Among this rolling wave of humanity were hundreds of poor English and Scandinavian Mormons on foot who had no idea what awaited them in October of 1856 as they pushed and pulled two-wheeled carts with bloody hands ever-onward to Zion and the Valley of the Salt Lake for 1,300 tiresome miles in the ultimate test of their faith.
This was a rut I was grateful to be stuck in one crisp, blue-sky morning in western Wyoming. Standing deep in a trough on a sparsely wooded hill overlooking the North Platte River near the outskirts of Guernsey, I felt the earth rumble as oxen mooed, whips cracked, and covered wagons creaked up the steep rutted incline hauling heavy loads of the essentials, and the trivial. Hardened women in bonnets and long skirts followed coughing in the dust, and men in hats on horses yelled at their livestock and encouraged children and the old staggering to keep pace.
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