Letters from the Mormon Trail


  Note from Pat:The following email letters have begun to arrive at greatriver.com by email and we want to post them for your enjoyment. Kimberly, her daughter Rebekah, and perhaps a son, are currently walking the Mormon Trail from Utah to Nauvoo, IL, a distance of close to 1000 miles! I may not have all these details correct, but will update both the letters and the info as it comes to me. Kimberly mentions the wind. Many letters from early settlers spoke of the constant wind of the open plains being enough to drive one crazy. If it seems like a difficult journey today, imagine doing it 150 years ago (when there was no Super Glue) !    

Subject: Re: The Pioneers are HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello to you all, We are safe at home and finally getting some long awaited rest. We were all so very exhausted when we reached the Salt Lake Valley. This trek was the hardest thing any of us has ever done. We look back on it as the greatest experience of our lives, but do not forget all the challenges and struggles. We still feel very honored that we were able to participate in such a fantastic experience. We feel we have been blessed so much by our sacrafices. Yes we would do it again, in a heart beat. We would change some things. We would travel lighter.

We have realized what we really need and what we want are very different. We are trying to bring that one lesson into our lives here at home. We are eliminating some of the stuff. We were very happy and content on the prarie. We found out how much simpler life can be when you scale down. We found out that life is so full of new experiences, everyday, around every corner. We found out being tied down to organizing and reorganizing our stuff took more time than we wanted to take.

We all had some special personal experiences and we will never forget them. We miss our new friends SO VERY MUCH. Yesterday we recieved in the mail a list of all the addresses of those who were with us from Omaha to Salt Lake City. It was so fun looking over the list and seeing that it is possible to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones. There was a grieving process that we all shared when the trek was over and we left eachother to go back to our lives.

If I listed all we did and all that we learned this letter would go on forever. I have learned it is best to have people ask questions and answer them for them.

If you write us back we will be happy to answer anything you have to ask.

We are slowly adjusting to life in a home. The vacumning and mopping of floors is an adjustment. Along with cleaning our own bathroom. Out on the plains our port a potties were cleaned for us. The adjustment to having clean laundry each day was an easy one. The dishwasher is very appreciated. The refrigerator/and air conditioning (temperatures last week between 112*116) are a very welcome addition to our lives. Showers every day are wonderful, we got in the habit of going on and on without them. It was a luxury that was relished and enjoyed every drop, even when they were cold water. We all will agree that we welcome not having to make the constant TICK check-up.

We were very blessed NO snakes in our camp EVER, No serious accidents or illnesses. I did brake my left thumb (I am lefthanded) it could have been worse like my leg, but we did survive that too. We did have a lot of illness in the early months. I had my herbs and we had friends who held the priesthood of God to administer blessings of healing upon us.

Well it's back to unpacking something that I may never finish. We have started back in school fulltime and that is consuming most of my days.

Again we thank you all for all of your love and support and prayers, and letters and goodies. For those of you who sponsored us with money and food we really are grateful. Your help made things much easier and more enjoyable.

Kimberly, Arianna, Jeremiah, Rebekah, and Orrin David Herterich

Mid-June, 1997

To everyone (from Dave H.):
I had a opportunity to visit with Kimberly and the children about two weeks ago. Everyone is doing just fine. They are sunbrned and blisters on blisters. They walk an average of five to thirty miles a day. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it myself. Bugs everywhere flying, crawling and in large numbers. The trekies have about four more weeks to go before they arrive in SLC. I plan to join them there and we will spend about three days in the city taking part in the different events. They have about eight days in the wilderness with no fuel or food stops (they have plenty of food). As you might guess there are snakes along the way (Orrin hates snakes). When I walked with the group we saw two rattlesnakes. Kimberly has reported more since I left the group. They are looking forward to coming home. They miss and love you all.

Early May, 1997 Hello,

  I am typing this with six bandaged fingers. My fingers keep spllitting from the cold and wind. All we feel anymore is wind and wind and more wind. At least it is better than rain, or snow for that matter. We have had a few sunny days and it is so welcome.

I have been able to dry out almost everything. We have been blessed so much for we are safe at night in the tent. We are pretty cold but the wind and rain stay outside. I have never had my life be so effected by the weather/ It really changes from minute to minute. It is so different from what we are used to. We can have sun and be getting sunburned, then almost the next minute Be feeling chilly from the wind.

  On Sunday night it was so beautiful, actually it was early Monday morning about one a.m. I was awakened by a crash of thunder. I then saw lightning flash. I jumped up out of my warm bed snuggled in the tent between the children ( I can't sleep in a sleeping bag to confining) I just lay on it and cover with blankets. Anyway I opened the tent and saw a clear sky with bolts of lightening flashing. The thunder was not very loud but it was there. Now had I been home I would have crawled down into my blankets and covered my ears.

  These storms have always scared me. Instead I ran out and grabbed my shoes and started putting our things into our utility trailer we pull behind our truck. I was so concerned about sudden rain I didn't have time to get scared. I was hurrying when I felt a drop of rain. I called into the tent for Arianna and Jeremiah to come out and help me. A fellow walker heard me and came over and asked if she could help. She too had woke up and moved all her belongings into her car where she would sleep until morning. Between the four of us we had the trailer packed up and the tarp covered and tied down really fast. They all left and I just stood there looking into the sky and thanking Heavenly Father for the beauty of the sky. We then got back under cover waiting for rain. I guess it was just a dry storm, rain never came.

I never was scared, only amazed at what I did without even taking time to be afraid. The next morning I had to unpack most everything and start all over. That was o.k. because I did sleep better knowing everything was covered in case of rain.

A week ago the rain was comming down so bad the tent just fell over and filled with water. We were blessed with a huge house to sleep in. It seemed to have bedrooms everywhere. The owner was remodeling so there was no kitchen and no bathroom. It was safe and dry, it had heat and electricity. It filled up so fast that Rebekah and I slept in the truck.

I was awakened by hard rain and wind like I never knew,. I prayed and prayed that the top would not come off the truck. I was just imagining the top flying off and Rebekah and I laying there in the rain with all of our things blowing everywhere. When I woke up in the morning the wind was gone and the rain was gone too.

I was so grateful. It is so hard to get up to rain and wind. You know you have to but you don't want to. Oh, to sleep just a little longer. It is amazing though when you get up and start moving around you warm up a little, and you get busy and distracted. The other night I went to bed with cold feet and woke up with cold feet. Sometimes you just stay c old for a long time. You are so busy you don't dwell on it until you stop. So to distract yourself you get busy again.

I know this letter is jumbled. I am crying as I am writing it. I am so amazed that I can send this. I am on a lap top at a Geneology booth set up here at this camp in Gibbon Nebraska. At night people come here and look at the computers and find ancestors., It is a great tool for missionary work. A missionary let me use his lap top. He will go home tonight and mail it. You can send mail back to us. He will bring it to us along the trail. He said, people have sent mail but he never gets mail back. So go ahead and write to me. Tomorrow we go to Kearny, and on Thursday we hope we get some mail. That is the first day we put On our address card we passed out.

  We are all fine, except Orrin has a cold, and cough. We are Doctoring him the best we can. He just runs and runs and the cold cold wind And rain, just keep blowing. He is finding out to listen to me and not take his layers off. He hates wearing more than one shirt, and will not wrap in a wool blanket, to confining. Anyway this sunshine is helping.  

We miss you all, but sorry not enough to come home. We are here to stay. We are very happy and busy, and very very tired. Well enough I still have to go set up camp and fix dinner. We love you all.   P.S. Please forward a copy of this to everybody in the address book.  


Date: Sat, 17 May 97 22:42:20 PDT


Well some things have changed. I am back on the trail again. It has been very hard but with help from the children I have been able to do it. We have decided that the harder we work, the more we are using our faith. We have to pray for more help and keep praying and listen for answers. Like today when I drove ahead before we started walking. I followed a horse trailer and after awhile they stopped and asked me if I was following them, I said yes. Then they told me that they were lost. Now the bus was going to pick people up at the campsite and take Them back for the walk and parade we had planned for North Platte. Well There I was lost again in Nebraska.  

This has become a common occurance. With the trail going down farm roads and different campsites I have been lost more than once. Anyway I prayed for help and saw a gentleman walking down the street, he helped me get to where I needed to go. Then when I finally got to the camp of course the bus had left. I was concerned that the children would wonder where I was and wait for me and not go on with the walk. I prayed and prayed and all was well. I found a young guy, a friend of Arianna's. He was more than happy to drive me to where the wagon train was. He did and I was on the trail again with my children who were not worried but knew all was well.  

We really had a great time today. Elder Holland, Elder Ballard, Elder Pinnock, and Elder Strobel, and Elder Stoddard, were all with us on the trail today. I was able to shake Elder Holland's hand and thank him for the wonderful talk at conference about MOTHER"S. He was so excited about all we are doing. I had washed my hair in a bowl and was wearing the same dress I walked in yesterday. I was quite the sight. Anyway the spirit was so strong today/. We Were all given an apostolic blessing, the entire wagon train. Then there Were three men called as a presidency over the wagon train. One of the counselors is our Hand Cart captain.  

The weather continues to confuse us. We were so hot when we got Into camp, completely clear skies and hot hot sun,. Then just about an Hour ago, the wind started and it began to rain. We were just starting dinner. The trailer was all oncovered and the clothes were drying on a line after the children had gone swimming in the North Platte River today. Well there we were in another panic of weather and making a shelter. We quickly took down the tarp we had used for shade. It was blowing all over and was going to come down anyway. We covered the trailer and took down the laundry. We crawled under the table and covered it and made some Top Ramen for dinner. It was really interesting all huddled and trying to get something to eat. We were starving. We did it and now the sun is shining and the clouds are scattered. I am In a trailer typing this on the missionaries lap top. He is so great to do this.

  We are all hanging in here. Today a couple that took us in on the First two nights came all the way to see us. They sought us out here in Our campsite. We were so excited to see them. They traveled 300 miles To see how we were. Of course Donna has a sister, so the trip was for Two reasons. It was so wonderful to see a face that was so friendly and We knew. We see many smiling people and lots of pictures are taken Every day. We see lots of children happy and excited. But to see a familiar face from out there in the world, well I just can't describe how it feels. It is similar to the feeling of getting mail. It is so wonderful and we are loving it when we get mail. If any of you are going to send mail please send it to MORMON TRAIL WAGON TRAIN HERTERICH FAMILY then the city and state and zipcode. We have found out that additional information.

  My finger tips are doing much better. I am trying to drink more water and I have superglue to seal them with. Can you believe superglue is the only thing that works with the type of cracked fingers I have. I had all but three wrapped in bandages a few days ago.  

Speaking of a few days ago, back a couple towns ago we were all Organized into groups of 50 and 10. I was really impressed with this, I have Being a lone mom with only my Heavenly Father to call on in times of need. I didn't want to bother anyone else and I didn't want to be a burden, everyone is so busy and I don't want to add to that. Well now I have a captain, he came to us and told us to make sure we call on him. He is the one who told me about the superglue.  

We women and young women even have been divided into smaller groups with other sisters as leaders. I think that is what helped me get back on the trail. I have a couple people comming to me and asking to help. I feel less alone and my burdens are lighter. We are still struggling with this cold, mine went into bronchitis. It is the drastic weather changes I think. We are going to keep at it. We are going to have some hard times ahead no towns for miles. That means no parks with trees to shade us. I am so grateful for my tarps and poles. Not only did we have shade today we were able to take the poles we didn't need and go make shade for another tent.  

I don't know what you are wondering. Somewhere we were asked what we do for fun. Well we work pretty hard setting up and breaking down camp, then walking takes a lot out of us. But we do take time for fun. Jeremiah tries to finish his chores quickly so he can challenge other children to UNO games. Today they went swimming in the North Platte river. A couple days ago some of us drove to a nearby lake and Went swimming. Arianna got thrown in and Rebekah and Orrin just jumped in and they had so much fun/. Jeremiah video taped from the shore. We do visit a lot and write in journals. We have some time but not much for writing letters. We are eating pretty well, dinners of spaghetti, chicken a la king, lots of soup, pancakes. Breakfast and lunch are peanut butter sandwiches. Amazing we aren't getting sick of them yet.  

Well the battery on this laptop is almost gone. Until another time.  

Signing off in North Platte Nebraska 5-17-97  

Kimberly and family          

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