By. Jon Yazzie
The northeast corner of the Diné (Navajo) Nation is rich with mythic topography. Ubiquitous views of sandstone stone, volcanic spires, and distant mountains, make up the terrain. They all play a significant role in our Diné creation stories. Whether on a bike or pack raft, I can feel the power of my culture as I pedal in the shadows of the landscape shaped by the air-spirit people.
Prior to the Diné coming into the current world, the earth was covered completely in water from a flood that destroyed the third world. Through the air-sprit people, colossal winds dried up the land making it habitable. I am fortunate enough to get on my bike or pack raft and immerse myself in those stories with all five of my senses.
In the desert southwest, we can experience rain, snow, squall, haboobs and gorgeous sunshine within hours of each other. For trips with ominous weather outlooks, I like to tent-up, so I don’t wake up to wet or muddy gear. What I mean by that is if I am traveling solo, I’ll take a UL2, and if my partner Nadine is joining, an ultralight Tigerwall UL3.
A free-standing tent helps too, so if we end up picking a gorgeous spot on a sandstone slab, we don’t have to worry too much about staking down. If wind is in the forecast, then staking out isn’t much of an issue because we have several solutions for that.
On a recent trip we needed to take shelter behind a huge pinon tree in case the massive rain/snow filled clouds reared their ugly head. The spot we chose had two inches of hard pack sand and a shelf of sandstone below that stopped my aluminum stake in its tracks.
The solution: We gathered up sticks and branches about 8-12 inches in length and just under a dozen rocks about the size of a loaf of bread.
We threaded each of the tent stake loops with a stick or branch and used the rocks to anchor them in place.
You can use a stake too, but because they are so smooth, moving around in the tent can pull a stake out of the loops quickly. The rough makeshift stakes do well staying in the loops even in strong winds.
Jon Yazzie is CEO and co-founder of Dzil Ta’ah Adventures providing curated cultural tours of his ancestral
Diné (Navajo) Lands through adventure bikepacking. Check out their instagram for more information.