During the early hours of the morning, wagonmasters Lenna and Bruce Dawkins begin harnessing their horses.The warm breath of the animals billows out, cutting through the cold air. The mules and horses neigh, showing their anticipation of the journey.
The party of 10— five teams — will be hauling wagons for a five-night, six-day journey through Goodall's Cutoff to the old post known as Frenchman's Cabin at the bottom of the Butte.
The Dawkins, husband and wife, have gone on several treks prior to this. This is the first that they have organized themselves.
Monty Smith said "most of these occur later in the summer but we can't always make it then. That's why they decided to do one earlier in the year."
The wagons of the Dawkins' party are certainly not the ill-equipped wagons of the past. Many come with full-sized beds, running water, solar panels for electricity and even ovens.
Despite the extra amenities, the travelers can still run into unsettling situations along the trail.
Lenna Dawkins recall3e a time they were out on a trek and the axle broke on their wagon "we didn't have an extra and it made it a very complicated trip."
Smith comes from Bear Lake and is originally from Blackfoot. Smith has been going on wagon trains since he was a little boy with his family. He enjoys the slower pace and taking in the scenery, "It's amazing what you can see from behind a horse in a wagon, things you usually miss riding in a vehicle."
Smith drives a smaller rig pulled by his famous horse Leo. Leo stars in the PBS show Pathways of Pioneers: Idaho's Oregon Trail Legacy.