Modern pioneers experienceblood poisoning, swamp

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    By SPENCER WARD

    Blood poisoning, a trapped horse and wading through a swamp are just some of the experiences the modern pioneers on the Mormon Trek may have in common with their pioneer ancestors.

    Through a cell phone conversation, modern Mormon Trek pioneer Shauna Dicken shared some of the experiences she and her family have had since they began this trek. The Mormon Trek is a part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley.

    “We’ve had some wonderful experiences, and we’ve had some crying moments,” Dicken said.

    Dicken, of Plymouth, Wash., has been with the Trek since the beginning. She and her four daughters have a wagon and team, but no vehicle back-up.

    “One of my daughters got blood poisoning and had to be taken off the train and to a hospital, and if it had been 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have her anymore. My testimony has really grown,” Dicken said.

    Blood poisoning was just one of the afflictions experienced by the Dicken family on this summer trek. Dicken’s 5-year-old daughter had a 103 temperature for four days. Dicken said she kept going on in the wagon. “She was so sick; she just slept, and I held her,” Dicken said.

    Dicken’s other daughter, while riding on the outrider’s horse, walked into some sagebrush and fell into a hole that was as deep as a horse.

    “She was stuck down in this hole with this horse thrashing around, and it took 11 men to get this horse out, and to get it off my daughter,” Dicken said.

    “And you know why that is, ’cause the general authorities came and gave a blessing to the wagon train. They blessed them from the top of their heads to the tip of their toes,” Dicken said.

    Don LeFevre, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints public affairs department, said Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Elder Joe J. Christensen and Elder Hugh W. Pinnock visited the wagon trail in North Platte, Neb., on May 17.

    According to LeFevre, each of the general authorities spoke to the participants, and then Elder Ballard left a blessing with them in which he said “Heavenly Father, bless them, protect them, walk with them and see them safely into the valley of the Great Salt Lake.”

    Dicken said the general authorities blessed the animals and the walkers. “I’ve seen accident after accident that people should have been critically injured and lost their lives, but everyone’s OK,” Dicken said.

    The reason she got involved with the trek was to better understand her ancestors who made the journey in the second company in 1847. She wanted to be a part of their heritage, and “we certainly have,” Dicken said. Her great-great-grandmother was a midwife who delivered more than 3,700 babies in her life.

    Dicken’s great-grandfather, Perrigrine Sessions, founded Bountiful, the second city in Utah, on Sept. 27, 1847, according to the city records. The Dicken family wanted to see his name, which was carved on a rock at Independence Rock, but Dicken and her daughters encountered a huge swamp in front of the rock.

    “What the heck — I didn’t come all this way to not be a part of his life and to touch that engraving, so my daughters and I took our shoes off and waded through a swamp of a million mosquitoes just so we could touch it,” Dicken said.

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