Winter Camp

Winter Camp

The Four Corners region of the American Southwest is home to the Diné Bikéyah or Navajo Nation. This vast land of more than 26,000 thousand acres covers parts of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. It offers endless inspiration to Hilario.

Hilario’s daughter-in-law is Navajo and spent her childhood in this windswept land raising sheep with her family, the Keams of the Bitterwater Clan. Visit the Keams Family website. She has taken Hilario to visit some of the places she lived with her family. One such special place is Winter Camp.

It was once common practice to move a sheep herd to different areas depending on the season. The Keams’ winter camp offered some protection from the cold harsh winters on the Colorado Plateau. This place lies somewhat southwest of Gray Mountain on a south facing slope to catch the winter’s sun. Nowadays, the Keams family no longer herds sheep and this place lies deserted but not empty.

Grasses, shrubs and the pinon pine thrive here, full of the busy red ant. Cattle roam the green hills. The vast sky soars over vistas of rolling plains washing up to the feet of long-asleep volcanoes. The only sound is the wind wafting across the grass. It is a magical place.

Hilario last visited Winter Camp in the summer of 2007. Monsoon clouds, heavy with moisture, piled up to the south. The wind blew and the smell of rain and lightning filled the air.