Odyssey of the 8th Fire is the true tale
of an epic pilgrimage for the Earth
across North America

by people of all colors and faiths.

  - A creative non-fiction book in online evolution - ◊
© - 2007 by Steven McFadden

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Odyssey of the 8th Fire,
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"As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow."

- A. C. Benson

Day 200 - Monday, January 8, 1996 - We are breaking camp in Parker, Arizona today, and heading across the Colorado River into California. We may make it as far as Rice, a town in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

A Joshua Tree - frames the New Moon in the California desert. Photo by Olvwu courtesy of flckr.com

Tom came to our camp three times yesterday looking for us, but because we were all up at Spirit Mountain, he found no one.

Tom returned to camp this morning at sunup and found me and Joe at the crossroads near camp, where Joe and I had gone to use the pay phone. The three of us stood at the corner for about 45 minutes talking and exploring options.

Eventually we came to an agreement. Joe and I would go back and help pack up camp, say good-bye to the kind people here on the reservation, and get ready to move on west. Tom and Naoko and the others would get their gear, and join the walk at about noon today. We will meet in the parking lot at the Pizza Hut in Parker, where we stopped walking the other day.

As we walked back to camp, Joe mentioned that he and Tom had been close friends, and that they first met on March 19, 1991 at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. "I always remember that date," Joe said, "because it's St. Joseph's Day."


Tom told us that James and Norma Duncan and their five daughters are Needles, California this morning. Jim feels he must walk on his own according to instructions from Creator, as best he can understand them. Jim told Tom that, if things are feeling right, he and his family may join with our walk when we get to Twentynine Palms, California.


Waiting to cross the Colorado River - From the left: Jun Ji, Tim Buress, Gayle Ford, Monica Swinkels (author photo).

About 45 pilgrims gathered at the Pizza Hut in Parker, ('Ahwe Nyava) shortly after noon.

The drum started, our voices lifted, and off we walked together, headed down the road toward the bridge that crosses the Colorado River and leads on into California and the far reaches of the Mojave desert.

Tom and Joe walked in front of us holding the eagle staff together, Tom on the right and Joe on the left.

They stopped just before the bridge, then scrambled down the embankment to make ceremony, offering tobacco to the spirit of the river, asking permission to cross.

Then, at precisely 2:10 PM on January 8, 1996, our Sunbow 5 Walk for the Earth crossed the Colorado River. Joe and Tom carried the eagle staff together into California. This symbolic act marked the reunification of our groups, and the beginning of the final stretch of our long journey to Humquaq, the Western Gate, which lies north of Santa Barbara.

Have we finally somehow transcended our disagreements and power struggles? Are we finally going to walk together? It looks promising today.

After crossing the river in a ceremonial procession, we walked on into Earp, a wee town named after Wyatt Earp, and thence into the Mojave Desert of California along Route 62.

Crossing the line - Joe Soto on the left and Tom Dostou on the right, with Ned Paschene behind them, lead the Sunbow 5 walk across the Colorado River into California. (Author photo).


The Colorado River is the second longest river in the United States, and the great architect of the Grand Canyon. The river drains 240,000 square miles, one-twelfth of the United States.

But, according to David Reyes, the Chemhuevi man we met on the reservation and who has walked with us today, the river no longer reaches the sea. He told us that he has seen photographs showing where the Colorado River is supposed to meet the sea, and that there’s hardly any water at all.

Colorado River Delta - where the river meets the Pacific Ocean, Sonora, Mexico.

The once mighty Colorado River is sucked nearly dry by people upstream before it gets to the few Cocopa natives who, after over 2,000 years of farming, still live along the lower reaches. Once dense forests grew in the Colorado delta; now there are arid mudflats.


By shuttling ahead in vehicles, our walk's support caravan passed through Rice, California.  It was just too depressing for anyone to want to stop there, a spooky ghost town in the desert. The vibe was bad.

We placed a marker to identify where we had stopped walking for the day, and drove off west. With the sun setting we found an isolated and spot in the desert, a wide place off the road at the junction of Routes 62 and 177. For lack of any other option, this is where we established our new base camp.

Our new base camp - We pitched our base camp by the side of the road in the Mojave Desert, where Routes 62 and 177 intersect. (Author photo).


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 201 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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Odyssey of the 8th Fire Copyright © 2006-2008 by Steven McFadden