The Trek – Part 2

I know I promised the second half of our Trek experience and I apologize for not getting it posted sooner! Things have been hectic, as per usual, and so I hadn’t gotten to it yet. However, our Young Men’s president, Brother Nelson, did ask me to write an article about the whole thing to send to Desert News, which was picked up and you can read all about it HERE! I have to admit, I’m over the moon excited to be published in a major newspaper like that! Definitely an unexpected and awesome highlight of late.

Alrighty, on to the Trek! So I’ve covered the first two days in this post, just in case you missed it.

The third day was such a fun day! We started out in the morning with a big camp announcement – there had been a case of true love on the trek! Brother Riley pulled up two unsuspecting lovebirds and announced that the boy had just proposed to the girl and that there would be a wedding as soon as we reached the valley!


Once we headed out for the morning, we walked until we came to a clearing where there was a big pond. This was another river crossing, and Brother Riley asked for volunteers who wanted to be baptized in the river. It was so sweet, there was a non-member girl there who had been so touched the entire week, and she thought he was serious. She said later that she almost volunteered but that she wanted to wait until her mom could be there with her. It was a cool story.

After that, some volunteers were needed to carry some of the women across the river, to get a feel for what it was like for those sweet boys who did so all those years ago:




Afterwards, we made our way to one of my favorite parts of the Trek. We arrived in a beautiful valley covered with trees (and shade!) and had a nice picnic lunch. While we were eating, we had this guy (who worked with Riley’s Farms) come over and talk with us and show us his musical instruments. He had a lot of different kinds of instruments that he played, and he helped our Big Sis Erin play on his dulcimer. Then he challenge us to not laugh while he played his jaw harp. It was great, such a funny little sound. And just listening to his Irish accent was more than enough fun for me! He had quite the get-up as well.


After lunch, all of the families were assigned to a different station around the valley. It was so neat, Brother Riley had really outdone himself with the setup. There were 13 stations, each one teaching the youth skills that the pioneers would have had to know to survive. There was everything from shooting rifles and roping with lassos to making your own rope and etiquette lessons (which were taught by the awesome Irishman, and I’m sad I couldn’t take the class). Each Ma and Pa was assigned to a station to oversee things, and the hubby and I got to do the lassos.

I tell you what, that was one of the most fun things we did on the Trek! It was great to get to learn how to do it and then be able to turn around and teach the kids as well. It was really tough to get it at first, but luckily we had our resident cowboys, Brother Williams and Brother Gaskins there to help us out and show us the way. After a few pointers and more than a couple of example throws, we finally got the hang of it. And I have to brag a little and say that I roped our ‘calf’ twice! Which was quite the accomplishment, since we only had a couple of kids who were able to do it. Of course, I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I had all afternoon to practice. :)



Here’s a video of Steven going for the gold!

After that great rest, we started Trekking some more!


Then we got to this ravine that looked impossible to cross. The only way to do it was to stop the whole procession, unload every single item from the carts, and start a production line where we unloaded the carts, brought them to the ravine, and a bunch of the men hoisted it down this ‘ladder’ that can’t even really be called that because it wasn’t stable enough to qualify! Once the cart was down the ravine, across the little stream and up the other side of it, then it was time to pass along all the items that were originally in the cart. So we women (and a few of the men) started a line up the road that started at the pile of one family’s ‘stuff’ and ended on the other side of the ravine, close to their cart.

It was crazy and lots of fun. But it was probably exactly what the pioneers had to do when they were crossing the plains, because there weren’t that many chances to just find another route, sometimes you just had to cross that river or ford that stream or carry your handcart across that ravine because that’s what you had to do to make it. It was quite powerful.

Here’s a couple of photos of the ravine that doesn’t really do it justice, but it gives you an idea of the process. I wish I had gotten a shot of the production line, but I was too busy being in it!



It doesn’t sound like that much until you realize that we had twelve (!) handcarts that had to go down and across, not to mention every single item in each of those carts as well. Every sleeping bag, every Home Depot bucket, every extra tarp and jacket.

Once we were safely across the ravine, we made it to our camp for the night. We were treated to a great presentation by ‘Joseph Smith’, which was very cool. The actor, you could tell, really put his whole heart and soul into his talk. He told a great story about how people always say that he looks just like Joseph Smith and now he’s using that to give firesides and speeches to youth and adults all over the country. I thought he was great.


After that, there was a rousing hoedown with all sorts of fun dancing and we even had Mister Irishman out there calling the steps! He taught a few nuggets of information about how a couple dances came to be and taught the kids how to dance some fun ones. It was really fun, and a lot of the kids that I talked to who initially thought the dance would be ‘lame’, ended up loving it and having a great time. I’m glad they at least tried it out!

The next day, Saturday, our last day of the Trek, turned out to be the most difficult and draining day of all.

First thing in the morning, we started the Trek and about two minutes into it, we were called together and told that the Mormon Battalion needed 500 men from our camp to set out and help the government.


So there went all the men, off on their own adventure. I don’t know exactly what they did, but they were learning how to do army formations and using rifles and all that good manly men stuff.

While they were gone, us women-folk got together and had a chance to learn a few different pioneer skills as well. We made butter, crocheted, learned calligraphy, made corn-husk dolls, and learned to knit. It was more fun than I just made it sound. :)

After that short break, we started heading out again, this time with only us women pulling our cart. We made it up and down a couple of small hills, while our girls and I played “I Spy”. It was really fun and helped to take our mind off of the task at hand.

We were lucky enough to be the first handcart on the trail, and got to this big hill, where we stopped and let the rest of the carts catch up. Then we got ready for the big pull up the hill. However, before we got started, we were privileged to be serenaded by the men, from the top of a neighboring hill. It was really sweet and we sang back to them.

Then we geared up for the big pull! We decided to have two handcarts full of women go with each cart, and then double back to help with the next one.




I’ll tell you what, it was a challenge. But one that didn’t last all that long, so once you got to the top, you were tired, but it wasn’t dragged out too long. Then the men started catching up with us, and started helping some of the carts go up the hill. Of course, some of the girls wanted only to do it on their own, so they would accept no help from the men.

Luckily for the rest of us, they did start catching up to us and helping! :)

Now, here’s where the story takes its crazy turn. I had been feeling really good up until this point, I had been doing well on the hills, and while I was feeling tired and had to catch my breath after each one, I felt good.


Then came the next set of hills, which were all basically at a 45-degree angle. And as I mentioned, we were the first handcart in the group, so our men hadn’t had a chance to fully catch up to us yet. However, since the back half of the line couldn’t go up the hills until our carts moved ahead (since they’d be stuck, stop in the middle of a giant hill if we’re stopped ahead of them), we had to start again. We got the go-ahead from our Trail Boss, and so I gathered up our girls and started going ahead. I was in the front on the rope, we had one girl on each of the sides of the rope, and two in the back. So, five women on this one cart. I had no idea what the upcoming terrain was going to be, but I figured it would be sloping hills and flat ground, so I thought we’d be good to go until the guys caught up.

But I was wrong.

As we headed up the first hill, we realized it was just straight uphill and it was not going to be easy. At the top of the crest, which was the first point that we had to stop, one of our girls had an asthma attack. Of course, I was really worried about her, but then we couldn’t stop our cart because there were carts coming up behind us and we had to move to get out of their way, so we had to set her on the side of the trail and keep going. It was tough.

Thankfully, we had a couple of guys that were able to help us, so we had a few more people on our cart going up the rest. About half-way up the next hill, I looked up to the next crest that we were about to get to, when I saw another hill going up to the left. At that point, I was mentally and physically spent and I had to get off the cart to catch my breath. But all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. As I was trying to take a deep breath, I found that I just couldn’t. I started to panic, cry, and basically freak out. I was so glad to have our Big Sis Erin stay behind with me and help calm me down. I really feel like I couldn’t have done it without her.

Finally, finally, I started relaxing and was able to sit down, put a wet handkerchief across my neck, and just start breathing again. It really got to me. During this whole ordeal, my hubby was down at the end of the trail, he had just gotten to the bottom of the hill from where they were doing their ‘soldiering’, and he was tired. But of course, as soon as he got there and started to rest, the fire chief came up to him and told him they were worried about me farther up on the trail. So he got right up and started up the huge hills to get to me. He made it to me and it really made me feel so much better to have him there.

I felt bad as all the handcarts were passing us up and all I could do was sit there recovering. Thankfully everyone was really nice and made me feel better. After I had calmed down and was able to move on, I slowly walked up the hill with the Stake leaders in the back. I was glad to be able to just go slow and steady. And being in the back, we were able to help out with a couple of other people who needed to take it easy too.

When we got back to our camp, it was the end of the Trekking for us, and the Stake had prepared a wonderful barbeque lunch as our reward for making it up the mountain! It was great and well-timed. We sat down to eat while the youth had their testimony meeting. It was nice to be able to hear from a lot of the kids about their experiences and what they learned while they had been there that week.

After that, we got back together as a ‘family’ for the last time and had a wonderful little testimony meeting of our own and then it was time to say goodbye!

It’s funny, all week long it was really grueling, and I was looking forward to going home and taking a shower, but I knew that I would love to do it all again if we were asked. The hubby said in the car, “If they ask us again, I’m not even thinking about it, I’m saying yes!” I said, “You better make sure to check with your wife before you commit to anything!” :)

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I compare it a lot to childbirth – in the beginning, you’re excited and waiting for the experience to start, you feel like it will never get here. Then when you’re in the middle of it, it’s really hard and you question why you decided to do this in the first place and it just hurts. Then, after it’s all over and you’ve had this amazing experience, you realize that you could definitely do this again – in four years!!

1 comment:

JAG said...

Awesome! So glad you got to go and have this experience! I'm sure you have an enormous appreciation for our ancestors.

PS- childbirth hurts? Maybe I should rethink my strategy...