Chap 2 travels along the rails
The morning came clear and the water had stopped flowing in the gully next to them. The ground was super muddy. The mus hung onto the boots making each step a struggle. It felt like weights were on the boots. The oxen had stayed nearby and were easy to round up. Evan saddled up one of the horses to ride out and look ahead.. One of the gold seekers went with him. They went west at a slow pace because the mud was clinging to the horses hooves.. They went over the rise and headed west. The ground was drier up here and the horses could canter along easier. In the distance they could see smoke rising. A few miles further they saw the source of the smoke, it was the stage station. They had riden about five miles when they turned and went back to the wagons.
As they traveled back to the wagons they noticed the horses were not struggling in the mud when they had went through earlier. On a ridge the water had not collected and was drying faster. Looking across the landscape they could see how the ridge followed along the sand creek and stayed above the low spots. It would add some to their trip but they would make better time out of the thick mud and be away the creek if it decided to rain so violently again.
When they got back to the wagons the mules and oxen were already yoked up and ready to work. The wagons were secured, yet they were not looking forward to the ordeal of getting the wagons up the hill to the flat part. They would double team the wagons to pull up the hill. Instead of four oxen it would be 8 oxen and the mules would hook onto the wagon sides for an extra pull.
The first wagon was ready, instead of going straight up the hill they were going to go across the face. It wasn’t steep enough to tilt the wagons and with the mules pulling on the uphill side it would balance things out. Ayahs and the first trip was under way.
Breath was held, the ooze rolled up the wheels and the spokes were in to the mud, oxen strained, mules stiff backed and teamsters working the animals. The men got behind the wagon pushing, slowly the wheels eased up out of the mud moving forward. A shout, “Don’t stop, keep it rolling. The wagon rocked and swayed as it began the ascent up the hill. Drivers were switching the animals to keep them pulling.
With the wagon rolling the team was able to keep it going uphill. The men went back to another wagon and get it ready for the climb. The oxen were doubled up but this time only a set of mules was put on the side pull. The animals were ready and they were at the back ready to push. One of the guys reached underneath the wagon and pulled out a spare axle to use as a lever to shove on the wagon with. Straining and shoving the wagon began to roll. Looking up the hill they could see that the first wagon was almost there. Deep ruts were left behind, the mud was packed down making a solid track for the other wagons.
When the first wagon got on top the oxen were un- hooked and led back down the rise to be hooked on to the next wagon. The mules followed behind and the process was repeated. The wagons were drug up the hill through the muck. Once on the rise it was somewhat drier. The sun was out in full force and the ground was drying fast