By Robert Boyle
Trek Connects Pinetop-Lakeside Stake Youth to their History and Heritage
As the Pinetop-Lakeside Stake made plans for a pioneer trek reenactment this summer, extreme fire danger in the area meant a feasible trail was not available.
However, the Ellsworth and Perkins families and others stepped up, graciously allowing access to their land and a route that would work.
“Thanks to these families, the trek went off without a hitch in the cedars, sage, cactus and a scenic river bottom,” says Emily Boyle, one of the trek “Mas.”
Interestingly, she says, “This private land holds a close tie to the first handcart company.”
Brigham Young called Edmund L. Ellsworth to lead the first company of handcart pioneers from Iowa to the Salt Lake Valley. Ellsworth later arrived in the Show Low area in 1880 and is buried there.
“His family purchased ranch property which has been passed down and now provided a place for a group of youth and leaders to have an extraordinary experience. … it was neat to think that we would be pulling handcarts on property that, in a way, had a connection to the first captain of the handcart company of 1856.”
She says, as the trek began, the makeshift “family” quickly felt a connection as well.
“We went from just names on a piece of paper, to family,” Emily says.
As they trekked, the Young Men and Women learned powerful lessons.
A highlight for Zack Perkins, 17, was “getting to befriend people that I never thought I would in a million years.”
Jace “Fish,” 14, says, “When everyone started to push together, it became much easier to push. This just shows the advantages of working as a team with those around you instead of trying to handle it by yourself.”
Anna Alder, 14, mentions how her trek family sought to satisfy others’ needs before their own.
“Yes, we’d only known each other for a few days, but we were still a family and we helped each other,” she says.
Maryon Wallentine, another trek Ma, saw an analogy in the women’s pull. “We all face difficult challenges in life,” she says. “These are our own steep and rocky hills to climb. Family and friends can show love and support, but it is our own heavy load we must pull. Each difficult step takes determination and faith. We may have to learn to accept service in order to succeed. We can do hard things.”
“Our three-day trek was difficult and amazing,” says Sister Boyle. “Its impact lies within those of the company who did as my great-great grandfather, John D.T. McAllister, encouraged in the Handcart Song. We set ourselves to the task of merrily pushing and pulling until we reached, at last, our own Valley-O. … And then we ate ice cream and Mexican food.”