Deke and I had the grand opportunity to spend our 2 year anniversary weekend on our stakes pioneer trek. That might not sound ideal to some but to us we were more than thrilled to share that experience with the youth. You see, back when we were youth neither of us were able to attend the pioneer trek. I was either too young or too old and Deke's stake didn't do it at all. So when we heard our stake was doing it this year we jumped on the opportunity and signed up to attend and medical staff.
The whole trek was about 17 miles and the "families" were responsible for pulling their hand cart along the entire thing. Each family was given a baby that weighed about 8-10 pounds. The one rule with their infant was that they couldn't put it down, they had to carry it the entire trek! Along the trail there were little montages for the youth to see and better understand what the real pioneers experienced along their journey across the plains.
The youth involved were between ages 14-18 and they were all so amazing! They learned hard work, team work, self worth, humility, and most of all sacrifice. It amazed me to see young people grow so much as individuals and actually witness their testimonies grow.
Here are all their supplies before loading the carts
All the carts lined up and ready to go!
The sexy cowboy ;)
This is the closest to "roughing-it" as we can get in 2011. We had traveling bathrooms :)
Deke, Donovan, and myself roaring to go!
And they're off! Day 1 was about 8 miles.
Here is "Brigham Young" following on his horse.
We trailed along in company D... the kids were a little jealous that we brought our ipods. hehe
There were signs like this one along the entire trek. Little words of encouragement!
First stop for lunch on day 1.
This is company D enjoying the gorgeous views!
End of day 1 with swollen and very dirty feet. Hard to believe I was wearing socks and shoes, huh?
The "Pony Express" making its rounds with letters for the kids from their parents.
I heard there was about 300 people on this trek. Here is a shot of the first fireside at sunset.
Day 2 starts like day 1, walking and more walking!
Gorgeous wildflowers at every turn!
My cowboy taking a nap and I ended up laying down with him. I absolutely hate being dirty but on the trek you just can't care. No way around being filthy!
This is probably the only time you'll see me sitting on dirt and not caring!
Day 2 we had members from the U.S. military come take away the men to join the Mormon Battalion to fight in the Mexican war.
Our willing and able men saying their goodbyes
Now the women are on their own pulling the hand carts just like the real women from the pioneers had to endure.
They even had to trek across snow.
We came to this meadow a few miles later. It. Was. Breathtaking!!!
Towards the end of day 2 the kids had to endure their toughest test. Steeps hills!
It was so great to see how groups of men would push their carts up the hills then run back down to help the remaining carts. Some pushed 4 or 5 carts up until everyone was safe at camp.
We called this the "Harry Potter tree"
Deke even found his look-a-like on the trek! They were just about the same height, wore the same clothes, and had a black beard. I wasn't the only one doing double takes all weekend!
Company D medical staff... a.k.a "the lovebirds".
We had to tell several people that it was our anniversary weekend which explained our lovey-dovey behavior. ♥
Here is Deke with one of his many patients!
The journey ended on day 3 but not without one last trial. The families babies all had a disease breakout and the infants died. Before continuing on they had to bury their babies. We learned many stories where mothers had to bury their children, some more than one. It was a sad reality for the pioneer and we could not begin to relate to their tragedy in this montage.
The pioneer trek was an amazing adventure and we are so grateful we were there to experience it. I've learned about the pioneers my entire life but having a little taste of what they had to endure gave my a new appreciation for them and their sacrifice. We can't wait to do this again someday and highly recommend you taking the chance to do it if opportunity comes.