The land goes on and on forever in every direction. All you need to do to get to SLC is walk across this. Imagine it in winter covered with snow and 100 degrees colder! It was about 95 for us.
We went on a Handcart Trek with my dad's ward and it was for families not just the youth, which is traditionally who goes on Trek. It was 4 days. It took like 5 hours in a car to get there from our house. My dad drove and one kid went with my brother's family in his car. My sister was going to meet us part way and ride with us but her car broke down. That is an adventure she will have to share on her blog. It was quite an experience and I am glad we got to go. My husband missed all the fun because he went to work. We will never forget this adventure! It was worth it to get to know our heritage and learn to do hard things with the help of the Lord!
First the Willie Center. It was very windy and cold when we first got there. Then it started to hail and rain big drops. The wind was gusty and it made it hard to pull and push the handcarts. I forgot to grab my water shoes so I had to cross the stream 4 times on the sharp rocks barefooted. I survived and was so glad it wasn't snowing and we dried off pretty quick, I also was able to put my shoes on and we made it back to the car.
The reality of Trek was sometimes we got grumpy. Look at little ookies mad face.
CROSSING THE SWEETWATER RIVER! No chunks of ice but imagine it so cold and you had to cross then you didn't have anywhere to dry off or get out of the cold.The Valley Boys have this monument to remember the unselfish sacrifice they performed by carrying the pioneers through the river over and over again. They were unbelievable and brave.
Martin Handcart Company
There was a point on the trail when we hiked up to see Martin's Cove and the kids couldn't ride in the handcart they had to walk. Martin's cove is a very special place where the saints camped out during a storm for three days and they got shelter from the rocks. 13 people died here. It was so hot and such a long walk up the mountain to the cove. Another group was behind us and we had to keep moving. I was carrying the little guy but the others wanted me to carry them too. I can only carry one at a time. The group behind us was Hyrum, Utah stake youth group. They overtook us, probably a couple hundred of them and just scooped the kids up and carried them down the hill. I was so thankful and that must of been what the pioneer mothers felt when the rescuers came and helped their children across the river. They were carried over too and must have just been overwhelmed with the thought that their prayers were being answered by sending these selfless men/boys to help them.
Aunt Kim came too! She was a powerhouse of positive and funny remarks. It was fun to have her there and if she ever blogs about the trip her pictures will be better then these. She took lots of pictures. In the background there you can see Martin's Cove to the left of that big rock.
We are stopping at a potty break along the trail. Little Ookie just flops down in someones shade and plays with the rocks or sand or whatever. He has no energy in the heat to run around and play. The pioneers didn't have outhouses along the way, I am thankful for outhouses! :)
The first few days were the hardest to keep up and get used to walking. The heat was surprisingly very energy sapping. We got so thirsty but kept drinking water and walking. Susan got run over by the wheel on the first day when the handcart started before she was out of the way so she was sad and wounded. She never got in the way of the wheels on the handcart again. It just scraped up her ankle and leg a bit but it made her sad, very sad. Someone always walked slowly with her and sometimes pulled her along so she didn't get too far behind and lonely. Another really nice boy came back after getting all the way to camp and carried Lucy because she just couldn't walk any further. This of course made Susan walk faster because she no way wanted to have to piggyback ride on a strange boy's back.
Oregon Trail Marker, we walked the same path that the pioneers walked. This is a marker in the middle of nothing that shows you where they had come through, over 5,000 pioneers.
Pony Express Station Marker
Here we were asked to participate in a service project. The missionaries at the Martin's Cove area met us out here to put in a marker for the Pony Express. There was a marker but it didn't match the other markers and was very hard to read. This one looks better. We walked for a long time out towards Johnson's camp. It was only supposed to be 2 miles out and back but we kept going and going with no sight of anyone out on the prairie but a few Antelope. It was so hot and windy. It seems that right when you think you can't go any further all of a sudden there is a little cloud that blows in and gives us a little relief. We did a 6 mile round trip on this one. I am thankful for clouds for shade from the hot sun.
Playing back at camp...Here is Ookie blowing on the camp flag. It makes a great trumpeting sound. Some of the youth would do this with the flag after we stopped for a break to signal us that we were moving on and get ready.
We played pioneer games to break up the extra time after getting into camp. This game you take the stick and fling the ring. We were trying to get it over the buckets.
Here are the cousins working together and guess who pushed? Uncle Craig and Ben. If they weren't in the front they were in the back. Of course girls pushed and pulled also but the blunt of this went to the boys.
This is my dad. His ward, Lindon 20th, Utah is the family group we got to go with. They did all the planning and preparations while we just tagged along. I wish I could have done more. My mom sewed and helped others make their pioneer clothing. She also made these neck cooler polymer things with my sister-in-law Melissa. They were wet and cool and for your neck. I think this helped us all not get heat stroke.
My dad is a powerhouse of information, experience and fun. We had a great time learning about our ancestors and then experiencing places they had been.
Aunt ej's great grandmother came across with the Willie Handcart Company that started late in the season and didn't get to SLC before the winter storms hit. In reading the account of her life this is what her daughter Mary said this about the experience; Her testimony was that if she had her life to live over again she would not want to avoid any of the hardships that had come her way. She believed trials were good to teach us to be humble an to appreciate our earthly existence.
Prairie Diamond Ring scroll down on the website to find the story.
Pioneers Susan and Aunt Kim.
Little pioneer Jill.
I am thankful to have the opportunity to go on Trek. I know that we were helped on our way and that when we do hard things it prepares us for hard things to come.
The last night we were so tired and worn out. About 3am the wind started to blow harder then it had yet. The tent was going to break apart and fly off. I got up a few times to check that the fly was still latched and that nothing was about to fly off. I prayed that the tent wouldn't break that night. We made it through the night. The wind finally stopped and we got some sleep. When I was packing up to take down the tent around 9am and had everything finished the wind started up again. This time the pole snapped and poked through my rain fly. I was so thankful it didn't happen when it was dark and we were too sleepy to do anything about it.
We didn't get any significant blisters even though the shoe thing was next to impossible before Trek. My kids have been just wearing flip-flops all summer and their feet never stop growing. I almost didn't have shoes for two of the girls but found them finally a few weeks before going at DI by praying and it worked out.
Everything worked out and I knew it would. God hears and answers our prayers. He knows us and loves us and he knew the pioneers and loved them. I am glad we went and I doubt I will ever experience this adventure again. It was hard and worth it.
The youth did a pull on the last day all by themselves. It was usually 2 to a cart. They were empty except for a 5 gal. container of water and a few water bottles. They walked 3 miles back to where we return the carts. I wasn't sure Susan would make it but she woke up and got ready to go and she did it!
A nice boy named Matt was always willing to step in a help the kids. He was a great example the whole trip of "going the extra mile" sometimes literally. You can see the youth below in this picture. They are awesome!
"The question has been asked, 'Why was not their lot made easier in the great effort of crossing the plains?' No one except Providence might give the completely satisfying answer, but it can be pointed out they grew in character and understanding. They were patient and long suffering. Their faith in God and in their church was unshakable. Their great endurance made great people of them and their faith was sufficient to sustain them and establish an ideal for their descendants to follow." -Adolph M. Reeder