The inspiration for this writing and this title came this morning in the early hours of the morning. Many times at this hour problems have been solved for me through inspiration. It began when the pictures of the many trails in the Sierra Madre mountains that I have traveled and learned came clearly into my memory in all of their beauty and mystery. Beauty because of the beautiful country that they traversed and the wonderful places that they led to. Mystery yes, who made them from the first and how did they find their way through places that look impossible to traverse. Did the animals find them first through the instinct that the Lord has blessed them with? Or did early man find them through necessity to go from one place to another?

The first one that came into my mind was the trail that starts in Black Canyon and climbs steadily up and up where the trail is only a white scar in the solid rock of the mountain. It seems that this mountain is a big rock that is seamed and pitted with soil and vegetation scattered over it's bold face. The trees have anchored their roots into the cracks and sparse soil along the winding trail. Near the top the trail passes a little cave indented into the solid rock. Inside there is a steady drip of cold clear water That someone long ago named "Los ojos de la Virgen Maria". Probably depicting the tears that Mary shed for her Son when he was crucified on the cross. Usually there is a can there, placed under the drip for the thirsty traveler to drink on arrival.

From there the trail goes on up through the "Puerto del Apache" and through the narrow pass at the top. Then begins a long descent down the center of a natural depression or fault. Here the trail could be easily lost if it did not follow that fault descending down the long mountain. Each year the grass and underbrush grow up so there is no trail visible. Down at the end of this long fault the trail climbs steeply up onto a high narrow ridge where it is worn and plainly visible. This ridge is flanked on either side with steep walls that descend into rugged impassable canyons so the trail is used by animals and humans alike to gain access into the Arco canyon. This ridge ends in the high point overlooking the vast Arco Canyon. From there a steep switchback trail descends to the canyon floor. In places the trail is so worn that it is so deep you can hardly see out on horseback. The trail ends on the canyon floor depicting arrival at our destination. One can choose to go in any direction and pick up the next trail.

When I first traveled this trail my guide was Beto Peņa. He learned it from his father Don Panchito Peņa who knew most of the trails all through the Sierra Madre. Since then I have taken many People over this trail to fish in the Arco canyon and the beautiful Metate canyon.

Once when I had a big group of Dublan explorers on a two week trip on this trail, I turned out of the fault to soon and some of the horses got into trouble on the steep side hill off the trail.

I had often heard of the wonderful fishing over in the "Nutria" Canyon so when Dr. Hatch invited me to go with him and a group from Colonia Juarez to the Nutria fishing I readily accepted. I wanted to learn the trail into the Nutria because I had heard that their was only one way in from the east side of the canyon. We sent our horses up in a big truck as far as the bridge that crosses the river at Three Rivers. >From there we saddled up and rode Northwest up a long gradual climb through beautiful open meadows and lovely grassy hillsides that were dotted with big trees of Oak, Pine and Juniper. Here no trail was necessary and we all rode in a scattered group. After about two hours we came to the rim of the "Nutria" canyon. As we looked down into the deep canyon we could see the canyon wall looked like it was straight down and seemed impossible to go down. After searching for a while along the canyon rim Doctor Hatch found the trail and we all started single file down the dim but good trail that wound back and forth down the steep face of the canyon wall. As we went down I wondered if this good trail had just happened by nature or if long ago it had been chosen and built and had remained in good condition.

Down in the canyon we came into a park like level, grassy canyon shaded with big Black Oak and Sycamore trees. These trees had obviously grown up since the big level terraces had been made nearly two thousand years ago. The trout stream of cold clear mountain water meandered along the western wall of the canyon. It looked to me like it had been placed there on purpose to water the gardens that had long ago been tended on the terraces. We all set up our camp together accept Doc. Hatch he put his tent out of earshot because he said that he snored when asleep and didn't want to disturb the rest of us.

I remember as I fished along the stream that I noticed an occasional little pile of pieces of fins and tails of Trout that had been left by the "Nurtrias" (Mexican Otters). As I remember I caught about a dozen beautiful Rainbow Trout ranging between eight and ten inches long. I still remember how good fresh caught trout, fried in butter, can taste after a long day.

Afterwards I took several groups down that ingenious trail into the lovely Nutria canyon. The last time I was there we found that the Nutrias had multiplied so much that we did not catch any trout because all along the banks of the stream we could see those little piles of fins and tails showing where the otters had eaten most of the Trout.

The importance of learning the trail was emphasized one time when we left the trucks up above the Campo Santo and packed up the mules and rode to our camp up at the Carrizo cabin. After a successful hunt we all started back to the trucks by different routes. When I arrived at the trucks after dark to help Don Panchito Peņa unpack the mules so he could return to the ranch with the Remuda I was the only one that had arrived back. Soon the others arrived one by one. All got back except Edwin McClellin. I got worried about him because it had snowed that day and I was afraid that he might have missed the trail somewhere along the way. I went over to the edge of the mountain above the trail and fired some signal shots into the dark night. After supper and Brother McClellin had not found his way back we all bedded down for the night to wait to find him in the morning.

The next morning we found him at the base of a cliff where he had spent the night keeping his Juniper fire going to keep warm. He said that in the dark his horse had tried to turn back many times but he kept him going until the cliff stopped him. We explained to him that his horse had wanted to turn back on the switchback of the trail but he had unwittingly caused him to leave the trail into a blind little canyon.

The most familiar trail to all of our family was the trail from the Cebadilla down to our usual camp on Trout Creek. Our family used this trail at least once a year for over twenty years. Sometimes we had more people than horses and mules so Naoma would take some of the kids and on foot hike ahead of the mounted people and pack mules and easily beat us all down to our campsite. We all knew the trail so well that we could avoid the dangers of the trail. One of these was a big nest of "Anaparas" (Fire Bees) in a hollow oak tree near the narrow trail on a steep side hill. If you passed by quietly without disturbing the bees all would be well.

One trip I came bringing up the rear of a long string of young explorers from the US. As I came to the bottom of that hill I came on to a disaster area. Apparently someone had disturbed the Anaparas as they went by and the swarm came out and stung the horses and the mules and some of the boys. The animals began to buck and run down the steep hill. Some of the boys were thrown off their mounts and one of the mules had shed his pack and another was down near the creek and couldn't get up until I released him from the heavy pack. One of the boy's eye was swollen shut another had his lip swell up to three times it size. If you know the dangers of the trail you can usually avoid them. I had failed to warn the boys about the dangers of the Trail.

I usually warned everyone to not try to leave the trail and especially not to try to pass up the pack mules. Part of the trail went along a very steep mountain side. It was well used and very safe unless you tried to leave the trail. It was best not to look down or think what would happen if your mount would fall or slide down into the depths of the distant canyon. For people going over these trails for the first time it was usually an awesome experience.


In learning the trail of life we can apply many of these principles of learning the trails. All of us in our lives have had to learn to follow many different trails. The best way to learn a trail is to have a competent guide. This can be in a person or even a book written by someone that knows the trail that we wish to follow.

When I was a young man Patriarch Anson B. Call gave me a rather short Patriarchal Blessing. He told me among other things that I would be able to teach so that people could understand. At the time I hardly noticed that little sentence. Later I was called to teach in the Dublan Grade School and be the Principal. The first year I enjoyed venturing into the Teaching trail but decided that I didn't know the trail and that I needed a guide to help me travel that extensive and important trail of teaching. The next summer Naoma and I and all of our children piled into our old Oldsmobile and went to Provo rented a house and registered in the Y in the field of Elementary Education. We both sensed the responsibility of learning the trail into the vast field of teaching.

For the next twenty four years we were studying and learning the Teaching Trail. For twelve years I traveled the complex and difficult trail of teaching full time Seminary.

The Trail of being a parent is one that most of us suddenly find ourselves on with only the experience of being a child in our own home as a guide. The best guide for the parenting trail is in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Most important and dangerous trail in this life is the trail that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life and exaltation in the next. Our only guide on this most important Trail is the Lord Jesus Christ. If we follow him and his teachings he will lead us to our eternal destination and help us avoid the very real dangers to our eternal souls.

Just as we traveled the more difficult trails in the Sierra Madre to enjoy the beauty as we went along so we can enjoy the beauty and the joy of traveling the trails of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the lovely Lonely trails in the mountains we find peace and tranquility. So in the Gospel we not only find peace and tranquility but also love, service, happiness and joy. Just as we have enjoyed showing others the way on the trails in the mountains we have enjoyed even more the opportunity to show others the wonderful Trail that the Savior has left for us to follow.

Sometimes in the mountains I was able to find a trail by having someone tell me about the directions and landmarks along the way to follow. The Lord has provided in the Patriarchal Blessing and excellent description of the trail for each of us. If we follow the direction and the landmarks and especially heed the warnings of the dangers we can find the trail for each of us that the Lord wants us to follow.

One of the great dangers is to leave the trail of the Gospel and find ourselves on the steep and dangers mountain sliding down into the depths of the canyon below. Another danger is to carelessly disturb the addictive Anaparas of Satan by getting too close to them and not respecting the danger. Another danger is to loiter along the way and find that the darkness of night has come on and we are not yet to our destination. Our best shot then is to put our trust in our mount, our knowledge of the trail and to pray to the Lord to keep us on the trail in the darkness.

The greatest security in following all of the many difficult trails of life is to follow the Prophets both modern and ancient. They have been chosen by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be our guides to lead us in love and safety back to live with him and our Heavenly Father. There we can follow the trail that leads to eternal progress and increase.