Flashback Friday: Trek 2010

I saw this idea on a blog. Each Friday you write about something from your past. Yeah, pretty cool. So I decided to give it a try.

Oh Trek. There’s a lot of thoughts that run through my mind when I think of Trek. Pain, exhaustion, frustration, bugs, hot, humid, torrential storms. But there are a lot of positives too. Friends, strength, endurance, patience, accomplishment. It was an amazing experience that I’m glad I got to go through. Though I’m not sure I’m quite willing to endure it again. What is Trek? Well, it’s where youth ages 14-18 dress like pioneers and pull a handcart. That’s the very simple summary. I guess Trek is different depending on where you live.

I believe I was sixteen when I went on Trek. Ours was two nights and three days. They put us into handcart companies with different names of the stops that the actual pioneers encountered. So naturally I would get Devil’s Gate. Pleasant, right? On the bright side we were a really good mix of kids and I wasn’t the youngest one! When we started off on our little journey it was blazing hot with no trees to provide us some relief. But we were fresh and excited, so it didn’t bother anyone too much. Along the road there was a table with freshly sliced watermelon. This didn’t really bother me because I detest melons whose majority of makeup is water, but most normal people were dying for a slice. The catch? We had to declare we didn’t believe in the Church. Then Brother Munns (at least I think it was him) came out and starting shooting off his gun to scare us away. Consider me scared. I knew they weren’t going to shoot at us or anything, but the constant noise was deafening. Without any watermelon in hand we continued down the new path through the forest seeing as we were scared off from the actual path. The plus side was there were trees. But of course, they didn’t shade the path. They just stood to the side of the path, mocking us as we went. As if it weren’t hot enough outside, we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and the leaders were a little confused as to our location and how to get to the river. We stood there for a good twenty minutes, trying to decide where to go and how we were going to turn around twenty hand carts. Add in the blazing sun cooking us and you’ve got some angry teenagers. Eventually they figured it out though and the next portion of our Trek was under the lovely shade of trees and overcast. Once we arrived at the river they said we’d have to cross, with our handcarts floating on a wooden raft. The guys in our group were charged with the task of making sure our handcart didn’t flip as they crossed the river with it. If it did down would go all of our stuff into the water. Thankfully our guys did their jobs and got our handcart over safely. The same can not be said for a different group. Their bags with their blankets and clothes were soaked. I felt bad for them, but it didn’t really make a difference because after a yummy lunch of pb&j and the best beef jerky ever the heavens rained down upon us. I wish I were exaggerating, but I’m not. It was a full fledged Florida lightning storm. We went from blazing hot to sopping wet and cold. The storm got so bad that we had to abandon our carts on the path and head for the trees. We all attempted to hide ourselves under ponchoes, but it was a wasted effort. We were soaked to the bone and chaffing would follow once the storm ended and we continued down the path. The bright side was that the sun stayed behind for the clouds for a long time. Humid and gross we reached the leg of the path that was deemed the “woman’s pull.” The men pretty much abandoned us to pull the cart through blasted sugar sand. It doesn’t sound too hard, right? Wrong. Sugar sand is known for sinking and getting cars stuck. We had to pull handcarts through this devilish sand in wet dresses. It was hard. If it weren’t for Brooke Hammock and her constant encouragement I don’t think I would have made it mentally. I was wet, I smelled funny, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. But the sense of accomplishment I felt after we finished that pull was beyond words. We had all of the young men cheering for us as we finished our pull. And our guys were nice enough to pull the cart the rest of the way. I believe that first day we walked 14-17 miles with a handcart. Pretty crazy stuff right there. We were all ready to crash for the night, but we had to assemble our tarp tents which was difficult when there’s no light for you to see by. I was thankful there were porta-pottys at this point though. I was a little terrified of venturing off into the woods at night to do my business. And thank goodness for Keriann and her willingness to let me borrow her pillow. My head ended up resting against a tree root. Not the most comfortable thing out there. It really didn’t take me a long time to fall asleep once I changed into dry clothes, I was beyond tired.

I wake up the next morning to find that I was eaten alive by mosquitoes in the night. Not really a feeling you want to wake up to. Plus morning dew on your face and clothes. At least I could see and let me tell you, our tarp tent looked way different than I thought it did when we first put it up. Light makes a huge difference. More walking followed breakfast, though it was nothing near as bad as the first day. I felt better about myself, my dress wasn’t wet and it was way more comfortable. Just when things were going pretty steady they stop us on the path and tell us to gather. The leaders then tell us to reference the papers with the one pioneers story we were given as they told us who died along the Trek. Not only did we lose people from our family, but our “baby” (portrayed by a baby doll) died as well. It was an emotional time. The “dead” ones then were taken away leaving the ones left alive to pull the cart to the next stop. After avoiding that blasted handcart I had to pull it to the last camp site because our willing pullers were now dead. While pulling I was realizing that it really wasn’t that bad, that there was strength that was gained from pulling that cart. Paradoxical, I know. Once we reached the last camp site we were reunited with the dead souls. After a little rain (thankfully we were under tarp tents), we were able to participate in some pioneer like activities such as shooting a shotgun, washing our hair, mud sliding into the lake, and chilling. Of course the first thing I did was shoot a shotgun. Was I any good at it? Ehh, not really. I guess I have really sensitive ears because they were ringing for a long time after even though I had worn ear plugs. But it was a lot of fun and a great experience. I had always joked around with my friends to watch out for me and my shotgun. Although mud sliding looked fun I didn’t have anymore clothes to change into and I really don’t like wearing wet clothes. It’s like a pet peeve of mine or something. So I just hung out with some of my friends until the big feast that was dinner and the square dancing. There was a legit square dance caller. Square dancing was fun and all, but some of the guys weren’t into it and it’s really no fun to dance with a guy you know doesn’t want to be there. When things finally settled down for the night and people were going to sleep I hung out with Keriann and a few of the guys from our family outside of our tarp tent. I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying, I was admiring the clear night sky with all of the stars. But Keriann was getting her flirt on. She has a weakness for Hispanic guys (and will probably come after me if she reads this). Another day done, just one more to go.

The last day was a testimony meeting and a few miles to where our parents were picking us up. That testimony meeting was great. It really strengthened my testimony on the truth of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon. No one would endure what the pioneers did unless they knew that what they believed in was true. I’m grateful that they were so strong in the Gospel and made sure that it was fully restored to this Earth. After some journal writing time and receiving letters our parents had written to us we were off again. Me and a few other girls refused to let anyone else pull that day. We were going to end this thing strong, despite how tired we may be. We were lucky the rest of our family didn’t judge us. It wasn’t as hard pulling that cart in the final stretch. We were all empowered and strengthened, ready to finish the Trek out strong. As we were on the road to where our parent’s cars were waiting our parents were along the side of the road cheering us on. We received the news that we had finally arrived in New Zion. Brigham Young and watermelon were there to welcome us.

That was my Trek. What a great experience it truly was. I’m so thankful to all of the people who put it together and worked hard to make it memorable. It’s an experience I will never forget.

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