Loveland teens follow historic trails
More than 235 local youths and their leaders recently re-enacted their pioneer ancestry by trekking 30 miles in Wyoming.
The 14- to 18-year-olds and their leaders from the Loveland Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donned pioneer-era clothing and pushed handcarts across 30 miles of the historic Oregon Trail, Pony Express Trail and Mormon Pioneer Trail in Wyoming.
The group trekked through the summer heat to cross historic sites, including Martin’s Cove, Sweet Water River, Sage Creek and Rocky Ridge, according to a press release from the church. At each location, missionaries from the Wyoming Trail Mission taught the youths about the history of pioneers and how the West was settled.
As part of the re-enactment, the youth were separated into 25 groups, or “families,” which each included a “Ma and Pa,” adult leaders who made sure the teens were safe and hydrated, and helped them share the work in pushing the handcarts and setting up their tents each evening.
Each night at their campsites, the youths engaged in fun, historically accurate activities, such as square dancing and tug-of-war.
“By re-enacting their pioneer ancestors, the group experienced firsthand the faith and determination of the pioneers,” the release said.
Lorayne Jacques, who acted as a “Ma” for one of the “family” groups, said 500,000 to 600,000 pioneers made the historic trek West; 70,000 of them were Mormon pioneers.
“The trek taught us to appreciate the sacrifices of our pioneer ancestors so we could have what we have today. In our modern world, we really don’t understand how hard life was and that our ancestors deserve a lot of respect,” she said.
“I thought it was really cool,” Emily Call, a senior at Colorado Early Colleges Fort Collins High School, said in the release. “Especially when we were going up Rocky Ridge and there were places when the handcart would keep stopping, and we’d keep trying. It was really eye opening, when we were doing it in the summer with clear trails and nice shoes, and pioneers were doing it without shoes and had eaten maybe a little flour. It was really inspiring to see what they went through.”
Kathryn Hardy, who organized the pioneer trek with her husband Jody Hardy, praised the teens. “It was no small feat, hiking almost 30 miles with handcarts. And the kids had positive attitudes and many stepped up and help in areas where there was a little weakness. I’m super proud and impressed with them. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”