Along this section of the Rio Grande passes the oldest road in North America, excluding roadways utilized by pre-columbian First Nation tribes. We are traveling north to Santa Fe on a section of the Camino Real, the first road built to connect Mexico City with its northern outpost. Archaeologist found evidence of human habitation in the valley 10000 years old. You can be sure there has been many footsteps both up and down this valley. The largest trees i’ve seen since the march began dot the river landscape and they seem prolific. One can imagine the early spanish settlers making their way up this valley at roughly 8 miles per day. They moved with wagon and cattle for food provision. We are moving up the valley at an average of 15 miles per day. We use a truck to supply us with food, water, and supplies. Still, it isn’t hard to envision the trials of these men and women from our walking perspective. We seem much closer to these folks after two months of walking. Sure, we have smartphones and Brooks trail runners, but we still walk across the earth and it teaches a similar lesson. I feel a connection with the early sojourner. I ask myself more questions about these people and their footprint on our planet. I wonder if the future will contrive a more sustainable footprint for us humans that travel this valley.
Time for a few confessions. I can’t seem to walk past an old diner that sells pie, and such indulgences take me off the sustainable climate marcher path. If it were just a harmless piece of pie perhaps all could be forgiven but it does not stop there. Youthful marchers attempt to eat and sleep in a responsible, sustainable manner butI ﬁnd myself falling off our collective “wagon”. Truth is, I’m old, spoiled and weak. Never mind that I have walked 800 plus miles, I still slip from the purist footsteps again, and again. A motel with hot shower and a bed is something I treat myself to every three or four days… usually joined by several other older spoiled climate marchers. I seek the comforts of modern times. The comforts we each take for granted… comforts we feel entitled to. We rarely take time to ask ourselves … How much is enough? I know as do many of you that not answering this question is collectively killing our planet and not so slowly I might add. There are to many me’s out there. Too many hot showers and heated or air conditioned rooms. Too many laptops charging. Too many gas tanks being ﬁlled. Too many acres of genetically modiﬁed crops and chemical laden soil. Gods glorious creation is being systemically pillaged by millions of casual, unassuming consumers that just need a few things and then don’t know how to live without a few more… I am one of them. I like Ice in my glass, and cheap meat on my dinner plate. From this river valley with surrounding mountains it isn’t hard to imagine a world without the human I have become. Teach those you love to tread lightly on this earth. I am remembering an indian we met near Parker Arizona who said: “I am the last to speak the language of my grandmother. I am losing it because there is nobody to speak it to. The old one’s taught us to care for the earth and save it for the seventh generation to follow.” I hope someone learns his grandmothers lost language. I hope, and I pray, and I commit my spirit to faith … however fragile that may be, that we will learn before it’s too late and my 7th generation might wander this Camino as I have.