Dressed like this (a plump, short, pioneer grandmother in pink) I will be taking off for the next few days as an "aunt" on the Pioneer Trek. (From what I can gather, there are no flattering pioneer clothes good for hiking.)
A Pioneer Trek? Oh yes, a trek.
For my non-LDS friends, I shall explain.
It has become a tradition in our church to take the youth on a pioneer trek reenactment every few years. (This tradition began after I left high school, so this is my first one.) Wearing the traditional clothing of the 1800's, complete with bonnets, skirts, aprons, and for the men no pocket pants, suspenders, etc, we pull handcarts in the summer heat, across "the plains." In our case, "the plains" will be a mountain fire road.
All efforts are made to make it as realistic and rugged as possible. The youth will truly pull handmade handcarts for about 20-30 miles. We've been asked to not bring anything with batteries in it, including cell phones, ipods, and flashlights. We'll be cooking with dutch ovens over fires. Considering the ample amount of rain we have had here lately (thunderstorms for 3 straight days), I'm guessing the fires won't be easily built. There are no "rain contingencies." If it rains on us, we'll just make due, just like the pioneers did. I went up to scout out the place two days ago and discovered our trail looks like this-
No question about it. We're going to get muddy.
To enhance our learning experience, we will be bringing pioneer stories with us to share over the campfire. In many cases the youth will be bringing stories of their own Mormon pioneer ancestors. The purpose of the trip is to gain an appreciation for our Mormon pioneer heritage that made us the church that we are today.
The youth (ages 14-18) will be divided into "families" headed up by a Ma and Pa. In our small town we have about 100 youth attending, many of whom are kin to each other already. I know that I will have at least 1 first cousin, 1 second cousin, and probably 10 third cousins attending. Personally, I think that makes this an extra special trip, as we gain an appreciation for our ancestors we will be able to share it with other descendants from those same people- the people that made us cousins!
Normally there are couples picked to be the Ma and Pa parents. And occasionally a few extra "aunts and uncles" are brought along as additional adult helpers. I'll be serving as the group historian and overall helper. There is one other designated "aunt" for the group as well, and she'll be the photographer. (Thankfully this means if I can get the local paper to publish a story on us no one will be subjected to my bad photography!)
This is my first trek, and I have to admit, I'm getting a little nervous. Walking 30 miles over 3 days is ambitious enough. Add in 100 teenagers, handcarts, and this dang bonnet, and I'm not so sure!
Wish us luck! I'll see you all in a few days!