Crossing of the Sweetwater

The first time I ever went to Martin’s Cove was Memorial Day weekend of 2007. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. I had heard as a kid the story of the 3 young men who carried many people across the river at this crossing. Because of the difficulty of crossing the North Platte near present day Casper, WY, many of the people just did not feel that they could cross the ice-laden stream. Crossing the river at this location and trying to imagine what it must have been like was a truly moving experience for me, but after having left the river I had one regret: I wish that I had carried someone across the river! I truly wanted to have even the slightest glimpse of what it might have been like to have carried someone across the water on that day–to have risked my life to save another’s. But, the moment had passed before I realized that I would like to have done this and the opportunity was gone. I can’t even tell how much I was looking forward to my next adventure at Martin’s cove the next summer. We again went on Memorial Day weekend, but this time I had recently had my appendix out and was still very much in recovery mode. However, I had been released from any lifting restrictions and was determined to carry out my goal of experiencing the crossing of the Sweetwater as one of the “rescuers.” But, in the days before we arrived, there had been much rain and the river was high. In fact, so much rain had come that the trails were covered with water in many places and had even washed out in some others. Nevertheless, I still held out hope that we could cross the river. When we arrived at the location of the crossing, we determined that it was too dangerously high to cross and many of us were saddened that we would not be able to participate in this activity at all. I was even more disappointed that once more I would miss my opportunity to carry someone across the river.  I figured that I had missed my chance and was a bit downtrodden, but there was nothing that could be done about it so I quickly moved on to enjoying the other experiences at the Cove. I figured I’d probably never again get to go to Martin’s Cove–twice in a lifetime is more opportunities to go there than most get. At any rate, soon after I moved out to Nebraska, I was called to be the Branch Young Men’s President and was thrilled to find out that we would be doing a trek at Martin’s Cove for youth conference. I anticipated the trek for the whole year and was so excited to be once again at Martin’s cove (the third year in a row!). I was bound and determined that I was going to carry someone across the Sweetwater this time and couldn’t wait to be there at the crossing, though I enjoyed many of the other experiences very much. Finally, the time arrived! I was so excited I could hardly stand it. As the crossing progressed, I asked if I could carry someone across the river.  In disbelief, I accepted the reply to my question that could be summed up that they really only wanted the people whose characters were rescuers to carry people across the river.  Kudos to them for trying to keep the reenactment as true to history as possible!  But, despite feeling I must do as instructed, I was heartbroken.  After the two previous years of wanting to experience this and feeling like I now had the perfect opportunity, I was not going to be able to after all.  I turned away and tried to keep my disappointment from showing, though I doubt I did a very good job.  I had no desire to show off or anything like that, but truly hoped in my heart that I would have been like those young men and would have been in the river helping others cross.  I wanted to feel a little bit of what that would be like.  I waited until nearly the last of the people had crossed the river and prepared to cross carrying only my heavy heart.  However, I think that Sis. Sillivan sensed that I more disappointed about not being able to carry someone across the river than I was letting on and as we got to the edge of the water, she said to me that she thought John Stewart (whom I was representing) would have carried his wife across the river.  So I carried her across the river.  I can’t even say how excited I was to finally have this chance to do what I had longed to do for nearly three years!  I’m sure I was beaming from ear to ear as I carefully carried her across the river.  (My elation was verified later when I saw a picture of it and I was all smiles.)  I finally got a glimpse of what it would have been like!   Sure the water was not that cold–there was certainly no ice floating in the water and there was no blizzard; but I realized that it would have taken a great deal of love to have sacrificed in the way that those young men did.  I was elated!  The rest of the day passed without much distinction; I had fulfilled the goal of carrying someone across the Sweetwater.  I felt the Spirit so strongly as I carried Sis. Sillivan across the river.  I’ll never forget that moment and how it touched my heart and made me feel like I truly would have been willing to carry those who could not cross over to the other side.


One Response to “Crossing of the Sweetwater”

  1. Leigh Says:

    What a sweet story!! I’m so glad you were able to fulfill you goal of carrying someone across the river. How awesome that Sister Sillivan was in tune enough to realize your disappointment and allow you to carry her. What a sweet woman! I’m so jealous you’ve been able to visit Martin’s Cove THREE times!!! What an awesome experience!!

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