This year we were joined by 55 walkers in total from 12 nations: USA, Bolivia, UK, Germany, Portugal, India, Israel/Palestine, Holland, South Africa, and Poland in addition to walkers from both the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley and Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe.
The walkers came with a range of experience, knowledge and practice in working with water both around the world and locally. There was a balance of men and women and a wide age-range from 20 to nearly 70. Similarities in how water has been managed over the last 100+ years were shared, with different responses and strategies considered. Our common ground in its simple essence became our love and respect for water.
A Typical Day
Many people ask us how our day was and while we really took each day as it came – to be flexible with route, the weather and needs of the group – we did find a common rhythm that seemed to work well.
We had a small logistics team and kitchen team that either followed or went ahead each day – providing our group shelter, water and food. This team had to be flexible and very creative as they could never predict what would happen next with us on the trail.
Each day we woke with the sun, normally around 6a, drank a cup of coffee or tea, prepared breakfast and made a picnic bag for lunch. We packed up our own belongings and were in circle by 8am. A few times we met while it was still dark to avoid the afternoon heat. Here we would leanly share essentials from the night, maybe a dream that was significant for the group and place, along with some guidance from Gigi, Kate, and later Alan, when he joined for week three. Each morning as we left the base camp and each evening as we arrived to our next base camp we would offer a water blessing – giving gratitude to the water and land.
After the picture of our day ahead was shared, Krystyna and Laura guided us into silence with a question or thought for the morning. As the journey continued Hank and Jasmine met with the team and became our guides into the time of intentional silence with thoughts to consider. The silent walk often lasted the first two to three hours and our first break was enriched by hearing witness comments from the group. What did we see or find, discover or feel, inside or outside during this time, relevant to our journey?
We then set off again, walking 8 to 14 miles a day, with rest stops for lunch, and visits to important locations — such as the Crystal Geyser Bottling Plant or a natural spring that was discovered along the route. Not long after arriving in the afternoons to the night basecamp, we came together in council, song, and Talking Water. Supper was always a highlight just around dark and most would be asleep before the stars came out.
Some of our most memorable moments were:
Talking Water took place practically every other day serving as one of the spaces where we invited both walkers and local community members to share their stories and be open for questions and comments by the group. Doing this, we keep ourselves engaged in the issues and stories of the land we walk on and its people, as well as have a way to explore and practice the art of questioning. There is a deep impact to hear stories directly from the storyteller.
Some of this year’s highlights were: