Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trek Day 1

One interesting thing that LDS youth groups do periodically in many parts of the USA is historical reenactments, specifically multi-day events in pioneer clothing and traveling along dirt/mud paths with handcarts and wagons. Is it because Mormons just loved that game "Oregon Trail" back when they were in school? No, it's because most of the very first members of the LDS church crossed the plains of Nebraska and Wyoming to settle in the Rocky Mountains together; they sacrificed and suffered much and left modern Mormons a great legacy of faith and dedication.

This past week, my husband and I had the chance to take part in a "Pioneer Trek". We wore 1850's clothing and pushed handcarts. We were divided into traveling subcompanies and "families"; we were the "Ma" and "Pa" to six great teenagers. We camped in tents, and we cooked our food over flame (OK, they were propane camp stove flames). We gathered together at night to sing hymns, socialize, and hear presentations about the history of the Latter-day Saints who traveled in 1956 in the unfortunate Martin and Willey handcart companies.

On Day #1 of our "Trek", we left from Colorado early in the morning and drove for about six hours to the Mormon Handcart Visitor's Center in Alcove, Wyoming. We watched a presentation at the visitor's center about the Martin and Willey handcart companies, which left Nebraska later than usual in the year for such a journey and were caught by an early winter in the middle of Wyoming with scanty food and supplies. We heard how they suffered horribly from hunger, cold exposure, illness, and death. We also learned about the heroic rescue efforts of the "valley boys", men from the Salt Lake City area who set out eastward through the wintry weather to rescue the handcart companies.

Then we packed our clothes, gear, and water onto actual handcarts and proceeded to walk ourselves and the handcarts three miles along a dirt path to our campground. After dinner (spaghetti), square dancing in a cold June Wyoming wind, and an evening program, we went to bed in our tents.

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