Some 266 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — including 166 teens — are spending three days next month walking and pulling carts along the historic Mormon Emigrant Trail across the Sierra.
Dubbed the Manteca Stake Pioneer Trek 2015 it will start 45 miles east of Jackson at roughly an elevation of 7,300 feet near Highway 88 and take place Thursday, July 9, to Saturday, July 11.
The participants will cover about eight miles each day. They will wear pioneer clothing and use pioneer supplies. Each participant is limited to 15 pounds of personal items that must be placed in a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. No electronics will be allowed including cell phones.
The Mormons in June of 1848 set out to “build” a route to move wagon trains over the austere and uncharted wilderness to allow migration from the Salt Lake Valley to California.
By mid-June of that year a wagon train was created with 45 men, one woman, 17 wagons, nearly 300 head of livestock, and a number of oxen. Scouts went out ahead of the train. The first encampment after the initial gathering was named Sly Park after a member of the group — James C. Sly.
They stayed there for 10 days while a search party looked for the scouts that had not returned. When the search party returned on July 14 they had not found the scouts but did discover passage over the Sierra.
The Mormons then headed east building the trail as they went. They ended up having various camps including several they named that still survive today — Log Spring, Leek Spring, and Tragedy Spring.
Tragedy Spring was so named as that is where the remains of the three scouts that were presumed killed by Indians were found in a shallow grave.
They eventually reached what is known today as Hope Valley that they named for giving them hope. It is roughly 20 miles south of South Lake Tahoe where Sorenson’s Resort sits at the junction of Highways 88 and 89.
Their effort created the Mormon Emigrant Trail, the first route established for wagons to reach Northern California.
There were 40 way stations in place by 1854 between Old Mormon Station and Placerville. Tens of thousands of immigrants traveled over the Mormon Emigrant Trail over a 16-year period.
LDS President Gordon B Hinckley has stated, “The Mormon Pioneer Trail is ‘a trail of tragedy, a trail of faith, a trail of devotion, a trail of consecration, even the consecration of life itself.’ May … generations to come, who, like we, bow their heads in reverent remembrances of our forebears who paid so costly a price for the faith which they carried in their hearts.”
The 266 have been preparing for the trek spiritually and physically since March. A number will walk a part of the trail without the handcarts this Saturday in preparation for next month’s trek.
Among the prep has been sleeping on the floor instead of on a bed at least twice; completing three days of sacrifice by giving up a specific modern invention whether it is TV, cell phone or soda; walking or running four miles in an hour in shoes they will be wearing on the trek; starting a hydration regimen; reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily; reviewing various knots for tying ropes, and starting a gratitude journal among other things.
More information can be found at the website ww.mantecatrek.com.
The Manteca Stake consists of wards in Manteca, Ripon, and Tracy.