A Caution to Pilgrims

Tracking Nana was originally conceived as a combination popular history of Nana’s Raid and a hiking/camping guide to New Mexico locales associated with that event. Because readers of first drafts found the inteweaving of the two strands confusing, I decided to confine the book to the historical narrative, reserving the travel material to the “warpath” section of this website. I may add the hiking and camping guide as an appendix in a subsequent edition (if any) of the book, but in the interim anyone interested in following Nana’s path on the ground can refer to those pages of the website. I do feel the need to attach one important caveat to this invitation, however: all this material was gathered several years ago, and your experience may vary. Roads smoothly graded when I last passed over them may be all but impassable today; campgrounds that were empty then are now crowded with RVs; where there was once no more than a cattleguard crossing the road, some rancher may have added a padlocked gate. Proceed at your own risk (and embrace the adventure).


Strange thing about aging in the 21st Century: even as you’re slowing down, the world is speeding up around you. It’s been more than a month since my last post, but in mitigation I have to argue I’ve been awful busy, mainly on personal business unrelated to this Nana project. But I’ve also been struggling with the challenges connected with turning the Kindle e-book into a paperback.


The backcountry search for Barbara Thomas, who disappeared in the Mohave National Preserve 11 days ago, has been suspended,  S&R teams working with K9 units, members certified in cave searches, rope climbing and desert terrain combed the area yesterday but found no trace of the missing woman. “Detectives from the Specialized Investigations Division have assumed the investigation,”  according to the Sheriff’s Department.


Still Missing

The search for Barbara Thomas, missing since the afternoon of July 12, is still underway, but chances she is still alive somewhere out in the Mojave are now vanishingly small. Another strange story, this one from the California mountains, offers a sinister alternative template to her disappearance. Found after missing for four days, the woman claims she got lost fleeing from a man brandishing a knife. I’ve been wandering the mountains and deserts of the Southwest for better than 50 years, more often alone than not, and I’ve had some unsettling encounters with strangers. While I can’t say I ever felt seriously threatened, the world (and esp California) seems to get crazier by the day. Personally, I feel more comfortable carrying a pistol when I hike (more for snakes, feral dogs and rabid animals than for two-legged predators). Unfortunately, that’s not a legal option in CA, with its restrictive gun laws.

Missing in the Mojave

I try not to post on back-country misadventures too often, since the plot lines are so often drearily familiar. But every once in a while one comes along sufficiently out of the ordinary to attract my attention. Such a one is this report from California. Search continues, but air temp is around 104 today, the ground underfoot is 20-30 degrees hotter than that, and shade is minimal to non-existent. If the missing woman has been out there for more than 72 hours with no water and no clothing to speak of, her survival chances are slim. What’s puzzling is that she’s no feckless German tourist, but a local resident who should have been aware of what that desert is like this time of the year. Unless she’s no longer entirely compus mentis (in which case a responsible adult should have been keeping a closer eye on her) it’s hard to understand why she would go hiking in mid-afternoon, without a cell phone, any water, or any covering but a baseball cap, hiking boots and a black bikini. I pray she survives to tell her story.

Coyote Science

Following up on my previous posts, here’s an informative piece on man’s continuing battle of wits with Wile E. Coyote. Story notes the feds killed 68,000 coyotes last year, with no noticeable impact on populations, while mule deer numbers are down by nearly a third over the past 30 years, due in part at least to coyote predation. While some  advocate less lethal methods, the coyotes are too smart for us. “We’ve used noisemakers and sirens, and they work for a period of time, and then the coyotes realize they’re not going to get hurt.”