|South Route: Tuesday, April 1st – Greasewood to Ganado|
Last night we were treated to a lovely welcoming dinner by the local chapter house. While we were eating, Chapter President Franklin Gishey told us about one of the long-standing issues in this area. There is a wash between Apache and Navajo counties that has been promised federal money for a bridge for many years – and that money has not been forthcoming. We will make sure we put that in our Manifesto notes for Washington!
We were also treated to a couple of Navajo songs by two very lovely Elders Mary Chee and Rita Begay. The ladies invited us to a couple dance around the chapter house. Dennis also had a number of walkers get up and tell their story of how any why they joined the walk – which was certainly entertaining.
This morning Elder Mr. Sangster offered the burning of cedar to bless all the staffs, and then the walkers were invited to bless themselves with the cedar smoke as well. I will add again how appreciative we all are of the incredible warmth and hospitality we have received since coming into the Navajo Nation – it's really been humbling and fills this walker's heart with deep gratitude. We set out around 7:30 – walking away from the chapter house and down the quiet road towards Ganado. Our walk started out fairly chilly, but the wind wasn't an issue for us today!
We completed about 12 miles before lunch – which was an amazing potluck of meat stew, rice and salad, along with both frybread and tortillas! All courtesy of the Cornfield Chapter House. We were also greeted by nearly 20 local folks who hung around to talk with us walkers and mingled with the crowd while we ate. That is always really fun for us and gives us a sense of place as we travel our miles – so thank you all for that!
After lunch we had about 5 miles left to complete and within about a mile of that Elder Marcella rejoined us to take us on to our drop point. Marcella walked with us for a few miles the day before yesterday – she is a fireball! At 86 she requires the assistance of having a Longwalker on either side of her, but she moves! She will start running if she feels she is getting to far behind and likes to keep right up with the pack. She completed those last 4 miles with us and then stayed and talked with us for a while before we headed onto the shuttle bus and into Ganado. Another blessed day on the road!
I want to take a moment to give a shoutout to our road coordinator Larry Bringing-Good – who maps out our route for us, lets us know where to stop for breaks and makes sure we have lunch ready at our lunch stops. We just completed our first four walking days since the Grand Canyon and everything has been really smooth, so thank you so much for that.
Here's a walker quote from Marek: “This is just the beginning, so I'm slowly waking up. I look around and see many, many miles ahead. We are 7 or 8 weeks on the walk and it's still a small portion! Everyday is a smaller lesson to be a Walker, and it's still not finished. Maybe it takes more than 1 walk across these United States. The other night, the sweat leader, a Navajo man, he wanted to meet Dennis Banks for 30-40 years. He had read many things about him, heard him speak, and we are here so he invited Dennis to his sweat lodge. And we were there with these AIM leaders. He waited 30 years for this. I am just a child on this road, I'm not in a hurry. I'm happy to be in the desert and we're lucky to be here on days like this.”
And this from our runner Kid Valence, who (along with Ammon Russel) covered a little over 11 miles for us today! “It was a beautiful, flat run with only slight up and downhills – just enough to make it interesting. We saw sheep and white-faced cows crossing the road in front of us – very cool.”
Oh – and we picked up a new walker on the road today – Patrick, a Navajo man who grew up in the area we are walking through but has been living up in Humboldt county, he met up with us at one of our rest stops. Welcome Patrick!