Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trek: A GREAT GREAT Experience

For our ward youth conference this summer we went on Trek.

It was such a great experience that I would do it all over again!

Our main goal was to put our youth in sacred places.

You can see how we prepared from a previous post {Preparing for trek}

Day 1: Set up camp in Missionary Village 66 at Martins Cove:

I would highly suggest staying at Missionary Village over their other campsite for the following reasons:
  • Running water from a water spigot
  • Trees for shade
  • Nice portapotties
  • Missionaries close by
  • Field for Square dancing
  • You can bring campers in as well
  • Approximately 3 miles from Sun Ranch (Martins Cove area)

Before dinner, we  divided up into our trek families  and handed out hanker chiefs which were color-coded to each trek family.  We had fun playing some pioneer games for a while. The youth and adults loved the games!

After dinner we calmed down and focused in on a Bishop's youth fireside. Since our theme this year is Arise and Shine Forth, the Bishopric discussed  how we can Arise and Shine Forth in our day and how the pioneers "arose and shined forth "  in theirs.  Part of this fireside included the youth receiving journals that several of the leaders put together before hand. They had a nice leather cover laced up on the sides,  with our theme stamped on the outside.  This journal had several prompts for them to answer and some blank pages for them to record their thoughts.

Before bed, we divided up into our trek families for a closing family devotional where we all took turns sharing which ancestor or church history person we were representing on the trek with our families. 

Day 2: Independence Rock, Martin's Cove, and Square Dancing

  • The youth LOVED Independence Rock and we wished we had more time there!
  • We had a Morning-side on the rocks by our Young Mens President which we did some climbing to get to. 
  • Afterwards we let the youth climb around a bit which they could have done for a couple hours. Instead we only had about 30 minutes to enjoy that part.

  • Once we arrived at Sun Ranch (Martins Cove area) We grabbed our carts and went to an orientation put on my the missionaries. It was about 15 minutes long and was very touching. I would suggest including that in if you are planning a trek at Martin's Cove.  It was the beginning of the spiritual experiences for us. 
  • We went through the visitors center and then headed on the trail with our handcarts.  The trek from Sun Ranch to the cart pavilion is about 1 1/2 miles.  Not too far, and a good experience. 
  • You are then required to leave your carts behind as you walk into the cove itself. The cove is BLM land and they don't allow handcarts.  This for the most part is a silent walk that was very spiritual. 
  • After the walk through the cove we picked up our carts again and had lunch at the pavilion.  We were all so tired at this point!  The weather had cooperated so well for us, but we were still hot and exhausted.
  • When we had rested a bit, we gathered up our families and carts and continued our journey.  The youth were then able to experience the "River Crossing". This is a sacred site where the the rescuers of the Martin Handcart pioneers, teenagers and young adults ,  carried the pioneers across the river.  As we crossed the river, the water felt very good to us, but was a place where many pioneers who were already frozen could not cross.  Grown men collapsed and gave up.The young men stepped up to the plate and carried the Martin's Handcart pioneers across the icy frozen waters.
    The youth loved re-enacting this scene.
Our next challenge this day was "The Woman's Pull" .  This is a re-enactment of a  time when women were required to push their handcart without the help of the men due to mission calls, or death. The missionary couples there divide up your group boys/ girls.  The Elder missionary talks to the young men about honoring women and  the Sister missionary talks to the young women about honoring the priesthood.  The young men and male leaders walk to the top of the hill and cannot help or talk to the women at all.  They just have to watch.  This is a very emotional time for both sides as it is grueling for the women and emotional for the men to not be able to help.  The hill  that we pushed the handcarts up was steep with deep sand.  Our carts were not empty either, they had a 5 gallon water jug, a regular cooler, and in one case, a young woman as well.

Mine is the blue head in the back pushing

One of our young women had severe blisters on the back of both heels.  She had to ride in the cart and we had to pull her up the hill.  This made it very real.  This was our last cart and the hardest and slowest to push.  After we struggled on the steepest part for a while, going no where,  the other young women who had already made it up the hill ran down to help us. It was wonderful to see the young women rally together to help one another.

  • When we returned back to camp, we were all emotionally and physically exhausted!  We didn't tell our youth we had a dinner planned, although I think some could smell it! Instead, we gave them all a biscuit and told them that was their dinner that night.  They all ate their biscuit and said it was the best tasting biscuit they had ever eaten. 
  • We had a Pony Express momentas well  and handed out letters from home.  My husband and I were both surprised to get a letter from our missionary daughter! I think most of us had tears as we read our letters from home. 
  • We then ate our real dinner and the youth were very grateful and all said "Thank-You" to our camp cooks. 
After dinner we  mustered up the little courage and strength we had in us to go SQUARE-DANCING!  Woo-HOO!!  We were promenading and do-see-doing all over the place. 
Although we were tired, we had fun!

Day 3: Rocky Ridge and Rock Creek Cemetery

It was hard to top our day 2, but Rocky Ridge and Rock Creek Cemetery is what the youth are still talking about.
  • Rocky Ridge is the ridge that is rocky made famous by the Willie Handcart Company.  They crossed this ridge with already frozen bodies in blizzard conditions. It is also called the trail of blood as the footprints made by those without shoes. 
Rocky Ridge

When we started our hike we were already tired and some wondered if they could do it.  They were tired, had blisters, and physically didn't want to do anymore.  One of our youth sat down on the trail and started sobbing because she didnt' think she could go on.  Through prayers she was able to accomplish it.
Rocky Ridge is 15 miles long which we didn't do.  Instead, we hiked 3 miles up to the top ate our lunches, and 3 hiked three miles down. This was a perfect distance!  It was plenty challenging!

  • Rock Creek Hollow Cemetery was the HIGHLIGHT of our whole trek.  This was the last sacred site we wanted to bring our youth to. It was here that the Willie Handcart pioneers camped while waiting to be rescued.    They woke up in the morning with 13 dead.  Two men dug their grave burying the 13 in a circle.  After they had dug the grave and buried their dead, these two men died also.  Their graves are there in another spot at this campsite.

Scene from the movie 17 Miracles

When we arrived here we all just sat near the burial ground in silence. You could feel a special spirit there.   It was a very spiritual place.  We then let the youth just have some time to ponder, write in their journals, etc.  We were grateful to see the youth really partaking of this experience.  All the youth went off on their own.  Many of them talk about that time as their favorite moment of our whole trek.

We planned to conclude with a closing devotional and testimony meeting.  However, the Lord had other plans for us, and more for us to experience before we were done.  Up to this point, the weather had really worked in our favor.  It was hot, but not too hot, and a nice breeze would blow to cool us down.  It didn't rain except at night and it was mostly sprinkles. 

The place where we gathered for our devotional and testimony meeting was a good 1/4--1/2 mile away from our vehicles.  We had all been hot after hiking Rocky Ridge and no one had a jacket of any kind.

Without much warning the weather changed dramatically!  The temperature dropped 20-30 degrees and it started pouring rain, hail, with a bitter, sharp cross wind.  We canceled our meeting and headed to the vehicles. By this time we  were all 100% drenched and very cold. 

 The walk back to the cars was a long, miserable, freezing, humbling, memorable experience.  It was the first time we could really envision, even on a small scale, what it could have felt like for a second, to have been a handcart pioneer, frozen and having to walk in the weather with no escape from it.
It was a lesson we were supposed to learn before we went home.

Trek was a GREAT GREAT experience.