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Hell no. We may be a ragtag bunch, but we are compassionate and committed.


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From the moment I joined this community, I understood that the expectation was to give back, whether through trail work, guided running for visually impaired athletes, or simply picking up garbage left behind by others. Advertising these good deeds was certainly not required, and it was maybe even discouraged. Modesty has always been valued more in this sport than self-congratulation. Could this be hurting our reputation amongst the outdoor sports community?

But if this were a pissing contest, Peruzzi himself seems to think we would win. The definition of a parasite is something that exists by taking from or depending on something else. I am a trail running parasite : I truly rely on the trails to exist. I will do this by working alongside my trail running companions, and learning from my mountain biking colleagues. The only way to make progress on these issues is to band together, not drive each other apart. See you out on the trail. Health Running. Better to join forces with other athletes to improve common lands than to engage in competition over who is doing the most work.

Stephanie Case. Jun 4, Facebook Icon. Twitter Icon.

Beyond the Trail – Six Short Stories by Jae

See More. Food supplies would inevitably become low and water scarce.

A bone-wrenching weariness would set in as the miseries mounted. The U.

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But as the emigrants pushed overland, many lost sight of the vision that had set them going. The weight of hardship piled on hardship was enough, on occasion, to make men and women break down and cry, and perhaps even turn back. Yet most travelers summoned up reserves of courage and kept going.

They endured every hardship from a mule kick in the shins to cholera. The ones who got through usually did so because of sheer determination. The Applegate train began to assemble in late April, the best time to get rolling. The date of departure had to be selected with care. If they began the more than 2,mile journey too early in the spring, there would not be enough grass on the prairie to keep the livestock strong enough to travel.

Animals would begin to sicken, slowing up the train. Such slowdowns would often throw off the schedule and sometimes cause major problems down the road.

Beyond the Trail

If they waited too long they might later be trapped in the mountains by early winter storms. Over the years, other wagon trains used Westport, Leavenworth and St. Joseph as jumping-off points. The Applegate train used Independence, pre-eminent since as an outfitting center. Since the majority of emigrants were farmers with families, they often chose Murphy farm wagons as their chief means of transport. The heavier the wagon, the more likely it would bog down in mud or cause the team to break down. Frames of hickory bows supported the cloth tops, which protected pioneers from rain and sun.

The rear wheels were 5 or 6 feet in diameter, but the front wheels were 4 feet or less so that they would not jam against the wagon body on sharp turns. Metal parts were kept to a minimum because of the weight, but the tires were made of iron to hold the wheels together and to protect the wooden rims.


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  • The rims and spokes would still sometimes crack and split, of course, and in the dry air of the Great Plains, they were also likely to shrink, which eventually caused the iron tires to slip off. In fact, when rivers were too deep to be forded and there was no timber to build rafts, the travelers would remove the wheels and float the wagons across.

    Once he had selected a wagon or two, the pioneer next had to decide on his draft animals. Most emigrants, including Captain Burnett, swore by oxen. Their cloven hoofs tended to splinter on mountain rocks, and oxen could only do about 15 miles a day, while mules did Prosperous families usually took two or more wagons because the typical wagon did not have a large carrying capacity. After flour sacks, food, furniture, clothes and farm equipment were piled on, not much space remained. Space was so limited that, except in terrible weather, most travelers cooked, ate and slept outside.

    The members of the Applegate train often killed buffalo and antelope, but a more dependable supply of meat was the herd of cattle led behind the wagons. Once the wagons were loaded, the animals gathered and the emigrants reasonably organized, Captain Peter Burnett finally gave the signal for the Applegates and the others to move out.

    The train included nearly 1, persons of both sexes, more than wagons, oxen and nearly loose cattle. The Great Emigration of had begun. Out on the plains in the middle of May, the grass was luxuriant and the wildflowers out in force. The spring storms were often startling in their power. The first miles were a hubbub.

    Ill-broken oxen and reluctant mules either bolted or sulked in harness, entangled themselves in picket ropes or escaped entirely and sped back to the starting point. When not busy rounding up livestock, the exuberant males of the party quarreled over firewood and water holes and raced for preferred positions in line. Still, for the most part, the travelers had it relatively easy during the first few weeks on the trail as they headed northwest toward Nebraska and the Platte River.

    Despite the occasional thunderstorm, the weather was usually pleasant. It was a good time to learn to handle a prairie schooner. This corral of the plains was made the night before by parking the wagons in a circle. The rear wagon was connected with the wagon in front by its tongue and ox chains.

    It was strong enough to keep the oxen from breaking out, and also served as a barricade in case of Indian attack. Promptly at seven the bugle sounded, and the wagon train was on its way. Women and children often walked beside the trail, gathering wild flowers and odd-looking stones. Boys and young men on horseback kept the loose stock from straying too far, as they trailed along behind the wagons.

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    Oxen were turned loose with their yokes on, so they might graze and rest. Sometimes the officers of the train got together at noon to consider the case of someone who had violated the rules or had committed a crime. He was given a fair trial and, if found guilty, was sentenced according to the nature of his offense. All through the afternoon the oxen plodded, and when the wagons arrived at the spot chosen by the guide as a camping place, preparations were made to spend the night.

    Livestock were driven out to pasture, tents were pitched, fires built, and supper was on its way. Perhaps hunters came in with choice parts of buffalo or antelope, and everyone enjoyed a feast. Some of the young folk danced to the music of the fiddle or accordion, while those more serious minded sang their favorite songs, some religious, some sentimental.

    But youth was not to be denied, the trek was a great adventure, and life stretched far ahead. Many a troth was plighted at the impromptu gatherings along the trail, beside a dim campfire. Various companies took turns at guard duty, one night out of three. Some slept in tents, some in wagons, some on the ground, under the stars. Usually their sleep was undisturbed save perhaps by the sharp yelp of a coyote on a nearby hill, and the challenging bark of the camp dogs.

    The prairie schooners crossed the Big Blue, a tributary of the Kansas River, about two weeks out of Independence. The trail then swung up into Nebraska, where it ran along the south bank of the Platte River. The emigrants marveled at the Great Plains.

    Still, few travelers found reason to complain about the buffalo. The animals were a source of meat, and buffalo chips were a valuable source of fuel on the treeless plains. Trouble with the Indians was rare, especially in the s, when Indians usually provided information about the trail ahead and were sometimes even hired as guides. Indians on their pinto ponies, some of these dragging laden travois, trailed by, gazing curiously at the ox-drawn wagons.

    They often stopped to swap buffalo robes and buckskin moccasins, fringed shirts and leggings for tobacco, ironware and worn-out clothing. Precautions were still taken. At each stop, the wagons were drawn up into a corral.