May 20, 1997
Location: Sutherland, Nebraska - Location: 41:09:25N 101:07:33W Elevation: 2959 feet
Summary: Tuesday, May 20, 1997 (Clear Day)
Journal entry: [Translated by Tomoko Nakayama]
Latitude: 41 degrees 12.399' Longitude: 101 degrees 10.821'
These are the coordinator of my family's tent in Southerland. Altitude: 3049 ft. If you are interested, go ahead and convert to meters.
Well, we had an extremly sacred experience today. There was a grave of a pioneer child that was buried 150 years ago on the way. It seemed like the child was a three-year-old boy, but the details were unclear. It looked like his family tried to firmly tie his body with cloth so that it would not be eaten by wolves. We stopped there around 11 a.m., and a special prayer was offered by Brian Hill, president of the Mormon trail Association of Nebraska. We gathered in a circle around a solitary rock that may have marked the grave, and Mr.Hill offered the prayer.
"It must have been a hard trip for a three-year-old child," my wife said, while holding Yuji and Koji's shoulders, who stood in front of her.
"Probably nobody returned," when I thought this, my heart ached.
We could hear sobbing from people who participated in the prayer with lowered their heads. Everybody feels the same thing. The wind blows like an endless sob in this lonely place. The unique sand of this area have piled up for 150 years. Somehow I have a lonely, painful feeling.
This area of sand, called "sandhill", is higher than the area around it. Weeds grows in the sand, but the light brown sand is deep. Sands accumlates on the road like the seashore or desert. My feet are buried up to the ankles and it is hard to walk. I wonder if the child who was buried here is trying to slow our pace down? I don't know why, but I feel bad if I don't look back. "We will probably never come back here abain," I think, as I turn back one more time and to say farewell. I understand the feeling of a parent who has lost their child very well.
It was extremely difficult to going up and down the sandhill with a wagon. We somehow walk up the hill. But getting a wagon up there is a totally different story. The horses climb hesitantly up the "sand road" which is like a winding "animal path." They pull the wagon with a burst of power, but soon slip back in the sand. It is a very dangerous situation. There are also rattlesnakes, so we try to move carefully so the horses aren't surprised by them. After we climb a sharp slope, a view was suddenly opened to us. The view in front of us made me feel, "we are doing unbelievable things."
Going down is harder than climbing up. The horses and donkeys move straddling their legs, while wagons push them from behind. The wagontop shakes from left to right. The second wagon from the lead wagon leans toward to right, and then stops as if time has stopped. Everyone watches with held breath, the left wheel of the wagon as it slowly moves upward.
"Oh! No!" as soon as I think this, the wagon rolls over and a donkey rolls down like it was thrown, We, as a family, walking behind this wagon totally freeze.
"Tom and Sandy are in the wagon!"
I saw them got on the wagon a few minutes ago, so I hastily slipped into the hood of the overturned wagon. Tom and Sandy are sitting down in the tunnel like wagon top clutching their chests.
"Are you O.K.?"
"I'm O.K.! I'm O.K.!" Tom looks at me and answers.
Seems they didn't get injured. After we confirmed that they weren't injured, we took the baggage out, then we slowly pulled Tom and Sandy out from the wagon top. The wagon was lifted back into place by about 10 people, and then started moving down the hill again.
"Maybe I'm next...," the people following them may have felt. But it was very dynamic incident, it is very amazing that nobody got hurt.