Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pioneer Handcart Trek Day 1; Wyoming...

We survived our week with the church youth group in Wyoming and Utah for our pioneer handcart trek.
It might take me a few more weeks to fully recover, but I feel like I need to start posting so I don't forget any of the highlights of the week.
The first day....
Right after church some of the girls met and a leader who does hair for a profession braided and braided to get us all ready for a few days without a shower.
It was a very sweet service, and appreciated dearly by day two, more than we could have imagined.
We then all met at the church in our pioneer clothing 11pm, with everything we needed for the week in a 5 gallon bucket.
Families said goodbye's, we were lucky enough to have our whole family get to go... but most were not that fortunate and had to leave love ones behind. As did the pioneers in the 1850 companies... they sent children west, sometimes with people they barely knew, or had just met.
Because we knew the outcome would be 100% return, it was doable and most were just happy to finally be on our way! After so many months of preparation.

We departed just after midnight Sunday night and arrived in Little America, WY mid morning on Monday. The bus ride was long, not much quiet to sleep with all those youngins and the anticipation for the week ahead. So that was our first clue it would be a long week.
We ate some muffins/bagels for breakfast on the grass.

There were actually tourists stopping to take our pictures.
I guess we were quite a site with 8 buses full of pioneers.

Standing was preferred later in the trip, as we had been sitting for so long.

Mostly we just had to grin and bear it... no place to go, and we were in it for the long haul at this point.

We arrived in Wyoming mid afternoon... here I am with the girls in our handcart family all clean before the first day of trekking.
They were so sweet, got along great... and at this point my strong silent mysterious man had no idea how they would wrap around his heart before the week was over.

When we arrived, our stake leaders had food ready for us before our first trek.
I wanted to take photos of all the food each day, just to document how much work went on behind the scenes... but I think this was the only meal I remembered to photograph.... but we were fed very well.
Luckily we didn't have to re-enact the pioneers experience when they were rationed down to 4 oz. of flour a day. Whew!

Here is our newly formed handcart family, we would be a new family together for a week.
5 boys and 4 girls... two of the youth would act as the Ma and Pa and Jim and I would shadow lead them as an Aunt and Uncle... but they were to hold the brunt of the responsibilities of leading the family.

We trekked for a few miles and stopped and parked the handcarts, they pulled the men away, representing how many women lost their spouses to death, or the Mormon Battalion and had to continue getting the families west by themselves.

We pulled the handcarts up a long steep hill and found the men at the top standing on each side with their hats over their hearts.
It was emotional and hard to pull without them, I could not look up; I knew that would make me cry like a baby.
A sweet time to remember.

The rest of the trail that day was through sixth crossing.
Some of the trails were muddy.

The water crossings were knee to thigh deep and we were asked to remember the stories of those pioneers that did this in the freezing winter cold.
A very different task that what we endured in the hot July sun.

The teenager was the Pa over a different family, but was in our company of 50, so we saw him and got hugs as often as we could.
We were so proud of him that he stepped up and took good care of the kids in his handcart family and took his responsibilities very seriously.

It was only about a 6 mile trek this day.
So while we were tired, there were not many struggles.

We arrived back at camp... and pitched our tents.

Then as the pioneers did to lift spirits and have some fun... we did some square dancing.

Amazingly enough these kids, all proud in the world, embarrassed in worldly standards... had a great time and lots of fun dancing.

The last dance was a line dance they do at the stake dances all the time, so even if they were confused all night or had missed learning the square dances before trek, they could join in on this one! And most all did!

The stake leaders took all of the men away from camp (in this horse trailer... it was kind of a funny sight). And they counselled about the day ahead of us. The 15 mile hike over Rocky Ridge.
At night fall the stake leadership held a devotional fireside.

Then afterwards we gathered our "family" for an evening prayer together before bedtime, and Uncle Jim talked to them about some of the challenges they would be facing the next day.

It would be the long 15 mile hike over Rocky Ridge, if there was anyone that had struggled with the mile hike, they should consider not going the next day. There was activities for those who stayed, and some adults assigned to be with them.
We had determined a few weeks prior that I would stay back with any of those youth. In our pre trek hiking, I had some troubles and found out my pacemaker is close to the end of it's battery. So to keep from having anything happen on the trail, I was taking precautions.
Since our entire family was going, it was very hard for me to stay back; my thoughts again went to those pioneers and the sacrafices they had made, the family they had to leave behind or send ahead. I hoped they were in good hands. Would their Uncle Jim have enough compassion if they got tired, or hurt. Would he love those young women and comfort them like they were ours?
I knew he had already been touched by their spirits and they were pretty tough girls, so I put all of my faith in Gods hands for "our family" for the next day and went fast asleep.
5am would come very early the next morning.

1 comment:

HeidiT said...

I'm so glad you are documenting about the Trek. I love to hear all of the stories at church and it is great to see the pics with it too.

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