June 17, 1997
Location: Independence Rock - 314 miles left, Wyoming - [Sweetwater River]. (In low water the river is easily forded.) It has a peculiar shape and magnitude. There are many names of visitors painted in various places. on the southeast corner. 698 3/4 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: On to Independence Rock.
Journal entry: I had a very ill daughter last night. I think it was a delayed heat exhaustion from her walk on Monday. I cared for her through the night in Casper. Our other children stayed with me and my husband, Art, took the big van and headed back up to the campsite at Willow Springs. We decided it would be best if we met up with the wagon train after their walk into Independence Rock.
I later found out that after Art and several other members of the train left Casper, heading back to the campsite, in their cars, they headed into a rainstorm and were stranded all night on the road five miles out of camp. Art called the mud bentonite. Another guy called it Crisco. I guess it was a mess. Fortunately, by the time morning arrived, the roads were dried out and the wagons were able to move.
The reports I received about the trail today were that it was tough. The handcarts spent two and a half hours climbing Prospect Hill and it was really hard. By the time we left Casper, it was later in the afternoon and the wagon train was drawing very near to Independence Rock. I passed them on the highway. It was exciting to see the walkers and handcarts leading the train. Watching the wagon train is just so exciting to me. It has an incredible influence on me. The feeling I get when I am gone away is really empty, and when I get back, I feel peace again.
We are camped on the east side of Independence Rock in our tents and motorhomes and RVs, and all of our other vehicles are everywhere. Many of the RVs are down a backroad about a mile and a half by the Sweetwater River. We are parked up on a hill and can look over the bluff right down on the river. To the west of us is Independence Rock--about a mile away. To the east of us is the wide Wyoming expanse and right in front, we look down on the beautiful, meandering Sweetwater River. The rocky hills behind the river are rather smooth and rounded. They must be old rocks. The grass and flowers are so green. It is truly one of the most picturesque scenes of the whole trip so far.
When the train left Casper, we also left the Platte River. It was a difficult over-land, two day trek to the Sweetwater River. The Pioneers tried to hurry along this route because they traveled with the water, which is the rivers. They could not tarry along the route here because they would have problems not having water. It must have been a wonderful site to the travelers to finally get to the Sweetwater River and know they had gotten past a difficult part of their journey.
Although the scenery is just beautiful, the mosquitoes are not. They are everywhere and there is just no way to get rid of them. We can't have fires, which I know was a great deterrent to bugs. So we run from one place to another and close the tents quickly. There are so many people here. It is really wonderful to me to see the excitement and enthusiasm that people feel about this train.
Tonight we had a re-enactment from James Arrington about Brigham
Young. He is just so good. People sat on the southeast side of the
rock and watched the program. It was just fun to see all the people
walking all over this huge rock. It is so easy to climb up on and
walk around it. What a fun gathering place.