Day 8 Martins Cove to Sweetwater Station
53 Miles

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The kids were so tired and sleeping so hard that I let them sleep in until 6:30 this morning. It was very cool so that was easy to do. Big mistake. As soon as the sun came up the temperature climbed very rapidly. We were on the road by 8:10. We rode hard and about 8:30 a head wind came up. Now it was hot and we had a head wind both. I was mad I had let them sleep in. It took us until 9:30 to get the 10 miles to Muddy Gap where we bought crackers and soup and refilled our water bottles. The little store at Muddy Gap is a pretty good store. Then it was back on the road and up a steep hill. The direction of the road changed and the headwind was now a tail wind so of course it quit blowing shortly thereafter. We made it to Jeffery City by 12:30 and stopped at the only business still open, the Cafe/Bar. We ordered lunch and were on the road again. We arrived at Sixth Crossing (Sweet Water Station) at 4:15 and visited with the missionaries there until 5:30. As the old Riverside Campground is listed as a resource on the Adventure Cycling Trans America bicycle maps they get a lot of bicycle tourists stopping in. They gave us ice cream on a stick and invited us to dinner. We set up the tent and cleaned up for dinner which proved to be wonderful. Every evening at 6:00 the missionaries all bring a dish and have a pot luck dinner together in the main house. We had spanish rice, two types of chili relleno casserole, eggplant casserole, sliced cucumbers in vinegar, sliced tomatoes, fried zucchini and a vegetable tray. They invited us to fill our plates first. We were nice and didn't take it all (bicycle tourists can have a huge appetite) but after everyone else had served themselves we went back for more. After dinner they brought out this wonderful peach pie for dessert. They said they treat all the bicycle tourists who stop in like this. Now that is what I call missionary work. Free camping with good cold running water and flush toilets, free ice cream and a free home cooked meal is probably making a lot good memories with bicycle tourists this summer. When there aren't so many couples working there they even offer an empty trailer which has beds and a shower. After dinner most of the men went off fishing. Spencer went with them and caught his first fish, a nice 13 inch trout. Rhielle and I rinsed out some clothes and laid them out to dry and went to bed.

Last year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints bought the ranch on the east side of the Sweetwater River. This ranch has the site of the sixth crossing of the Sweetwater river on it. This is where the Willie handcart Company ran out of food and was camped when Capt. Willie went to look for the help he knew should be on its way. The company had been out of food for two days and camped in a blizzard with a foot of snow on the ground when help arrived. The church is planning to build a visitors center dealing with the Willie company on the bluff overlooking the site. They also purchased the Riverside Campground as a site for missionary couples to live who support the activities in the area. This is similar to the way the 66 ranch headquarters is used at Martins Cove. Just as at Martins Cove they let others camp for free but the campground is not currently large enough to handle crowds. The campground is on a sizable piece of land so they can easily make it larger when they need to. They have handcarts and porta potty/water trailers to support youth handcart treks and a large parking lot to stage the treks from. Some of the missionaries are there to support the handcart treks and the rest are there to fix up/build the facility. This place reminds me of the early days of Martins Cove. I think that the Sixth Crossing will end up supporting huge numbers of youth handcart treks because from this site you get the chance to pull over Rocky Ridge and that pull is as hard today as it was in 1856 when the first handcarts went over it.

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Copyright Clarence Whetten 2001