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Front Page » October 1, 2002 » Lifestyle » Handcart Trek
Published 4,354 days ago

Handcart Trek


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By KATHLEEN CONOVER
Special to the Progress

Ferron resident recalls adventure of a lifetime retracing path of Mormon pioneers

The 'pioneers' cross the Sweetwater River.

Our family, Paul, Kathleen, Heather and Ashley, went on a handcart trip with the Ferron Stake, starting Aug. 13. We were like the pioneers of the Martin and Willy handcart companies. We went where they went.

We prepared first by filling a five gallon bucket with a padded lid,so we could sit down on something comfortable. In the bucket went first aid things, like moleskin and bandages, extra clothing, gloves, sunglasses, umbrella, warm hat, wash cloths, anything that we would need on the trek.It was our suitcase.We also filled a duffle bag with a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight and coat. We took a long time to get all the things in that we wanted to take. We took our buckets and duffle bags to our Ma and Pa of the trek to take with them.

We would meet up with them at Independence Rock. We planned first to go to Nauvoo before the trek. The Ferron Stake trekkers started out around 5 a.m. at the Ferron Stake Building, with a small program and then left on two buses, with pioneer clothes on. Our family drove to Independence Rock about one hour before everyone from the trek, so we walked around this huge rock, reading signatures of the pioneers. We climbed up into a cave and read some more signatures of the pioneers, then climbed on top. We walked awhile on top and soon noticed some people, with pioneer clothes on, bringing speakers and other things. We knew these people were going to have a program on top of this rock. As we got closer, we could tell it was our people from Ferron Stake!! We met them just right. We sat down on a bumpy rock, and enjoyed a heart-warming program with stories and songs. It was an outstanding program. We climbed down and checked out Independence Rock some more. Independence Rock is so named because the pioneers came there near the 4th of July.Each family, made up of about 10 to 14 people were given two handcarts. We put our buckets in the carts. Our duffle bags were in the truck and given to us later that night. The food was hauled in trucks, also. With our handcarts, we headed for our campsite, about three and a half miles away. We were having a great time, pulling and pushing, when we stopped and were told that the men were needed to fight a war with Mexico(simulated), and would be known as the Mormon Battalion. The men left. All of them! Our cart was left with me,(old) and Ma,(Flory Jenkins) and a cute little teenager. OK, we can do this, easy.It was in sand, deep sand, with hills, then down a little, up a big hill.

Still smiling.

It was very hard to pull and push that handcart in that sand. It was hot! Very hot.I felt like I wanted to leave my breakfast somewhere, and my head hurt. We stopped to revive a lot and for drinks...in and on us. We could see the men way across the valley. We could hear them singing! We kept thinking that any moment they would return---not so. We pushed and pulled that cart through that sand, just like the Martin handcart company did, only they had a blizzard and were starving and had no coats. Brigham Young didn't know they were coming until about this time, so he didn't know to have food and supplies for them at different points along the trail as he did for other handcart companies. When the men of the battalion came back, it was such a welcome sight. They took right over and had a nice hill right off, to climb, in sand.After we got to the camp grounds, we set up all the tents. Those teenagers were amazing. Very nice and very helpful. We put our sleeping bags out, some were bag to bag, and set our buckets out. There was a call that the Pony Express was here, and to go and get our mail. Sure enough, there was a bag full of mail for us. Next thing they wanted us to do was dance! We did round dancing. I could hardly walk. It got very dark, and they called us to dinner. We had a brief message from Porter Rockwell, scripture reading and were off to our lovely sleeping bags.

The next morning our family fixed breakfast for the whole camp. Eggs with small pieces of ham, fried potatoes, and hot chocolate and juice.The ham gave enough salt flavor to the eggs so they were good. No one could find the salt. Our family cleaned up and we were off to Pioneer Games. Putting a stick through a ring, hopscotch, jump rope , Poi Poi's , arm and leg wrestling, "Wink", Horseshoes with bean bags...and more. They were really fun. We then walked to Martin's Cove. It was about five miles in and out. The pioneers tried to get out of the fierce blizzard here, where it was calmer against the mountain. It was 11 degrees below zero, for them.On the way, we made a stop and President Yost talked with the youth and blessed them for these last days with their struggles against Satan. Then we walked into Martin's Cove, boys without hats, and single file, because of the sacredness of the area. The missionaries gave a short message here, then Ashley and Lee Tennant gave a short program. Ashley was the daughter, Lee the dad. He had died, and she was so sorrowful. She talked to him, saying how she would miss him and gave a beautiful song about the situation. It was very sad and touching.As we walked out we could see a little valley the pioneers used for a cemetery. We walked and walked and walked back to where the buses were, and ate under trees. The lunch was prepared earlier by another family.We walked a little ways to a building and we were given a message by the missionaries about the Martin Handcart Company and a short video. We loaded the buses, and went to Split Rock overview. The pioneers would head towards this rock to go the right way . "Ephraim Hanks" talked to us there. We left here and went to Flag Ranch. We tried and tried to set up camp. The wind was so strong and wild we could hardly put our tent on the ground to put the stakes in.Some boys from another family came and helped us. All the teenagers were so giving and helpful, even without being asked.

On the last day of the trek I woke up, got out of that yummy sleeping bag and found that I could walk, with absolutely no pain. I thought I would be stiff and not be able to walk again for weeks. No! I was walking without a bit of problem. We were ask to walk to a place where there were benches, at Rock Creek Hollow. We were given papers to fill out, and be by ourselves. On the paper were questions . They were good questions. We answered them. They were very personal answers. We didn't need to show anyone. These questions got us in the mood for a Testimony Meeting they wanted to have next. The testimonies were wonderful.We visited the gravesites of several pioneers, then went back to camp and had breakfast of ham, french toast, and juice. By this time the wind had really kicked up and it was a very dirty piece of ham and french toast. A family made lunches while the breakfast was being made and eaten. We packed up, tried to find everything and loaded buses. The whole experience was something I'm so glad I did. The programs, the experiences, the walk, the push and pull. I 'm glad I didn't miss this!


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