In The Shadow of the Peaks – These Peaks are Sacred


While visiting the Taala Hooghan one of the issues very much on people’s minds was their “protect the peaks” campaign. The San Francisco Peaks right behind Flagstaff are sacred to 13 tribes. There is  a ski resort on the peaks and the ski resort pumps partially cleaned, waste water up to the peaks in order to make snow. In order to get the pipes in to get up the water, they had to clear cut old growth Ponderosa trees.


Now, the reclaimed water pollutes these sacred mountains; destroys plants of healing, and places able to touch our hearts and lead us on a strong path.



All so one millionaire can make money, and some spoiled people can abuse this particular spot as a ski resort.

I understood several things about this issue right away – my own deep, genuine life long ability to connect to nature made it easy to understand that these peaks indeed are sacred and must be protected. It was also easy for me to understand that the tribes felt their very culture threatened by this desecration of their sacred land. What I didn’t immediately understand was why the peaks were sacred – I had not yet had a chance to experience the peaks.


When I started to walk, I was indeed “In the Shadow of the Peaks” as the mountains were constantly with me through the several days after departure. It didn’t take me more than one night by the peaks, and I knew with all of my being why these peaks are sacred. All land is sacred, but there are some places on this earth of ours that carries such a deep ability to affect healing and change, and those places are often designated as “sacred” by original cultures. The peaks are such a place, I could feel the living, breathing strength of the peaks and my heart opened up to the beauty.

The Peaks are volcanic in origin and as I walked through the hills created by the volcano, I felt the deep inside of the mother. Without a doubt, the San Francisco Peaks are an astonishing beauty, strength, healing; they are living breathing beings; expressions of the sacredness of our entire earth – this ball, floating in space, so vulnerable. Even worse, we are the worst enemies of our earth – and that is what we show when we pollute the peaks. We show our willingness to destroy our earth until nothing can survive. The peaks must be protected.


In Flagstaff Klee had been particularly fierce in his protectiveness of the peaks, and those first days after walking his fierceness made perfect sense to me. In fact, I found his protective stance to be full of beauty and energy – just like the peaks. We don’t stand by inactively and let rapists rape, and at the moment, rapists are raping the peaks.

As I continued to walk I left the Ponderosa trees and got deep into the desert; and like when I was in the Mojave Desert I was quickly overpowered by the desert – by experiences of Love and Forgiveness; by deep admiration for the desert where beings survive under the toughest conditions – not in spite of those conditions but because of them. My heart painfully and ecstatically expanded in my chest as I experienced the beauty; beauty and pain intermingled, indistinguishable, wonderful and terrifyingly painful. I saw signs saying “water is life”, and it was easy to understand those signs – out here is drier even than The Mojave Desert. Out here, people have to drive sometimes for several hours to get water in the cities – and drive their water back. Water for everything, from drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning – it is the most precious resource.

The anger at “Dew Downtown” with its arrogant abuse of 300,000 gallons of water for a weekends “fun” and even worse, the use of contaminated waste water on the sacred peaks – now, the outrage over those actions made even more sense. Water is Life.

My mind couldn’t let any of this go as I continued to walk and experience the land. I saw a red tailed hawk in the distance. It was beautiful and I stood still to watch. Then it seemed to completely disappear. Suddenly two red tailed hawks were directly above and close to the ground. I was breathless; I had never been so close to red tailed hawks before. I could see their heads turn as apparently they were looking at me as I looked at them. I tried to take a picture, but they didnt appear in the picture – just blue sky. The hawks circled me several times and then flew to the side, but remained in sight for another 15 minutes.

I continued to walk – it was a warm day and the sun felt so good. After about 4-5 miles I wanted to take a break and sat down on my large black duffel bag. The sun simply felt too good, and soon after I lay down on the ground and dozed off for about an hour. Above me the impossibly blue sky and the sun making me feel protected and held. Below me, the dry, dry earth whose heartbeat still felt strong. In my half doze I felt those powerful mountains – I felt their healing move through me, and I felt the desecration; the horrendous rape, tearing up the earth, killing the trees and spreading long term pollution.

I wondered what Catholics would feel if we spread water from our toilets inside the churches of the Vatican. Hey, why not take a dump in full public view inside the Vatican? You say that is holy ground? How would the Catholics feel if we forced the pope to wade through waste water?  I felt the temptation of the anger, the desire to simply stop the horror, and I knew without the shadow of the doubt that the time for anger was past. Not because we accept the desecration, but because the anger can ruin our chances of taking back the peaks. The desecration has happened and is happening, and anger failed to stop it. Now anger can blind us to beauty and opportunity.


I remembered my own journey, the journey that took me from so close to dead because I was powerless, lost, alone. Every day all I could see was terror, fear such as I had never before experienced. An existence as a shadow of myself, lost in an abyss of terror, loneliness and unable to see anything other than the things I couldn’t do. Indeed, death was preferable for that shadow existence. And the one thing that changed everything, almost miraculously, was the ability to shift my focus from the horror my life had become, away from all the things I didn’t want, and on to something positive.

I saw a path to Save the Peaks through an journey of beauty and healing; instead of a journey of fight and strife. I looked up at the beauty of those peaks, they seemed to shimmer and pulse in the sun. It was like the Peaks spoke to me – told me how powerful they were, told me about a longing for a path of strength, beauty and healing; told me how powerful an energy healing can be. And how, if The Peaks are offered healing, then the Peaks will return water.

I wanted so much to share this with the people I had met in Flagstaff and I tried to share it; not sure I was successful.


I continued to walk, yet constantly feeling pulled back to those mountains, missing the people I had met in Flagstaff, and then meeting even more people out here – people whose generosity of spirit, excitement for my journey and desire to be part of it all touched my heart. The sense of community I started to experience in Flagstaff and now see even deeper out here on the Reservation – it has awakened an deep, deep longing in me.

I know I must walk, The Trail is My Sacred Journey and it cries my name. I must walk. Yet, as I walk, In the Shadow of the Peaks, as I breathe in the dust and feel the incredible pulse of the red earth; I wonder: “Is there a job I must do in Flagstaff?” Is this the place I return to when it is all done?

Was I heard when I said – The Peaks can be a path of healing; and if that path is engaged the rapists will be crowded out.

And now I know, I must walk. I must leave this behind; at least for now. I heard The Sacred Peaks. My heart was touched.


4 thoughts on “In The Shadow of the Peaks – These Peaks are Sacred

  1. Once again, you touched our hearts. Hang in there, kid. I’m still working on getting shoes for and to you.

    • Dear Tim n Jan, No worries on shoes right now. The ones I am wearing will take me in to Albuquerque. Thanks, Malene

  2. As you go deeper into the country, you are going deeper into yourself. It’s beautiful to see. What are you needing, besides shoes, which Tim & Jan have covered?

    • Hey Dian, Thanks my friend. at the moment I am doing ok with my gear. I actually suspect I will ship some winter gear home fairly soon – another month or so. I suspect I wont need the big heavy sleeping bad, boots and winter jacket any more – and that bag alone is 10 pounds on my Cadillac.

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