Jun 25, 2012

Bye Bye Beard

I let my beard grow for about a month for Trek. It started out scratchy, went to soft, but finally just got annoying. It was a food catcher, and channeled the water away from my mouth when I took a drink, so after Trek, I decided to get rid of it. I figured I might as well make it fun, so here's what I came up with.

Jun 9, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 4

Last night we slept in the van. This was MUCH warmer. However, it did have the little clasps where the seats hook down in the floor that stuck up about 1/2 an inch. TOTALLY worth it though. I was warm.

For breakfast we had Cream of Wheat, another not so fun childhood memory -- so I ate pop tarts. There was some leftover biscuits and gravy from the day before, so I had some of that too. We broke camp, turned in the hand carts, and headed out to Rock Creek Hollow (also known as Rocky Ridge).

We had sandwiches for lunch in the parking area, then headed to the memorials.

The plaques are a memorial to the 15 people in the Willie hand cart company who died making it over the 3 mile long hill with layers of rocks during a heavy snowstorm. You can still see the ruts from the wagon wheels in the rock.
Ruts from the Handcarts and Wagons

Afterward, we had testimony meeting which was very moving. Some of the kids that started the Trek as slightly cocky I could tell were truly humbled from their experiences. There was one in particular that is far to sacred to share here, but feel free to ask me about it sometime.

We loaded up the cars again, and then headed toward home.

I stopped to take pictures at an old mining town, and since we would just be a minute, waved the others on.

After taking a few pictures, I realized we had a flat tire -- and also the only phones that worked. Diana sent a text message to some other members of our group, so when they got to a spot that they had service, they would get it and not wonder where we were. I put the spare on and we headed out again. Unfortunately, the closest place to get a tire fixed was in Rock Springs, 90 miles away.

We made it to Rock Springs and got the tire fixed at Wal-mart (which took more than an hour) and had a bite to eat. The Blackhursts and Dickeys had gotten our texts and stopped with us to wait. We got some fried chicken and potatoes in the deli. Finally we got it taken care of and left Rock Springs about 6:30ish.

We made it home, exhausted but happy at around 10:00pm.

Trek was Amazing. Truly Amazing. I cannot begin to understand all the Pioneers went through because of their faith, but I appreciate it far more than I did before.

Read Day 3

Jun 8, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 3

After another difficult night (warmer, but hard ground) I woke up at 5:30 again and made a fire. We had breakfast of biscuits and gravy, fruit and milk (which was delicious, by the way) and then started on our hike for the day. It was fairly warm with a slight breeze, and felt pretty good. This time on the trail there were several "experiences" to make it more real. As we went, we passed by another family from our ward who was on their knees with a hole in the ground burying their baby. It was even more heart wrenching because the mother of the family really is pregnant. Just seeing them there staring into the hole tore at your heart strings. Knowing they had to go on anyway, and leave the grave behind, wow. Just, wow.

Soon after that, the angel of death (Emily Petty) came through our camp and took one member of each of our families. Considering that many families lost multiple members, losing one was still quite sad. They went off with her, and we were left to sort out our family. We lost Kyra, and while some lost the Dad's and Mom's in the family, we still missed her, even for just the 1/2 hour she was gone. Some of the families had harder times than others.
Those who died in happier times

We went about 2.5 miles into the hike then stopped for lunch. We had a short program during lunch, then started what was called the Women's Pull. The men went off, leaving the women behind. We had a short talk about the importance of women in our lives, and how they should be treated well by Joe Fox.

Then the women started up the hill. It was about 3/4 of a mile at a fairly steep incline, and the men were not allowed to help. There really was a feeling of helplessness, coupled with awe at the strength of the women, pulling and pushing because there was no other choice.
After that was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences I have ever had. Michelle Allen (who is WAY tougher than I am) pulled her handcart alone with her husband in the back. She represented the story of Elsie and Jens Neilson who, when he fell ill, asked her to leave him behind. She wouldn't, loaded him in the cart and kept going. She was 4'11" tall and her husband was at least 6 feet. She pulled alone, and to watch her struggle, and only be able to watch, was so hard. There was not a dry eye to be found.
After a couple of minutes of struggling (which seemed like hours) her "children" were allowed to help, and she made it up the hill. We finished the 6 mile hike is relative silence after the experiences of the day.

We got back to camp and had dinner of Sloppy Joe's and salad. They were delicious. The missionaries set up square dance which was better attended than the one on Wednesday Then the "Pony Express" came and delivered mail to all the youth from their parents.
Then we had dutch oven peach cobbler, talked around the campfire and went to bed -- this time in the back of the van because I was tired of being cold. (did I mention I'm a wimp?)

Keep Reading --> Day 4
Read Day 2

Jun 7, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 2

After a cold night, (probably around 55 degrees, yeah I am a wimp and shivered for two hours, until the air mattress deflated, then I was on the hard ground, but warmer) I woke up around 5:30 AM and got up and started a fire. After breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and milk (I ate Pop-Tarts I had stashed away in the car, as oatmeal for breakfast is the bane of my existence), we loaded into vehicles and drove about 1.5 hours to Martin's Cove.

We loaded up the handcarts and started the hike.

We went about 2 miles, then set down the handcarts and walked to the Dan Jones Cove where the handcart saints had weathered high winds and sub zero temperatures, since there wasn't enough room in the fort. Suzy Fox and Tressa Eads played "Come, Come, Ye Saints" as we walked into the cove. It was very peaceful.

One of the missionaries talked more about the ordeal there, and the hardships they endured.

We then continued the hike around to the place where we had left the handcarts (1.5 miles) and had lunch meat sandwiches and carrots and celery for lunch. Next, we took the handcarts to the statues that represent the men who carried the Martin handcart pioneers across the Sweetwater River in -11 degree weather.

Then we had the opportunity to cross the river ourselves. It was just over knee deep. It was cool, but not cold, but after standing in it for 15 minutes taking pictures of the others crossing, it was not as pleasant.

We finished the hike (a total of 7 miles) cleaned up the carts and then headed back to Sixth Crossing. We had chili and salad for dinner, then a fireside about Levi Savage.
Then there was time for more talking around the campfire while the kids played pioneer games, then to bed at 10:00 PM.

Keep Reading --> Day 3
Read About Day 1

Jun 6, 2012

Pioneer Trek 2012 - Day 1

We woke up at 4:00 AM, had a quick breakfast of Pop-Tarts and milk, and met everyone at the church at 4:44 AM. Why 4:44? Because it's easier to remember than 4:45 (Was it 5:45, 6:45?) After several shuffles of who was going, driving, etc, we loaded into 11 cars, trucks, and vans (including our own) and headed out around 6:00 AM.

After a stop for gas, we continued on until we got to the 6th Crossing, Wyoming also known as the Willey Handcart Company rescue site. Several of the men got out to go get handcarts for the group, including me, while the rest of the group headed up to set up camp. I thought pulling a handcart would be rough, but it was quite heavy and awkward to pull by myself, even though it was empty.

Steve & Brittany Helm were the Ma and Pa of our family, Diana and I were the Uncle and Aunt. As children were Ben Murdoch, Steven Howes, Kyra Pace, and Julisa Maciel. It was a very eye-opening experience to pull the handcart fully loaded like that. Two people pulled and two pushed, in sandy soil four were on the front and back. We had a good time getting to know each other, and finding our "groove."

We had lunch (sack lunches from home) then headed out on a 4 mile hike. Each handcart had a 5 gallon plastic bucket with up to 17 lbs of gear for each person in the "family" and two 5 gallon coolers of water. The hike included a Sweetwater River crossing.  It was rather marshey and soggy, and then had an actual crossing in the deeper area. It wasn't very wide, but was still a struggle to get the handcart across.
 After the hike, we went back to camp and had spaghetti and salad for dinner. We listened to a fireside about Ephraim Hanks.

Then we headed to bed at 10:00 PM after a bit of chatting by the fire. The wind had died down, but it had also cooled off quite a bit.

Keep Reading --> Day 2


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