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Colorado Trail 3A • July 12-July 25, 2023

Hello From the Denver Airport!

July 26, 2023

What a beautiful last few days we’ve had here in Colorado! Ending the trip with more white-water rafting was a wonderful full-circle moment. We’ve come so far from barely knowing each other to feeling like family. Not to mention our paddling skills were expert by this point!


We started our final-activity morning with fresh bacon, scrambled eggs, and a wild combination of yogurt, fruit, honey, and granola. Brooks cooked our bacon to perfection while Tibbie whipped up the eggs. It was a great start to a beautiful day on the river.


Our raft guides were the most exciting we’ve had yet, setting up raft wrestling and splash battles for everyone to enjoy. Mid-day, we stopped a few miles down the river for everyone to enjoy some deli sandwiches and keep our bodies fueled for the rest of the day. After lunch, Sandy pushed Maddie into the cold water, starting what would become a full-on water war between boats! Jack and Lucas had a blast trying to tackle everyone into the river, even leaping into the water to get some of the other people from the other boat into the river. Everyone teamed up to get Zoe into the water with great success too. Afterwards, Lucy’s boat teamed up to tackle their own raft guide into the river! There were laughs and smiles all around.


After rafting, we dried off and headed back to our campsite for a final night under the stars. We snacked on cotton candy grapes (Violet’s favorite), cherries, and veggies while Murphy, Sara, and Deegan cooked up a scrumptious chicken alfredo dinner. During Moonup, Clay and Sandy pranked the group that they were in trouble when they were just opening the Nug Jug! After Moonup, Clay read a poem he had written during the trip then opened up the opportunity to speak to the rest of the group. We took turns sharing our favorite moments from the trip and things we’ve learned that we want to keep forever. Finally, we hugged each other hard and said our goodnights before drifting to sleep under the stars.


Tibbie and Deegan joined Clay for an early morning run, taking in the golden mountains of the sunrise before we set off for Denver. Deegan crushed the first 3.5 miles before returning to his sleeping bag to enjoy some well-earned sleep the rest of the morning. Meanwhile, Tibbie tagged along with Clay to finish out 5.44 miles! After everyone woke up, Maddie, Ginna, and Jack whipped up a huge pile of pancakes before our long drive. The Nutella was yet again the most liked topping for pancakes, especially for Campbell!


The finale of our trip was a schedule consisting of morning pancakes, a tasty (very creative) Iron Chef competition, the craziest thrift shop outfits you’ve ever seen, a fulfilling dinner, and an incredible van-wide dance party. For Iron Chef, the boys concocted a “hamburger” dessert with pancakes as patties while the girls built a rice crispy treat empanada. It was an amazing day. Though our goodbyes today were hard and teary, we will always remember the memories we’ve shared from the past two weeks. These kids are special, it was an utter joy to show them new experiences and adventures!


Until next time,

Sandy, Clay, and Lucy

Rockin' out at Rock Climbing!

July 23, 2023

Hello from Taylor Canyon!

We have had an absolute blast climbing over the past few days on two different crags outside of Almont. Yesterday morning, our wonderful cook crew of Sara, Murphy, and Deegan cooked up a delicious breakfast hash for us as we slowly woke up to a beautiful view of the reservoir. After wrapping up all our sleeping stuff and leaving camp for the day, we headed over to meet our guides at the base of the rock. They got us all geared up with shoes, harnesses, and helmets and explained the routes and some rock-climbing safety basics to us before we started! Lucas was the first to jump on the rock, immediately trying the hardest route. To his left, Deegan started up on the far-left route. In the middle, Ginna started up as well. Everybody ran into some trouble on the hardest move of one route, but after Clay showed us how it’s done, Ginna led the pack over the tough move.

For lunch, we made some deli sandwiches and then hopped in the van to drive to Crested Butte for our town day! It was a beautiful day, and a perfect one to walk around town. We spent the afternoon shopping around for t shirts, sweatshirts, and hats! Some favorite stops were the fly shops in town, as well as the fun store with lots of goodies and a sale section! The boys were determined to find a hat they all liked so they could get the same one together. Before heading back to camp, we stopped to grab some delicious ice cream and enjoy town a bit more. Tibbie’s cup was a sight to see – about 5 scoops under the “single scoop” order! Others like Campbell and Sara tried out Sandy’s favorite order – a malt shake with their flavor of choice. Our last stop before leaving town involved the LODs stocking up on some groceries for our final few days!

Upon arriving back at camp, we were eager to cool down in the water. Many sprinted to the small beach by our campsite bringing, of course, our biodegradable soap for a lake bath! Refreshed and clean, everyone headed back up to camp to start our burger cookout prepared by Maddie, Ginna and Jack. Brooks requested a new addition to the traditional meal – tater tots! Meanwhile, Zoe, Violet, Tibbie, and Sandy were catching up on life at a nearby picnic table – a normal occurrence!

The next morning, we ate a quick breakfast of bagels with cream cheese, yogurt and fruit, and a fun Cinnamon Toast Crush topping. After cleaning up and leaving our campsite better than we found it, we headed out for our second day of climbing! This location involved a little bit of a hike, but everyone was excited to be up there! Once again, Lucas took to the rock first on a route that was twice the height of the other ones, and Campbell was the first to try repelling himself down the route on the right! When everyone was done, Lucas, Clay, Tibbie, and Lucy stayed to try some more challenging routes while the others hung out at the van.

Back at the van, we made chicken Caesar wraps for lunch, Clay cut up a watermelon, and we hung out by the river before driving to our next campsite! Upon arriving, we took another dip in the river and played lots of cards in the shade. Brooks and Jack were determined to figure out their key to Sandy’s magic card trick and before we knew it, they had it down. As the sun set behind the canyon walls, Violet and Ginna made some delicious guacamole while Campbell and Lucas cooked tacos for us to fuel up on before rafting tomorrow! At Moonup, we relived our favorite memories from the trip so far. LODs for the next day are Zoe and Murphy! We hopped in bed early to get a good night’s sleep, and we can’t wait to be on the river again!

Murphy – I miss y’all! See you soon, can’t wait to eat chick fil a!
Brooks – Miss you guys! Can we get chick fil a the night I come back?
Jack – I miss you! I’m having a great time.
Deegan – Miss you! Can’t wait to see you in a couple of days!
Lucas – Can’t wait to see you, I’ll see you on Tuesday!
Campbell – I don’t want to leave but I can’t wait to see you!
Tibbie – Hey Mom and Dad! Miss you but I’m having so much fun. Love you! Can’t wait to see you soon!
Sara – Hi Mom and Dad! Miss you and missing May May and Noxy. Love you!
Maddie – Hi Mom and Dad! Miss y’all and see you soon!
Zoe – Hi Mom and Dad! Miss you and can’t wait to see you soon.
Violet – Hi Mom and Dad. Love and miss y’all, having a great time.
Ginna – Hi Mom and Dad! Miss y’all and having a lot of fun. Can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love you.

Until next time,
Sandy, Lucy, and Clay

Hello from the Blue Mesa Reservoir!

July 21, 2023

Our journey to the backcountry was incredible to say the least. From polar plunges to waterfall showers, we checked a handful of things off the bucket list and got closer than ever before as a group. We will cherish the memories from the past few days forever!

Our journey began waking up, eating delicious breakfast burritos, and packing up all group gear and personal gear into our backpacks. Before we knew it, we were off to Kilpacker trail! Once we arrived, we fueled up on deli sandwiches and felt cleansed by a brief rain shower. Our LODs, Murphy and Zoe functioned as our captain and caboose as we started north. Tibbie and Zoe were sharing stories in the back while Clay led the game of “a million questions” in the front. Before we knew it, we were at our first campsite – a beautiful field in view of the large “El Diente” mountain and right next to a raging waterfall. We had hit the jackpot! Almost immediately, we all went to explore the waterfall and the water was tempting after a hot day of hiking. Clay, Lucas, and Deegan started off the trend dunking themselves in the freezing water and Sandy and Maddie were close to follow. Sooner or later, almost the whole group was under the falls! The whole experienced was vloged on the GoPro, per usual. After, we cooked up chicken ramen and got ready for bed. Our Moonup question for the night was “what would your B+ superpower be?” The new LODs were announced: Tibbie and Lucas.

The next morning we got to sleep in and have a slow morning of oatmeal, grits, and card games. We decided to explore the waterfalls from above, bushwhacking our way up hills and having a blast. Upon returning, several people cooled off in the water while we prepared “the Davis” (cinnamon and sugar cooked apples) and tortillas and the kids played “hot seat.” Full and fueled, we played a group-wide game of sardines in the woods with Maddie and Zoe hiding in the nearby tall grass. Dinner consisted of delicious fajita bowls prepared by Lucy, Sara, Murphy, and Deegan. Meanwhile, Ginna and Tibbie took turns sharing scary stories! For Moonup, the LODs asked the group, “who is your biggest role model?” After parting, Maddie and Zoe decided to cowboy camp under the stars while Sandy stayed with Tibbie and Ginna in their tent to hear life stories. Meanwhile, Clay led multiple photo shoots with everyone under the stars — Murphy got extra into it!

The next morning, we awoke to the blazing sun and our cook crew — Violet, Campbell, and Lucas – preparing some mean Lucky Charm pancakes. Full and ready for action, we packed our day packs and heading straight uphill towards Navajo Lake. 4.5 miles later, we were at the top! Campbell was the first to jump in, with Deegan and Jack following. After a while, most people had dunked! Lucy led some fly fishing and Lucas caught fish in the alpine lake! To our misfortune, however, a large rain cloud was approaching fast taking away the warmth of the sun. Huddled in lightning position, Sara and Violet made funny faces and noises to keep morale up. Once the worst had passed, we packed our things and headed back down to the campsite where Deegan, Murphy, and Sara immediately prepared pita pizzas and chicken teriyaki. During clean up, the three of them took “river showers” with our 18-in-1 soap – the first to do so of the whole summer! All the while, Lucy and Clay were teaching the group how to play Poker and Brooks dominated! For Moonup, we went around in a circle and said our favorite thing about the person to our left. All the boys plus Maddie, Zoe, and Tibbie slept under the stars.

Our final day consisted of packing up camp, eating a quick oatmeal breakfast, and heading out. On the way, Murphy took a tumble during a river crossing but handled it like a champ. We played several rounds of our favorite trail games and before we knew it, were back at the van smiling at our hiking accomplishment! We celebrated with a pizza lunch in Telluride and good music in the van. We can’t wait for climbing tomorrow!

Until next time,

Sandy, Lucy, and Clay

Hello From the Sand Dunes!

July 17, 2023

Saturday was a fantastic day, starting bright and early celebrating Jack’s birthday! Tibbie, Zoe, and Brooks cooked up some breakfast sandwiches on croissants for us to fuel up for the ropes course and zip line! As everyone piled into the van, Lucy, Sandy and Clay tossed nerd clusters around the van and played a happy birthday song as we began our all-day celebration of Jack. Of course, Jack got to DJ all the way to Captain Zipline. Upon arrival, we met our guides and they fitted us up in harnesses and taught us how to use the carabiners to get ourselves across the ropes course. Everybody was eager to get out onto the course! Meanwhile, Clay was headed into town to grab some groceries, and of course, a chocolate cake for the birthday boy. Back at the ropes courses, Ginna was the first to be welcomed by the guides to the double black diamond course, followed by Campbell, Lucas, and Deegan.

After everyone had completed all the routes they wanted to, we headed back up to lunch for a whole spread of food that Clay set up for us. We munched on tortillas with jelly, sun butter, Nutella, sausage and cheese! We also had some fresh watermelon and grapes! The LOD’s, Violet and Campbell, helped pass out surprise Capri-suns to distract everyone from Lucy and Clay secretly bringing out the cake. After everyone was cake-stuffed, we strapped on our zipline harnesses, and lined up behind Lucas (who made sure to be first in line) for the first zip line! Our guides, Blake and Layne, made the day as exciting as possible, playing music and cracking jokes all afternoon. To make the afternoon even more exciting, Sandy began calling out animals for each kid to make a noise for and act out! The most entertaining part was the group on the far side of the line guessing what kind of animal the person in the air was acting out!

After hanging out at Captain Zipline for a little bit longer, we hopped in the car and headed to the Sand Dunes. We immediately cooked up some fried rice, watched the sun set over the dunes from a few different trees, and headed into Moonup. Violet and Campbell asked the group “what constitutes a real friendship?” After hearing some great answers, the group randomly fell into a laugh fest after Campbell decided that Lucy’s laugh sounded like a windshield wiper! Everybody slept under the stars that night, preparing for a 3 am wakeup call!

A few hours later, everyone was sitting around the same picnic table eating some oatmeal and preparing for the hike ahead of us. Clay played some tunes for us as we headed up the first foothill, with everybody singing along to “The Nights.” Before we knew it, we had made it to the top of High Dune, and sat down to watch the sunrise over the mountains, and the sunlight spill over the valley and the dunes toward us. A burst of energy hit everyone as the sun came over the ridge, prompting many wrestling matches (with Deegan beating Sandy in a match) and a payback attack on Clay for tossing cold water on the boys during rafting! Meanwhile, Ginna, and Lucas hiked over the ridge across from us with the sand boards and perfected their skills shredding the sand. On the way down, Jack, Deegan, and Campbell took a couple spills each running down the dunes, while Murphy triumphed in his successful, no-fall, run down a dune. Running right next to them, Brooks made himself some elf shoes with all the sand at the toes of his socks!

We headed back to the van to cook up some strawberry, blueberry, and chocolate chip pancakes, courtesy of Jack, Maddie, and Ginna! After a long car ride full of naps and good music, we arrived at our campsite to pack for backpacking. With some extra time before dinner, we drove down to a beach spot on the reservoir and enjoyed a swim, mostly filled with chicken fights and laughter. Sara and others made their way to a nearby playground too! For dinner, we cooked up some pesto pasta with sausage, and headed to bed under the stars, dreaming about our backpacking to the San Juans!

Until next time!

Lucy, Sandy, and Clay

Hello from the Arkansas River!!

July 16, 2023

Hello from the Arkansas River!!

We’ve had an amazing past few days getting to know each other! We cannot thank you enough for sharing such wonderful kids with us and we cannot wait to see what the next couple weeks has in store for us. This is a truly remarkable group.

Airport day was filled with new hellos, familiar and unfamiliar hugs, name-games, and card games by baggage claim. We could tell from our first game that Ginna has the best poker face in the group! We couldn’t have been more excited. After everyone arrived, we drove to our first campsite blasting music and bonding in the car. Everyone learned how to properly set up a tent and we ended the night with fresh local pizza from Salida. Bellies full, we sat around in a circle, headlamps on, for our first Moonup. We asked, “why are you here?” and announced the new “LODs” (Leaders of the Day) for the next day: Brooks and Ginna.

We began our rafting day with fresh bagels and cream cheese, good music, and hyped-up energy. We packed up camp, and headed to River Runners. We learned river safety with our wonderful river guides, Keke and Alexis, then hit the river. Mandy, our first boat, named by Sara, set off strong hitting several rapids. Zoe was what we called our “passenger princess,” hanging out in the middle riding through each wave. During our first stop, everyone got soaked in the water – some out of surprise! Maddie and Sandy threw Violet into the water and the rest of the girls lifted Lucy and dropped her into the water too. There were laughs all around! After lunch, we continued down the river to our first campsite. Upon arrival, we cooled off in the water and explored our surroundings, and set up our tents on the beach!. Zoe and Tibbie took a long walk on the abandoned train tracks while the boys walked the opposite direction. On his way, Jack discovered an old mine site! Before we knew it, everyone was running over to see the discovery. Meanwhile, Sara, Maddie, Violet, and Ginna found a flat rock right by the river to bask in the sun and scout out the first rapid we would hit the next day!

After a wonderful spaghetti and salad dinner, Clay took everyone to hike up the nearby mountain for sunset. At the top, the views were incredible. Tibbie, far below, decided to take the more difficult route and everyone up top was cheering her on. But we just couldn’t stop there — everyone wanted to go higher! While the rest of the group used their hands and feet to climb up boulders, Sandy and Violet bonded on a long train track walk. It was a wonderful end activity to the perfect day. In classic river fashion, we huddled up in a boat for MoonUp, which started with a creative “nug-jug” story by Brooks. After giving “nugs” to great moments throughout the day, we discussed what our favorite place is, and shared a memory that made that place so special. After some late-night card games and stargazing we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the river.

The next morning, we awoke to the smell of our wonderful raft guides cooking up some breakfast burritos! After packing up the gear boat and going over some safety again, we hopped in the raft and headed straight for some class 3 rapids! Campbell and Lucas had a cold wakeup call sitting in the front of Lucy’s raft getting pummeled by a wave in “zoom flume.” For lunch, we ate sandwiches, fruit, Pringles, and Oreos at a picnic table by the river, under the shadow of a few “14-ers.” After lunch, Deegan took the place of our guide Alexis and guided the boat! He called out commands like a pro — even Alexis was impressed. After cleaning up gear at River Runners, we headed into downtown Buena Vista where the LOD’s, Deegan and Maddie, picked out some surprises for everyone, and then we walked to an ice cream shop and hung out at a park! After returning to our campsite, we played some volleyball with a soccer ball, lots of cards, and explored by the river, everyone having a chance to wear Murphy’s sunglasses! Our first cook crew, Campbell, Violet, and Lucas cooked up some Mac-n-cheese and sausage for dinner, with Lucas taking charge of the sausage! After the sun went down, we gathered in a circle for MoonUp, sharing the best advice we have ever received, and passed out Moondance shirts and journals for everyone.

Tomorrow, we will head over to complete a ropes course and zipline through the canyons! Thank you again for sharing your wonderful children with us, we are all having an absolute blast.

Until next time!

Sandy, Clay, and Lucy

Safe Arrival in Denver!

July 12, 2023

Hello Colorado Trail Families!

We just heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Denver! 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!


-Moondance HQ


  • Brooks
  • Campbell
  • Deegan
  • Ginna
  • Jack
  • Lucas
  • Maddie
  • Murphy
  • Sara
  • Tibbie
  • Violet
  • Zoe