Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Wendy Westergard Journals

July 21, 1997

Location: Birch Springs, Utah - Between East Canyon State Park and This is the Place State Park.

Summary: Big Mountain and how it feels to see the valley after sooo many miles.

Journal entry: Today we went 20 miles. It was said that today was going to be our toughest day. We were scheduled to climb over Big Mountain. It was 6 miles until we got to the junction of the sagebrush and the mountains. I wore the wrong socks this day so my feet were already paining me. Dumb move by me.

The first 6 miles were much like the rest of the trail has been. Elder Pinnock came to wave at us going up the hill. It was nice to have him so involved. He is a wonderful man. He loves to smile. We started up the hill. At first I was just walking. By first break I was pushing the handcart. I pushed it the remainder of the hill. It wasn't as tough as I though it would be. I know that we had help. We have angels among us. Many prayers were said in our behalf. That hill did not seem as tough as some of the shorter hills we have gone before.

By the time we got to the top of the mountain we had some younger people running the other direction yelling that we could see the valley. We started to speed up just so that we could. When we did indeed see that wondrous sight, we yelled and cheered. We were a whoopin' and a hollerin'. I think the pioneers must have done much of the same things when they found out that their journey was soon be finished.

I got a little thoughtful and depressed knowing that it would end in one day. It is a bitter-sweet end. It is wonderful and exciting to think about what will happen when we come into the valley. I don't really know what to expect, but I know it will be a moving experience. The bitter part is that we will not be with these people we have come to love and care about like family. We have tasted a bit of Zion and what it feels like to have no rich or poor and to give what ever we have to anyone who needs it. That is the thing I thing I will miss most besides the people. I love everyone out here on the train. Big, little, man, woman and child. I even love all of the horses, mules and dogs. Believe it or not I love the chickens and roosters who wake us up in the morning.

We listened to Elder Pinnock and Elder Christenson and then started our descent down the mountain. I was the anchor brake for the way down. That is where you have a rope that is tied to each side of the handcart. It is a long rope so it is put around you. I could hear the thump thump of my feet all the way down the mountain. By about halfway down my knees started to hurt, okay a sharp pain each time I used it. After about 10 minutes it didn't hurt anymore. It was like nothing was wrong. I just kept going. It was like I was in automatic pilot. Even though I was tired I just kept going and thumping along. We had fun singing and yelling to camp songs on the top our lungs. It was great. It just brought us closer together. Because of this great journey we have become very united. We know we can count on each other.

We got into camp and a lot of us crashed on the ground and went to sleep. I did and had bugs crawling all over me. It didn't matter we were that tired. I got up an hour later and went up the hill to eat. We ate right outside where they served food and soon discovered or heard about the latest gossip, which was that there were 5 people down the hill who had IV's in them and one was life-flighted out. They were okay after that, but they hadn't drank enough.

Later Carrie came and asked me if I'd like to take a shower. Of course I went. She let me use her things because my things hadn't arrived in camp yet. We went back to the previous campsite and showered. It felt wonderful !!! The drive that took us back over Big Mountain amazed me. I was in awe of what we had accomplished that day. Driving over it with a car amazed me. It was an 8% grade down hill or up hill. The cars sometimes even had some problem braking. I was brake going down this gorgeous mountain. When we got back to camp around 8:30 pm. my things were still not in camp. I went on a wild goose chase for the next three hours for my things. We eventually found them at the previous campsite in a truck. I was so relieved to find them. We drove back and I eventually got to bed around 11:30 or 12 midnight. It was a long day. I slept very well.