The next day was our third and final day of hiking. We went 16 miles. One of the little girls with us didn’t think she could take another day of hiking…and to hike longer than the day before? We tried to give her all sorts of pep talks, but when the next day came, she was the one who decided she was going to finish this no matter what (I suppose it was better than being left behind with the equipment crew and cleaning the bathrooms). I put on my thinner socks and my oldest hiking shoes, which helped my feet a ton, and we pressed on. This time knowing what we were getting into.  Our Pa had gone on an epic Trek when he was fifteen, and had actually followed the original pioneer trail for three-and-a-half months with his family all the way to Utah. I asked him if he had ever gotten used to the pain in his feet. He told me that you got used to it in about a week. I thought about these pioneers who had been in the Martin and Willie Company and realized that some were probably as physically unprepared as I was, and didn’t know the terrain. Why else didn’t they find the buffalos like Ephraim Hanks did or shoot and eat and wear the wolves that tried to attack them? It made these people more real to me—since they did things I could relate to.

We stopped for devotionals along the trails and listened to the stories of the pioneers. There was a boy who carried his younger brother for a whole day to keep him from dying and laid him in his mother’s arms that night before dying himself. Some stories had happier endings where a pioneer lay down to die in the snow and his friend told him if he was going to die then he was going to wallop him, and he did, slapping him hard across the face. The kid was so mad, he chased his friend back to camp and later thanked him for saving his life. I looked around at the kids in our group while listening to these stories and thought, yep, they’d be this heroic—they already showed me that they were.

Tomorrow: Rocky Ridge; the one thing that terrified us.