June 18, 1997
Location: Martin's Cove - 302 miles left, Wyoming - Not mentioned in Clayton's journal. Fifty-six members of the Martin Handcart Company died here while waiting out a fierce storm, November 1856. - About 707 miles from Winter Quarters.
Summary: Independence Rock to Martin's Cove -- Sunrise, delays, Devil's Gate, and the beautiful but tragic Martin's Cove.
Journal entry: The wake-up call usually sounds at 4:30 AM. The camp jacks walk around the whole camp ringing a cow bell loudly. I usually ignore it, because I can wake up at 5:30 and get ready in time. This morning, though, both Amy and I awoke right when we heard the bell. As I emerged from my tent, she emerged from hers, and we admired the sunrise together. It was so beautiful, and we were so close to the rock, we clambered on up to the top where we could see the sun ignite the eastern sky in a burst of color. The clouds in the west sky were also scorched in a reddish-purple tint. A fierce wind soon picked up, almost blowing us off the massive rock formation. We worked our way down the incline and watched as a few tents began to bend in the wind. One even rolled like a tumbleweed.
Our departure from Independence Rock was delayed by two hours. Someone forgot some papers or something in Casper, and the Highway Patrol would not let us go without them. Many teamsters took advantage of the delay by shuttling their trailers and campers ahead to the new camp. Dave Faerber stayed in his wagon and took a nap for an hour.
We finally left at around 11 AM. Just as we left, a rain started to pour and a strong headwind began to blow. So, even though our trip was only 10 miles today, it seemed like a lot more. We passed the north side of Devil's Gate and around to the south side, where the Martin's Cove visitor's center is. I was truly weary as we pulled past the visitor's center. I only felt a fraction of the weariness that the members of the Martin company must have felt. I was not walking in deep snow and bitter cold. I was not hungry from poor rations. I hadn't thrown away all my blankets and supplies. I have, though, walked the same milage that they walked. My muscles and feet ache from the accumulated miles. Tomorrow we will have more time to visit the historical sites and consider the tragic handcart companies of late 1856.
Hi. This is Amy. This has been a wonderful week. We've met so many wonderful people. B.C. has written about some of them. I've also learned more about the people on the trek for the long term. For instance, I found out that Margaret makes sauerkraut. Mmmm. I discovered that sauerkraut is wonderful when I was in Croatia. They make a dish called Sarma there. It is like stuffed cabbage, but it is made with sour cabbage instead of fresh. It is wonderful served with mashed potatoes. I feel a kinship with anyone who likes sauerkraut.
I also learned that Nance, our EMT out here with her wonderful four year old daughter Jackie, once rode her bike around the states. She is amazing. She has done so many wonderful things and she just acts like it is nothing. I like to be with her handcart. That is the one B.C. and I usually hang out with. Jackie sits in the back and entertains us. She is a vibrant child with a lot of energy and determination. She is beautiful. I love to hear her make up songs.
The country here is incredibly beautiful. Martin's cove takes my breath away. Last night it rained furiously for about twenty minutes. Even while I was seeking shelter I was in awe of the show it made. Then near the end of the storm the sky was my favorite color (at least it is my favorite this week). It was a dark gray blue and the sun was shining below the clouds and lighting the wagon covers, making them bright white against the sky. The mountains and the rocks were green. It was a wonderful sight. I wished for my canvas and oils.
There are many ways to vent my artistic tendancies out here. I spend a lot of time sewing. My favorite project is a dress made for me by a friend in Salt Lake. Erica came out here one week to be part of the reenactment camp. I got to know her one day out on the trail. She is a docent up at the Pioneer Memorial State park. I could tell that her dress was an authentic style and I asked her about it. We got to be friends and when she left she sent out a dress for me to wear on the trail. I was so excited to get it because it is an authentic style.
When she found out about our engagement she made a dress for me on a treadle sewing machine. She is an angel. I hear she is making a dress for another girl out here. She didn't have time to do the finish the my dress and I am glad because it gave me a chance to do some work on it. There are some sewing machines out here, but I am doing it by hand because It was made with a treadle sewing machine and it doesn't seem right to finish it with a modern sewing machine. Last week she sent me a little bag of buttons. Julie Proud and her daughters, Cindy, Amy and Elizabeth told me about the tradition pioneer girls had of collecting buttons. The goal was to collect a thousand buttons before they were married. They couldn't ask for buttons but they could trade and they could give each other buttons. Some of the button collections are in museums.
I love rest days. I am going back to work on my sewing. I need to hem the dress and finish a bonnet I've been working on. I wish I had known what I would need out here. I would have made more bloomers and bonnets I've learned that the best bonnets have stiff brims and a ruffle on the back that protects the neck from the sun. I enjoy wearing pioneer clothes.
This is B.C. again. I know that Amy is not allowed to ask for buttons, but I suppose that I can put out a petition. If anyone out there wants to contribute to Amy's quest for 1000 buttons, you can mail them to the wagon train (we will be in Evanston in a couple of weeks):
Mormon Trail Wagon Train