Wednesday we went on the Columbia Stake Youth Handcart Trek. We were one of 12 sets of parents to serve as Ma and Pa to a brand new set of children, ages 14-18. We had a family of 6 boys and 5 girls, and were given blue bandannas. We became the Smurf Family, and Ed and I were Papa and Mama Smurf.
We left camp at noon and spent the next 11 hours pushing on to our evening destination.
Our children were terrific, taking turns pushing and pulling the handcart. In contrast with the Mormon pioneers, who pulled handcarts through the great plains, we were able to push through tall trees, which provided us with some shade in the heat of the day.
Parents were not allowed to help the children, which made us feel bad till we realized that these were very capable, hardworking kids who could do it alone. We were very proud of their ability to work as a team.
We soon learned that the braking tow rope could also be used in front of the handcart to help us when going uphill.
It was important to have the tow line in back on the downhill slopes to keep the kids in the front from getting run over.
Our handcart had some issues, one of which was a wheel with a bad bearing, which the support staff replaced after the first few hours. We were very relieved, because it was pretty unstable before then.
Then we pulled some more.
Around three they had a pull for just the women, which was extremely challenging. It lasted several hours, during which time I was brought to tears by the valiant efforts of our adopted daughters. They pulled...
And they pushed. The last half hour was a steep grade through a rocky incline. I didn't get a picture of it, because 1) It suddenly started to rain in buckets, and 2) I was forced to help the girls, who were at great risk of injury to themselves as the handcart lurched through the muddy, rocky ravine. The men decided about half-way up the hill that although they are not supposed to help during the women's pull, that they couldn't stand by and watch us anymore, as many of the girls were falling on the rocks and sliding backwards. We were so glad to see them jump into the ravine and help us out.
We continued the trek nursing some of our bruised bones and helping each other get moving again. The were completely soaked, which felt somewhat refreshing, as we were no longer overheated.
We arrived at our campsite at 11 p.m., soaking wet, and dog tired. We were each fed chicken broth and one roll. We threw up a few tarps and fell immediately to sleep.It was the hardest day ever for us and the kids, but we woke up with a feeling of bonding and unity that can't be described. No one had complained once! It was hard and we did it together. It felt good.