The handcarts are off in the distance snaking around on the trail.
Sherry and I were told we could walk toward the trekers on the trail. What a great experience to see the surpise on their faces when they saw us -especially when Carson saw me.
The teenagers (ages 14-18) were split up into "families" of about 7-8 kids (teens) with a Ma and Pa (volunteer adult couple). All wore pioneer clothing for the duration of the trek. The kids slept, ate and pulled handcarts with their families. As a result, they grew very close together through work, stuggles, fun and spiritual experiences. Everyone pulled or pushed their handcart along the 40 mile trail. If someone in the family fell ill or felt they could not walk, they had to sit on the handcart along with all their supplies while everyone else pushed and pulled. That's what they would have to do if they were crossing the plains back in the 1800's. When I asked kids from our ward if they enjoyed their family they all said almost the exact same thing - "My family was awesome!"
Also, each family was given a "baby" (beanbag doll) to represent the youngest of those who made the original travels. Carson's family baby died early during the trek. Others died along the way just as in the original handcart companies. The biggest loss was at Rocky Ridge where eight babies died. Eight of the families had to leave their "babies" at Rocky Ridge. After several days on the trail treating these dolls as a baby, it was difficult for these young men and women to do that. Many said walking away was the hardest part because that is what many families had to do back then. It was an emotional experience for many of the kids.
Carson with his Ma and Pa.
Tammy and Jason organized all the food. Here is a pic of Jason with Sidney. Jason carried Sidney across the Sweet Water River - awwwwwwwwwwesome!
Carson and his family pulling into camp.
Carson really like when they crossed the Sweet Water River. Everyone brought their handcarts across and then many of the young women were asked to go back so the young men could carry them across. The original handcart companies had to pass this river 10 times in their travels, often with ice floating by. At one point when the weather was cold and snowy, some young men carried many of the company across to safety on the other side. They later died of exposure an exhaustion. Having the young men take the young women across helped all of them appreciate what those fellows did.
Another experience that really left an impression on Carson was when there was a women's pull. Just before Rocky Ridge there is a very hard hill to come up. The young men were escorted away, as many men were during the original handcart trek to join up in the army with Brigham Young. The young women were left to pull the handcarts over the rise without the help of their "brothers." It was hard for many of the guys to leave knowing the girls would have to do this by themselves. Carson said he knew his sisters would "kick butt", however he still wanted to stay and help. It was hard to walk away from them. The young men were lead away and had a talk about respecting women. Then they watched with their hats off to the young women as they pushed their handcarts up the hardest hill of the entire trek. All the young men were quite emotional about this when you talked with them afterward. It was really hard to watch and not help. Of course, all the women made it up the hill without help from the men. Carson said he learned that women are a lot stronger than he gave them credit. Stronger in many ways.
A rescue party was sent out to help the Martin and Willie handcart companies. This is what Carp and I went Wyoming for. We were part of that "rescue party." No, we didn't go out and bring them in (well Sherry and I did!), but we were there to greet them when they came into camp. We dressed as pioneers and prepared a meal for them. All of the trek participants were grateful because they didn't have a meal like that along the trek.
Carp helping to prep the dinner. We met a lot of really nice people from other wards helping out here.
We also were able to camp overnight with all the trekers. They had a fabulous fireside and each family had a devotional back at their camps. Carp and I went to Carson's family devotional. The kids shared their thoughts about what they liked or disliked about Trek and what they learned. Carson's Ma and Pa are friends of ours, Todd and Kyle Veenker. We sure appreciate how well they took care of him!
The next morning we had breakfast and listened to the final missionaries speak about the rescue party and how they helped get those who survived the trail into Salt Lake City. I learned so much being able to be up there for that little time. I have a greater appreciation of not only the pioneers but any group of people who have endured hardships and trials for something they believe in.
I hope they have Trek again for my other kids!