Sunday, February 8, 2009

Michigan Man Walks the Mormon Battalion Trek Trail

Kevin Hensen and hikers
Mormon Battalion Trek participant Kevin Hensen, left, arrives at Fort Leavenworth with members of Boy Scout Troop 784 from Olathe, Kansas (photo by Prudence Siebert of the Leavenworth Lamp)
based on news articles in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, and The Californian, plus the Mormon Battalion Trek site

The year was 1846, and the Mexican-American War was raging. Brigham Young urged the Mormon men to enlist in a battalion of 500, under the command of the Army of the West. They marched 2000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California, the longest march in military history. The trail was envisioned as a route for supplies, crossing harsh terrain, plains, mountains, deserts, and hostile Indian territory.

July 4, 2008, the Mormon Battalion Trek began-- the first complete re-march of the route. Living history buffs dressed and lived as the original marchers, camping along the way. The hikers reached San Diego this week, on February 2, 194 days later.

Kevin and his wife Denny Hensen, of Midland, Michigan were key among the group who completed the trek. "(The soldiers) impress me more every day," said the 54-year-old Boy Scout leader. Although an experienced hiker, he says that he hadn't really understood the full meaning of embarking on such a long hike. He dressed in clothing that would have been worn in 1846, cooked over an open fire, and walked 12-17 miles a day.

As he walked he saw ruts made by wagons 150 years ago. In the evenings he read entries from the soldiers' journals. And he had studied the history before he ever left home. But, "nobody's ever searched this section in detail," he said. "We've found towns that no longer exist, we see wagon trails and areas where no wagon trails ever existed."

Much of the reason for the hike was to engage with people. Along the way the Hensens have been joined for stretches of various lengths by students, Scouts, tourists, teachers and history enthusiasts.

The trek ended at the southern tip of Anza Borrego State Park earlier this week. Hensen is planning to begin speaking to groups about his hike immediately, with programs scheduled this weekend in California.

See The Mormon Battalion Trek
These links are checked on the date of the article. As the article ages, some links may become invalid

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