead the pack, but Robert took center stage in properly guiding the gang all together, setting a solid pace. Lalah, Nina, Halliden and Margot were trotting along, chatting and enjoying our beautiful scenery. Addison bounced around hiking in silence and with a group, while Kyle hung back with the leaders. We made sure to stop for ample water breaks, to be sure to cool off from the hot Wyoming summer sun. Our lunch break was alongside the beautiful Big Sandy Lake, buried beneath the spectacular mountain scape. We taught lessons on water purification before completing our final mile of the day. Our initial plans to hike to the peak at Blue Lake had changed, causing the group to hike back to the trailhead. Our group was able to crush fifteen miles and remain high spirited and focused, Nate, George and Dylan in a flow state, Robert still leading the pack. Once at the trailhead, we grabbed water and applauded our peers for their accomplishment. We went to our new campsite for the evening to set up camp and cook our dinner of Ramen; a backcountry classic. Hiding from the mosquitoes, we had our Moonup huddled together in our bug out. The crew remained positive and grateful regardless of our shift in plans. We fell asleep exhausted and proud of our resilience and willingness to go with the flow.
The following morning welcomed a sleep in after our previous day’s activity. We had breakfast and jumped in the van and headed out of the backcountry. We stopped in Pinedale for a swim and to clean ourselves off, and Michael whipped up some delicious burgers. We headed in the van to drive back to Jackson and prepared for an awesome day hike in the morning. We also developed the idea to have an Iron Chef cook-off the next day, so we divided the teams and assigned ingredients for them to dream about.
We woke up, had a quick breakfast, and hit the road back into town, where each team shopped for the cook-off at Albertson’s until we returned to Grand Teton National Park for our awesome day hike in Death Canyon and around Phelps Lake. Along Phelps Lake, we paused to jump off the rock cliffs several times to cool off in an extreme way. The trail was full of gorgeous flowers, sweeping views of the lake, the Tetons, and the faraway Wind River Range. Once back at the trailhead, we cruised back to the campground to begin our competition. George, Charlie, Robert, Kyle, Addison, and Margot prepared crunch wraps with their assigned ingredients beans and rice, while Halliden, Nina, Lalah, Dylan, Henry, and Nate whipped up some pasta bolognaise with their assigned pasta. After judges Caroline and Michael had an elegant sufficiency of each, we determined a tie, as the crunch wraps had superior plating and creativity, but the pasta provided better taste. We called over someone staying at a nearby campsite to break the tie, and with the final vote, the crunch wrap reigned supreme. Once the dishes were done, we celebrated with s’mores by the campfire and held Moonup. The next few days will have us rock climbing in Teton Village and Grand Teton National Park. We cannot wait!
Caroline and Michael
July 20, 2023
Hello Big Wild families!!
Today we were greeting everyone with big smiles as they arrived in Jackson! We hopped in the van and set off to have a picnic lunch at Signal Mountain with a spectacular view to enjoy our first few moments together. Along the drive, Charlie and Henry kept everyone entertained with jokes and stories while we wove through the National Park. We went for a swim in Slide Lake to cool off, where Lalah set the bar for how best to enter the water – don’t think just run in! Nina and Kyle weren’t far behind to enjoy the water. Meanwhile, Dylan showcased his rock skipping skills, galvanizing the other boys to try and beat him.
We drove to our campsite for the evening and played cards, Spikeball, and tested who could get a cookie from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands. Halliden was our reigning Champion. Continuing with Moondance tradition, we had a pizza party for our first night together as we awaited our final two arrivals, Robert and Nate. We had a nice big fire to keep us warm and began our first night of Moonup. Everyone was excited to greet their new peers and set goals for themselves for the next two weeks of our time together. We soon went to bed to prepare for an early wake up!
This morning was not just any morning, but it was Halliden’s 15th Birthday! We started it off with Taylor Swifts’ “Fifteen” while Michael whipped up some blueberry pancakes. Hoots and hollers were shared as Halliden emerged from her tent, along with birthday banners and headbands. After breakfast, we loaded up the van to meet up with our Fly fishing guides for the day. We started off with lessons from our guide Liam, about different types of fish and what kind of flies we would be using.
The crew had their shot at casting, mastering the technique. George was a natural, catching the eye of our guides early on, while Robert and Nate were quick to get their form in tip top shape. Once everyone had ample time to practice, we had a competition to see who could cast furthest. Margot and Lalah crushed everybody by several feet. With our champions crowned, we split up into groups to head to the Snake River and start fishing. Addison caught our one and only fish of the day, a gorgeous cutthroat trout. After a while of casting in the dry Wyoming heat, many of the students spent their afternoon swimming in the Snake River, which probably scared the fish away, but all had a great time splashing away beneath the Tetons. The group is really coming together as we look forward to backpacking in the Winds!
July 15, 2023
Hello Big Wild Families!
We heard from our leaders last night that the group has landed safely in Jackson Hole! 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!