July 25, 2023
8 days of backpacking was a huge success!!! So successful in fact that we only needed 7 days to do the entire loop. This Moondance crew was the first to complete the East Boulder Creek loop and we got to do some super unique and awesome things.
Day one started early as we woke up, packed our packs with 8 days worth of food and supplies, and hit the trail by 10. We covered 7 miles on trail as we made our way to Hicks Lake four our first night. Spirits were high as we crushed our first day and got into the Alaska’s backcountry and set up camp. Wyatt, Isabella, Caroline and Mac were so excited to hike, that they summited a local mountain after Moonup before going to sleep.
Day two began bright and early with some perfect weather, and another hard day of eight miles pushed us deep into the back country. From there we bushwhacked and followed Carribou creek for a number of miles, camping along the river bed, before ultimately veering off to climb up into the tundra. By day 4, we were ready to cross the highest point of our climb, a pass 5744 feet tall deep in the Talkeetna range. The weather was frigid and rainy as we made our way up into the mountains, and we had to wait for a break in the fog to attempt the last climb, resting by a blue alpine lake for lunch. When the fog finally disappeared, we covered a large section of scree before reaching the top. After a long day of backpacking, we camped on the other side of the pass, and took some comfort from the rain.
Day five began our descent down from the tundra, as we gathered our stuff and traded Carribou sheds we found a long the way. Leaving the tundra again meant bigger bushes and less game trails, which slowed down our miles per hour, but spirits remained high even with the harsher terrain. After two days of rain and wet clothes, awaking to blue skies was a huge morale boost, and we quickly moved down back into the forrest, picking our pace back up, and finding an awesome spot to put our tents up. After consulting with the LODs, Lillian and Elsa, on the morning of day seven with another perfect weather day, everyone agreed that with only seven miles left, we could finish the loop and take a 0 day back at camp. With high spirits and a lot of singing, we crushed out the last day, rejoiced as we finally made it back to the road and civilization.
The next day was mostly sleeping in, enjoying running water, and resting for our next section, though the following day was one of our most action packed. Our two day rafting trip began on some crazy whitewater. We hit some class III and IV rapids with force as we cruised down the Matanuska river. Charlie sat front and center as wave after wave of glacial cold water crashed into him, and Reese and Sophie got to experience a true polar plunge. We next floated up and got out for a great spot for lunch, and then hopped back in for an afternoon of floating to our next campsite along the river.
Today began with an amazing breakfast on the water, where we then floated again down stream into Chickaloon to the takeout. From there, we had lunch, and then got picked up for our last activity in Talkeetna. Once in town, we set up tents, then walked over to our bush plane, and took a tour of Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. Reese and Mary Blake got to fly shotgun with the pilot as we all witnessed three sides do the peak and some of the largest shear cliffs on the planet. Overall it was an insane ending to an amazing trip.
As a leader team, we are so thankful for the amazing kids you all have given us, and we are so proud of everything they have accomplished. Alaska is one of the most beautiful, aww inspiring places on earth, and we are so glad we got to share it with some amazing people!!
July 23, 2023
Today we finished up our ice climbing section! After a beautiful drive out of Whittier and with a brief stop in Anchorage for burgers, we made it to Nova to camp by the Matanuska glacier. Day One of ice climbing began with getting our crampons, helmets and ice axes all situated, and then a long hike out on the glacier. Everyone adjusted quickly to the different environment as we made our way to the wall. Mac and Reese were the first to give it a shot after a brief demonstration of proper technique, and the rest of the group was quick to follow. Everyone did an awesome job, and it was super exciting to see everyone having fun and trying something new and incredibly unique. The day ended with a scenic hike out as we got some amazing views of different features in the ice before. At camp Lillian and Elsa helped chef up some hard-earned pasta, and everybody got some much-needed rest.
Day two started a little differently as we got up to try some different routes. To start, we had to raft over to a different section of the glacier which had much more technical walls to climb after we went over the basics the day before. Mary Blake and Sophie jumped right into the climbing, as this time we descended into a crevasse that had picture perfect blue ice shooting up on all sides. Charlie and Caroline were particularly enthused with the new spot, and Isabella even got her picture on the ice. By the end of the day, everyone had succeeded on multiple routes and Wyatt had completed everything, so we were ready to head out.
Today we woke up late and got some rest after a long couple days of outdoor recreation. Tomorrow, we head out into the Talkeetnas for our 8-day backpacking activity, so we’re focusing on prepping all of the logistics today. We’ll give you all another update as soon as we’re out of the back country, so wish us all luck!!!
Logan, Sarah, and Hayden
July 12, 2023
Hello everyone!!! Super excited to give our first trip update! We started our Alaskan adventure by heading to the mountains to camp first thing after gathering everyone up from the airport and getting in a quick moonup before bed. Day two began with Charlie and Isabella providing some awesome leadership as LODs getting us situated as we made our way to Whittier Alaska where our first activity is based out. The drive over on the Old Seward highway provided some insane views of the Cook Inlet and the nearby mountains, while also taking us through the longest tunnel in North America.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to get going on our first day of sea kayaking!! The morning was a surprisingly sunny day for the Prince William Sound, as we suited up in our rain gear, skirts and life jackets and paddled out of town. Spirits were high and our guide did an amazing job getting us out to our beach campsite 10 miles across the water.
The next day we paddled even further out, as we turned into Blackstone Bay and got our first look at some of the glacier that make up this region. Mac and Elsa did an amazing job leading us through some of the icebergs, even if they did engage in some light water gun tomfoolery with Wyatt and Caroline as we got closer to camp. The next morning, we paddled out to Beloitte Glacier, Sophie and Mary Blake helped spot seals, salmon, otters, and sea lions along the way.
After a short night of rest, we got up early the next day to get picked up by our charter, where took a nice relaxing boat ride back into Whittier. With a dense fog and light rain, many of the kids took some time to rest, while Lillian and Isabella got outside to enjoy the weather and take some pictures. Once back into town, we got all of our equipment stuff situated, and took a bus to our next activity, ice climbing, while stopping in Anchorage along the way. This transfer time provided an awesome time to bond, with Charlie and Reese providing some awesome questions that really opened everybody up and got people talking.
Overall it’s been a really awesome part of the trip. We as a leader team feel incredibly lucky to have some truly awesome kids, and we can’t wait for everything we still have in store!!!
Logan, Sarah & Hayden
July 7, 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!