Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pioneer Trek


We just got back from our Trek late last night and it was an amazing experience. The sacrifice and hardship that the pioneers went through is hard to even comprehend and I am so grateful for their courage and perseverance to stand for what they believed. Although we were only there for a short time and can't even come close to enduring what they did, I believe that we all got a small glimpse of what it might have been like.

Ready to go with my Pioneer clothing and 5 gallon bucket! Each of us were only allowed to bring a few items and all of them had to fit inside the bucket.

Salinas Family - - ready to go!

Marc & I "trekked" in honor of Sister Hinckley's grandparents who were part of the Hunt Company.

Spencer & Grant in full pioneer regalia!!!

Our first stop was in Bountiful, Utah where we ate dinner at the park. Of course my boys had to have running - jumping contests up and over the slide!

After dinner we drove up to the Bountiful Temple and then hiked up a very steep hill. We had a fireside by Bishop Bledsoe as we overlooked the beautiful temple.

We stayed the night in Bountiful, right across from the temple at 3 different houses. Our Trek leader's grandparents live there - - so perfect! All of the young men in one house (they slept on an indoor basketball court) the young women were in another house and trek committee in another house. Marc & I were on the food committee so we were up bright and early the next morning getting their breakfast ready to take on the bus. Costco muffins, juice, yogurt and granola. Buses loaded -- off to Martin's Cove!

As we drove and drove and drove there was absolutely NOTHING! I have never been to Wyoming before but it was just a whole lot of not very much! It was exciting to drive into the Cove area and know that we were where the pioneers were.

Once we arrived, ate lunch and loaded the handcarts we had a little free time to go to the visitor's center and Devil's Gate. This is a gorge on the Sweetwater River. The pioneers and their wagons were forced to go around it.

After an orientation and a very touching pioneer movie, we were finally off! Everyone was assigned to a family (no parents or siblings were in the same family) Everyone had a Ma & Pa and new brothers and sisters for the trek. Here is Spencer and Hunter Kroon starting the journey.

Grant & Mason Knapp start off for their family

Once we trekked in to camp, everyone got to work getting things set up. Marc & Jeff Wadsworth drove into camp to get the cook stoves and dutch ovens ready to go and just as they got everything ready, those dang Wyoming winds came and literally blew all of the tents and covers off and broke the frames. It was terrible! We now have no cover in our kitchen area for the rest of the time we are there. Oh well, pretty sure the pioneers didn't have pop up tents for their convenience!

We got dinner ready for everyone (hamburgers & hotdogs, beans, fresh fruit & veggies) and even got a little help with the burger flippin' from Grant!

The evening also included a fireside and square dancing
Here is a picture of the beautiful area we were camping in . . . such a neat place.

Friday was a BIG day! The cooking crew was awake at 5:30 am to get breakfast going which would have been easy - - if the wind wasn't blowing!!!!! Had a hard time keeping heat on the stoves. We served dutch oven biscuits, gravy, hash browns, eggs and fruit. Everyone was very well fed for the long journey ahead. Everyone trekked in a few miles and parked the handcarts. We then had the honor and privilege of walking in to Martin's Cove. We stopped off along the way for a great fireside from Brother Gozart and then continued our journey into the cove. It was an overwhelming feeling as we walked - - in silence - - where the pioneers took refuge from the elements and camped at that very place for a few days. You could picture their tents set up all over the area. However, they were set up in the snow and most of their tents were blown down by the wind. Many died and were buried in that sacred place.

After we trekked back out of the Cove, we had lunch that had already been packed onto the handcarts. We then got to cross the Sweetwater River just like the pioneers. It was very high and we were told that instead of crossing the deep part, we would re-enact it through a swampy marsh that wasn't very deep. Spencer was asked by the missionary there to pull one of the carts so I got in! Then Grant & M'Kay also came and helped. It was so neat to get to be pulled across by my three strong boys.

After all of the women had been carried or pulled across, Bishop decided to go ahead and let everyone try to cross in the actual river. It was awesome! I think about how easy it was for me to hold on to a rope and make my way across. How did they do that with handcarts, babies and small children. Plus it was so cold for them with frozen chunks of ice floating in the river. It was very touching to see Spencer & Grant along with many other men in our ward help people across. The pioneer that Spencer trekked in honor of was one of the men who carried people across the river over and over and over.

After the Sweetwater Crossing we had the "Women's Pull" It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life! The men all left and walked up the hill while the women stayed and had a wonderful fireside by Sister Graham. She spoke on being able to do hard things and how each of us have our own "handcarts" that we struggle with every day. She related a couple of stories about strong pioneer women who were faced with very difficult situations and how they over came them. Then the women lined up with the handcarts. And it started to rain. And the wind blew. It was a surreal experience to be standing in those conditions getting ready to experience what the pioneer women did. Being on the food committee, this was the first time I actually pulled the cart. The first part was on a flat surface but it was so sandy that it was difficult to get through. I was completely out of breath before we even got to the hill. All of the men lined the hill and had been instructed to not help unless someone was in immediate danger. Once the women made it to the top, they were allowed to go down and help other carts if they women raised their hand -- asking for help. Up the hill we went. It was very steep and full of rocks. I was in the front with sweet McKenna Graham while Sister Smith, Sister Raymond and Gracie were in the back pushing. Every time our cart hit a rock it threw it off - - honestly it was so hard to pull that cart that was completely packed up that hill. Half way up I lost my footing and fell. There was no way I was going to raise my hand or quit at that moment. We kept going until we reached the top. It was so so difficult for the men to stand there and watch. They so badly wanted to jump in and help us -- many had tears in their eyes as they watched their wives, mothers and sisters struggle. There were many times where the pioneer women had to do this on their own - - but they didn't get to stop at the top. They kept going, mile after mile, day after day.

When everyone trekked back into camp they all went to their family camp areas for dinner. Each family was handed a small bag of flour. They added a little water and made "ash cakes" to eat. This is what would have been rationed out for everyone to eat. It was amazing that not very many of the kids complained. They may not have liked it and they may have been hungry but it was such a powerful example of the sacrifices that the pioneers made. I was impressed with how good their attitudes were. Of course we did surprise them with a full dinner! After we were done eating, everyone had solo time. They were able to read letters from their parents and take some time to reflect on their experiences, read their scriptures and write in their journals. The evening concluded with a beautiful testimony meeting and peach cobbler!

The next morning we served breakfast (french toast and bacon) took down camp and headed back to Idaho. It was a long 12 hour drive but everyone arrived home safely.

I am very grateful for this experience and I so appreciate the sacrifice made by the pioneers to go forward in faith - - moving west for religious freedom. My feet hurt, but I got to wear Nike tennis shoes. They walked with their feet wrapped in clothes in the snow. I was sometimes hungry and I got to eat 3 great meals a day plus snacks. They had rations of flour and ate ash cakes. I missed Taylor & McCall as they weren't with us. Many pioneer mothers buried their children along the trail. I don't think I could have made it as a pioneer and am grateful for what they did, so that I can enjoy the blessings of the gospel in my life today.

We had a GREAT 4th of July! Annual family BBQ at Nielsens in Parma. It is always so fun to see some of our cousins that we only see on the 4th. That evening we headed over to the Benjamins for more yummy food and awesome company. We decided to try out the Melba fireworks for the first time (after hearing for years that they are the BOMB!) and yes they were! We just parked along the side of the road - - set out our chairs and snacks and enjoyed the night. What a fun day!

Grant, M'Kay, Saige, Jett, McCall

Brotherly LOVE!!!

Marc & Lauralyn

Grant & Miss

Saige & Lauralyn

AWESOME day on the Lake!


M'Kay & McCall

Grant, M'Kay & Spencer


Love this picture with the sun behind Spencer


Well, M'Kay is at it again!!! He is only 11 years old and has been mowing a few lawns for a couple of years now. This year he has six yards and bought his own riding lawn mower with his own cash. The kid doesn't ever spend a dime!!! He found it all by himself on craigslist, called the man, made an appointment to go see it, withdrew his cash and made the purchase! He loves it and has even been renting it to Grant when he has a lawn to mow. Pretty smart!