A Litter-Aerie Mystery

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.

The Land and Our Navajo Healers

Navajo Tours USA offers an opportunity for unique experiences. Stand on the land where Navajo healers still practice their traditional ceremonies. Hear the winds that carry the songs of nature. Echoes of the ancient Indian people that lived and still live on this land reverberate off the canyon walls.

Many travel guest request to attend healing ceremonies or meet Navajo Medicine Men or women. Sacred ceremonies are not included in the tour package. We at Navajo Tours USA feel it is not ethically sensitive to advertise the selling of our traditional medicine ways. Sacred ceremonies are private and usually reserved for tribal members and their families. We hope that you understand that this is something that can not be scheduled.

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If traditional medicine ways are a particular area of interest to you please note that on your survey when you apply for admission to a tour package. We do have people trained in this area to answer some questions on this topic. Also, some information on this topic will be included in the storytelling time at the campfire and other spontaneous dialogue while on the tour itself. All things truly are connected within the Indian cosmology, so much so, that it is often hard to tell where one topic stops and another begins.

Safety First When Traveling Alone

These days, especially after attacks in Paris and elsewhere, people are weighing whether or not to travel internationally. We support either choice, reminding ourselves that our own local region has a myriad of attractions and natural wonders. If you go abroad, put things into perspective. “You have a higher probability of being hit by lightning than being a victim of terrorism,” says Peter Tarlow, president of Tourism & More, a travel security consulting company.

But always be aware of what’s going on around you.

In New Mexico, lightning is certainly something to be considered. In a weather emergency the safe place to be is indoors or in your vehicle. Weather radio is available, as are some phone apps where there is cell coverage. Our tour guides are best familiar with the area and will notify tourist guests of any warnings that have been issued by the National Weather Service.

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We are in the high desert. You will need time to adjust to our altitude and hydration is important. You will be reminded to drink lots of water.

This is a wilderness area with certain inherent dangers; rock falls, dry river beds, and mud roads. Dry river beds can become raging rivers in a matter of moments and mud roads can turn into quagmires.

Yes, there are poisonous snakes and your tour guide will have venom kits with them. If you are on a special permission individual hike, you will be required to take your own venom kit with you. Our tour guides are trained in first aid and CPR. There are emergency helicopter flights to hospitals in Albuquerque and Farmington or other regional cities for life threatening emergencies.

Here are other things to consider

  • Be prepared for increased security at airports, on cruise ships, and other places.
  • Visit the State Department website and keep aware of its Travel Alerts, which address short-term dangers, and Travel Warnings, which deal with
longer-term security challenges.
  • Sign up for STEP, the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You will get security notices, and officials can locate you in an emergency.
  • Consider trip cancellation/interruption insurance, which can reimburse you for prepaid travel expenses. It costs 7 to 10 percent of your trip cost, and you can buy it through your travel agent (but you cannot buy it after an incident has occurred).
  • Keep contact information—in both print and digital formats—for hotels, airlines, and friends you might want to reach in an emergency. Allergies and any other life threatening conditions that Navajo tours USA will need. This information will be required as part of your official application.

For more information on travel safety we recommend National Geographic Traveler Magazine Item# 7210-MA. Published 6 issues per year and rated 4 ½ stars. “National Geographic Traveler is a travel magazine that is the explorer’s guide to planning the perfect trip. With breathtaking photography of must-see destinations and practical tips for every traveler, it will inspire readers to book that next vacation.”

In today’s hectic world, we believe that travel is more important than ever. Learning about other cultures and being an ambassador for good can build bridges and promote peace.

Studies show that when you take a vacation, your brain gets restored; that makes us more productive. So what are you waiting for? Schedule your appointment with Navajo Tours USA today.