Hikers to retrace Mormon pioneers' first steps in Salt Lake Valley
The First Encampment Celebration hike is a relaxed family affair and fun for those who want to get a feel for what it was like for the original Mormon pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley.
Oh, yeah, there's a pancake breakfast, too.
On July 22, 1847, about 100 pioneers camped in tall grass near Parleys Creek at what today is 1700 South and 500 East. (Brigham Young's contingent followed two days later.)
The spot has been many things through the years, but leading up to the sesquicentennial celebration in 1997 of the Mormons' arrival, it was transformed into First Encampment Park, said Jeff Bair, chairman of the Liberty Wells Community Council. Large rocks symbolize the Wasatch Mountains and have chiseled upon them the names of the Latter-day Saints in that pioneer group.
Since then, a celebratory breakfast has been held in advance of the annual July 24 Days of '47 festivities.
This year the First Encampment affair is slated for Saturday. The optional hike begins at 7 a.m. at Donner Park (2770 E. and 990 South, east of Hogle Zoo) and ends at First Encampment Park, according to organizer Kathy Izatt. The breakfast follows from 8 to 10 a.m.
The hike is five miles long. Participants are urged to bring water and arrange transportation at the hike's end. The route provides for a slightly downhill walk that's geared for families, Izatt said.
Wagons and strollers for children are welcome. But no bicycles, skateboards or scooters are allowed. Participants are welcome to dress in period costume.
"It's just a leisurely walk to trace the footsteps and imagine what it was like for the early pioneers," Izatt said. "It's a good reminder of what it took for them to walk across the country."
At First Encampment Park, the celebration will include a flapjack breakfast ($3) made from a recipe similar to that used by the pioneers, Bair said.
Vendors will be at the park, along with information booths, he said, including a family history station for those interested in their own pioneer heritage. Tours of the recently restored Wilford Woodruff farmhouse near the park will be available.
Story tellers will be on hand with yarns from yesteryear along with demonstrations of pioneer implements.
"We wanted a celebration where people could get to know each other," Bair said. "We want families to come and hang out and have breakfast."