My First Pioneer Trek

I will never forget my first pioneer trek.

I was 14, and lived in the Cleveland, Ohio Stake. 
I was so nervous because I have always been a home body and I never really liked camping. However, my mom and dad were going to be a Ma and Pa on the trek, and my sister was going too, therefore, I was also going, even though we were all going to be in different ‘families’.

When I’ve talked about my trek experience, people say it sounded rough. That may be true, but it is just what I needed. Here’s what I remember:

  • The girls HAD to wear the pioneer pantaloons! No shorts or anything of our time period.
  • No pillows. We slept on our gunny sack bags and it was not exactly comfortable
  • No tents
  • My ‘siblings’ in my family were awesome. There were 7 of us, so we came up with names like the 7 dwarfs and we blended very well.
  • Our parents were a young couple with a new baby and well, they weren’t around much. We kind of felt like orphans but we made it through.
  • We carried an actual baby doll as our ‘baby’ in the family. Another girl and I cared for the doll ourselves, and as a family we had to sacrifice food and water for the baby.
  • We lost our baby.
  • We made all of our food ourselves (maybe there was one meal towards the end that we didn’t have to) and let me tell you… Johnny Cakes are disgusting, ESPECIALLY after they have fallen in the dirt!
  • We had jerky and hard rolls and apples during the day for our food.
  • We walked a freshly laid trail of dirt and after a torrential rain storm, the trail became treacherous, with deep pot holes full of water, that we had to go through. I was stuck in mud almost to my knees and we had to push on. 
  • Mosquitos! ‘Nough said!
  • Sleeping on rocks, but being so exhausted from walking all day that you couldn’t feel them.
  • Walking 12 miles a day.
  • The womens pull where some of our supplies got caught in the wheel, and when I tried to save them, I jammed my finger really badly. 
  • Chopping of a chickens head, then plucking out feathers.
  • Washing my hair for the first time in 3 days with Dawn dish washing soap.
  • Testimony meeting and alone time.

Putting it together on a list does make it sound a little rough, but it was just what I needed, and I learned so much from that adventure. This trek was my favorite and here’s why: 

  • Wearing full pioneer garb made me feel for those women. It was HOT and HUMID! I can’t even image what it would have been like in the winter.
  • No pillows and tents let me relax and just stare at the beautiful night sky and see the stars the way I had never seen them before.
  • My pioneer ‘family’ was close for YEARS! Until we all moved or headed away for school.
  • Not having our ‘parents’ around as much as we liked them to be made us rely on each other that much more and made me realize that not every family made it Salt Lake with both parents. Many lost one or both and they leaned on their siblings to get through.
  • Losing our baby was hard on me, but thinking about it now as a new mom… Those women who lost babies and older children were saints in my book and I can’t even imagine. They had real faith to keep moving forward.
  • The food…. Made me realize that they had next to nothing and still made it. It’s hard to walk when you’re starving, but oddly enough, you feel the spirit better, guiding and directing you.
  • Our pot holes and soggy socks and shoes and tired muscles were only minuscule to what the Pioneers really went through.
  • I gained a best friend.
My list could go on.

At the fragile age of 14, I felt a connection to the pioneers and my testimony grew leaps and bounds. The trek wasn’t easy, but I gained a testimony that each and every one one of us was saved for NOW, to be born in our own time, and our own families and into our own generation. When I feel like I can’t make it through my own trials, I look back on that pioneer trek, and remember that I am here to pave the way for next generation of pioneers and latter-day saints, and that knowledge gives me strength. 

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Megan has been married to her Knight In Shining Armor for 4 years and is a brand new momma. She loves cooking, baking, photography and music and has time for none of it as she works full time and is striving to find balance in life. She blogs over at The Stoker Kitchen.

photo by flickr