Youth trek path of Mormon Battalion -- young people pull handcarts over rugged, steep trail

Youth of the Fair Oaks California Stake tasted some of the struggles of their pioneer ancestors while pulling handcarts along 10 miles of the Mormon-Carson Pass Emigrant Trail July 28-30.

For their youth conference, nearly 200 young men, young women and stake youth leaders began the trek over the rugged, steep trail at Tragedy Spring on U.S. Highway 88 in eastern California, about 60 miles southwest of Carson City, Nev. For the next two days, they traveled northeast along the trail, which was blazed in 1848 by discharged members of the Mormon Battalion.At the conclusion of the trek, the youth joined a commemoration service northeast of Tragedy Spring, just off Highway 88, at which hundreds were gathered to honor the battalion members. The service also commemorated the naming of a nearby mountain peak after Melissa Coray, who traveled with the battalion. (Please see article beginning on page 3.)

The youth traveled in "families," wore period clothing and ate food similar to what the Mormon pioneers might have eaten. Along the way, members portraying pioneers and outlaws would speak to the youth or present skits.

For example, according to Jan Hathaway, stake Young Women president, "After many very difficult miles of uphill and down, of pushing and pulling together,' we finally reached the top of West Pass and the base of Melissa Coray Peak. ThereMelissa' greeted us and related the joys and sorrows of her journey with the Mormon Battalion.

"As the last company arrived into the meadow, a young widow' was observed holding her little one in a blanket and sewing it closed around him as a shallow grave was being prepared. Her anguish and heartache were felt throughout the camp as we sang a line fromCome, Come Ye Saints' - `And should we die before our journey's through.' "

The youth conference ended with a testimony meeting. "Many testified of love for their Heavenly Father and the ultimate sacrifice of His Son," Sister Hathaway said. "How insignificant was the sacrifice and hardship we had just experienced compared with what He suffered."

One young woman, 17-year-old Skij Boersma explained, "The pioneers brought us many blessings by walking toward Zion, and we need to bring them the rest of the way home by making sure their temple work is done."

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