In modern times, there is a bridge over the Sweetwater River close to Martin's Cove. In 1856, it was a freezing, ice filled river, with the only bridge being the arms of brave young men. To remember this event, we walked to the edge of the river and Josh and Joseph carried our whole "company" across the water. To say I shed a tear or two watching my boys do this is an understatement.
They started with Peter,and then Libby,and then on down through the company. Here's Joseph picking up Adam,and Josh carrying Jennifer. This picture is priceless. In two years, when he's turning nineteen, I won't be able to look at it at all. :)
Joseph carrying Mary,and Josh carrying Jesse.Joseph carried me across (without even grunting - ha ha),and Josh carried Bruce.Here are the "rescued", waiting for the others. Why Libby is sitting off to the side, I don't know!Three more to go.The missionaries here asked us to do the River Crossing in silence, to maintain a reverent atmosphere. It was a very tender and unforgettable experience.
Speaking of the missionaries - what a difference they made! They were sprinkled out all through the trek, and every time we saw them they told stories, bore testimony, brought the Spirit in, and made connections to our modern day lives. They were wonderful!
After the River Crossing, we stopped at Handcart Parking, as it's called, and had lunch. They had a whole bunch of picnic tables under a pavilion. I looked at the side of one table and saw a plaque indicating that this was an Eagle Scout Project. I think many of the improvements and conveniences all along the trail are Eagle Scout Projects. I know Jesse B. was in a troop where a Scout had started a project and then passed away. Their troop went ahead and finished the project without him, of putting up a flag pole at the Visitor's Center.
The next step was to walk around Martin's Cove.
In our meeting in Dan Jones Cove with Elder Llewellyn, he explained that when Pres. Hinckley dedicated Martin's Cove, he dedicated it as an open-air temple in Wyoming. He said that Martin's Cove and Rock Creek Hollow are two of the most hallowed and sacred places on the earth, because of what transpired there.When I heard this, I was so happy, because I knew that Mary would be able to keep up her streak! Mary has now been to the temple 6 weeks in a row. Five times doing baptisms for the dead in Idaho, and now a 6th time in a very sacred place in Wyoming.
Peter found a rabbit along the trail. (Click on the picture to get a close-up!)
It was so satisfying and wonderful to be there together as a family.
Elder and Sister Sorenson were at the "top" of Martin's Cove, and talked to us there. Sis. Sorenson said something that touched me deeply. She said that Pres. Faust, when asked why the wind and the elements were not tempered by the Lord for the Saints in Martin's Cove, answered that he did not know why, but that those who were involved came out of it with a deep faith, as did those who were involved in their rescue. That was the First Rescue, and in the recent past, those that were involved in the Second Rescue were deeply touched. Sister Sorenson continued, with a break in her voice, that now a Third Rescue was going on, with all the people that were visiting Martin's Cove and going on the Trek, and being touched by the Spirit because of their experiences there. That resonated deeply with me, as my children can testify because I've already told a dozen people about it! Ha ha
I shared the story with her about one of our ancestors, John Clark, who served a mission in Palestine, against the will of his father, who had already lost one son on a mission when he contracted a disease and died while helping the immigrants on Ellis Island on his way home. John and his companion also lost their lives when they contracted smallpox from German immigrants that they were teaching. Ezra Thompson Clark, his father, traveled all the way to Palestine to retrieve their bodies and bring them home. He was not allowed to do so because of the smallpox, so he buried them in Haifa, with a gravestone engraved with their names.
More than a hundred years later, when BYU was attempting to build the Jerusalem Center, an obscure law was brought forth in an attempt to thwart the building, stating that any church that wanted to build a new structure in Jerusalem had to demonstrate a presence in Jerusalem more than 50 years prior to that time. BYU authorities were able to show the graves of John Clark and his companion, with their gravestone, as proof of the Church's presence. John, although unwittingly, just as the Willie and Martin Handcart pioneers, did their part to build up the Kingdom! And they did so with faith and resolve. I am very grateful for their sacrifice!
It truly was wonderful to be in Martin's Cove. I wanted more time there, to sit and meditate, but that wasn't really possible with all the family, so I gathered our family around in a circle and told them I was so glad to be with them there and wanted to be with them forever. Bruce said, "And I kinda like you too." Ha ha We put our hands together in the middle, and did a "Sure love ya" like my family does. :)
After Martin's Cove, we trekked back to the Visitor's Center, which was about 1.3 miles.
Jesse and Britani start teaching their kids early! :)From here we dropped of the handcarts, loaded up the cars, and drove about an hour to Sixth Crossing, which is where the Willie Company crossed the Sweetwater. There is a Visitor's Center here and a nice campground. While Bruce was in talking to the missionaries, it was raining, and Mary took a million pictures of the beautiful double rainbow,while I sat in the car and read "Remember", a book published by the Riverton Wyoming stake about the Handcart companies and the Second Rescue (highly recommended).After we got camp set up, the missionaries called for Square Dancing. We went over and did the Virginia Reel a few times. The other group took too long, so Bruce started calling our own dance, and we moved right along. It was the most fun to watch Brenlee and Libby twirl around and do the reel!Right after the Square Dancing, a wind and rain storm whipped in that made us all hop around. The tinfoil dinners were ready, so we dished out the food to everyone the best we could in the rain and wind. I said, "This is pretty extreme!" I told our friends, "Only certain families I know could handle this, and you guys are some of them!"
Our tents thankfully were all together under a small pavilion, but they were literally inches from each other. Since it was storming so much, as soon as food was eaten, everyone hurried into the tents. The cacophony of sound that ensued was amazing!! I started to laugh so hard. Then Bruce started to crow like a rooster, and of course others followed with mooing, barking, etc. I had to give Peter Peace & Calming essential oil before he would calm down and stop hopping around the tent.
And that was the end of Day 2! To be continued...