Teens walk path of Mormon pioneers
Nearly 200 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 participated in a weekend-long trek across 18 miles of the rugged Sierra in an effort to learn what it was like to walk in the footsteps of the Mormon pioneers.
The teens were divided into families of 10, each of which towed a handcart with all of their supplies and belongings.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Public Affairs Officer for Carson Valley Stephanie Christensen said one of the activities was a women’s pull, in which the men were called away and the girls were left to pull the handcarts alone on one of the steepest portions of the trail.
Minden resident Sydney Hastings, 14, said that was her favorite part of the trek.
“Just the four girls in our group pulled our handcart up the huge hill with no help,” she said. “It required a lot of stamina and perseverance, and I learned a lot about how hard it was for the pioneers.”
Sydney said her least favorite part of the trek was the dust and the potholes on the trail, something the pioneers would recognize.
“I learned many lessons on trek,” she said. “One is that the savior can walk beside us always, and its OK to ask for help. If I had had to pull the handcart by myself the whole way, I never would’ve made it. But with my trek family by my side, we walked quickly, and had a lot of fun, too.”
She said that making the trek gave her an appreciation for what the Mormon pioneers achieved when they crossed the country.
“As I followed in just a few of their footsteps, I could feel their strength and courage in my heart, and I hope I can be strong like them in my everyday life,” she said. “They were brave to risk everything and leave their homes to face the wilderness. They were faithful, trusting in God and his prophet to lead them safely to their destination.”
In addition to the teenagers, there were 90 adult leaders involved in the trek.
In addition to towing the handcarts, the teenagers had a hoedown with a live bluegrass band, milked faux cows, had a pig catching contest, shot, sawed wood, threw axes and gathered around the campfire at the end of the day’s efforts.
Christensen said she attended the July 15 recap meeting and the teenagers were still glowing from the experience.
“I was amazed that they would even do something like this,” she said. “They could have been home in the air conditioning playing on their phones. But instead they were doing something to honor their ancestry and learn something for themselves. Second, the parallels they were making between the pioneers’ experiences and their own lives and struggles were impressively mature.”