Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rock Creek Hollow Time!

Short Version:
We spent the week at Rock Creek Hollow. I did get lost driving to it. I ended up in the middle of nowhere and had to ask some people on 4-wheelers for directions. I basically came into it the way the handcarts do. Luckily we were ahead of them but I found it. I was getting a flat tire the last 3 or 4 miles but I did make it all the way in and then the tire went flat. I had this particular tire fixed 2 times before so needless to say I am buying new tires today. 
President Hinckley has said that Rock Creek Hollow is hallowed ground. His definition of hallow ground is a place where the Savior has walked. The spirit is very strong there. We enjoyed our time there with treks coming in, camping overnight and leaving the next day. We also had visitors that come to visit the site. We had many opportunities to teach and testify this week. We stay in a 25’ camper and of course everything is small in a camper. Although it was a great week, I could hardly wait to get back to Martin’s Cove where my feet wouldn’t hang off the end of the bed. It’s around 1,000 feet higher there. You can see the Windriver mountain range in the distance and they still have snow on them. Therefore the mornings were brisk and cool. I was able to see deer and also flocks of sage hens. They remind me a lot of grouse. They would perch on the benches and picnic tables at night. But of course that means someone is going to have to clean them all the next morning. But all in a day’s work. 
Love you all,
Elder Sigmon

Read on for the longer version:
Before going to Rock Creek Hollow we had what we believe will be our last trek. There were more that week and a few to come over the next couple weeks but they are few and we probably won’t have another one. I could be wrong. But as I looked through pictures for this email it brought on a bunch of emotions realizing these were probably the last photos I will take of the busy trekking time.

1—A river crossing with handcarts and people putting on their water shoes.
2—All the times we have started with a group up into the cove. 
3—A talk by a leader to their group about doing hard things or whatever they felt their group needed to hear. Just doing what the spirit guided them to do and say. There are two places they can do this—Dan W. Jones and Lower Amphitheater. 
4—A picture from my favorite Amphitheater. The Lower one. It is further up to the cove and has shade. It can only hold about 75 people so it won’t accommodate the bigger groups but the view is wonderful. And the hike the rest of the way up the cove isn’t as long so it makes it nice after a break.
5—Meeting awesome people.
6—Handcarts lined up in front of the Trek Center ready to go or leave for Sixth Crossing. This was perfect trekking weather!
7—Trail Charts telling who is coming, how many people, how many vehicles, what time, who is trekking with them, what they need and where.
I must admit it has been a crazy, busy 10 weeks of trekking with all the groups coming in. We actually have a total of 12 weeks but these last 2 weeks are going to be very slow comparatively speaking. For example we only have 2 treks this whole week and next week we only have a few and then they are all done. We don’t even have anyone in the campgrounds any more. They will be staying over at Sixth Crossing or Rock Creek Hollow but not here. It is weird how there really isn’t a transition to the end of the trekking season. It was fast, hard and busy and then like we just stopped.
Now to tell you about Rock Creek Hollow and our week there. Not every couple has the opportunity to serve a week there. There are two couples there at all times starting in July through the beginning of September. One couple comes from Sixth Crossing and their week is Monday to Monday. The other couple comes from Martin’s Cove and they come Thursday to Thursday. So you spend time with 2 different couples during your week. They bring up 2 trailers one for the Sixth Crossing couple and one for the Martin’s Cove couple. Ours was the one on the right.
The Sage hens were cool to see but Elder Sigmon neglected to mention the girls were the ones who ended up cleaning the tables and benches and I must say I don’t like them more than I didn’t like pigeon’s presents! 

The week we were to be there we knew there was a Stake called Pleasant Grove Manila coming with 800 people. The nickname for it was “Monster Manilla.” Talking to the person who did all the coordination and contact person he would have liked it to be known as “Mega Manilla.” Too late Monster Manilla is what stuck. We knew there were a lot of buses and a lot of kids. I was very curious as to how this was all going to be. Luckily they were the only group there and so they had the whole campground to themselves at Rock Creek Hollow.
The other thing we knew was we had a connection to this group. We needed to keep our eye out for a brother to Bishop Sheffield from our ward back home. (Karl served with him as one of his counselors) And also the son of our Home Teachers (Bishop Sheffield’s parents also in our home ward). We had never met him before but knew his name was Allen Sheffield. We asked some of the support people if they knew him and several had no idea who he was but we finally found one gentleman who did and said he would point him out to us.
Support staff came in early and they were very organized! It was so cool to watch. They had a person in charge of making sure the buses knew what to do and where to go. They only had 13 of them to deal with (being sarcastic.) After consulting with us and the best way to handle them it was a matter of making it happen. Here is a picture of them all starting to come in.
There were no kids on the bus just their stuff. The kids were already on the trail with their handcarts going over Rocky Ridge and coming into Rock Creek Hollow. The support staff used handcarts to off load the buses and put them in organized piles according to color so the kids, ma’s and pa’s could set up camp when they made it in for the day.
The first part of the week we were there (Thursday through Saturday) we did not lack for food. We were invited to breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last part of our stay (Tuesday through Thursday) was a little different story. We were invited to one dinner. But they also invited us to their evening fireside and morning devotional which was very nice of them. It was the only devotional we were invited to. Well I shouldn’t say that because Monster Manila invited us but with 800 people all trying to fit into an amphitheater we did not want to cause someone else to have to stand or be able to fit because we were there.
Back to Monster Manila. . .We were able to see Allen and Carrie Sheffield and it was great to meet them. We even ate breakfast together the next morning! The reason I am in what we call “blues” is because after the kids come in off Rocky Ridge their carts are muddy and dirty. We have them take them into camp and unload their stuff and bring the carts back empty so we can pressure wash them and then the handcart wranglers come and load them and take them back around so when the next trek comes to go over Rocky Ridge they have handcarts ready to go. This group had 67 handcarts and I had washed a lot of them!
What we didn’t know was we had one more connection to this group! When the first truck of support staff came in I saw on their name tag “Dan McRae.” Having worked with Sister Scussel and scheduling and trail charts I have become very familiar with people who call in, come in, etc. The contact person for each trek. So I had recognized the name as a contact person so I asked him if he was the Trek Leader which is usually the case of the contact person. He told me “No, no, that’s my son. My wife and I served a mission here last summer at Martin’s Cove and when he had some of his support people have to back out at the last minute my son asked if we would be willing to come. We had to think about it for about 2 seconds and said yes we would love to come and help you. So here we are.”

I didn’t think any more about it and then after meeting Allen and his wife we were over by handcarts and we hear this “Sigmons—Dan McRae from Bernalillo!” We turn around and there is this guy who hasn’t changed and used to live in our ward. He moved from our ward 6 years ago. Unfortunately his wife, Holly, didn’t make it on the trip because she broke her ankle 8 weeks prior. It would have been great to see her but it was so good to see Dan! (Who was the other people’s son! So that was his parents we had met earlier! Crazy!) For those of you who know Dan, he hasn’t changed a bit has he?
We served with the Taylors from Sixth Crossing who happen to live where one of my aunt and uncle’s live in Rancho Cucamonga. And they actually know them and she went to Seminary, High School and one semester of Ricks College with my cousin. Crazy! We ended up calling my aunt and uncle to tell them and my cousin so she could talk to her.
Okay don’t laugh at my clothes. I knew I wasn’t seeing a lot of people and they are functional. (The skirt doesn’t blow up in the wind, lightweight and cool.) The other funny thing is that there isn’t a lot of shady places to hang out at and one day a person walked up as we were sitting in front of this building and asked us if this was our Visitor’s Center. (Actually it is the bathrooms). It still gives us a good laugh.

Here is a picture of me pressure washing some of the handcarts. There are 2 pressure washers and so someone else is also helping and people are taking them after they are cleaned to be loaded into the trucks. This was my last evening of being there and it was the only day I actually had to wear something because it was cool. Usually I was in my short sleeves and grateful for the mist coming from the pressure washer because it was refreshing.
All I can say is there is such a spirit to this place and it is hallowed ground. We loved it! It was busy and we worked but it was quiet in the fact we didn’t have the radio chatter we have at Martin’s Cove and we were in beautiful country. The people who came were changed and touched for being there and it was just a great experience. We enjoyed telling visitors and others the stories of this site and the people who had come through here.

Let me tell you a little bit about Rock Creek Hollow. It pertains to the Willie Handcart Company. When the snow and weather caught them they were near Sixth Crossing. They took refuge in the willows there. When they woke in the morning there was at least 4” of snow and still falling. This was October 19, 1856. It was a few days later when some rescuers met up with them. They left 6 wagons with them and 8 went on to find the Martin Handcart Company and Hunt and Hodgetts Wagon Companies. On the 23rd of October when they woke up the Willie Company faced their hardest day that would test them like no other. They were still 260 miles from Salt Lake City and they needed to cross Rocky Ridge into Rock Creek Hollow. It is about 14 miles with a climb of 600 feet over a distance of about four miles and across a boulder-strewn blockade at the top. The trail continues down a long grade descent and crossed several streams before reaching the camp site. These people were already worn down by hunger and fatigue. They left early in the morning and for some it took 27 hours to get to Rock Creek Hollow. 

They were going through 12-18” of snow and a blizzard as they traveled up Rocky Ridge. One story is of James Kirkwood who was 11 came with his widowed mother, Margaret, and his three brothers. One of his brothers, Thomas, was crippled and had to ride in the handcart. James’ primary responsibility on the trek was to care for his little 5 year old brother, Joseph while his mother and older brother Robert pulled the cart. When little Joseph become too weary to walk, James had no choice but to carry him. Left behind by the main group, James carried Joseph up the hill on his back. When they reached camp James put Joseph down and then collapsed and died from exposure and overexertion. Joseph survived. James is buried in a mass grave at Rock Creek Hollow with 12 others. The next day 2 of those who helped dig the grave died and were buried nearby. There is a memorial there to these 15 people who are buried there. These people sacrificed so much for what they believed and at the same time so many had charity towards others too.

We loved to walk around and look at the campground, Remember Rock, the Memorial, amphitheaters, etc. This was my favorite amphitheater here because from here you could see the tracks of the handcarts coming in on one side and going out on the other. You have to go over a bridge to reach it and the Rock Creek River is right there.
There were also some beautiful sunsets. 
This was another sight we would see as the treks were leaving. This was usually the last stop for most of them and so they were trying to give away the food that was left or it would have to be thrown away. She was just so cute about it I had to take her picture!
The last couple we were with from Sixth Crossing was the McMillians. We also enjoyed our time with them too. We had two great couples to spend time and work with.
While we were at Rock Creek Hollow we missed our people and wondered how everyone was doing. I mentioned to Elder Sigmon this is going to be how we feel when we go home from our mission but we won’t be able to look out a window or see them. So as we drove into our street off the highway called “Avenue of Rocks” I was getting a little sentimental. I told Elder Sigmon “We are home again! But there is going to be a time when we will be going down this road for a last time.” Of course I started to cry. Elder Sigmon just pats my arm and tells me “It will be okay!” Bless his little heart.

But. . .as we drove up into our drive way I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just started saying “Look! Look what Elder Ward did! I love it!” Then I was just laughing. I needed that laugh! It was great!

Before you see the picture I need to do some explaining. When we came they had these signs with our names on them in everyone’s front yard. Well there is a Sister who thought it would be so fun if we would do things to decorate our yards and then have a “yard of the month” sign show up on the cutest or best one that month. She doesn’t know the Sigmon’s very well because I don’t have a lot of small items in my home because then you would have to dust them. I also knew if I had things in my yard I would have to take time to get it or take care of it. Uh No! I knew I would be too busy or too tired to have to worry about it. But every time I drove up I kind of got the feeling it could look like a grave marker. So then I asked our neighbors the Wards who have a little crazy sense of humor if they thought I maybe could get yard of the month if I was able to find a tombstone and put it behind our name sign and write on it “Here Lies” so it was above the Sigmon. I thought it would be hilarious but I just wasn’t sure if other people would think it was funny. If it was around Halloween time I so would have done it but of course it wasn’t. 
So I guess since then Elder Ward had a plan. I put a thought into his head. He had found some wood and glued some pieces together and then cut it out. Then he hid this piece of wood in the woodshop trash can so we wouldn’t see it. While we were at Rock Creek Hollow he pulled it out and patiently and lovingly worked on it. I guess some other people saw it and didn’t think he had a good sense of humor. But he reassured them it is exactly what I would want. And he was so right!!! It is coming home with me!!!!
Isn’t it awesome!!!  We hope you are all doing well and talk to you soon.