Update: 2017 Walking the Healing Path


Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
John Tsosie, middle, walks along Navajo Route 12 in Oak Springs, Arizona, during the Walking the Healing Path on June 16. Tsosie is walking to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which is 160 miles away.

On June 15, the National Weather Service warned to “avoid strenuous activities” but John L. Tsosie and Ernest Tsosie Jr. didn’t do that.

Instead, the father and son set out on their 2017 Walking the Healing Path under an NWS “moderate” risk of heat-related health issues in the area that day.

The trek will take the pair, and a group of volunteers who support them, 104 miles on this year’s “Journey to the White Mountain Apache Nation” from Window Rock to Whiteriver.

By the second day, they faced heat wave conditions, according to NWS data.

“Boy, yesterday by the end of the day I was done, I was tired,” John Tsosie said, when he checked in by phone on June 16. “But today, I got some good sleep last night, I’m feeling great.”

The pair sallied forth with a reckoning of the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Last year Ernest had been taken to the hospital on the “Journey to the Hopi Nation” walk. In an interview at a hotel in Chambers on Monday, he explained precautions he took on the walk this year.

“The last walk I took I got heat stroke, so have to be real careful,” Ernest said.

Based on blisters and skin color, a burn on John’s hand looked like a second-degree burn. As he spoke about pain from the burn and blistered feet, he contemplated the pain in the context of the walk.

“When I think about that, I always think about why we’re walking,” he said.

In 2003, the Tsosie’s created Walking the Healing Path Inc. to address domestic violence through annual walks in and around the Navajo Nation.

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Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at Chrisp@navajotimes.com.