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Monday, October 25, 2010

We Must Go Through

Ok, so this is really the first time that I've ever done a blog, so I'm still kinda gettin the hang of it. But today, I'd like to explain a little bit why I chose "We Must Go Through" as the title for my blog. But, first I'd like to begin with a little bit of a background history lesson on the famous Hole-In-The-Rock expedition.
In the year of 1879, John Taylor then Prophet, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, called a group of 236 people from the Southern Utah towns of Parowan, Cedar City, and Paragonah, to be a part of the San Juan Expedition. A pioneering company that would go and settle in what is now the south-eastern corner of the state of Utah. At that time, that was some of the isolated and inaccessible country in the nation, with lots of sandstone, cliffs, mesas, washes, slickrock, sand, and cut in many places by deep canyons. Keep in mind, that a good chunk of these pioneers called to be a part of this expedition, had already crossed the great plains from Nauvoo, Ill, and other parts of the country to settle there in Utah, had just barely gotten settled, started to prosper, and now were asked to leave it all behind.
Not to mention, they had already endured many many hardships on the initial treck to the Rockies. Bishop Jens Nielson, who was called to be one of the leaders on the San Juan expedition, had crossed the Great Plains as part of the Willey Handcart Company. When rescuers from Salt Lake arrived they didn't have shoes big enough to fit his rag-bound feet. While struggling over Rocky Ridge, his feet froze so bad that he couldn't go on any farther. At one point he turned to his wife Elsie, and said "Leave me by the trail in the snow to die, and you go ahead an try to keep up with the company and save your life." To which she responded, "Get in the cart and ride, I can't leave you, I can pull the cart." Which she did. So to say that the pioneers had already faced adversity would be a terrible understatement.
The company took established wagon trails to Escalante, and then from there on out had to blast their own trail into the slick rock the remaining way. Their biggest obstacle came when they reached The Colorado River. The 2,000 ft. gorge had to be crossed somehow, and the snow had finally come which blocked their way home, so their only choice was to find a way across.  It took them six weeks to build the road across. Built by chiseling and blasting a path through a steep crevice named the Hole-In-The-Rock, the construction consisted of cutting away a 40 foot drop off at the top of the crevice, moving huge boulders, leveling high spots, filling depressions, and widening the crevice walls.  After they made it past the first drop off, and reached the first ledge,  they were faced with another sheer wall of fifty feet. A narrow ledge for the inside wagon wheels was chiseled out along the walls. Just below the narrow ledge, holes were drilled every 2 feet parallel and about five feet below the ledge. Stakes were pounded into the holes, and then covered with logs, brush, and gravel to form a road that was literally tacked onto the side of a cliff. That section of the road was called Uncle Ben's Dugaway, named after a Welch miner, Benjamin Perkins.
The road was finally completed, and on January 26, 1880 the wagons started down.  Elizabeth Morris Decker, wrote about the trip down. "If you ever come this way it will scare you to death to look down it. It is about a mile from the top down to the river and it is almost straight down, the cliffs on each side are five hundred ft. high and there is just room enough for a wagon to go down. It nearly scared me to death. The first wagon I saw go down they put the brake on and rough locked the hind wheels and had a big rope fastened to the wagon and about ten men holding back on it and then they went down like they would smash everything. I'll never forget that day. When we was walking down Willie looked back and cried and asked me how we would get back home." The settlers continued on and eventually settled the towns of Bluff, Verdure, Blandin, and Monticello.
The quote I mentioned at the very beginning comes from Bishop Jens Nielson when the company had first reached the Hole-In-The-Rock, and many wanted to turn back. But Bishop Nielson remained calm, and is credited with saying. "We must go through. Even if there is no way through, we must go through."
Their story has a lot of meaning to me. I didn't have ancestors were with that company, but I did have many who came from Nauvoo to Utah with Brigham Young. I am in awe, and so grateful for the things that all of those early pioneers faced. Their lives have been a lesson to me. Even though they were faced with so much adversity and trials, they never quit. Never gave up. They forged on. It kinda puts my life into perspective a little bit. If they could face everything they went through with an eye of faith, then my personal trials and struggles, which pale in comparison, I should face with that same determination.
I know that the Lord strenghens us in our extremities if we will but call on His name. He knows us each individually and lets us face opposition so that we can learn and grow. He has felt all of our pains, our sorrows, and our affliction, and therefore knows how to help us. (Alma 7:11-13) Sometimes lifes struggles seam to much to bear, but the Lord is there for us. I just hope that I can follow the example of those early pioneers, and when faced with things that at the time, seam to much to handle, say, "Even when there is no way through, I must go through."

I added pictures of The Hole-In-The-Rock, from the top, and also looking up from Lake Powell, and also Uncle Ben's Dugaway, which shows the holes drilled and used for the road.

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