|My wife and I helped drive Navajo weaver
Roy Kady’s flock of sheep, goats and 1 male llama down from their Summer
pasture in the Carrizo Mountains, south of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona on the
Navajo Reservation, in early October, 2003. This is the quicker,
downhill leg of the traditional, bi-annual migration for many Navajo ranchers
- up in Spring, down in Autumn. Four of us: a Cortez medical doctor,
Roy, my wife and I brought them from Roy’s Summer sheep camp near Pastora
Peak at 9412’ to Roy’s halfway sheep camp at about 7,000’. It took
us about 5 hours. Crew 2 took over from us there to deliver them to the
ranch in Teec Nos Pos at ~5500’.
The Autumn migration takes one long day,
from top to bottom. Going up the trail in Spring usually takes 2
days. The four of us joined many members of Roy’s family and other
Navajo friends at the half-way sheep camp. Some of us rode the vehicles
back down while other’s walked with the herd for these last miles.
Roy’s family is fortunate to have homes
and pastures in a setting that supports the traditional Winter-Summer migrations
characteristic of Nomadic herders worldwide. This connectedness to
Natural rhythms supports and encourages a healthy respect for the land
and Mother Earth by the Navajos and is missing in non-agrarian civilization.
Doctor Marcus (left), me (center) and
Roy are beginning the downhill walk early Saturday, October 4th with the
herd leading us. It was a sparkling, cool morning at 9300’ in the
Carrizo Mountains. The weather would turn Wintry early this year
up high, so Roy’s timing was perfect for getting down off the mountain.
My wife took this photo.
The view to the north shows Roy on
the trail with his herd. The Sleeping Ute Mountain (Ute Mountain
Ute Reservation) is seen on the left horizon with Mesa Verde faint to the
right. Cortez Colorado and our home lie between these two landforms
and north beyond them. This line of sight to the north east traverses
the Four Corners Monument which is 10 miles north of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona,
My wife, Roy and the herd are making
their way tenuously down a particularly steep section of the trail. Some
rubble mounds of Ancient Puebloan hunting camps exist near the trail in
several areas. We also passed a few sylvan sheep camp cabins on the
way down. Much less herding is done on the mountain now than in the
The herd is resting for lunch break
in the brush corral half way down to the half way sheep camp. Yellow
Dog, front and center, is grooming one of his favorite sheep. A handsome
ram lies next to Yellow Dog, with Dr. Marcus in the background.
This view south from about 8000’ shows
the drainage of Teec Nos Pos Canyon and Creek running northeast (towards
us) out of the Carrizo Mountains.
Roy is following his herd across Teec
Nos Pos Creek and on up the dirt road on the other side, to their half-way
sheep camp located just ahead. The herd and we humans were energized
by the water here, and knowledge of the corral lying just minutes ahead.
Roy takes a bare foot break at the
sheep camp cabin. About 10 family and friends met us here with vehicles
to transfer the herd to Crew 2’s stewardship for the remainder of the migration
down to the ranch corral. It was now mid-afternoon. The herd arrived
at the corral after 2 more hours of walking.
This precipitous lookout is at the
half way sheep camp. The view is north to the San Juan River Valley
on the horizon. The green drainage below me is where Teec Nos Pos
Creek flows out of the mountains and through Teec Nos Pos to the San Juan
River. The creek bed becomes a dry wash once it reaches town, where the
Three cultural artifacts picked up
along the trail are shown here.