June 5, 1997
Location: Fort John/Laramie - 508 m. left, Wyoming - Location: 42:12:46N 104:31:00W Elevation: 4250 feet (Fort lays about 1-1/2 miles west from the river. Ford is good in low water. River 108 yards wide. Wall and houses are adobe, or Spanish brick. Altitude, 4,090 feet) -522 miles from Winter Quarters
Summary: Torrington to Fort Laramie -- 29 miles, pain and dancing.
Journal entry: We left the fair grounds in Torrington and began to walk with our large group (about 300 people) along the highway. We were soon into farm country, passing fields of sugar beets and corn. By the time we got to lunch, we had already walked 13 miles. It was hot and we had to beware of rattlesnakes. A bus was waiting for those that didn't think they wanted to walk another 10 miles into camp, especially those with children. Even though the bus left full, we still had a large number of people who were ready to continue on.
As the day wore on, water and ice became very valuable. Dehydration is a very real problem, and there never seems to be enough water. One of the best ideas is to drink a lot of water in the morning or the night before we leave and then to carry a water bottle and refill it often.
I met a man named Aron Crisp. He and his wife are from from Nothern California. Aron used to play defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs. When he picks up a handcart and pulls it by himself for miles on end, you know he is still not to be messed with. Since his NFL career, he has spent some time as an interior decorator, and we spent some time talking about his job.
Despite good conversation, the road got longer and longer. The running joke was that there were "only 4 miles left". After we passed the 23 mile mark, there were still no wagons. 25... 26... 27...we were still walking, but the some of the new people were limping. Then we saw Margaret coming towards us. I was hoping she was going to say that camp was just around the corner. But she said that there were about 3 miles left. My heart sank -- it was already about 6:30 PM. Margaret had a big bag of M&M's and Starburst candies that she passed out to all the walkers. Apparently, the wagons arrived long before we had. Then, somebody suggested that we say a prayer. We took off our hats, and Kathy offered a beautiful prayer.
From then on we flew into camp, at a pace much faster than we had done all day. It was like the finishing miles of a marathon -- you no longer even know your feet are moving. People lined the dirt road and then the highway offering water, smiles, and encouragement. As we neared the wagon circle, many of the teamsters and other walkers cheered us on. Many of us crashed on the ground, and others took a dip in the horse trough.
I finished the evening by eating supper and then dancing with Amy to the music of some old time fiddlers at camp.