One Last Exploration
The senior river trip for Waterford’s Class of 2019 was a chance to forget about as well as ponder our impending graduation. A half-day ride on a Le Bus brought us down to Dewy Bridge to meet our guide company. After loading personal gear into dry bags and a full spread for lunch, we made our way down to the banks of the Green River where we split into five big, yellow rafts and ten blue, two-person duckies. Immediately when we pushed off into the current, battle ensued. We all seemed to agree that our one and only purpose was to soak the members of other rafts by whatever means necessary. Paddles, hands, and five gallon buckets were all used.
Damp but smiling, we arrived at our campsite, Onion Creek. The majority of the tents were assembled in a small village on the beach. Many seniors hiked back into the winding landscape of slots in the sandstone and stretches of desert. We laid on the beach, playing cards and joking with each other, knowing the evening was among our last days together. Hearty servings of spaghetti and meatballs was followed by an impromptu storytelling circle. We exchanged memories and reenactments under a blanket of stars. We offered up our laughter and our hearts in memory of our time at Waterford, whether it be two years or twelve.
The next morning we loaded again into the rafts. Stoke was high as we plowed through three sets of rapids, whooping and paddling vigorously. Only one member of the class, our very own Taylor Schmidt, went for an unexpected swim, swept off her duckie into the rapids. After a frightening several seconds, she resurfaced and was pulled into a big raft. As a whole class, we worried and cared for her. The river was higher and faster than it had ever been in the last decade, and as a result we reached our take out point much earlier than expected. We killed time by laying out on the warm sand by the water. When asked for our feelings about graduation, we answered with a mix of nostalgia and optimism. Our future is bright, but we view the past with fondness.
That night, after we watched the sun fade on the red sandstone spires, more stories were told. We felt a certain unity that was only made possible by our vast shared experience, both in Moab and during our years at Waterford. One final day of splash battles and rapids in between impressive red cliff faces brought us once again to our take out spot, and we loaded again onto the bus to head back home. The end of senior year at Waterford is filled with obligations and rehearsals, but the river trip gave us a chance to take our minds off of all of that and focus instead on each other, removed from our responsibilities. None of us are soon to forget what we saw and what we felt together in the other-wordly setting of southern Utah. Maybe we thought we were just having fun, but truly we’ve been making memories to last a lifetime.