Monday, July 15, 2013

Martin's Cove Handcart Trek - 2013

We left on our Trek adventure Sunday after we went to Calvin's farewell (who's going to the Philippines where his brother Curtis is also serving).  We stayed overnight at Josh and Rachel's house.  It's always fun to visit and be with them!

On Monday morning, we stopped by Joseph's mission office to drop a package off to him.  It was so strange to be that close to him!  We had all sorts of jokes swirling around about how we would see him at the stop light, or drive by his apartment, etc.  In a way, it will be a relief to have him in far away Argentina and not to be tempted to just "take a little drive-by".   I drove by Ogden five times in the last three weeks.  Too much temptation!

We got to Martin's Cove at about 4:10 pm, changed into our pioneer clothing, and got our handcart ready.

We hiked about 3 miles, I believe, to Cherry Creek Campground.  Previously the men had taken all the vehicles and unloaded tents, coolers, etc at the Cherry Creek Campground, and then brought the vehicles back to the Visitor's Center staging area.  What we had in our handcart was the buckets with our personal stuff, water, my oils (I never go very far without them), and some snack food.
 Greg and Bruce were in charge of the Trek.  Greg was the CEO, and Bruce the COO (Chief Operating Officer), basically.  They didn't really call themselves that, or anything else, that's just the roles they had.  I like this one of Bruce - pointing the way.
This hike was not too bad, although I was breathing hard and needed breaks.  Greg & Rachelle and family were in front, and they were bookin' it!  They had lots of little hands pushing and they didn't waste any time gettin' down the trail!  We stopped at one spot along the trail and took this picture.  Martin's Cove is directly in the hills behind us.
At the campground, we set up our tent and warmed up some Pulled Pork leftover from the Youth Trek the week before, and had a good dinner at the Campground.  I love this picture of Bruce at dusk at the campground.
It reminds me of this picture, taken 4 years ago.
Bruce is never happier than when he's on a trek.

When it got dark, we gathered around Jay and Leah's fire pit and told stories about our own ancestors, or about someone from the actual trek.  I put in my two cents worth - what a shock - and said that when I came to Martin's Cove four years ago, I had a nagging question in my mind about why they had to experience such hardship.  Over the last four years, I have grown and matured, I guess, because I have come to understand the role of adversity, and how to get through it.  Gratitude is key.  I also understand that there are no accidents, no happenstance, no reason to say, "If only...".  All things work together for the good of those who keep their covenants with God.  I truly believe that if you understand Martin's Cove, you understand mortality, and all that entails.

The next morning after breakfast, the kids had a spontaneous game of Andy-I-Over.

After the game, all the youth gathered for a group picture. Here are most of the boys (some older ones weren't in for the picture).
 And more here.
All of the girls.
 All the youth together.  What a great group of kids!

At about 9 am, we began our trek to the actual Cove.  It was a hot day - mid 90's, I believe.  I struggled on this day, because my grass allergies were in high gear, and the heat.  But it wasn't too bad, and I enjoyed all the experiences we had. 

The enactment of the crossing of the Sweetwater is always a touching scene, and it was no less on this Trek.
Jacob, Lane and Sam
David carrying his sister Sarah across.
Johnny carrying his second cousin Jessie over.

Libby's in the pink bonnet with Isaac.
Peter helping Eric, who has cerebral palsey across.  I especially love this picture.
Devyn with Lincoln and Mazy.
It took two to get me across - thank you Josh and David!
Austin carrying his mom Leah.

Austin carrying his dad with the help of Josh.  Bruce is being carried by Isaac and Peter.
Josh and Peter pushing the handcarts across the river.
Mary was carried across by Kaden, who is her age, but we don't have a picture of it.  Watching this enactment was very touching for me, especially as I remembered our sons Joshua and Joseph carrying over the three families that we went in 2009.  I thought of how they carried people through the water then, and now they are also bringing people into the water, only now it is the waters of baptism!  And now here's Peter - having his own experience.  It's all a true blessing!

 I love this picture of Libby watching the river crossing.

Most of the families that came with us had very young children.  It was impressive how well-behaved they were - the whole time!
Ethan, Leah, Chase, Eric, Jay, Caleb, and Jolie (Ryan and Heidi's daughter)
The Young Men of the Aaronic Priesthood singing Called to Serve

David played some hymns as we filed into the Dan Jones cove
From here we hiked into Martin's Cove.  I was struck by how peaceful it is, with the birds softly chirping, and of how honored the plants and trees and rocks are to be in this dedicated outdoor temple.  We walked through together as a family, and enjoyed the peace and rest there.  Here we are at the top.
Lane, Tammy and Family
After hiking through Martin's Cove, we hiked with the handcarts to the Visitor's Center.  I was so tired by this point!  The heat was really getting to me.  We dropped off the handcarts, got in our vehicles and drove to Sixth Crossing.  When you drive for an hour in a car, and think about the Martin Company having to walk all that way in the condition that they were in, it is very humbling.

After setting up camp and eating dinner, we had some square dancing!  I thought in the afternoon that I couldn't take another step, but after eating dinner and talking to Ben and Kristie about The Way of Kings, a good book we have both read, when I heard the fiddles and saw everyone gathering for the dancing, I was all for it!  ha ha Funny what some food and good conversation can do.
Peter, David and Kathleen played their fiddles for the square dancing!  They were awesome!
Bruce organized everyone into groups of four and called out the square dance moves.  Between Peter fiddling, Bruce calling, and Mary and Libby dancing, we had some serious talent going on!  :)

Mary dancing with Kaden
We had another great fireside on Tuesday night.  Tammy told us about Lane's ancestor Jane, who left an abusive husband to come with the Martin company, and Bruce did a great impression of Ephraim Hanks and his experience with the same company.  If she had any way to do it from the other side of the veil, I'm pretty sure my Grandma Reta was there listening to Bruce talk about her grandfather.

The next morning we got our handcarts (new ones from Sixth Crossing), we started off on another 4 mile Trek.  We loaded less for this day, although Mary wanted me to "buck up" and pull as much as we had the day before.  I had a rough night, however, and I didn't want to pull more than we needed to, so we compromised and she put her bucket in, and we left the rest in camp.

After walking for a few minutes, the missionaries came and all the boys and men were called to leave.  They went up the hill, and had a talk up at the top.

And then we had the "Women's Pull".  Mary decided to go back and help Mindy, so I thought it would just be Libby and I, but I turned around and Heidi was bringing up her daughter McKayla to see if we needed help.  Libby and McKayla were great friends during this trek, so it was fun to see her come up to help us.  Heidi is pregnant - and still offering to have her daughter help other people!  Thankfully she had some other help too.

We did fine at the beginning, but then we came up to this spot, right where I am in this picture, where it got steep and was covered with rocks, and it got hard! 

It was tough!  But right when I was really starting to dig in and try to move a few feet, I glanced back and saw two beautiful blonde girls come to the back of the cart, and then when I started pushing, lo and behold, it was easy!  We could do it.
They are pictured here -  the ones with the braids on the side.  They were two handcarts back from me, and their Mom, Marci, sent them up to help us.  Angels!

As soon as we got up to the top, the girls hurried down the hill to help the next handcart, and so it went - each one had some help.  It was a wonderful example of sisterhood - a powerful and physical example of lending a hand.  I know that I was very grateful!

We had one more enactment at this spot on the trail - that of Jens and Elsie Nilson from Denmark, who were coming to Utah with the 6 year old son and 9 year old Bodil Mortinsen.  When they were climbing Rocky Ridge, Jens Nilson's feet were so frozen that he could go no more.  He begged Elsie to leave him there and go on, but she refused, and somehow they got him into the handcart, and she pulled the handcart up Rocky Ridge with Jens in it during the fateful night that the Willy Handcart Company climbed Rocky Ridge.  Ben and Kristi were asked to represent Jens and Elsie.

I'll never forget the picture of Kristi in her green short sleeve shirt, struggling up this same ridge which we had just climbed, pulling by herself with Ben in the cart - I can hardly write it without being overcome with the emotion and the raw reality of what Elsie Nilson did.  There were several men, Dan and another, who turned and said, "I can't watch this."  Jonny and Austin were begging to go down and help.  After a time, the missionary suggested that when we see someone in need, we go and help, and a flood of people went down to help her.  She said in her comments afterward, that she was giving it her all, and was not moving up the trail.  She said when she heard the footfalls, and looked up and saw an army of rescuers coming, she could hardly breathe, she was so relieved.  We talked then, and have with my friends on the trek since then, about what Elsie did.  It was physically impossible.  She HAD to have had divine aid.   And yet, by saying that, I do not want to diminish in any way what she did put in with her own will power and muscles.  I'm not sure that night if she thought she was getting any help.  She just determined to do it, and she did.  This moment on the trek was so powerful - for everyone - and I don't think it will be soon forgotten.  There will be times, when we dig and do the impossible, just as Elsie Nilson did.

We had a true blessing on Wednesday in that the weather cooled down, and we had a much more pleasant trek because of it.  We did three river crossings.
Jessie, Sarah, Jonny, Libby, David, Tom, Lane and others
Peter, Tom, Kaden and others
 This is David taking Kristi across the river.  She's the one that did the Elsie Nielsen re-enacment.  She was crossing barefooted, and David scooped her up and took her across.

Marci and Brian and family

After hiking some more, we came to a stopping point by the river, and we had some play time!

Peter wasted no time getting David down in the water!  (Peter got lucky!)
Lane threw Jacob, and then Lincoln down to Bruce in the river.  Lincoln wasn't very happy about it!
 But Bruce he held him and talked to him and when he asked later if he liked it, he said, "It was OK".

Mary, Mindy and I cooling off in the river
As I looked around in the river and saw all the happy smiling faces, I was reminded of the scripture, "and they lived after the manner of happiness."

We finished the Sixth Crossing trek shortly after that, and then we packed up and drove to Rock Ridge.  Again, it was a long drive!  Only an hour, but when you think of walking that far...

That night in a small ampitheatre at the top of Rocky Ridge, just a few feet from the graves of 15 people who died there from the Willy Company, we had a wonderful testimony meeting.  Mary, Libby and I all bore our testimonies.  I loved the words and feelings that were shared.

In the morning, we were able to walk further up and see the monument that Pres Hinckley put up - Rememeber - and to see the fences built around two unmarked graves.  I stood at one of these by myself for a long time, and pondered and prayed.  I walked up to the ridge, and was able to see the path going off in both directions across what seemed like endless plaines.  The whole thing is pretty unfathomable.  How DID THEY DO IT??  It's something you ask yourself the whole time you are there.  Last time I asked WHY.  This time I asked HOW?  And the answer is nothing earth-shattering.  They put one foot in front of the other and trusted in God.  I was very thankful to have that time at Rocky Ridge.

We drove home that day, talking about memories and experiences.  We got home in time to go down to the park and see the fireworks go off.  They were spectacular as always!

**Special thanks to my friend Tammy who took most of these pictures!

1 comment:

lifecontinues said...

Loved reading this! Thanks for sharing.