Thursday, Lanning (my parent partner) came to pick me up around 4 and we went back to his place to gather some last minute supplies before meeting up with the rest of the ward at 5. Around 6, everyone had gathered or was at least accounted for and we headed up to MacFarlane Ranch – just north, or east, I’m not sure, of Jeremy Ranch, near Park City. Once we got there we dug a huge hole, gathered rocks and wood to build a turkey cooking pit. We had dinner, and a small devotional. We learned that where we were camping was the same spot pioneers camped and even buried 3-4 people. Now it’s a huge field covered in cow dung, so it was interesting to think that what may appear an ordinary field can actually be a very sacred spot. I played “Praise to the Man” on my harmonica as our closing number, everyone sang along the second time through. I picked that song because it’s in the key of “C” and pretty easy to memorize. We didn’t stay up too late, but enjoyed looking at the stars.
Friday morning we got up and met our assigned family members. We fixed breakfast and did some bonding and loading up of handcarts. My family consisted of me and Lanning, and three daughters: Anne, Heather, and Joni. Joni wasn’t physically up for trekking, though, so she didn’t spend a lot of time with us. Mostly it was just the other four of us hauling our handcart. We went 11 miles that day. The first one was way up a rocky hill. Then an “anti-polygamist land owner” (our first counselor) chased us off his property and we had to turn around. Lanning wasn’t thrilled with the idea at first, I think he was looking forward to cresting the next big hill, but afterward he pointed out that the pioneers probably felt similarly, after climbing a hill and having to turn around. Our “emergency supply” of jerky, candy, and trail mix was broken into early by Lanning – he’s not much for rules – so we had a pleasant enough go of things. We were the smallest group, and had the least amount of men – the other carts all had at least two – but according to Jeff (the trail boss) said that we were holding up a lot better than the rest of the groups. I think it was the fact that Lanning kept us well fed. Lanning definitely did a lot of the hard work, but I don’t think it could have been done by him alone. It was a good lesson in trust and cooperation.
By evening, as the sun was getting ready to set, we got to base camp right about when a storm started blowing in. We got the tents set up and took shelter for about an hour. Then we took four of the nine handcarts and had a men’s pull – allowing for 3 to 4 men per cart. The women walked along trying their best to be helpful, but I think they were mostly in the way. I held back and watched the gorgeous sunset with lightning flashes. There was a fire in Parley’s Canyon that added to the impressive view. I finally decided to catch up to Lanning to at least give him a pat on the back or something and about that time Jeff signaled us to help the men. I took over for a guy who was pushing next to Lanning and then some girl took Lanning’s spot. Next thing I knew Lanning was pushing us both from behind. Oh, this was also the part of trek that had to happen in silence. That really added to the spirit since it forced people to be more introspective. After a mile Jeff stopped us and we were supposed to have a mini-devotional, but then the rain had started up again, harder, so we just headed back in the dark. Lanning and I chanced upon a woman who had sprained her ankle so he walked back supporting her and I went ahead to camp to have one of the ATV support vehicles go pick her up. The mud had attached itself to everything so walking was like carrying an extra five pounds around. In the dark we fixed dinner (broth and rolls) and got ready for bed. That was about when the second company showed up. We had a group of about 25 that met up on Friday night and pulled four handcarts up to meet us. After men’s pull, five or six of our company walked down to meet them and help them up the last few hills in the dark. It really seemed to be in the pioneer spirit to do that additional trekking as a sort of “rescue company” even after they’d really worn themselves out. Lynn pointed out that one good lesson from Trek is that even after you think you’ve give your last bit of energy and effort, you’re called on to give more and you can do it.
Saturday morning after breakfast (corn meal mush) we dressed the turkeys for the pit; Jeff even killed and skinned a live one. He’d bought three live ones, but one had gotten loose and the other was killed by a wild animal. The remaining one was wounded, but still usable. Then we had family devotional time. That was very rewarding as we had a chance to reflect on the strengths of each other and share some of the personal insights we’d had the previous day. Around noon we got all the carts loaded again and we headed back to base camp. We spent the afternoon participating in various pioneer games and activities like making candles, butter, quills; tomahawk throwing, and gun shooting. We unearthed the turkeys only to find that they hadn’t cooked all the way, and proceeded to tear them apart anyway and cook them in Dutch ovens. We had other food like potatoes and beans and watermelon to supplement so it was a good meal. I got home around 8:30 just dirty and pooped.