The Trek: Explanation and Status

I’ve actually been tracking this over on my other blog (And Still I Persist) but felt it was more appropriate here at Adventures in Mormonism. The rest of this posting is a slightly updated version of my original post explaining why I’m walking 1305 miles by early October. Now I’ve got to go walk my 11 miles today. ..bfw..

A friend of mine used to say that if I wasn’t playing in a ‘big enough game’ (referring to life itself, not World of Warcraft or even The Lord of the Rings Online, which, uh, I actually am playing in), that I’d screw things up in order to make things more interesting. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, since — in my own opinion — I’ve been mostly coasting for the past year or more. On top of that, I’ve been unhappy with my general state of physical fitness, including my weight and blood pressure (both stubbornly high).

And thus was born the Trek: I plan to walk 1305 miles between April 1 and October 6 of this year.

Why 1305 miles and why those particular dates? Funny you should ask.

As is abundantly evident from this blog, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka the Mormons. This year marks the 160th anniversary of the start (in 1847) of the Mormon migration out of the United States to the Great Salt Lake Valley due to the ongoing violent religious persecution they suffered (including, believe it or not, an “extermination order” issued by the Governor of the State of Missouri). Over the next 22 years (until the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869), some 70,000 Mormon pioneers crossed the plains. During a brief period of time (1856-1860), several thousand of those pioneers actually walked across those plains, pushing or pulling handcarts containing supplies and what remained of their earthly belongings.

And so my decision to commemorate them by walking the same distance most of them did: 1305 miles, the distance from Iowa City, Iowa, to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Since I do have a family and a business to attend to, I am not attempting to walk along their actual route, nor am I trying to attempt to complete the distance in the same 3-month time span that most of them did. Instead, I’ve plotted out an 11-mile route that starts and ends at my front door. By walking this five days a week, I can cover the 1305 miles in six months. And I’ve fit those six months between the end of the just-concluded LDS General Conference and the start of the next one (they’re held twice a year, in April and October).

So far, since April 1, I have walked 238 miles (a bit behind my projected schedule). My thoughts so far?

I am in awe of what these people did. I have very comfortable (and pricey) shoes, thick socks, a walking stick, and a small hiking backpack with built-in water pouch and drinking tube. I walk mostly on paved roads, graded shoulders, and sidewalks. I sleep each night in my own bed and have a whirlpool bathtub (which I used heavily the first week). I do 20 minutes of stretching every morning before I walk (as well as most mornings when I don’t plan to walk).

By contrast, these handcart pioneers often had ill-fitting shoes with worn-out socks; in some cases, they had no socks and, at times, no shoes. They pulled or pushed fully-loaded handcarts across open country — following known trails, true, but still nothing paved or smooth. They slept in tents, bathed with cold water (when they could bathe at all), and ate sparingly. And they covered twice as many miles per day as I do.

That truly boggles my mind. My 11-mile walks have taken me from just under 3 hours to nearly 4 hours, depending upon weather and my own stiffness and tiredness. I am usually quite tired and my feet aching by the time I get back home. For the whole first week, I would go sit in a hot whirlpool bath with epson salts for an hour or so after getting home. So when I think about covering twice that distance each day while pulling a handcart with a total weight of roughly 300 lbs across open country…well, it astounds me.

I am adding a new tab on this blog to track my progress. I am blogging about this not to call attention to myself but to follow the well-known principle of telling others about your goals so as to make it harder to quietly quit. :-) But most of all, these people deserve to be remembered for what they accomplished. ..bruce..

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