On June 11, we had the opportunity to get in touch with our pioneer heritage and go on a trek. We drove up to Martin's Cove in Wyoming (6 hours with one stop at Walmart for pillows) and met our group. Our ward in Bountiful decided that everyone over the age of 12 was invited to come so it was a little vacation for me not having Emma to worry about. We met for lunch at Independence Rock and after we ate, we climbed up it to see some history. Around the back was a little cave and our climb started there. It was a little steep but not bad. The girls who were only wearing their flip flops didn't make it. It was pretty cool being up there knowing that we were truly seeing what the pioneers saw as they came through that area. Nothing has been changed except the highway is paved now. People have carved their names and dates in the rock and most are still pretty clear despite the age.
Then we met at Martin's Cove for our handcart experience. We were all dressed as pioneers (except our shoes were modern walking shoes) and we were all adorable! We had 5 gallon buckets to carry our stuff that we needed while walking so our handcarts were considerably lighter than the pioneers. All our other stuff we took to camp in the car and all the food was taken care of by ward members. We were a little spoiled in that department. We walked for 3 miles from the visitor's center to camp and there were only a couple of hills to worry about. Then we set up camp and had dinner and square dancing. That night, Josh and his two friends had a tent all to themselves and stayed up laughing and shining their flashlights on all the other tents. All the other camp members were yelling at them to go to sleep and they got tired of hearing it. So they unstaked their tent and moved as far away as possible from all the other tents and set up there. This had to have been some time past midnight and they did it so quietly that when we got up in the morning, we looked outside and they were gone! Like a tornado came and swept up there tent and no one else's. It kind of scared me. Where were they? From then on they were called the reject tent.
We ate like kings on trek. Pancakes, bacon, sausage, french toast, fruit for breakfast. Sandwiches and 3 kinds of snacks for lunch. Chicken, beans, baked potatoes, ice cream bars, creamies for dessert. Wow. I know the pioneers didn't eat this good.
We headed up to Martin's Cove on another 2 mile walk, plus another mile into the cove. It was cloudy all morning until we in the cove having a talk and the clouds parted and the sun came out and lit everything up. And when we headed out again, the clouds came back. It hit me that here we were standing in holy places and as the clouds parted, the veil parted just a little to let the spirit in and the past mingle with the present. It was very powerful.
However. The bishop told us that we were not really experiencing what the pioneers had to go through in this place. We had it too good. And so right as we finished our lunches, the dark clouds rolled in and the icy wind blasted through and the rain came down. We were freezing and supposed to cross the Sweetwater River. So on we walked in the cold rain until we came to the river and suddenly the rain stopped so we could cross. Everyone cold, they pushed through the river with their skirts hiked and pants rolled. Of course my family didn't feel the need to cross the river. Josh and Tim were chicken because it was still very cold outside. Andrew and I decided we would take pictures and root everyone on. I'm sorry but I didn't want to be more wet and cold with a 2 mile walk still ahead. And the no sleep from the two nights before was wearing on me. I already felt I had experienced enough to feel like a pioneer. Sorry--not an outdoor kind of gal.
After the river walk, the men were called away to go fight in the Mexican War and the women were left alone to push the handcarts up the big hill by themselves. Well that would have been fine except I was the only girl on my handcart. We had 5 teenage boys and 2 men on my handcart and they all left me... I was all ready to give it a try when the Muhlestein girls saw my problem and volunteered to help. So I had five girls come to my rescue and we made it up the hill! The men at the top cheered and clapped and then rejoined us for the 2 miles back to camp.
The next day we took the handcarts back and then walked to the devil's gate. And then we drove home. I was ready for a hot shower and a warm soft bed. I don't know if I would have made a good pioneer. My lack of camping skills definitely showed. The only time I've camped is up at Cherry Hill in August every year and usually we come home and sleep because of my little kids. It was definitely an eye opening experience even though we had it REALLY easy. If you ever get a chance to go, please do. It will change you.