July 2, 2023
Greetings from Alaska!
After backpacking, we spent the afternoon hanging around the campsite relaxing and fueling up for our next activity: whitewater rafting! We met our outfitter, NOVA, the next morning for an overnight float on the Matanuska River, a river that flows from the same glacier we ice climbed on. After being fitted for dry suits, booties, helmets, life jackets, a quick ride up river, and a few strong kids unloading boats, we were on our way.
The first part of the day was through the whitewater section that holds class 3 and 4 rapids. Through it all, the kids paddled strong and stayed upright, hooting and hollering through wave trains. Summer sat up on the front of the raft and took a big wave head on, falling back into the boat, laughing it off right away. Boyd admired the Chugach range to the south of us as we dodged boulders in the river.
After making it past the intense whitewater section, we entered calmer water and made our way back to the NOVA campsite. Our guides took us down a newly opened river channel that had never been descended in order to get to the takeout. Skye named it “moondance magic” and the guides loved it!
After shedding the dry suites, our guides prepared a sandwich spread for lunch on the riverbank and Abby was easily the most excited, she said she would never take a sandwich for granted again. After a big lunch and a few snacks, we headed down the river for a relaxing afternoon, admiring the mountains and enjoying the good weather. Our guides pulled off a few miles downriver and we set up camp while they cooked us an amazing enchilada casserole in a Dutch oven. Everyone was full and happy!
While we waited, the kids either napped or played a rock skipping game and in the end Winnie proved to be the king. After dinner, the guides needed help cleaning up so Sam volunteered to delete the rest of the enchilada sauce can without hesitation, at an impressive speed! The guides also surprised us with a chocolate cake and Caleb sprinted out of the tent to try and be first in line when he found out. All the kids were happy to have a well deserved sugar rush.
After getting off the river, we transferred to Talkeetna, Alaska to have a flight around the Denali region. Our pilots told us that there has only been 4 days this season where you could see the summit, and our group had a perfect blue sky as we soared over glaciers and towards the largest mountain in North America. James was glued to the window and saw 4 moose as we returned to the foothills of the mountains and back to our campsite.
The next, and final day of our trip, proved to be bittersweet. We walked into Talkeetna and sat down for a proper meal at a restaurant and at the end all of the kids were happy and full. Afterwards, we walked around town, shopped, and enjoyed a relaxing moment after 3 weeks of constant travel and adventure. Trent found a poncho that spoke his name and he had to have it.
Our leader team would like to thank y’all again for sharing your amazing kids with us on this grand adventure. Their humility, passion, and sense of adventure is incredible for the young adults that they are. We can not help ourselves but be jealous and inspired by them. Thank you again and happy trails!
Signing off for the last time,
Hayden, Logan, and Sarah
June 29, 2023
Hello to all parents and loved ones! The past 8 days were spent backpacking in the Southern
Talkeetna mountains, some of the most wild terrain that Alaska has to offer. After our prep day,
we were shuttled to an ATV trailhead where we started our journey. We did an out and back trail
with one rest day that everyone loved because we slept in, ate a bunch of food, and shared
many laughs together. Each day we broke down camp, cooked on backcountry stoves, packed
our packs, and headed down the trail to find a new camp and do it all again. We saw bear
tracks almost every day, but no bears! We saw a mama moose with babies from a safe distance.
We saw wolf tracks and experienced incredible weather in Alaska. All in all, we covered about
26 miles in 8 days and everyone became proficient campers, from setting up camp, to risk
management, and every single kid absolutely crushed this section and are now confident campers
in the most wild place that this country has to offer. The leaders are truly proud of the people that
your kids have become. How many teenagers can say they’ve backpacked for over a week in
Alaska?! Not many.
Winnie led the pack every single day and found the best route for everyone to follow. He also
cheffed up awesome meals whenever he was on cook crew. Trent was the king of mud pits,
running through every single one he could find and kept a great attitude even when his boots
got stuck and he kept going. Sam and Boyd took advantage of every extra hike they could,
asking Logan every night if they could climb this hill or that hill and they always beat Logan
whenever they went on their own journeys. Caleb stepped up and played a big roll every night in
setting up the bear burrito to keep all our food safe from the animals around us. James
continued to smile throughout the entire section and took every chance he could to use
Hayden’s binoculars to find mountain goats on the nearby peaks. Abby kept the energy up the
entire section and made everyone laugh when we all needed it. The leader team never saw her
upset and she was a real powerhouse for the group. Skye’s ankle proved to hurt more than she
led on and the leader team, along with the office, made the decision for her to hike back out to
see medical attention. After a few days of rest, she hiked back in with Logan to reunite with the
group and brought the energy that the group needed at the end of our section. Summer had a
tough time with her friend Skye leaving the group, but powered through and ended up crushing
the rest of the trip. Her attitude and perseverance were incredible to witness on this section.
Here are some Thank You’s from your kiddos:
Winslow- I want to thank my mother and father for sending me on this trip. I have had a really
good time with more to come. I also want to thank my brother for trying to relate to my
struggles. Love you all.
Skye- Thank you to all of my family for sending me on this trip and allowing me to have an
experience like this. I’ve had so much fun with everyone here, it’s such an amazing place to
see. I love you all, see you soon.
Caleb- Many thanks to my family for sending me here. It is better than I could have ever
imagined. Love you all and see y’all soon!
Sam – thank you so much mom and dad for sending me here. I’ve learned so much and have
had so many great experiences. I love you both and can’t wait to see you. Say hi to Charlie for
me and give Oakley a huge hug pls and thank you.
Boyd- Thank you Mom and Dad for sending me on this amazing trip to Alaska. I have had the
best time and will be sad to leave this beautiful place in a couple days but excited to see you all
Abby- thanks mom for sending me on this trip. I’m having so much fun. Love you and can’t wait
to see you!
James – Thank y’all so much for giving me the opportunity to experience Alaska! This trip has
been amazing and I wanted to say thank you. Love y’all and see ya soon.
Summer- thank you guys for sending me on this trip to Alaska. It has been amazing and I had
such a good time. I love you and I’ll see you soon.
Trent- Hey mom and dad thanks for sending me to Alaska.
June 20, 2023
Hello family and friends!
After sea kayaking, we bussed to our next campsite between the Chugach and Talkeetna
mountain ranges where we were greeted by our new outfitter. We had an early bedtime to rest up
for the next two days filled with ice climbing on the Matanuska glacier.
We woke up to a beautiful blue sky and fueled up before a day filled with new activities for
everyone. We met our outfitter and got fitted for boots, crampons, helmets, and harnesses
before getting shuttled to the glacier. Abby hopped out of the van with a big smile and told
everyone just how excited she was to try something new! After a mile approach we strapped on
the crampons and began walking on the ice. Skye walked with ease and confidence as if she
had been born on the glacier.
After walking on the glacier for a while, we started our descent into a crevasse that we would
climb out of. Our guides set up three top ropes varying in difficulty and Caleb went straight for
the hardest route off the bat, which he crushed with ease. After a couple climbs, Sam wanted
more of a challenge and climbed the glacier without using any tools. Summer climbed all three
routes as if she had been doing this for years. After a long day and a hot meal, Trent came up
with a beautiful Moonup question that brought the group closer.
The next day, our guides told us that we were going to try something new that they haven’t done
with many other groups! They drove us to the Chickaloon River and paddled us across so that
we could access the other side of the glacier. We hiked a couple miles and strapped our
crampons on again once we reached the glacier. From there we hiked until we reached a spot
and all of us were slightly confused. Our guides began setting up anchors in the ice and we
soon realized that we would repel down the cliff and then climb back out.
Winnie went straight for the hardest route and crushed it, using the technique that he had only
learned one day before. Boyd climbed so fast that the guides had to tell him to slow down
because they couldn’t belay fast enough. Once the group got their fill of ice climbing on the
glacier, we hiked back out, recrossed the river, and stopped into a local ice cream place before
dinner. James jumped out of the van with a big smile and yelled with excitement and we filed in
to get our scoops. We had an hour break between arrival to camp and dinner that was was
filled with friendship bracelets, journaling, and naps.
Tomorrow is our much needed rest and prep day for our 8 day backpacking section in the
Southern Talkeetnas. The group is coming together beautifully and we are so thankful that you
have chosen to send your kids on this adventure. They are all truly incredible people and we
cannot wait to see them perform during backpacking. Below are shoutouts that all the kids have
Logan, Sarah, and Hayden
Caleb– Wassup y’all we are currently ice climbing which feels like living in a Minecraft realm. We saw a bunch of bald eagles kayaking. MURICA!
James– Hey everyone! We just got done sea kayaking and it was great. We saw a giant glacier and tons of bald eagles. We just started ice climbing and it’s been great! Love y’all
Boyd– Whaddup everybody, I’m having a great time in Alaska and about to go ice climbing. Hope all is well down in Atlanta and say hey to Pam and Harry for me.
Winnie– Hey Y’all it’s Winnie, just wanted to let you guys know I’m having a great time in Alaska, we’re doing the second day of ice climbing today, I’m so excited! Say hi to piper and harry and the dogs for me, love you guys.
Trent– What’s going on y’all, I went ice climbing.
Abby– HEY GUYS, I miss y’all so much! We’re ice climbing and it is so fun! Say hi to Kyra, Ella, Madison, and Emma for me! Love you mom!
Skye– Hey, we just got done sea Kayaking and it was so beautiful but super cold and wet at times. We are now ice climbing and it’s a super cool experience. Say hi to Sheridan for me. Love y’all!
Summer– Hi I miss you guys and the cats. We just got done with four days of sea kayaking and now we are ice climbing. We saw lots of animals and it has been really cool. I love you.
Sam – Hey fam, we are all done with sea kayaking. It was awesome, especially when the weather was nice. Now we’re doing ice climbing and it makes me feel like spider man when I don’t use the picks. Give Oakley a huge hug I miss him. Love you all!
June 18, 2023
Hello from The Land of the Midnight Sun!
We are so thankful that you have sent your kids to join us on this incredible adventure and arethoroughly enjoying getting to know them. After everyone landed, we had a pizza dinner in theairport before getting picked up by a charter bus to take us to our first campsite in Anchorage.Everyone got to experience sleeping under the Midnight Sun and Abby spent her first night in a tent!
Day two we transferred to Whittier to prepare for our 4 day sea kayaking section in PrinceWilliam Sound. This day was full of lessons and food prep, something that Skye stepped up andhelped out a ton with. We met with our outfitter as well and went over the plan and some riskmanagement items. Caleb and Boyd jumped in and rattled off all the Leave No Trace principlesthat we covered only hours before. We let the kids loose on cooking dinner and Winnieimmediately took point and whipped up a stellar pasta feast.
Day three was our first day of sea kayaking, and what an amazing day it was. We met our watertaxi at the beach within Whittier and loaded up all our gear and kayaks into the aluminum drawbridge boat. Summer was brave enough to stand outside in the rain to enjoy the view as wesped through the sound. They dropped us off and from then on we were completely self-sufficient. Our guide, Victor, taught us how to paddle, pack a kayak, and how to move kayaksbefore we were under way. Everyone was in high spirits as we kayaked 4 miles in the rain to ourcampsite.
Day four was a day trip to get closer Blackstone Glacier, something that everyone was eager todo. It was a 4 mile kayak there in the rain and wind and everyone was excited due to the scenery. Trent spotted a black bear far away on the bank and everyone saw it walking along thesnow during our lunch break. As we approached the glacier, Sam could not stop smiling andtold everyone just how cool it was that we were there. We ended our day with another hot mealprepared for the kids and finally got a break from the rain and wind.
Day five brought the sun, a rarity in the Prince William Sound. Our guide grouped our kayakstogether and used a tarp to sail us along the coast. When the wind died down, James blew intothe sail and somehow sparked the wind to rise again. Everyone enjoyed the sun and blue skiesafter a slow, cold drizzle the past few days.
Day six woke us up with a clear blue sky and warm weather. Everyone’s faces were filled withsmiles as we shed our warm layers and changed into t-shirts and lightweight long sleeves forpaddling. We finished out our first section with a 10 mile paddle back into Whittier and said ourfinal goodbyes to Victor. We celebrated a safe and successful journey with a burger and icecream in Anchorage. All the kids were happy and full as we bussed to our next campsite. Upnext, glacier trekking and once climbing!Thank you again for sending your kids on this trip! We have shared many laughs and havemade memories to last a lifetime already.
Logan, Sarah, and Hayden
June 13, 2023
Hello Northern Lights Families!
We heard from our leaders overnight and the group has landed safely in Anchorage with all of their luggage! 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!