To Be Like the Pioneers

Wow, there is so much that I want to say about the Trek that the hubby and I went on this past week. It was one of the coolest and most challenging things I’ve ever done. I enjoyed it immensely and also grew a lot through some wonderful experiences and trying times as well. I learned a lot about some of the kids in our Stake, as well as myself and the hubs. It was really cool.

Before I recount some of the major points, I wanted to kind of go over what it is that we did. Our church group (what is called a “Stake” and made up of local members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), organized a youth trip for the kids age 14-18. It was a re-enactment trip to honor our pioneer ancestors and to get a better feeling and understanding of the things that they experienced and went through while making their way across the country to find religious freedom.

All of the kids chose to go (okay, to be fair, some parents probably coerced some of the kids to go, but it wasn’t a requirement from the Church at all). They all chose to give up their Spring Break week and trade in beach days for camping in the wilderness, cooking their meals in dutch ovens, and pushing a thousand-pound handcart across the backcountry.

It was quite the experience.

The hubby and I were asked to be a Ma and Pa of a ‘family’ of kids for the week, and to be honest, we accepted without hesitation. I had never been on a Trek like this before and I was really looking forward to it. As the days grew closer, however, I started to get really nervous. Not only had I never been on a Trek before, I had never been a Youth Conference parent before and I was worried not only about physically making it up around the mountains, but also about the emotional and spiritual responsibility of caring for 10-12 teenagers and all that entails. But luckily it turned out wonderfully and we had a lot of great experiences that helped us not only learn about our pioneer heritage and those that came before us, but we also got the opportunity to learn about ourselves in the process. I’m so glad we went.

Okay, so I’ll let the pictures start talking for themselves and see where we end up…


Getting all our gear packed and ready to go. I won’t lie, I did feel kind of silly when we stopped at McDonald’s for our last bathroom break and people were giving me funny looks inside. The hubby turns to me and says, “So you’re my what, fourth wife?” Made me laugh. *


The hubby with our big brother and big sister. These were the two ‘older kids’ who in charge of devotionals, setting up work assignments, and just generally helping out. They were great.


Our trek family!


I was there, I promise. Just mostly behind the camera instead of in front of it. And I did opt to bring my small point and shoot camera instead of my big, heavy duty Nikon. It was a good decision all around, even if the photo quality suffered a little. I’d rather have a good back and poor photos than the other way around at the end of the week!


We had a burlap sack with rice in it that was our ‘baby’. We had to keep it safe, watch over it, and make sure it didn’t die on the trail. If it did, we would have had to stop and have a funeral for it and bury it. We decided ours was a girl and named her Emma.


They had actors come in and tell some stories about the pioneer that came before us. This was a bad guy who was issuing a warrant for Joseph Smith’s arrest, I believe.


And here comes the mob with Joseph (the kids in the white shirt).





They stripped him down, and they tarred and feathered him. It was quite dramatic.

(Luckily for the volunteer Joseph, it was just chocolate syrup and marshmallows. But still impactful. :) )

Then the speaker stood and said, “In Joseph’s day, this would be a very terrible treatment. And the question must be put to you: What would you do in defense of your faith? Would you be willing to be tarred and feathered? Would you stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth that you know has been restored?”

Because that is exactly what the pioneers did in defense of their beliefs and the reason why they trekked across the country through terrible circumstances. Because of their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and this restored Gospel.

We then headed off for our first leg of travel. We walked through the hills as the sun started to set and we had a beautiful view.






As the sun set, we continued on. Soon it got dark, and we were in this valley, when all of a sudden, we came around a bend and there was a giant spotlight on us all, illuminating the road. I looked up, confused at first, to see what it was, and it was a gorgeous full moon. I was so surprised to see how bright it was and what a difference it made to our visibility of the trail. It was great.

We made it to the campsite after dark, got our coals started, and made a late dinner. That night we slept outside under tarps and it was the most miserable night of the week. The temperatures were at freezing, and some of the women had frost all along their tarps and inside them as well. It was so cold that I only slept about an hour total the whole night. I kept wanting to burrow myself down into my sleeping bag where it was warm, but then I would start to feel claustrophobic and have to stick my face out to the fresh air, making me cold again. Like I said, it was the most miserable night of [non]sleep that week.

The next morning we made our breakfast, and started out again.



We hiked along a paved road and had some beautiful scenery, which was a running theme throughout the trek.






The kids (and the hubby) had to push the cart up this big embankment and it took some muscle!


I carried Emma for a while.



Our big sis Erin found a pretty poppy.


We stopped for lunch in a beautiful field. Of course, it was full of ticks.


The horses stopped for lunch too.


Then we were off again and trekked down the hill into a valley where we found that we had to cross a ‘river’. With our handcarts. But first, we needed a volunteer to swim across to bring the lead rope to the other side. Our own kid, Thomas, was just that volunteer! We were really proud of him.






Here is the first cart, getting all set up and ready to be sent across the river.


If it looks perilous, that’s because it was! Half of the ‘raft’ that the carts were on was always in the water and it sat on the edge of staying afloat and falling over many times.


They made it to the end! That was a miracle in and of itself.


Here’s another cart – you can see that they’re basically in the water almost the whole time. And in the cart was all of our stuff, so you can imagine the terror of having that tip over and go under!



And here comes our cart! My heart was in my throat the whole time because MY clothes and things were actually packed in there, and I was really nervous at first.


But then our kids were ROCK STARS and got the boat level and balanced right off the bat.


So much so, that Erin even had a chance to do some modern dance moves. ;)

So I had nothing to worry about. Thankfully.


Getting pulled in.


Made it safely!


Our big brother, Jeremy, taking care of baby Emma with Sierra watching close by.

The rest of that day, we trekked to our camp and cooked dinner. I was so tired I didn’t take any more pictures for the rest of the night, haha.

And for days 3 and 4, you’ll have to come back soon because I’m breaking this bad boy post up into a couple of parts so you don’t get bored out of your mind!

*And just for the record, we Mormons DO NOT have multiple wives. It was a joke. ;)


Cherise Oleson said...

What a great experience!

Anonymous said...

Great pics..do u know when they will have video available to watch n where we can watch it..im dying to see it along w some other pics......

Laurel said...

I'm not sure when the video is going to be ready, I can't wait to see it! I'm sure it will be great. I did hear that the pictures would be posted on riversidestake.com, but I'm not sure when either. :)

Sue Carter said...

I heard that the video would be shown before the Seminary Graduation at the end of May.

JAG said...

This is AMAZING! What a rewarding experience! I can't wait to see the second half. :)