Participants in the three day reenactment of the Mormon trek to Salt Lake City walk into the headquarters of the Empire Ranch February 24. Photo by Alison Bunting

Over 190 youth from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Tucson South Stake) spent four days of their school break re-enacting a Mormon pioneer trek on Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA). Between 1856 and 1860, several thousand Mormons, who could not afford to join wagon trains to travel to Salt Lake City, made the 1,100-mile trip on foot pulling handcarts carrying their belongings.

The trek re-enactment allows participants to experience the hardships and challenges encountered by their ancestors. Dressed in period clothing, the youth pulled handcarts between four LCNCA locations (Cieneguita, Ag Fields, Airstrip, and Empire Ranch
Headquarters), traveling more than 23 miles on foot and camping in below freezing temperatures. The trek ended at Empire Ranch Headquarters where they added cement blocks carried in the handcarts to a “temple” structure. They were greeted with cheers and applause from their enthusiastic families and friends and enjoyed in a celebratory lunch before returning home.