Our Huff Wagon Train Diary
Thursday , January 6, 2005

Hueco Tanks to Cierro Alto

Excerpt from Huff's Diary, Thursday, July 12, 1849: For the distance of six miles we wound down this rock-bound and granite-walled canyon, now winding around a huge block of granite, now holding on to a wagon to keep it from sliding in every zigzag direction that it was possible to follow. The thumping and rumbling noise made by the wagons passing over the rough blocks of granite produces a noise or sound reverberated from cliff to cliff a hundred fold greater than it would have in an open plain. At one time the reverberating noise would seem as if a wagon had actually smashed or crashed to pieces. At another the sound was distant deep and hollow and then it would vault or wing from height to height till lost in the rocky sides and steeps of the Sierra Alto Mountain. In fine this canyon or pass was the roughest, rockiest, and the most forbidding pass way that I had ever seen in all my life.

From Angela, Ashley, Katie, Megan, Tony

When we woke up this morning, there was frost on our sleeping bags, tents and cots! It was 23 degrees!! We were woken by Tim who was yelling, "Roll out!" We found out he was in the Army. Our breakfast was oatmeal and hot chocolate. We had to eat fast so it wouldn't get cold. We sat down and there was a cup with frozen punch on the table and the table had frost, too. It was hard to eat. After breakfast we got hand-warmers. They worked and even this evening they still work.

It was an exciting day. It was the first time we got to ride in the wagon in the mountains -- on Huff's trail. It was desert-y. There were a lot of hills, rocks and cactus. There were no roads or stores or even houses there.

Most of us rode a wagon, but some walked. It was hard to keep up with the wagon because of the terrain. The mules were pretty fast. The trail was rocky, bumpy and hard for the mules. The mules were sweating. Ashley, Katie, Megan and Tony got to drive the mules today. It was hard and fun. We had to shake the reins to get the mules started. It was hard to control the wagons because we went over big rocks and plants. There were also holes in the trail. When we went to turn sometimes one of the wheels would go into a hole.

We went over really steep hills on this trail. The punch fell over in one of the wagons. Mikaela went sliding on that same hill and Tony put his arm in front of her so she wouldn't fall. It was fun!!

Then we stopped for lunch. After we ate, Mr. Jackson who let us cross his land, showed us the carvings high up on a cliff. The carvings were someone's initials and the date 3-17-29. He said that even though it was really high, that the land was once that high. When it rained a lot, the water rushed down and washed the land away. Now you can see layers of rock and the carvings were about 23 feet high (maybe).

Some of our "outriders" that are going along with us are Buffalo Soldiers. They are really helpful. They tell us when we are doing something wrong. They are in the front and back and help choose the route and which way is the safest. They also warn the wagon drivers if there is a hole up ahead.

When we got to camp, we saw dogs that looked like wolves. We ate and had a fire and made s' mores. We are going to sleep in one big tent tonight. It's separated in the middle with the boys on one side and the girls on the other. We also have a heater-stove tonight in each tent! We're making new friends and talking more.

Angela: I just liked the trail. It was fun riding the wagons.

Ashley: I had fun driving the mules. It was rough to drive through the rocks but I did it!

Katie: I liked when we were at the campfire talking!

Megan: I'm having a lot of fun but I wish I was back home with my family. I think the pioneers felt that way, too.

Tony: I like the wagon ride because we were telling stories to each other, especially scary stories!


The following is a photo gallery from the trip. If you have questions, please contact us at education@tpwd.state.tx.us


Credits

This educational project is a partnership venture of Madera Unified School District, Madera, California; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; the Texas Historical Commission; and the many generous and gracious communities along the route.

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