Last week I took a few days to join the youth in my stake on Trek. I was invited to come along as the photographer. I only had a few weeks to prepare but fortunately, my mom had a box of pioneer clothes that she used when she accompanied the youth (including some of my siblings) on trek many years ago.
As Mormons, learning about our pioneer ancestors is important to us. We honor the sacrifices they made to leave their homes and families and load their belongings onto wagons and handcarts and take the journey across the plains and mountains to settle with the Saints in the unknown wilderness of Utah.
Every four years, the young people (ages 14-18) and the adult leaders in our stake (and stakes around the country) go on a trek. We dress as pioneers, pack our belongings into five-gallon buckets which load into handcarts and spend three days walking over twenty miles. Fortunately, we have a team of excellent cooks preparing our food at stops along the way.
The kids left their electronic devices at home. They forgot the personal worries and struggles for a few days to remember what their ancestors did. I had never been on trek before and I recalled the muttered complaint from my niece as she prepared for her trek : "It's the damn nineties!" I had often wondered at it's value. However, as I walked with the youth, observing the experience through my camera's lens, I was moved. The youth helped each other. They worked hard. They danced at the hoe down after walking a grueling nine miles in blistering heat and unceasing dust blowing in their faces. They felt the spirit. They learned their own strength and just what they were capable of accomplishing. It was an amazing experience.
The following video was made from trek four years ago and sums up the adventure :
I'm humbling myself to include this horrible picture of myself. So amazingly frumpy. Just remember, this was taken at the end of a long, hot, dirty day. Haha.