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BRIGHTON — A group of youths from Brighton, Henderson, Commerce City and Thornton learned earlier this month what it was like for Mormon pioneers to make the journey along the Mormon Trail in a reenactment of the 19th century migration that lead to the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Over the course of four days, 247 area youth and 85 adult leaders from the Brighton Stake donned pioneer clothing and pulled wooden handcarts in rain, hail and heat across Wyoming stretches of the Mormon Trail in remembrance of the 70,000 Latter-day Saints who made the journey due to expulsion and religious persecution.
Participants left modern conveniences – such as technology and make-up – behind and visited historic sites including Martins Cove, where hundreds of pioneers died from exposure and exhaustion, Rocky Ridge, which is described as the most difficult portion of the journey and Sweetwater River crossing, where rescue parties from Utah gave their lives in carrying weary pioneers across the ice filled river in freezing temperatures.
Kylie Williams, a recent Prairie View High School graduate, said their 14.8 mile trek around Rocky Ridge was her favorite part of the trip.
“It taught everyone that we can do hard things, just like our ancestors and overcome great challenges,” she said in a statement. “On trek we learn to be grateful for our religious freedoms and opportunities, especially the ability to go on a mission and to go through the temple, because some of my ancestors risked everything and died before receiving what they wanted most in this life.”
Prairie View High School Senior Devin Marshall said one of the benefits of the trek is to experience the sacrifices of our pioneer ancestor and learn how the sacrifices of others can bless our lives. Brighton High School Freshman Tyler Zirker also found the trek rewarding.
“You get to know yourself better, you get to expand your knowledge of the gospel, you get to know a lot of people and you learn what people are willing to do for their faith,” he said.
Although the participants came home with “grime and soreness,” according to Trek Leader and Stake Spokeswoman Christy Eaton, they returned with renewed faith and determination to live a life of sacrifice and service.