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.

Accommodations and Safety with Navajo Tours USA

Ambulatory Response Time

We are First Aid & CPR certified. Ambulance service is available within 20-60 minutes depending on location. Emergency ambulance helicopters cover our entire service area. Life threatening emergencies requiring transport will be transported to area hospitals in Albuquerque, Farmington, and Gallup via ambulance service or helicopter.

 

Physical Fitness

Levels of appropriateness for adults and children, are scored on a level difficulty 1-10. Example; A Level 1 is to sit in the van and take photos from there. A Level 5, minimum walking, hiking and climbing. A Level 10 is very strenuous physically and only for the very physically fit. Our tour guides will make sure you understand the arduousness of your tour.

 

Dietary Restrictions

Within reason, Navajo Tours USA will make dietary accommodations for travel guests. This information will be requested during your tour arrangement.

 

Special Medical Requirements

Golden Agers, special needs, physically challenged, and others will be accommodated within reason. We will make every effort to provide travel guests with full assistance and appropriate levels of adventure. A doctor’s release may be needed for certain activities. This information will be requested during your tour arrangement.

 

Keep Contact Information

Keep contact information in both print and digital formats in case friends or family want to reach you. List itinerary details; hotels, airlines, etc. You as the travel guest must share any medical information in case of an emergency i.e. allergies, life threatening conditions, etc. This information will be requested during your tour arrangement.

 

Altitude

Our service area in New Mexico is identified as the high desert. You will be in an area with elevations ranging from 1,524 meters (5,000 ft) to 2,438 meters (8,000ft). Adjustments to altitude and hydration are of key importance. You will be reminded to drink lots of water.

 

Critters

There are poisonous snakes within our service area and our tour guides will have venom kits in their First Aid kits. Other harmful insects in the area include black widows, brown recluse, and bees. If you do not bother them, they will not bother you. If you come upon any of these critters, do not agitate them. Stand still and move away slowly.

 

Weather

In New Mexico, spectacular weather events do occur seasonally and your tour guide is aware of weather facts and phenomenons. Lightning is certainly something to be considered and the safest place to be is indoors or in a vehicle. Cloudbursts generate flash floods that can sweep through areas in an instant. Your tour guide will teach you how to monitor signs for bad weather.

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.

No Left at Albuquerque


A fond childhood memory is the classic cartoons of Bugs Bunny in a desert scene, usually saying the line, “I shoulda’ taken a left at Albuquerque!” That visual image of the desert scene is possibly all over the globe and with it, a possible misconception as to the environment of Albuquerque, of New Mexico and of the eastern Navajo Nation reservation.

Another memory as a Navajo youth is bathing in the first winter snow and noting how cold and awakening the snow is. After such an experience I would race back inside the house and warm up by the wood oven.

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I share these memories as a travel tip for your safety. If traveling to the northwestern region of New Mexico, during the late Autumn and Winter months, there is winter weather. Not a Bugs Bunny desert scene winter, but a winter over a mile high up from sea level. There is a need for coats, gloves and even thermal underwear if one intends to be outdoor for several hours. Some of the roads can be dangerous to travel, even with grading/salting of the roads. If traveling during winter conditions check out the website www.NMroads.com for some helpful travel routes and information.

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A favorite of the winter months is the great snow setting on the environment. Fantastic scenery for photos such as snow capped Cabezon Peak, cedar branches with juniper berries set against snow are fantastic. If you are fortunate, understanding the seasonal cycles using the tools of the Ancestral Pueblos at Chaco Culture National Historical Park is amazing to experience. In each of these experiences, plan for colder weather and not short pants and tank tops.

7 Tips for Traveling Responsibly on Navajo Lands

Promoting responsible travel requires exploring the practice of sustainability in all environments we encounter. Ultimately, we want our travel guests to make positive impacts in the space they find themselves with efforts to maintain the integrity of local cultural heritage and the natural environment. When you visit the Navajo Nation area keep these 7 tips in mind.

1. Leave it be. Don’t take rocks or disturb rock formations. They are unique. Let’s preserve their uniqueness in every way.

2. It’s about tranquility and respect. Keep the noise to a minimum. If you need to cross a gate, close it behind you. You are most likely hiking through a ranch and you do not want to set free any livestock. Respect signs that say no trespassing.

3. Hiking etiquette. Let’s hike the right way. Stay on paths unless directed by your guide. Be conscious of your surroundings. Keep your footing away from vegetation, because native plant root systems anchor soil and prevent erosion.

4. It’s about attitude not technology. Be creative and capture those memorable moments, but don’t forget to also absorb this majesty and magic without the technology.

5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Have a reusable water bottle and shopping bag. A shopping bag and water bottle will help curb your carbon footprint while traveling the Navajo Nation reservation.

6. Ask before you click. Ask permission before taking photographs of locals. Strike up a conversation, because storying breaks down walls of fear and just so you know, the Navajo philosophy of learning is sustained from storying.

7. Buy local. The Navajo Nation reservation has many local vendors selling authentic items. For many, this is their everyday income. Negotiating the price of a product is discouraged because many items already have a markup value less than 5%. We don’t recommend paying for photos, but exchanges are great!

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.