Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pioneer Trek 2010-Day 1

We got up, not so early, on Thursday morning and kissed our little kid-lets goodbye.  Then met up with our youth and headed to the El Dorado National Forest.  The drive was fun, there is nothing like listening to three teenage boys sing Taylor Swift songs A-capella.  Luckily with Jeremy's phone we were able to pull up a few on youtube.  Not really pioneer-ish but this is how we started our journey.  We eventually swapped some youth (Jeremy and I are so NOT cool!) and the last half of the drive was a little more quiet.

When we finally showed up it was hustle and bustle.  We finally got to meet the youth that would be calling us Ma and Pa.  They all seemed to mesh pretty well.  I didn't see any eye rolls or dirty looks.  That was a relief!

We packed up our handcart and joined together for a little introduction by Ranger Frank.  Ranger Frank is one who was a big help to Sister Cadwallader, who was the go to gal in organizing this.  Ranger Frank was a wealth of information.  If you listened to him talk for a second about the Pioneers you would have no doubt that this man was truly a Mormon.  Turns out he is Episcopalian.  He clarified this when we told him he is welcome at our church anytime ; ).  He told us a little about our journey, a few rules and then sent us on our way.  We ended up with a baby and a chicken, only they ran out of chickens so we didn't have that trial or what ever the story was with the chickens.
Then we lined up.  We left in handcart companies of 6 and each company left about 20 minutes apart.  We were in the last group, which turned out to be a little frustrating for our go getter family. I wish this picture did the hill justice but it looks a whole lot flatter than what it really was.
When we were finally able to get going, we walked up and up and up.  I think for about 40 minutes or so.  Then maybe up a little bit more.  As Mas and Pas we were instructed to let the youth do it.  There were times it was hard to watch them suffer.  At the same time, after about 5 minutes, I was out of breath and more than willing to let them handle it.  The boys, men youth, whatever...pulled a lot of the time.
But for the most part the girls hung on to the back, even when it felt completely useless.  When we got to the top they had what they called a vignette, or story.  Each time we stopped, a few people would act out or read passages from real pioneers.  The first day the stories focused mostly on food and weather.  Either of these  circumstances would have made me throw in the towel and give up.  We continued on and went up more, then down.  The terrain got a little more sketchy, bumpy, rocky etc.  We came to a point where there was a big standstill.  It turns out there was a girl who got too close to the wheel and her foot got ran over.  YIKES!  Some people were frustrated, there was lots of grumbling.  Then an amazing thing happened.  It was silent, and the priesthood gave this girl a blessing.  It reminded me that even in those times of trials, those pioneers were never alone.  They had the priesthood to heal, to comfort, and encourage them to carry on.  That particular family let everyone else pass while they waited for help.  Our family was more then happy to keep on Trekking!

On a side note, two weeks before Trek they visited and there was 4 +/- feet of snow where we would be camping, and doing the vignettes.  Amazingly enough due to great weather and a few dedicated leaders the snow was not a problem.  However we did get a chance to cross a patch.  It wasn't hard, but it got the girls to squeal when the mud splashed on their feet.  We stopped at a half way point and moved up to the second company.  As we started on the next leg we had an assignment for Nate.  He was to leave our family and run to the other handcart companies, looking for his son Arthur. He had to take one more young man and they were to run around for 20 minutes.  Then return.  He was also given a "scarf".  If his son was found alive he was to wave it like a flag.  If he was found dead, he was to wrap up his son in the scarf.  He and David left.  They ran hard for at least 40 minutes.  There was no luck.  That was all the information we had so we kept walking.  On this leg indians were hootin' and hollerin' along the trail.  Nate was certain the indians took his son.  The girls took a turn pulling the cart, then the boys pulled again.  We finally pulled into camp around 4:00pm.  It was ahead of schedule.  The youth pretty much were able to run free.  It was fairly relaxing.
We were treated to chicken and steak fajitas for dinner.  Then there was some musical entertainment.  Followed by s'mores.  The sunset was beautiful.
Picture taken by Kurt P. Schwartz

We then had a family devotional. It was at this time we found out the rest of Nate's story.  He had lost his son because the weather was turning bad.  In the hustle and bustle of trying to beat the weather, they got separated.  By the time he realized they were in a storm.  He left his family to find his son.  As he left his wife gave him a scarf and gave him the above mentioned instruction.  He looked and looked to no avail.  After a couple of days, he stopped at a post, and was told that his son had been found by another family.  He was near frozen, and surrounded by wolves.  The family took him in and cared for him.  After a week Arthur was reunited with his family.  It turns out this was an ancestor to Nate.  He had acted out his own history.  The coolest part was that Nate hadn't even realized he had Pioneer ancestry.  The first clue that this was about him was when he heard it was a relative to Butch Cassidy, and Nate knew that was one of his ancestors.  I thought this really made it hit home for him.

We laid out our sleeping bads and slept under the stars.  A first for me!  I think I would totally enjoy it if it was a Sleep Number pad I was sleeping on as well as the bugs having a 100 feet restraining order.  The stars were something else though, simply breathtaking. Then the noise started.

Slow drumming, then it quickened.  I started having an internal debate.  I knew I wouldn't REALLY be hurt, but deep inside I was praying that our campsite was tucked for enough back that we would go unnoticed.  Then it got louder, with indian chanting.  It went on for quite some time, or like 15 minutes, which ever is longer.  Eventually the noise died down, we hunted down some youth who were hunting down the surprisingly fake indians.  Once our family was complete I felt a certain peace knowing everyone was home.  I then proceeded to toss and turn wondering what would be in store for us tomorrow.


Mama J said...

What a great experience. I didn't know that your stake was going to be involved as well. We had a few youth and friends go. I had no idea how big it was!

The State of Our Family said...

Wow! What a great experience. Between the two posts you really got a ton of FABULOUS photos to remember it by too!

Swidget 1.0 2