A Southern-style trek in the North Georgia mountains

Pioneer treks by youth have become a summer tradition in the American West. The sight of young Latter-day Saints divided into "families" with an assigned Ma and Pa maneuvering through the dry heat and rocky terrain of the Mountain States is now downright commonplace.

Meanwhile, most would not consider the Deep South a hotbed of handcart activity. Besides the region's lack of connection, geographically and historically, with the great Mormon migration, there are other potentially discouraging factors: The heat becomes unbearably humid; the terrain, though not desert-like, presents its own challenges: low-lying tree branches, giant insects and mile after mile of kudzu, "the vine that ate the South."

Those unique challenges make what more than 170 youth of the Lilburn Georgia Stake did that much more impressive. Dressed in pioneer clothing and bereft of technology, they trekked from June 17-19 through mountainous terrain near Cornelia, Ga., some 80 miles northeast of Atlanta. In the upper Chattahoochee River Plateau, Cornelia is located in an area of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Doug and Kim Martin, members of the Cornelia Ward, Athens Georgia Stake, allowed the youth to use their 460-acre property as the trek site.

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