This trip report comes courtesy of Jamie Shandro '98:
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the enduring role Ledyard plays in our lives. Friendships forged as geeky 18-22 year olds wearing stinky polypropylene while paddling kayaks down bouncy rivers are ones that have endured and deepened over the years. For the past five years a group of ’95-‘99s have gathered each summer for a multi-day river trip, now with rafts and a slightly more upscale gear, to introduce our offspring to the joys of rivers and spend time camping together under beautiful stars on sandy beaches. We eagerly anticipate these trips, planning meals with an elaborate spreadsheet, jockeying for cooler space for food vs. cold beverages, excited for a week of being unplugged and together in the beauty of western rivers.
For 2019 our chosen river was the lower Salmon River in the gemstone state of Idaho, a trip we have enjoyed once before. The group included families from Seattle, Portland, Ashland, State College PA, and rural Maine, and you can imagine the travel logistics involved to get all 21 of us to the river with enough gear for 6 nights of camping. The 11 kids (outnumbering the adults by one!) ranged in age from 6 to 13 years old.
Our family drove up to the put-in campsite around 5pm with Bohemian Rhapsody blaring out of open windows, to find our friends unloading piles of river gear. As soon as we got out of the car we found out that there were plans afoot to do an easy little evening float to warm up (paddling) and cool down (from the blazing hot Idaho desert sun). As we were rifling through the gear bags to find life jackets and bathing suits, Carter Wray ’97 (the trip logistics leader guru) told me I was needed. I assumed someone had a first aid need (I’m an ER doctor, so you can guess what my job is on these trips), and came right over.
Everyone was gathered around the boats, and Carter started talking. He mentioned my adventures in breast cancer treatment this past year, and then I started wondering where this was going. He then talked about how everyone wanted to do something for me, and then they presented me with a beautiful bright green inflatable double kayak (“double ducky”) with the word Cohaeremus printed in bold pink lettering on the side. River friends both on the trip and those not able to make it this year had gotten together to surprise me with this boat, as an external manifestation of all of their love and support. Cohaeremus, as you fellow Ledyardites know, means “We stick together” in Latin. An exceptionally apt motto for the place that helped forge two decades of enduring friendships.
I’m rarely rendered speechless, but this was one of those moments. I was also a little glad to have had my sunglasses on at this precise moment. My niece and I took the Cohaeremus on her maiden voyage that evening, and the trusty boat came with us for the next week of infinite stars, wildlife spotting, cliff jumping, and whitewater with friends. We had nearly perfect weather, fun water (warm for swimming and white for playing), and amazing campsite karma with huge beaches for volleyball and a return to the magical confluence with the Snake River. We had kid-only boats run all of the rapids- one hardshell and multiple IK-2s. The next generation also started pushing the oars, in addition to fully manning dish crew and getting into the expedition mentality, which was super rewarding to all of the parents.
On the trip were Carter ’97, Wendy (nee Gruenberg) ‘92, Winston, & Ansel Wray; Roland Bridges (son of Andrew Bridges ’92 & Maury Wray ’92); Mark ‘94, Julia & Asa Berry; Tina Rutar ‘98; Martin, Claudia & Anika Stadtmueller ; Lara (nee Burgel) ’96, Chris ‘97, Stephen, & Elizabeth Fowler; my husband Hans Kieserman ’97, our daughters Nina, & Margot, and our niece Ellie Shandro. Others who contributed to the gift of the Cohaeremus, but could not join us this year were Todd “Small boy” Parment ’95, Justin ’95 & Heather (nee Charles) Wells ’98, Colter ’96 & Annie (nee McKee) Leys ’96, Darryl Knudsen ’96, Laura Tam ’97, Mary Hollendoner ’98, Josh Mooney ’98 & Kristi Kimball ’96.
To the power of friendship and time on the water. Cohaeremus.