I got up before “the great heat” descended on us this morning and hiked to good spot to hone my GigaPan skills. Gotta learn quickly — the trip to South African is just around the corner. I want to get as many decent GigaPan shots in as I can before embarking on the Kirstenbosch Project.
Piestewa Peak is a special place for me. It’s just a short drive from my house and I’ve hiked to the summit too many times to count over the past decade. Mostly, it’s special because I’ve had the good fortune to get to know the family of the young soldier for whom the peak was named: Lori Ann Piestewa. What started out as an article for Rolling Stone magazine on the first Native American woman to die in combat fighting for the United States (Iraq March 23, 2003), became much more. I drove up to Tuba City to interview Lori’s family. Her mother, Percy, and father Terry lived in Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation at the time. Her Dad is Hopi, her Mom is Mexican American, and the husband of her two (adorable) children, Carla and Brandon, is Navajo.
After the article was finished, we all stayed in touch. Percy and Terry included my family and me in birthday celebrations and I met aunties and uncles, brothers, Lori’s sister, grandparents, cousins. That’s the thing I’ve noticed about a lot of Native peoples — there’s a very thin line between friends and family. Once you’ve become a friend — you suddenly have a new extended family!
I often think about Lori when I hike on Piestewa Peak, especially when standing on the summit. It’s a strange feeling — Lori, the young warrior I wrote about, is one of the few people in her family I’ve never met. And can never meet.
It’s a special place, Piestewa Peak. Enjoy the view. (It’s easier to see it fully over here on the GigaPan site.)