Where does my trip start?
Mountains to Sea begins in Charlotte, North Carolina. Moondance leaders will be in baggage claim at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport to greet you before heading towards your first activity! Or if you fly as an unaccompanied minor, your leader will meet you at your arrival gate.
What happens in a typical day?
There is no typical day on a Moondance adventure! You may be rock climbing one day, rafting the Ocoee River the next, or backpacking through the meadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some days you may have the chance to relax by a mountain lake or toss a Frisbee; other days you may be weaving through Class IV rapids. Either way, each day will be filled with a new adventurous activity. After a day on the ropes course, learning how to belay, or sliding down Sliding Rock into a pool of water from a clear mountain stream, your group will find a beautiful site to set up camp for the evening and enjoy a warm meal with a hot drink. No matter what adventure you choose, each night ends with ‘Moonup;’ a chance to debrief the day, talk about upcoming adventures and challenges, and just hang out.
Where are the Blue Ridge Mountains?
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a smaller chain within the Appalachian Mountain Range — the oldest mountain range in the country. The Blue Ridge begins in north Georgia and runs through West Virginia and Kentucky. It is characterized by lush forests, cool running streams and summits void of vegetation known as “balds”.
What if I’ve never paddled a raft before?
No problem, every raft is guided by a professional river guide who will lead you through the challenging rapids with expert skill. You will learn basic paddling strokes needed for your time on the Nantahala when you paddle your inflatable kayak! As with all of our water sports, everyone is required to wear a personal flotation device (or PFD).
Do I need special gear for rock climbing? What about experience?
All of the technical rock climbing equipment is provided. If you own climbing shoes, bring them along. No experience is required! Our professional climbing guides will teach you the skills and knowledge to move safely and efficiently over stone!
What is a canopy tour?
A canopy tour is a man made zip line course that is comprised of zip lines that stretch up to 1,000 feet long. You will see breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains while traveling up to 35 mph across valleys and ridges. Throughout the entire course, students will wear helmets, harnesses and will be anchored at all times. With a canopy, there is a challenge for everyone to move beyond his or her comfort zone.
I’m nervous about the canopy tour–how safe is it?
It is very safe. Your canopy tour will be facilitated by a professional ropes course instructor. Ropes, harnesses, and helmets are worn at all times.
Do I need to break in my boots for the backpacking section?
Absolutely! The most common medical injury we face in the backcountry is blisters. Though that may not seem like a big deal, blisters can turn a 6 mile hike into a nightmare if not properly attended. The best way to avoid blisters is to buy boots that fit you properly and to wear them often in order to break them in. Leather boots can take 1-2 months to break in so start early! Once your trip begins, your leaders will show you how to care for your feet to avoid any unwanted blisters!
How many miles do we backpack in a given day?
During your time in the backcountry, you will find that the weather can change both frequently and quickly. Thus, your itineraries could vary, and your instructors may decide that it is safer to set up camp early rather than continue hiking. Your group will begin to read weather patterns and will start to make these kinds of decisions too, with your instructor’s help. Your group may also decide to stop early in order to take advantage of the great fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In any case, this may mean that some days you only hike a couple of miles, while on other days when the weather is ideal and your group feels strong, you knock out 4-6 miles.
What else do we do during our backpacking section?
You will be backpacking through a beautiful part of the country that is filled with wildlife, so keep your eyes pealed! You will fine-tune your route-finding skills as you navigate through forests and mountain valleys, perfect your backcountry culinary talent during breakfast and dinner, and experience the incredible outdoors like you have never done before. There will be plenty of streams for fishing along the way and peaks beckoning to be climbed. You will learn the art of packing a backpack that will soon become second nature as well as appreciate the simplicity of life that comes from carrying your home on your back. Due to the Blue Ridge’s mild temperatures, swimming could be a possibility at any time along the trip, too.
What kind of students will be on my trip?
You will be accompanied by other 6th, 7th and 8th graders looking for adventure and challenge in the great outdoors. We look for great students who want the chance to grow and learn in some of the world’s most spectacular environments.
Will they be my same age?
Mountains to Sea is only open to current 6th through 8th graders and since we run multiple sections of each trip, there is a possibility that you will only be in a group of students that are in your grade.
What’s the weather like in the Blue Ridge?
The weather is rather mild and should not get too cold. At higher elevations in Pisgah National Forest there is a chance that temperatures could drop to 50 F at night. During the day it will be warm enough to welcome any swimming opportunities that may come your way! As with all Moondance trips, your leaders will teach you appropriate layering techniques to ensure that you stay warm and dry in any environment.
What will I learn by the end of my trip?
By the end of your Moondance experience, you will have learned how to cook a great meal in the backcountry, how to find your way using topographical maps and a compass, or how to belay your friend who is rock climbing above you. Most of all, you’ll learn that life’s lessons are often camouflaged as a brilliant rainbow that follows a storm, a challenging mountain and a heavy pack, or strangers that become family at the end of 14 days. The self-confidence that one gains by exploring the unknown provides a constant foundation for life’s adventures down the road.