...because they seriously had to be the toughest women ever.
Our church stake combined with another (approx. 150 kids ages 14-18) headed out with actual handcarts (weighing about 800lbs with all the gear) on a 25+ mile trek that Geoff and I will never forget. We were put into "families" of 10, and Geoff and I were the Ma and Pa. We all wore pioneer getups which meant bonnets, bloomers, aprons, dresses, suspenders for the boys and hats. We were bused up to the location where we were to start treking (which was kind of funny because I'm pretty sure people thought we were the Texas polygamist children being returned to their families!). It was a beautiful place out in the middle of nowhere with sagebrush, hills, fields of wildflowers and tall grass. I did wish I had my camera then, until it started raining...we set up camp just in time for the heavens to open and rain, all night, and the next day until the afternoon when the blessed sun came out. Geoff and I barely slept that night because the wind was so loud, oh, and because I might as well have been sleeping in a swimming pool. Despite our tents, pretty much everyone got soaked through their sleeping bags, making for a bitterly cold night and next day. At that point I was thinking they'd end the trek and send us all home. Not so. We packed up our stuff and headed out for a 12 mile trek up steep hills and through the mud. Thankfully, our kids were downright amazing and I barely heard a complaint. The sun came out when we reached our destination for that day and we were able to dry out most of our things. The next day-more rain, more wind, but through it all, we were able to really bond together as a group and increase our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The next day, not rain, but SNOW!!! It was almost comical at this point, aside from the fact that I couldn't feel my toes, that part wasn't funny. On the final trek back to our destination, it actually started hailing.
It was an extremely amazing time for Geoff and I. I learned so much about the Pioneers and all they went through to get to the Salt Lake Valley, their hardships, their triumphs and their loses. I don't think I've ever had such a mix of so many emotions in three days. Laughing till my stomach hurt with our family playing Chubby Bunny at night, crying while watching my girls struggle to pull the handcart by themselves up a steep hill while the men had to looked on (simulating when the men were called away to war as the Mormon Battalion), and developing true respect and admiration for those who have gone before and sacrificed so much.
If you have the opportunity to go, go. Just check the weather forecast.