Thursday, July 16

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel - Pioneer Trek

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Between 1846 and 1868 some 70,000 Mormon pioneers crossed the U.S. plains {from Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valleys} in pursuit of a place where they could practice freedom of religion. They traveled approximately 15 miles per day with wagons, handcarts & on foot. Every summer many church groups worldwide reenact this historical event. 
One of my favorite young women, Sydney. Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
Recently, I was privileged to take part in a mini pioneer trek near Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. 



The participants pushed & pulled handcarts along one of the original trails in period attire. Unlike many of the real pioneers, we were blessed with ideal weather, good food and plenty of water . . . and it was still difficult! 
Can you spot me with my friend Janine out front? Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
It is estimated that 4,600 people lost their lives on the trail. It was humbling to see several graves of those who did not make it to the destination point - including one small grave where a child was obviously buried. 
                                                        Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
The boys in the photo below shared & reenacted the story of three young men who carried many pioneers across the Sweetwater River. The icy waters were too overwhelming for the exhausted pioneers who had already come so far. These three young men eventually died from health complications as a result of this unselfish act.
 Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
 Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
We also have a "women's pull" tradition. Some women & their families had to cross the plains without their husbands who had been called to serve in the Mormon Battalion. For this, the boys separate themselves & with reverence watch the women & girls push their carts through a difficult passage.  
                                                      Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
                                                       Photo by Darren & Shilane Mansell
The real pioneers took a little time for recreation & so did we - including games & square dancing. 
                                                                     Photos by Darren & Shilane Mansell

                                     Pioneers
                                               by Vilate Raile

They cut desire into short lengths
And fed it to the hungry fires of courage.
Long after when the fires had died,
Molten gold gleamed in the ashes.
They gathered it in bruised palms,
And handed it to their children forever.

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