On Thursday morning we woke up to rainy and cold weather. Not exactly what we had planned! It was in the 40's! After breakfast we went to the Visitor's Center and watched a very touching presentation there. Have I mentioned that the missionaries were wonderful everywhere we went? In the Visitor's Center, there was a saying posted on a white sheet of paper hanging on the wall. It touched me deeply. On my way out, I noticed a stack of papers with the same saying on it, so it was apparent that I wasn't the only one touched by it, and they had prepared sheets for people to take. The quote was this:
"When you understand the Atonement,
then you understand the joy of being rescued."
-Elder M. Russell Ballard
We put our buckets in our handcarts and headed out. Jesse and Britani didn't come on the trek this day, opting to drive to Rock Creek Hollow and visit there instead. With the rain and cold, Greg and Rachelle almost didn't come either, but they decided to do it, which they were glad for afterward.
The trek was a four mile loop. The first mile was no problem, but after that the conditions on the trail started to deteriorate, as it started to rain more. It was muddy and slippery. It made me think of the Saints going through Iowa in Feb of 1846. The mud and sand splattered all over the bottom of our skirts, and made it really uncomfortable, like sandpaper rubbing on your legs every step you took. I read where the ice that formed on the bottom of the women's skirts cut up their legs. I could see how easily this could happen. At one point we got to a building that looked like a restroom, which I badly needed. We walked up to the doors and they were all locked! I have to confess that this was the point on the whole trek, where I was really tired, frustrated, cold (as in hands numb) and desperate! When those doors were locked, it was very discouraging! This sounds so dumb now, writing from the comfort of home, but I was pretty low at that point. Thankfully, right after that disappointing blow, a missionary showed up and pointed to some older restrooms about 100 yards away that were open.
It was interesting to me at this point, that the missionaries were out there with us, and making sure we were headed in the right direction, but not once did they say, "Are you OK?", or "Do you need some help?", or anything of the kind. And I think they purposely stayed away from that, even though they may have wanted to. After all, a trek has to be a TREK!
After that short break, and hiking up my skirt so it wasn't rubbing on my legs, I was better off.
It was a good thing too, because right around the bend was a hill that was a steep climb. Mary and I had been pushing together on and off, but for awhile she had not pushed. On seeing the hill, I said, "Mary, you've got to push." She started to complain, because her hands were so cold, but I told her that she was absolutely needed, and we couldn't do it without her, which was true. So she put her cold hands on the cart, and with Josh and Jesse pulling, we hit it hard and pushed the cart up the hill. This was harder than the Women's Pull - we really worked hard. (Jesse and Josh will not say that - "it was a piece of cake" is what they would say).
Anyway, when we got to the top, as we were pushing along, Mary started to cry. I think she might be a little embarrassed about me putting that fact in, but her hands were so cold that she was crying. I have to put it in, because of how it made me feel, and the depth of my empathy at that point, as I thought of other mothers long ago, going through much worse. After a minute or two of deep thought, I came to my senses and had Mary stop pushing, take her gloves off, and put her hands under her armpits. This warmed them up and she was fine the rest of the time. (No use suffering/empathizing more than necessary - ha ha!)
We took a short break to get some snacks.One challenge here was the two youngest children started to ball their eyes out in the handcarts. We let them cry for a while, but then Rachelle picked up Lincoln (he is a big, heavy kid), wrapped him in a blanket, and carried him the last mile of the trek.Soon after that, we came to our first river crossing. Before, the boys had taken us all across, but this river crossing, we were to push the handcarts through the river - kids, equipment and all! Some missionaries gave us a short talk (they were out in the rain with us), and then in we went. It wasn't too deep, as you can see in the pictures, but enough to really make you think about ice chunks in the water, and exhaustion, etc.
Bruce went ahead, and took all these pictures of us coming across.
Greg and Joseph pulling the little kids in the handcart.
Josh and Jess pulling, me pushing.Rachelle carrying Libby, with Mary walking beside.
These pictures of Rachelle carrying Lincoln, with Mary walking along side, are so touching to me. Rachelle never complained about this. I kept offering to trade her off, but she wouldn't hear of it. She too wanted to get the "full" experience.Adam and Libby in the back of the handcart. Note the mud!
A short jaunt after that, and we were back to the campground. Whew! That four mile loop was a whole different story than the two days before. As we found out for ourselves, weather conditions in Wyoming change awfully fast, and have a big impact. In retrospect, I am so glad that we had a struggle on that 4-miler, because otherwise, it would have just seemed like a walk in the park. I'm really glad we went through that.