Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pioneer Trek August 2011

 Our Stake did a youth conference pioneer trek.  D got to go because he is the Bishop, and I got to tag along with him.  I was the only Bishop's wife there.  We were assigned to different family groups, and then into companies.  I thought I would be in a group with D, but the Bishop's were assigned to a different hand cart company everyday.  I was put in a family group with other adult leaders.
 It was a fun group of leaders.  We had a good time together.  We only had 3 men and about 10 ladies to start out, but as we got going and people were injured or got sick they would take some of the leaders from our group to fill in those spots.  By the end we didn't have any men left and only about 6 ladies.  Luckily we had a few of the Bishop's with us for that last day. 
 These were our handcarts.  We usually had two or three people pushing on the back (more if we were going up a hill) two or three in the middle, and two or three out in the front pulling with a rope.  I was mostly in the back (which was super hard when we were going up hills), and out in the front with the rope.  D and I were in the middle on the last day.  The middle took most of the weight of the hand cart.
 We had to have all of our things in a 5 gallon bucket (which doubled as a seat).  They were all loaded onto the carts along with a medical kit, and our lunches.  We got to haul an extra set of lunches for all the stake leaders. 
 It really didn't seem like much stuff, but man those hand carts are heavy!
 We went to Deseret Lands and Livestock.  It is a church owned cattle ranch up by the border of Utah and Wyoming.  It was very pretty up there.  I thought we would see a lot of cattle, but we only saw a few cows one day.  I found out later that they directed us away from the cattle, and the cattle away from us. 
 All the families were given different colored bandanas.  I was in the pink group, and the Bishop's were white.  I don't remember how many groups there were all together.
 They mixed up all the kids from all the wards, so all the kids got to be with other kids from different wards.  Each group or family had a Ma and a Pa that took care of them for the trip.
 We got to cross two little water areas as we went.  The first was on the first day and it was just a little stream.  We took off our socks and shoes and waded through.  It was pretty refreshing because it was pretty hot.  Those long dresses, and pantaloons were HOT!!!
 My handsome hubby all nice and clean before the Trek began.
 We walked for about 10-12 miles everyday.  The first day was pretty easy.  We were all excited and fresh and it was just new and different. 
 The days got harder as we went along.  Everyone got blisters (I had 11 on my feet!), and everyone was tired.  The first night we slept in a little valley, and it was so damp.  I am glad I got to sleep in a tent.  The families had to sleep in make shift tents made by putting tarps between the hand carts.  People were soaked by morning.  It was cold and wet that morning, but it got hot later on in the day.
 We had two trail bosses that led our group.   There was also a missionary couple that led us onto the right paths.  They were in a little 4-wheeler thing.  I sure wanted to ride in it by the end.
Me looking all fresh and clean before the Trek started.  I spent a solid week (about 4-6 hours a day) before Trek sewing our clothing for the trip.  I made pantaloons, two skirts, two bonnets, and two Possibility bags for D and I. 
 This is one of my outfits.  My other skirt was green with a floral bonnet, but I didn't get any pictures of me in it.  Before we went we also went on lots of long walks and a hike with the stake.  We went shopping for shirts for both of us and a hat for D.  We made our little bucket seats and gathered things to pack.  There was a lot of prep work.  I had fun making my own set of pioneer clothes though.
 We would walk for several hours and then pause for breaks or lunch.  There was a few men who hauled port-a-potties around for us at our stops.  I was so grateful for the port-a-potty guys!  They had a stinky messy job.  There was also someone with a water truck and a medical van.
 There were lots of ups and downs on our trip. It was definately not flat terrain!  Some of the hills were pretty steep.  This was the steepest and longest hill we went up.   This is the hill we did the women's pull on.
 The women's pull is where the men went to the top of the hill and watched all the women pull the handcarts up by themselves.  I still tear up thinking about it.  It was sooooo hard.  I was pushing on the back of the handcart with one other lady.  We only had about 6-8 ladies and girls per handcart.  They sat us all down and talked to us for awhile about some of the women pioneers and how a lot of things fell to them because the men got sick and some died.  They took all the men and boys to the top of the hill and talked to them about not letting the women pull their own cart...talking about spiritual things.  That they needed to honor their priesthood and honor women.  Then all the men lined up on both sides of the trail with their hats over their hearts and silently watched us pull the carts past them.  I couldn't look at them at all.  I was already having a rough day and was close to tears.  I just kept my head down and pushed.  I knew if I saw D I would break down.  Even before I saw any of the men's feet, I knew we had reached them.  It became easier to push.  I don't know if it was because the people that were in the front were pushing harder because they didn't want to look bad in front of all those men, or if it was because just having them there strengthened us.  It was a neat experience even though it was hard.  
 Here is the water truck (The Water Buffalo) and a tent like the one I slept in.  We would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and be on our way for the day.  We would stop for a few breaks and for lunch, and usually arrived for camp around 4:00 or 5:00pm.  Then it was time to set up camp.  Luckily we had cooks that did all the cooking and food for us, so we didn't have to worry about that.
 Here are the family "tents".  They flipped the hand carts upside down and strung a rope from one to the other and then covered the rope with a tarp.  The Ma and Pa slept in the middle, and the girls slept on the Ma's side and the boys on the Pa's side
 I was always surprised by the kids.  I would be completely exhausted and just want to sit on my bucket, and the kids would be up doing square dancing and pioneer games. 
This is what our camp set up looked like every night.  Everyday we would have little devotionals and things.  One night D had to talk to just our ward.  He talked to them about their feet and how we need to always keep our feet going in the right paths to our Heavenly Father.  He gave them a little foot charm to put on their shoelaces as a reminder.
 One day we came to this muddy little stream.  By this time everyone had blisters and bandages on their feet so they didn't want anyone taking off their shoes and wading through.  They found a little bit of a narrow area where a few men helped everyone across (only a few fell in!). 
There was a steep incline on the other side of the stream. To get the carts across, they attached a rope onto the cart and threw it over the stream to some guys on the other side. Then those guys would pull while the other ones pushed from the other side. 
The guys would have to take off running to get the carts up the hill. It was fun to watch and it was neat to have so many people working together to get one job done. It was the first time we felt completely united as a company.
 We all made it across, and were on our way again.  I thought the last day of the trek would be the hardest, but it wasn't.  We were all tired and sore, but we were excited for it to be the last day.  That excitement carried us through all day.  I think we pulled faster than we did even on the first day.  As one group got to the end, they would put their handcart down and run back up the hill to cheer the others on.  It was neat.
As part of the experience we were supposed to choose some pioneers that we were to pretend to be and honor on our trek.  D and I chose James and Eliza Hurren.  We chose them because they were about our age, and they had 4 little girls just like us.  Eliza actually had a baby (Selena) the day the company started out.  She stayed behind and left the next day.  I could not imagine doing this.  I can barely move the day after I have a baby.  Two weeks later her baby died.  It was neat to research and learn more about all the pioneers.  It made the experience that much more special. 
 It was such a great experience.  I had fun getting to know other members of our stake and getting to know the kids in our own ward better. It was a fun thing to do with D as well.  I was always so excited when I would get to see him in the day.  He would find times to sneak away from his company and come and find me and check on me to see how I was doing and help us pull for awhile before he headed back to his group.
 I guess the thing I learned the most from this experience was that I can do hard things by myself.  I went on the trek because I really wanted to go have this experience.  I didn't really need to be there, but I am glad the Stake let me go along.  It was a great testimony building experience, and one I won't forget.  I don't think I will want to go again in 4 years when they do it again, but I am glad I got to go this time.

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