Mormon Pioneer Handcart Trek: Day 2

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If you missed the intro post about our Mormon Pioneer Handcart Trek (prep and Day 1) click on the link to get started.  That first night was kinda rushed, and I was surprised that I didn’t sleep a little better. I even brought an extra modern convenience, a portable fan. I just don’t sleep well without a fan/white noise, so it was a must. Plus, it was blowing right on me all night. I woke up needing to go to the bathroom, and it seemed light enough outside that surely I’d hear the bugle blowing at any minute. I didn’t want to un-necessarily wake up my husband, and he sleeps worse than me in most cases anyway. I should have kept my phone close by to check the time, but when I heard him stir and knew he was awake, I asked the time, and it was only 5:15am! I couldn’t wait an hour to go to the bathroom, so I un-zipped our tent, and found my way to the port-a-potty.  As much as people hate those things, I was grateful it wasn’t the forest.

Our fourth daughter arrived that morning, so we had 4 boys and 4 girls in our family. Here we are, all ready to go!

pioneer family

At 6:30, the bugle sounded, and the kids started stirring. We had to all hop to it, and work together to get breakfast ready.  I sent 2 kids to the central spot to get our breakfast crate, which was filled with the necessities for our meal. Fortunately, I had a mini flip book (that was pretty much the size and look of my Say NO to Auto books) that had all our recipes and schedule and instruction we’d need to be ready.  We were having breakfast burritos, and that was pretty exciting to me. As some kids prepped the charcoal/dutch oven, others mixed the eggs, while others took down the tent. You can see in the image below, our 2 blue buckets and blue ice chest for supplies.

morning by Victoria Anne Photography

We felt all prepared and on top of things, then we saw other families around us putting away their breakfast stuff, while our eggs were still not cooked. We found out our neighbors, the Porters (my son’s family) used a propane burner with a pot to cook their eggs and it was much faster. We had those items, but didn’t realize it’d be so much faster. They kindly let us use their pot, but we were so behind. By the time our food was done, people were walking towards our next scheduled event, and we were shoving burritos into our faces!

C’est la vie.  Our company captain, a.k.a. Brazzy, was yelping at us to get our carts and get in line, today, we would walk 7 miles pulling our handcarts to a new destination.  We were in company 1 (of 5) and we were giving the “A” letter, so that meant we were always at the front of our company, with B,C,and D behind us. “B” was the Porters, so my son and his family were in line right behind us (lucky for me to spy see my son easier).   The company order changed each time. so we got to be the very front once, but just for a short time.

I acquired a new daughter on day 2, hooray for more children!

my new daughter

I snapped these cute shots of two of my favorite mother/daughter duo’s. I taught both of these girls in the past few years, and love them deeply. Their mom’s are two of the “ma’s” from my ward that I’ve chatted with quite a bit over the previous weeks leading up to this event.

mother daughter

Just waiting around, ready for the “let’s go” mark. Notice our water bottles hanging from the back of the cart, each has a carabiner hook to attach to a rope. It kept our water nice and handy in order to drink lots while out on the trail.

Team Duke handcart

Our boys were REARING to go!


Finally, they were set free

the pioneer trek begins

My friend Victoria took this fun shot of my hubby and I at the back of our cart (son’s cart behind us). My hot pink sunglasses look pretty silly here (in my opinion) but it shows us in action, which I love.

Victoria Anne Photography pioneer trek

I kinda giggle a bit at how my son’s family started their pull. I don’t think it lasted long. Glad they were right behind us to capture them as well.

porter family

I loved the scene ahead of, and behind us, a beautiful trail of pioneers.

pioneer trek

Our girls held up the rear quite nicely. Pushing at the back was actually quite tricky because you couldn’t see what rocks were ahead of you. I got dizzy looking down at the ground when I helped push.

pioneer trek handcarts

Inside our carts were all of our 5 gallon buckets. Inside those buckets were our personal belongings, clothes, toothbrush, etc. Then, there was a cushion on top that doubled as a soft seat to sit upon when camped. I was shocked that those wagon wheels held up so well, so many rocks bumping it all around.

It was a bit of a struggle up this hill, but look at that gorgeous scenery behind them!  As we walked, we sang lots of primary songs and hymns, and worked on memorizing the scripture that was the theme for the Trek: 2 Nephi 31:20. I actually have a printable HERE that I made for each kid to look at to help.  The theme of the day was HOPE, so we talked a lot about how we can find hope through our Savior Jesus Christ throughout the day.

struggle up the hill

pioneer trek selfie

It was pretty dang hot outside. As Ma and Pa, we were not supposed to help with the cart, unless kids really needed a break. This was for them, we were over-seeing.  It seemed like we stopped a little too often that day, and we couldn’t just go on our own. The leaders were so worried about the heat, they had us stop, set up our shade tarps, and rest what seemed like every 20 minutes that first hour of trekking. At each stop, they had a different activity planned for us to do or discuss, so that was great.  Our boys got pretty good at setting up that tarp.

shade tarps

It was good to have forced rests. At one stop, there was even some frozen lemonade delivered….so refreshing!

resting under shade tarp

I found this sleepy head snoozing under his family tarp. Though he had a bit of a headache til the end of the 1st day, it wasn’t major enough to stop him, and day 2 was all better. Answer to prayers.

sleepy head

At the next stop, we had lunch, and got to relax and chat. I did not waste any opportunity for a good family discussion. We’d bring up questions like: where do you want to travel, where have you traveled, what is your favorite cereal, what is your favorite band, tv show, movie, etc. It was a great way to get to know each other, and the kids all kindly indulged me.  You can see in the pic below, our pink bandana’s (mine on my arm). Not only were we in Company 1A, but we were dark pink, the color. Boys wore that well.

lunch on the trail

I ate a most delicious bag of cheetos. Something I don’t allow myself too often.

The boys and the girls split for different leader chats. The adult men talked to the boys, and the girls heard from the women leaders.  The girls discussion was all about how we can do hard things, and sweet words to strengthen us. I got the giggles a bit because I was at the back of that discussion, and could hear clearly the boys being chastised a bit for the need to show more respect to the girls. To ask them to dance, to see their potential, etc. I was happy my son was hearing all of that, but the tone was just different than the flowery talk to the girls.

This was my view to both the girls discussion, and you can see how far the boys were.

boys and girls talks

All of this was in preparation for the women’s pull. I was SO excited about this, as I’d heard about it on other trek’s. It’s where the men “go off to war” and the women are left to take care of things alone. It’s meant to show the girls how tough they can be, and that they can do hard things (hence, the talk), and the boys have to watch, and be reminded how tough the girls are, and to respect their hard work.

They had already had a few people have to go to the medic from heat exhaustion, and they were worried about the girls on the women’s pull. So the trek crew asked us to take off a bunch from our carts, and they would take it to camp for the night. I was like, “No, you just told us how tough we are, let us be tough!” But I kept that to myself. I wanted it tough, but it was a touch easier than it would have been.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m one of those girly girls that is perfectly fine to have a man do all the hard work, while I watch, or make myself busy otherwise. That’s why I was excited about this, to prove something to myself that I can do harder things physically than I allow myself.

Thus, the women’s pull began

womens pull

I helped my girls at the top of the hill, but they did most of the hard work.  Victoria captured 2 pics of our wagon working hard (see my lavender little bo peep hat?)

Pioneer womens pull

pioneer trek womens pull

Our view at the end, was this vision of the boys quietly waiting for us

boys at the top of the hill

I took this shot of two of my “daughters” walking up the steep incline (hey, it’s Texas, we don’t get too steep here) with the lovely view in the distance.

walking on trek

After resting for a bit, we walked just a bit more, and got to our camp spot for the night, which was a beautiful meadow of wildflowers. It was 3pm and we were exhausted from a scorching day with 7 miles of walking under our belts. But no rest for the weary, we had to get our tents up, find all our bedding that was taken mid day, and prepare for dinner.

unloading the pioneer wagon

Our kids were great hard workers (I did not hear that was the case in all families)

setting up the tent and getting dinner

We did get to relax a little once the food started to cook, as we waited. I braided my daughter’s hair.

braiding hair on pioneer trek

I love both of these braiding shots, one a close up, and the other sets the scene for our surroundings (and you can see our cushion buckets) and tents all around in the background.

dutch oven dinners cooking

After dinner, we were supposed to have an evening devotional fireside. We all gathered with our buckets to sit upon, but as we got there, they said there was a storm about to come, and told us to go get cover. I was bummed the cancelled it, figuring the rain would pass in 10 minutes, but I told our kids to meet in the girls tent for family time, since it was the biggest tent.

This is when all the fun began.

We knew that the girls tent’s rain fly wasn’t supper supportive from the brief shower we had the day before. So a giant tarp was placed over it when we set it up that day. As we sat in a circle, inside the tent, sharing thoughts and feelings on the day, there was loud pelting rain outside, a big thunderstorm swept in. It was dark, and we could barely hear each other, it got so loud on the outside of our tent. As we sat there, someone mentioned the water was trickling in from the bottom of the tent. We found out that the tarp was dripping at the edges, and getting wet from the bottom. We also realized that the wind from the storm was blowing off the tarp (that wasn’t staked because it was a makeshift addition). In the middle of the downpour, my husband and one of our sons ran out to secure the tarp better, as we all laughing inside, wondering what we’d do if the tarp flew away and it started getting wet inside.

They came back in dripping, and we thought we’d be ok, but the rain lasted longer than the 5-10 minute typical storm. More water was creeping in, and as we all stood, we laughed and wondered if we should bail to the boys tent, or just wait it out longer. I figured we could just wait for a bit, since we were all dry, it was just coming in more and more on the bottom, and we were holing the girls bedding, which was thankfully still wrapped up (and inside a garbage bag).

The decision was made to flee. The boys tent was just a touch smaller, and only 15 feet away. Two runners went ahead to open the doors, so that the rest of us could dive through. As we ran, we were stopped mid way by those two runners saying that their tent was more flooded than the girls! In a rash decision, I told everyone to go into our (4 man) tent, and we’d just squeeze. Ten of us sat in a tight circle, soaking wet, bringing mud into our tent.

Let me mention that our 4 man tent is the 1 tent that did NOT have a rain fly on it when my husband did a mock set up at home the weekend before, and he was able to hunt it down from our friends (even though they were in the middle of a move and everything was boxed up). I call that a modern miracle, or tender mercy. Our tent was the one that worked the best, all because of that rain fly secured before from being extra prepared.

We were laughing so hard at the “wet dog” smell and look of all of us. We had no choice but to touch each other in such close quarters, even though we all felt extremely gross from the days adventures, not topped with soggy wet-ness.

I had to do my best to snap some pictures!

waiting out the storm in a tent

camping in a tent through a rainstorm

Our kids were so easy going about all of it!

Once the storm passed, it was nearly 10pm, and we had to figure out what we were going to do. From the commotion we heard around camp, we could tell that others had similar predicaments. A lot of reshuffling, sending our girls to another family tent for the night, dumping out the boys tent, wiping the mud that was trailing into our tent, and having our REAL son join us for the night, since his tent got wet, too. It was quite the juggle figuring all of that out, but at the end of the night, when I got to tuck Tyler in next to me, I was happy that we had that moment. Grateful for the adventures, the story we got to tell, and the fun we all had along the way.

camping on pioneer trek

When I hit my pillow at nearly midnight, fan blowing on my face, I looked forward to 6.5 solid hours of sleep. Sadly, I got just 3.

Day 1

Day 3 

Day 4

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