June 27, 1997
Location: Pacific Springs, Wyoming
Summary: From Rock Creek Campsite to Pacific Springs Camp
Journal entry: My family slept at Rock Creek campsite last night. I feel I am in the middle of the Great Desolation. Everything here is flat, short sagebrush, and rocky. The view is expansive in every direction....just more of the same. There are mountains in the distance and a few smaller hills and bluffs, but it is so desolate.
I wondered how anyone could love or even care about this country, but tonight at camp I met a man and woman who live in this area. They had come to see the wagon train. They brought their grandchildren with them. We visited and talked. They said they were born and raised in this country. The woman commented that they had lived in the cactus country of Arizona for several years, and she was so glad to retire and return home to the WindRiver Mountains and the plateau we now stand on.
She looked over the vast arena before us, and I could see the great love in her eyes for this place. To her it was a hallowed home. I saw in her face that same love that I remembered seeing on the face of the woman in Nebraska who looked over the lonely sand hills. And I suppose you would see the same love on my face if I were standing on Powell Point in Southern Utah overlooking that beautiful piece of earth. As we parted and they took their grandchildren home, this lovely woman with tears in her eyes took my hands and wished me well. She said she wished she could be doing what we are doing.
I feel my true purpose for doing this trek was accomplished yesterday. I told Art I could leave today and feel satisfied with coming only this far. But now I have the added responsibility of a family.....and children who have fallen in love with the wagon train, and the people and friends on the wagon train. I think I can't drag them away. So, I guess I stay for them. But I miss my home more and more and the entrance into the Valley will be a great relief.
Today was a hard day on the trail for the walkers and handcart company. The trail from Rock Creek to and over South Pass to Pacific Springs was long and sandy. Maybe it is the elevation, but after my quick survey of many full-timers, we had the same comments, "We are exhausted."
We pulled and pushed those handcarts through sometimes six to eight inches of sand. Not only is it hard to walk, but try a crazy, heavy handcart. It was hard!! We put almost nothing in our handcarts. They get too heavy. Those pioneers had them loaded. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been. And we were on the same trail today that they passed. We were on the real, authentic Oregon, California, Mormon trail that passed right between twin mounds and over South Pass to the Pacific side of the Continental Divide.
I think if the wind hadn't been blowing today, we would never have made it. But we did put scarves over out noses and mouths to keep from eating dust and those lucky souls who remembered to bring their sunglasses to shield their eyes from the dust. Coming into our camp just above Pacific Springs was a huge hill. From a distance, we all just groaned, knowing we had to pull those handcarts up that last incline. After 22 miles of rocks and sand, if just looked pretty tough.
We watched the wagons go up from a distance. We took a final water break and started out. As we got closer to the hill, we saw many many people at the top waiting for us to get into camp. Nearing the bottom of the hill stood Karen Hill telling us it was a deep sandy hill. I'm sure the look on my face told her how I felt. As I looked up at the crowd at the top there were men, and women and kids running down the hill. They passed me and ran on to the later carts.
I saw some kids standing at the side of the road and I said "Did you come to help?" They said yes and I said "Grab a hold." There was Joann Twitchell replacing the pullers on one cart and lots of strong, fresh young boys getting into the pulling position. Every cart had new, strong blood. We were so tired. It was like a gift from heaven having all of these people run down the hill to help us. Eleven year old Paul Twitchell from New Mexico grabbed onto the back of Sarah and Kathy's cart and practically pushed the cart to the top...all by himself. Sarah had to keep telling him to slow down or he would run into the cart ahead. Before you knew it we were all parked at the top and the hill was behind us. It was a great ending to a terribly exhausting day.
I talked with a woman who came to help. She was hesitant to run down to give a helping hand because she thought we had been the workers all day long and should have the "glory" of pulling up the hill alone. I laughed in dismay and surprise. Never, never did I consider this a glory job. I would gladly accept any and every bit of help. There is no glory in being the one and only. Even if all they could do was cheer from the top, it helped. They then became a participant.
Every person who came to help was wanted and thus became part of us. We do not do this for glory. We ask for help. We ask for participation. We ask for you to come and be a part of this great event. We do not anticipate a lone entry into the Valley. We want every person who feels the spirit of our ancestors running through their veins and feels the greatness of this occasion to come and participate: to cheer, to walk in the parades, to be with us... not gazing from the sidelines.
We are One in our respect and reverence for these great pioneers...and can put our arms around each other and cheer each other on and show the world our unity in our common beliefs. Please, my friends, do not ever believe we do this for our glory and that we wish to be alone. If you feel as we do, we want you, we need you, we anticipate that you will be one with us on those first days as we enter the Salt Lake Valley. Come! Our pioneer ancestors are watching and waiting and anticipating our arrival. Be one of us. We do not want to do this alone.