I was raised in Monticello, Utah, on the Utah side of the four corners where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah all meet. In this area, sixty years before I was born, the original Mormon pioneers crossed some of the most torturous terrain that you can imagine.
Every time a parade went by or a history event about the area was commemorated, people would talk about these most courageous people who survived for six months as they crossed some of the toughest challenges ever put before a group.
Brigham Young sent group of people all over the west to settle and develop the country. It had been more than 30 years since the pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley , but no one had settled the southeast part of Utah . A group of pioneers from the central part of the state were asked to go down and settle this area. For them it was a calling, and they were eager to migrate to this new country. Little did they know what would await them!
After several scouts went out, the group decided they would go down and cross the Colorado River at a place called Hole in the Rock.
As a young river runner, I had the opportunity to run the Colorado river in 1962, just before the Glen Canyon Dam would back up the water and turn this pristine country into Lake Powell . I remember as a 17-year-old hiking to the top of Hole in the Rock. I was almost more than one could imagine how the pioneers could possibly have brought their wagons down over this steep wedge in the wall.
Last week I set out with a group of Jeepers from Monticello to experience this country so that I could better understand the challenges the pioneers faced. We started out at 9 in the morning and did not get to the river until 10. We jeeped 30 miles in nine hours and then had to walk in five more miles to the houseboat where we were to stay the night.
It was not long before we were asking the jeep to do almost the impossible. My red jeep just could not get up this steep ledge and had to be pulled up by one of the other jeeps.