Select a date below to view the Trip Logs for that trip.
June 20, 2012 – July 9, 2012
Leaders: Kyle Jackson, Kelly McFarling
Students: Sarah Ross Adams, Addy Collett, Kienne Coram, Rivers Cornelson, Libby DeGregorio, Shelby McMahon, Carl McPhail, Thomas Taylor, Peter Warren
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June 20 – July 9, 2012
June 20, 2012
Kyle Jackson, 33, began his experience in outdoor education as a counselor for Mountain Camp in California, where he was raised. Luckily, he came to Moondance six summers ago and has led our British Columbia, Yosemite Classic, Colorado Trail, Moondance Leadership, Northern Lights, Chamonix Alps and Machu Picchu courses. Kyle captivates his students with his incredible humor and entertaining musical skills, both of which he uses to help teach about the outdoors and life. Kyle is a graduate of the University of Texas, and after graduation he moved to Austin where he enjoyed working at a wine bar and checking out loads of great music! He has since moved to Boulder, CO to be closer to the mountains he loves so much, spending most of his time skiing, climbing, mountain biking and mountaineering. He still maintains a job behind a bar while simultaneously working for the local hospital. Moondance is always happy when Kyle can manage to return to Moondance for a summer.
Kelly McFarling, 29, is perhaps one of the most talented Moondance leaders we’ve ever had! On top of having a beautiful singing voice, Kelly is a gifted piano, guitar and banjo player, not to mention an all-star athlete who played collegiate soccer and ultimate Frisbee. Kelly grew up inAtlanta and attended college atWesleyanUniversity where she earned her degree in Music and English. Kelly has backpacked on her own in such amazing areas as the South Island of New Zealand andPatagonia. Kelly returns for her fourth summer with Moondance, and she has led our California’s Lost Coast, British Columbia, Hawaiian Islands, Moondance Leadership and Northern Lights trips. This summer, Kelly returns to Moondance for her fourth summer after spending the last couple of years sharing her beautiful voice and talent while touring all over the United States. When Kelly is not on the road, she lives in beautiful San Francisco. Moondance is more than excited to have Kelly join the team of leaders for another great summer.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Congratulations family, friends, friends of family, family pets, et al.!
It may come as no surprise to anybody, but we’ve formed a family band. Roving and rowdy, the crew assembled safely and soundly in the SEA-TAC airport only to discover that we are indeed all birds of a feather. Bonds were instantaneous, glory is bountiful. The group is so bright and tight we wear our sunglasses at night, and in the rain.
To begin, we began at pier 52 to embark on this epic journey. Ferried across the sound, gazing all the while at our formidable future challenge (Mount Rainier, yay!) from the decks of a giant boat, we landed on the amazingly lush Olympic Peninsula. After a fact filled evening of gathering items and strength, we rocked on over to the first section of the trip: backpacking the coast. Kelly and I were simply amazed at our luck of acquiring such stellar human beings, our jaws were dropped most of that first day, and pretty much ever since. It’s not just verbiage, it’s truth. We don’t only love them, for they also love each other. What a bag of gems!
With the initial steps into a forest of towering hemlocks and glowing ferns and emerald mosses, our smiles widened and our hearts soared. The Olympic Coast greeted us with the reminder of how lucky we are….it is certainly not to be missed in this lifetime, nor in The Land Before Time. Have you seen that one? It resembles this landscape, and we got to live it in real time. What a wonder. The coast line is bespecled with rock towers floating just off the mainland. Most of them are beckons for lively wildlife such as lazy sea lions, bobbing otters, flapping bald eaglets, and many a marine creature. As they played, so did we. Frolicking down the sandy beaches and bouncing up into the headland jungles, the group became connected in a way so rapid it would astound onlookers and vicarious livers alike.
By night two we were all sitting around a driftwood campfire on the beach exclaiming how amazed we were at how well we felt we knew each other already. Night 2!?!? We cannot imagine how we made it this far without each other. Our campsite was adorned with beach trinkets from the sea which served as a fitting decor for the mornings birthday celebrations. We have two young men in this group who celebrated their annual journey with us as the solstice passed. Sir Kyle Jackson and Sir Peter Warren have surly matured and what a better way to do it then on this magical coast. The days of our first backcountry section simply could not have gone better. Even with a bit of rain – these champions shine bright and courageous – dialing in their new found backpacking skills, helping each other to learn the necessities of backcountry cooking – proper foot care – staying hydrated and most importantly laughing. A lot.
It is difficult to try and incorporate the special spark of each one of these people into words – but we wish to try by providing you with some superlatives we have awarded them for the first section. Let it be known however that they all deserve the shiniest of medals and the largest of trophies for the way they have handled this adventure thus far. We are the lucky ones my friends.
Kienne – Hot Peppers -best all around glow – most likely to be present in times of need – great or small.
Peter Warren – Pietro – most likely to remain clean in the muddiest of situations through wisdom and wit.
Rivers – El Rio – most likely to lead the charge while providing hilarity/intellectual stimulation.
Sarah Ross – SRAAAAA! – best question to joke transitions/ honesty is the BEST and most heartwarming policy:)
Carl – Bass Face – Most musically inspired and inclined/ prefab curiosity
Libby – Liberace – Most likely to exclaim - “THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL” at any and every opportunity – MVP – most valuable positivity.
Shelby – Shellfish McMayhem – Best lead by example mama bear – go with the flow – as it is the most powerful and poetic.
Thomas – TT Bears – most likely to take our jobs as Moondance leaders. Watch out.
Addy Collett – Puppy heart air conditioner – Most likely to cause laughter commotion in a rain storm – quickest on the draw to motivate the team.
So my friends – we leave you with this. We are missing them now and need to get back to our family. Did I mention how much we love them? They are an amazing collection of new friends. Tomorrow we head into the Olympic Mountains to continue to refine our outdoor skills, and grow our hearts and minds. Remember when I told you we are the lucky ones? Well we are. So lucky. Here we go magic! Family band is going straight to the top of the charts!
See you on the other side.
Love, and wanderlust,
Kelly and Kyle
July 1, 2012
Hello and welcome back sports fans!
We have a tale to tell you from the great northwest – oh you’ve heard of it? Yes it is great. Full of ferns and mosses – mountains and rivers – waterfalls and bohemian hemlocks. We’ve been there!
Once upon a time – round the bend – whiskey bend that is – a family band continued its quest for leadership and backcountry bliss. The travlers set foot and feet upon the mighty Elwah trail – a thru hike consisting of 44.5 miles through the Olympic mountains. Fearless leaders in entirity (after all the leadership trip attracts them), we hiked into the Elwah: Mary’s falls the first of many pictures-que campsites adorned with magical moods and emerald energies. The days ran together and the rivers ran from the high country as our group got better at everything they already excelled at – backcountry cooking (Southwest mac and cheese is the winner) river fording – (sixteen mile!?!?!) Staying warm and dry (things are wet in the rainforest I’ll tell you what) and most importantly – echoing the forest chambers with laughter of the deepest variety. Among our heroic throng we have an MVP in each of our members – and each one was shining their brightest – despite the shroud of cloud cover we were enveloped by. Each day brought more (s)mileage – more (y)elevations – and more love for each other and the wild wildness of the Olympic Mountains. Day three we climbed up to the Low Divide – where the rivers change names and direction – where the snow capped our boots, and the black bears roamed gently in their altitude pastures. We saw some! Two in fact! They saw us also. They said to tell you hello – oh and thanks for passing along your offspring for this joyous passage. They will return changed people (and bears.) We are sure (and so are some legit rangers) that we are the first group of humans to make this thru hike in the 2012 season, as the snows are late, and the rivers are swollen. But we are strong and we are a moon unit to be reckoned with.
The Backcountry was grand to us – and we spent many a moonup discussion reveling in the awesome power of being out there. No distractions – no technology – nothing but the simple passage of days – eating good food – sleeping deep hours, and walking in the woods with our new best friends. Life is simple and clean out there – and we won’t soon forget the beauty of that opportunity.
Here we are however, dried out and rested from our wet and wild adventure – in the high plains of Bend OR. We are readying ourselves for the next section – rock climbing at Smith Rock! WOOT! This place is a National Treasure, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the rock. Tomorrow begins the hot dry portion of our mountain conquests where we will learn the ropes and knots of top rope climbing and belaying in one of the country’s premiere climbing destinations. Bring it!
But before we leave you high and dry as our weather situation – Let’s have a moment for some backcountry awards shall we?
Best Cook Crew – TEAM ATTACK! Kienne, Addy and Thomas Taylor – who knew you could make salmon pesto alfredo in the backcountry? AND save it for night 5 – when deliciousness is a matter of life and death? I personally have never had a more joyous and delicious hilarity ensuing cook crew to hang with at the Wolf Bar campsite. AW YEAH!
Best Scary Story Session – Low Divide campsite – awooooooo!
Best random acts of Harry Potter enthusiasm – Thomas Taylor. Wow. The river crossing helping hand. Nobody swam. (Harry P is half the hero TT is)
Best River crossing mechanisms – Peter Warren – way to think outside the bank, and on the log. LEGENDARY!
Best late night food descriptions – Libby DeGreggorio- our mouths will never stop watering.
Best Mudslide coordination balanced with a purposeful comeback – Shelby McMahon – Mama Bear leads the ring yet again.
Best altitude attitude – Addy Collett - the looming elevation gain was no match for her rising confidence and strength – 4,000 feet? More like 4,000 SWEET!
Best nightly outdoor life questions – Carl McPhail. What to do when encountering a) mountain lion – b) bear – c) faulty coordinates d) all of the above. Stay cool like Carl – and you’ll be stylin’.
Best (s)milage – Kienne! You’ll see the pictures – we felt the joy.
Best/most identified laugh – Sarah Ross Adams – MVC (most valuable chuckle) It’s even more infectious in the rain, don’t ya know?
Best early morning sunshine – Rivers Cornelson – first to rise and last to sleep – Rivers is our full circle mountaineer.
TEAM TARP 2012! The Boys in the Hood – Thomas, Peter, Carl and Rivers – thanks for keeping us dry and knot ever hesitating to make our campsite better.
Best Giggle Puddle – Girls sauna – The tent meant for mighty females only (5 can cozy in a 3 person) Laughter for the lasting.
Post Script -
Of all out adventuring Kyle and I have discussed at length that this group is legendary. It is rare to find a group of humans so compatible in mind and spirit and energy. This trip continues to unravel in the most beautiful of ways, and as the days go on we realize that we have a precious situation upon us. We are so happy to be here with this team. It doesn’t get better than this. Except of course as we continue. Onward and upward this journey climbs for us all, and we are enjoying the ride. Dance on!
Much love and laughter,
Kelly and Kyle. (Captain Jibber, Admiral Jabber)
July 8, 2012
The entire Moondance Leadership team, along with Hayes, completed a successful summit bid of Mt. Rainier yesterday! They have all made it down safely and a full trip update will be available shortly.
July 10, 2012
Final Trip Update
Dearest and most darling of family and friends –
There are times in our lives (which also turn out to be the times of our lives) where words do no justice – and here we are approaching this challenge. How do we record the glory of the past few days? How can we possibly conjure up the feelings felt – challenges faced, heart swells and friendship bracelets created? Well we can’t. We accept that as mere mortals of the literary world. But we will try. Try is the theme – it is the thing we all did and achieved in spades these last few days. And we learned something in this – when you try with all your heart pieces success is there waiting for you. In our case on top of a 14,411 mountain.
First and foremost – let me tell you a bit about this mountain. Its altitude is irrelevant – the mountain has a mind of its own. Sometimes the passage is achievable – sometimes the gates are closed – but that is up to the mountain to decide. Lucky for us our summit day showed signs of sunlight and clear skies as we spent an entire day previous learning the details of our ascent. RMI guides (the best in the business) showed us how to use our ice axes and crampons to self arrest and to walk safely and efficiently up glaciers and across crevasses. We spent the day learning the potential effects of altitude – the orientation potential of an avalanche (we got to wear and learn about avalanche beacons!!) and the intricate teamwork involved in being on a rope team. Snow school whet our appetites, and humbled our minds as we stared up at the mighty summit from 5,420 – the paradise parking lot. That night – we drove up to glacier point to feast our eyes upon the giant as it slept – and we readied our minds and hearts for the challenge that faced us the next morning.
And oh what a morning! A lickity quick shuttle ushered us up to the base of the beast (Paradise, they call it). With packs packed and racked, only mountaineering pertinent equipment in tow, we began the first of two legs up the snowy slopes. Rayonaise, that’s what we call it, is an unforgiving medium for hiking. The late season storms left loads of slushy fluff on the lower climes of the treacherous hill. As the summer heat builds, the snow takes on a form unique to the Rainier mount-cano. So thick and soft, the sunrays transform it into a substance most troublesome to move through. Sporting only plastic boots and base layers, we trudged onward and upward. Up to 10,000 feet (or 10,000 sweet!). Camp Muir is a shelter owned and operated by RMI for teams of summit assassins such as ourselves. Here we made a twelve hour pit stop. With boiling hot water provided by the guides, we warmed our backcountry rations for a carbo-loading team dinner in the hut. Then it was time for R & R. Sometime around 7 pm we bedded down for some much needed rest. For the following day would be test our strength and physicality in ways few can comprehend.
Something that must also be mentioned it how lucky we were to have the fountainhead of the company – sir Hayes Hitchens himself with us throughout our summit bid! The specialness of this group and this experience was certainly heightened by having Hayes with us – and we felt honored to have him along for the culmination of our journey together. He is – after all – the reason we were able to come together and become the family we are in the first place:)
Our summit bid morning began in the wee hours – and because of high winds, the alpine start did not take shape until around 140 in the AM. Within the hour we were head-lamped and harnessed for our summit team bid. Just before 3 AM we set out across the Cowlitz Glacier. The energy levels were piqued, as was the group enthusiasm. Nothing amps up an outdoors-person like the floating moon, lighting up a snow field in the early morn. We commenced our journey of mind, body and soul, in rope teams of three “dancers” and one RMI pro. The name of the game is tri-fold: efficiency of step and breath, hydration and food fuel, and warmth. This is why we need the guides. That, and for the route finding. Navigating ancient, yet shifting glacial ice is next to impossible without proper training. We dodged danger and circumventing crevasses with fleet-footed stealth in the wee hours of that Saturday morning. Winding and climbing up through and over Cathedral Gap, we found our first of 3 “breaks” enroute to the tip top. Here we took refuge inside our bulky and beautifully cozy goose down parkas. We were forced to consume at least 200-300 calories and chug 1/3 a liter of life-giving water. And that’s about it. Parkas off, packs on, and rolling.
The next phase is called Disappointment Cleaver (named for the sheer let down of the first ever Mt. Rainier summit. This band of rock was initially thought to be the highest point–it was 2000 feet short. DISAPPOINTED!!) It proved a rocky path, yet nothing we couldn’t surmount. I believe that if we had not fixed our eyes, hearts, and lungs on the peak this would have been a most formidable moment. Yet we pushed past it with ease and relaxation. Up and Up. Tranquilo was the mode of our effort.
As the hours passed, so did the elevation gain. Soon the sunlight was overwhelming the moon light and we witnessed a most rare high altitude sunrise!! The colors are almost unbelievable (funbelieveable). And that’s when the going got tough. Winds picked up and the shards of ice began to fly. We shielded our faces and kept our feet in motion. You cannot imagine the motivation and determination required of a young mountaineer. It is brutish and cruel at the very least, and that’s only if you are doing it right (or so our guides said).
That’s when the summit came into view. Oh what a feeling….like dancing on the ceiling! Seldom, if ever in the history of the Dance – (Moondance that is) has a leadership team boasted a 100% success rate in summiting the mighty Rainier. The emotion of having your entire “family” standing atop a mountain like that one is akin to standing on top of the whole. The fever of accomplished mountaineers ran high. 14, 411 feet and higher! We truly could not believe our feat. It was something we knew each and every one of our crew could achieve, but as we mentioned, that is only if the mountain allows it.
Throughout our trip together one thing has become crystal clear. this moon unit has become a living breathing beautiful machine. What we do – what we accomplish – what we face – we do it together, and each and every member is a crucial part of the experience. To try and superlative each and every one of us is a matter of redundancy. Everyone brought their shiniest selves to the mountain that day – and thus we all became brighter and bolder. It needs to be explained that this group is truly a special one. One that we have never experienced. A group that gives freely of themselves to make the whole greater – and that my friends is the beauty of leadership. With an attitude and respect of this caliber – anything is truly possible.
We have all learned and re learned the value of living in the moment – this very precious moment that we have created. Its not the destination – but the ride that we remember, and this one has been one of the sweetest of our lives. The pursuit of happiness is in fact the discovery of joy and each and every opportunity. We were granted one that will forever fill our souls. Life-long friendships and memories that will never tarnish…this is the definition of joy. I was once told, “you cannot cry because it is over, yet only smile because it happened.” I am confident that each one of us feels the meaning of that phrase.
We would like to close by thanking you all for giving us this unique and beautiful opportunity to find joy in every day, and in every soul set out our way. Moondance Leadership 2012 will go down as the one for the ages and record pages.
With all our love and gratitude,
Always and forever,
Kelly and Kyle
Number ten and numba’leven.
Captain Jibber and Admiral Jabber
July 12 – July 31, 2012
July 12, 2012