July 12, 1997
Location: Bear River - 63 miles left, Wyoming - (6 rods wide, 2 feet deep. Swift current - clear and cold water; plenty of timber and grass. Altitude at ford, 6,836 feet.) - [Nine more miles and Brigham Young became sick with tick fever on July 12.] 950 1/4 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: Piedmont to Bear River crossing -- the coldest, rainiest day yet (is it really July?)
Journal entry: Today was by far our coldest and rainiest day. The clouds didn't really start rolling in until after we had walked for about an hour. But when we saw them, we knew we were in trouble.
By nine o'clock, the light sprinkle had turned into a serious downpour. The wind was whipping from the North, and the pelting rain was the kind that comes down so hard that it stings your hands and face. I was lucky to have a poncho and rain pants, but there were a lot of people who didn't. Some ran for cover in the school bus. Others, determined to stick it out, kept walking.
After we had passed out all the extra ponchos and garbage bags lying around in the cart, people were still getting soaked. This is the kind of situation where people can easily get hypothermia, and so, in an attempt to stay warm, we tried to keep walking and take very short breaks. I had leather gloves on, but they were soaked after about two minutes, and soon my hands felt frozen to the cart handle. Amy's brother, Dave, decided to get in a vehicle, out of the rain. He had a raincoat on, but his pants were soaked.
The road we followed during most of the day was the old Transcontinental railroad grade. The rails and ties are gone, but it is a perfect road for walking. We made a very gradual climb to a summit (where the rain began) and then a gradual descent to the Bear River valley, totalling 16 miles. We had quite a few new walkers (many just joining us for the day), and they were mainly the ones who didn't have rain gear.
The wagons passed us during the rain. There are now over 50 wagons, and it took at least 45 minutes for all the wagons to pass. It is always a thrill to watch the wagons go by, and with us walking alongside them, it was like they were going in slow motion. We had fun and cheered each teamster as they drove by. Most were standing up behind the seat to avoid the rain. I imagine that the people on horses and in the wagons were freezing worse than we. At least we could walk and sing and generate some thermal energy.
After almost 4 hours of rain, the clouds began to clear. We could finally catch a glimpse of the nearby peaks and the Uintahs -- they all had a new layer of snow. It was a beautiful afternoon as we dried off in the sun and walked along the river with the breeze at our backs. We are camped 8 miles south of Evanston, and the word is that there is a pageant and rodeo planned for us tonight. All is well.