These stories stretch from the late great Tony Hillerman and presently, his daughter Anne Hillerman novels, to other stories that are a composite of themes passed down through the years by oral history. The story I am about to relate to you is just such a story, passed down and possible embellished as time and circumstance change. Any relationship to characters in any other story is purely coincidental, and an imaginary occurrence in the writer’s mind.

A friend was out hiking on the continental divide trail that passes through the eastern edge of the Navajo Reservation. The day was getting late and the sun starting to set, so she thought it better to stop and set up tent for the night. Her trip was planned to view and photograph eagles and their nesting young.

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She rounded the curve to the rim rock trail finding a good spot out of the wind with some piñon tree for cover and shade. After setting up camp for the night, she grabbed her binoculars and viewed the area for an eagle’s aerie. Out in the distance across the valley floor on top of the next mesa she saw something glinting and shiny. Grabbing the binoculars, she checked the mesa and looked for the object. As she watched for awhile, it seemed that a message was being sent out from someone.

Wondering if someone was lost or injured, she use her safety mirror to send back a message, but, she received only the same glinting back. She estimated the distance from the top of the mesa back to where she was camped, perhaps an hour to travel there and back. That was plenty of time to get back before dark, so she took her emergency kit and headed in that direction. She noted on her smartphone the GPS location, and made a daily log on about her trip noting she was going to investigate the mysterious mirror like transmitting.

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Upon arrival to the top of the mesa, she searched with the binoculars all across the top, even checking the side to the rim rock. Not wanting to run out of daylight she gives the mesa one more pass and sees the shiny object moving in the wind. She approached with caution, slowly moving through the cedar, piñon trees, and oak brush.

When she reached the spot where she had seen the glinting, much to her disgust she was confronted with one of the most horrific sites one would hope to never come across in the pristine wilderness. There before her flapping was an empty silver snack bag, someone’s trash!

Ok, so it was not the big mystery you thought. However, just think about the time she used and possible danger she may have put herself in thinking it could be a signal from an injured hiker. The moral of the story is, when you are hiking and camping, if you take it in, take it out. Please do not litter in our beautiful wilderness areas.

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