I really hope these past two weeks have been helpful or interesting to someone out there. At the very least, I enjoyed sharing my trek experience with you! To end with, I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts on tips on having an awesome trek.
Prepare Physically: Okay, it's "state the obvious" time, trek is hard. Going into I thought, "this won't be a big deal, I'm used to walking while pushing the double stroller (with kids it weighs about 60 pounds or so) up and down our neighborhood hills." And even though, as a Ma, I barely even pushed the handcart, it was still really exhausting! I think it had something to do with the duration of it all. At home when I walk with the kids I'm done in anything from 20 minutes (if I just do a 1 mile loop), to about 3 hours (if I do a 5 1/2 mile round trip and stop for lunch at Subway). Then I can relax in my air conditioned house and sit while I fold laundry, or take breaks in between doing other chores. But when you're on trek, you're in the hot sun all day, and the walking is stretched out and you can't even fully relax when you are taking a break from walking because you only have a backless bucket to sit on, and there probably isn't any shade left to cool off in anyway!
Prepare Spiritually: This is really as much of a spiritual trek as a physical one; PLUS you're supposed to be helping your kids to have a spiritual experience too! So much pressure, right? :) The Ma's and Pa's in our Stake had SIX meetings prior to trek, one a month. At first it seemed like a little overkill, but not only did those meetings help us be prepared in other ways, they shared great stories and experiences from real pioneers that really helped us to feel the spirit. I only read one book to help prepare, I Walked to Zion by Susan Madsen, but it was a good one and I really recommend it. It also provided a great base for our devotionals we had to plan.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words: Don't forget your camera (maybe even a video camera!) and take pictures of everything! At one point I said to my four daughters, "I'm surprised none of you brought cameras." Almost simultaneously they all said, "we didn't think we could". So sad! For most people this will be a once in a lifetime experience, you're going to want it on film! I told all my kids that if they gave me their emails I would send them some photos; so keep in mind you might not just be taking pictures for yourself, but for your whole family to remember this experience for years to come! The hubby and I are also so glad we brought our small video camera, it was so fun taking video on the trek and asking our kids questions about what they were experiencing.
It's Sew Simple: Remember when I shared my travel first aid kit? Well, Thankfully, and as I figured, I never had to use any first aid items for my family, we were very lucky. But I did use my sewing stuff! On the very first day a fellow mom told me she had lost a button, my needle and thread came to the rescue and I thought, "how funny, I thought for sure I wouldn't need that". Then the second day one of my girls ripped her apron and I was able to help out again! I kind of chuckled to myself about being prepared... and then ripped my apron the last day! I was so glad I brought some sewing stuff, and it didn't take up any extra room.
Yes, that's dust in the air. It was disgusting.
Baby Wipes, Not Just for Your Baby's Bum: I know every trek trail is different, but ours was DUSTY. We were filthy and I was so thankful I had brought facial wipes and a thick stack of baby wipes because they definitely came in handy. A bandanna to cover your face while walking was also nice.
Be Comfortable: I already mentioned about making sure your clothing is comfortable, but obviously you wan to make sure your shoes are comfortable too. I couldn't decide if I wanted to wear my hiking boots, which I've had since 8th grade (I guess my feet haven't grown in 15 years) and were definitely broken in and sturdy; or my running shoes, because they were so lightweight and I knew my feet were really use to them. I decided the day before to take my running shoes and I was so glad. Sure, by the end of each day my feet were a little sore, but they were better by the next morning and I never got a blister! Two other extra comforts I really recommend have to do with your 5 gallon bucket-bring a small cushion for seating on, and invest in a screw top lid. The people that just had the regular pry top lids for their buckets were so annoyed with them by the end of trek because they are so hard to get on and off! Lastly, if I ever went on trek again I would definitely bring a small spray bottle. There was a man on the medical staff that would walk around and spritz people with water and it was fabulous when you were hot and dusty to get some water squirted on your face, then a breeze would kick up and you'd be in heaven...