Why did Moshe describe the desert they were in as 'great and awesome'?
Why did Hashem lead Yisrael through a desert through which nobody dared pass?
Ramban (on Pasuk 2) and Seforno: Because it was the shortest route to Eretz Cana'an, and He wanted to get them there as quickly as possible before they created problems and sinned. 1
Seforno: To no avail, because they managed to sin anyway, first by the Mis'onenim, then when they desired meat, and finally by the Meraglim.