June 25, 1997
Location: Rock Creek, Wyoming
Summary: Rocky Ridge to Rock Creek Camp
Journal entry: It was cold this morning on the edge of Rocky Ridge. We were rousted out of bed by the cowbell at 4:30. There was an excitement in the air when we gathered for morning devotional. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime days that we were hoping would be a lasting memory.
Mike called us to order and gave us some disappointing news. The permits that had been requested for our trip through this area did not include the climbing of Rocky Ridge. We would have to travel the road around the ridge and by-pass Rocky Ridge entirely. Many of us were truly disappointed with the events of the day.
Stewart Glasier, our historical expert on Church History through this area, repeated what we were all feeling - great disappointment.. His comment, however, gave us a little solace. "We believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law........." (8th Article of Faith, LDS Church) He promised that our day would still be full of historical remembrances and that we would have a great time. There also was the possibility that Rocky Ridge could be traversed tomorrow.
With this, we took off, not up the trail as was planned, but up the road. At one of our morning rest stops, Brother Glasier, gave us some history of the area and the events of the Willy Handcart Company. This company got caught in the early snows of October. It was in this area that the rescue party came upon them. They were in dire straits. Many people were sick and some had died. The exposure to the snows and cold was taking a terrible toll on the people. The wagons were filled to the brim with sick people and children. The people knew that there was help just ahead at Rock Creek and knew they had to forge ahead. They made their ascent of Rocky Ridge in the bitter cold and blowing snows. It was an all-night ascent. All of the people tried to make this terrible journey. Many struggled and lived to tell this horrible story. Many struggled..only to die on the other side.
As we stood at the base of the ridge, our little handcart company, we heard the stories and imagined the sorrow. I tried to picture this area in the winter with blowing snow and unforgiving cold. I am sure it was unbearable.
But today was a beautiful day. I could not feel their suffering. I looked at the faces of those around me, and I could not see their comprehension of pain in their eyes. We heard the stories. And it was sad, but I could only feel peace in the suffering of our pioneer brothers and sisters. I felt that they had suffered with a cause and a belief and they gave all they had for what they believed. They gave their lives and the lives of their most-prized possessions...their loved ones. Just as in Martins Cove I felt only peace. So I did today.
Before our group took off again from our rest stop, the daily womens group sang the daily "Morning Song." (This has become a sort of traditional song. We get together and sing this for all the group.) Thus began the song... "Oh What a Beautiful Morning, oh what a beautiful day. I've got a beautiful....." We didn't consider the fact that it might be disrespectful at all. We only felt that today was a beautiful day. We had beautiful blue skies, a cooling breeze, lots of sunshine, and a very peaceful feeling about what we were doing. Oh What a Beautiful Day!
We traveled on through the dusty country and came down into Rock Creek, the place where the Willy Company found refuge from the cold. Today it was beautiful. The stream was clear and cold, and a lot of people cooled their feet, while some of the children went completely in (Danny and Kimberly).
We ate lunch, caught a couple of runaway horses (Turbo suffered an injured shoulder during this episode), and Brother Glasier gave us some more history on this area. Here there is a marker showing the grave of the 13 or 14 people who were buried here after the descent of Rocky Ridge. They were buried as best as could be at the time of the rescue. However the wolves still were able to dismantle the grave, and when the people came back to check the grave, there were no remains. The wolves had taken everything. But the marker remains as a remembrance to the events that transpired here. This is a marker for beliefs and the courage to follow those beliefs.
My daughter, Nica, has been having terrible nosebleeds since she came out here on the trail, and today at lunch she got a bad one. So we put her in the back of one of the porta-potty trucks and drove her to camp. I stayed with her to help. When we got to camp, Brothers Haderle and Blaine gave her a blessing. It was a blessing of health and strength and those things that would help her with this problem. I felt [their strength] in this blessing. It was a very tender moment for all of us present.
We shuttled out of camp on the first available shuttle and got back to Atlantic City where our RV was parked. Nica has done very well since we got out. Her nosebleeds have stopped.
Art took another shuttle from the campsite to the old campsite. On the way he blew a tire. There were 19 flat tires today on that stretch of road, between those two campsites. Not a good day for our cars and trucks. My family is camped tonight in a beautiful campsite owned by the BLM.
We have lovely quaking aspens and pine trees. A beaver pond is just below our camp and a laughing brook runs gaily by. It is peaceful. We sat around together singing songs, telling tales, and laughing together. Nothing could be more pleasant for me, except maybe to have our other two sons with us.
I contrast this with the wagon train campsite only 15 miles away. It is on a barren wasteland, with only flat terrain, dusty dirty ground and short, stunted sage. It is in the open and I am sure the hot wind is a curse to them. They are where the pioneers travelled. This is what they knew, and I am sure they wanted to traverse this area as quickly as possible and get on to anything else, anything better. It is a terrible desolation. I can't even imagine what the winter is like down there.