Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Surviving Trek and other fun stuff

I learned a lot about myself last week. I went on a pioneer trek with the youth in our stake. We rode up Parleys Canyon in some school buses then were dropped off somewhere in the boonies where we found handcarts waiting for us.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not an outdoorsy girl. Plain and simple. The minute, and I'm not exaggerating, the very minute I got called to be a counselor in our Stake Young Women presidency I thought, "Crap, now I have to go on trek." (Pardon my French - although that isn't French at all, is it?)

Anyway, for nearly a year our stake leaders and trek committee have been planning trek. I was resolved to go, but in my heart I was dreading it. I don't mind physical exercise and labor, I really don't. Actually I like hard work and exertion, but being outside in the heat, with the bugs and the snakes, wearing a long skirt and a bonnet, did not excite me.

But I went. You also need to know, I look like an idiot in a bonnet. I really do. I would have been a very homely pioneer. But after about fifteen minutes in the heat, you suddenly realize, none of that matters. All you care about it staying cool, surviving, and getting that handcart up the next hill. Oh, and not falling into a gopher hole, of which there are thousands in the Wyoming boondocks.

The first day we trekked about eleven miles. I never saw one tree the entire time. There was no shade . . . at all! When we stopped to take a break and get a drink, most of us stood, while some sat on the ground. That night, we made camp. Almost everyone slept outside under the stars. The other counselor who went with me brought a tent, thank goodness. We were inside and while that helped keep out the cold, it didn't keep out the horrendous snoring going on around us. I have to say though, that the stars were incredible and the sunrise was too.

The next day we walked about five miles, then once we made camp, the kids (200 or so) played games and had a square dance. This day was perfect. Just enough walking, just enough playing, and really incredible food.

That night the temperatures dropped to freezing and the kids woke up with frost on their sleeping bags. That's one brisk trip to the porta-potty, I'm telling you. We broke camp and then walked the final four and a half miles back to the road where our buses met us. By day three we were all exhausted. Without much sleep and with over twenty miles behind us, we were happy to see those four yellow buses waiting for us. But even though the kids faces were dirt and sweat stained, they were also beaming with joy. The entire time I never heard one youth complain. Not once. I saw kids jump to the aid of another when someone needed help. There was teamwork and laughing, singing and a lot of blisters on hands and feet. But those awesome kids did it. And I was so glad to be part of it.

I gained a strong appreciate for those amazing pioneers who did more than I did with much less than I had. Their sacrifice and hard work, their determination and faith, has touched my heart, and I will be forever grateful that I got to experience a small sampling of what they went through.

Take it from me, if you ever have a chance to go on trek, I definitely would recommend it. It will change your life!


Ashlyn said...

Ha ha my mom would probably be so mad well not mad but suprised that you had no complaints. She said the kids that went to camp well some of them wouldn't do anything. they woudnt clean the dishes and they complained the hole time she said they wanted to go home the second day!

Wes and Megan Bell said...

so glad it ended up being a good experience for you. i loved going on our stake's trek when i was sixteen...and you know how much i enjoy camping...zilch! just wondering if your stake had a women's pull or had family members die on the last day, which they are reunited with a few miles later?

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Megan, we did have a women's pull. The girls were really geared up for it and so mentally ready to attack and conquer. When the men showed up to help them, the girls didn't really want their help. They wanted to do it themselves. I was so proud of them. We didn't have family members die, but that would have been so powerful.

Wendy Christensen said...

Funny! Congrats on surviving TREK ... :)

JoAnn Arnold said...

These great learning trek experiences came after my time. (I guess that's how you would say it), and I feel like I missed out. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and I want you to know how proud I am of you for taking the opportunity for an experience of a lifetime.

jenheadjen said...

Sweet Michelle! Please tell us you got a picture with that homely bonnet! I remember on ours, we had to hand-make the bonnet and apron. I remember it like it was yesterday!

So glad you got to go! I can't imagine doing one like that - it makes the "tough" one I did as a teen seem easy! At least we had shade! Wow!

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Heck ya I made my bonnet and apron. I made matching ones for my daughter. Someone got a picture of us and if it isn't too horrible I will post it.

I think you have a strong love and appreciation for pioneers so maybe you didn't need to go through a trek experience like I did.

Mandi said...

It sounds like one of those experiences that you may not choose to be apart of but when its all said and done you are glad that you had done it. That sounds a lot like labor doesnt it? Ha ha hope to see you soon!