Archives for category: – Difficulty: 4 of 10
Spiderwoman Rock, Canyon de Chelly. Photo: Nik Schulz


After leaving Taos we headed northwest across New Mexico toward Arizona. About 200 miles into that day’s drive, something loomed up over the edge of the horizon. It was Shiprock, the massive remains of an ancient volcano’s innards that rise 1,500 feet above the high desert plain. It was an otherworldly sentinel marking our entrance into the Navajo Nation.

Update: Here’s a quick video of the trip.

Shiprock looms ahead. Photo: Natalie Menacho

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Last month I went to the Overland Rally in Hollister, CA, a weekend of classes, camping, and overland community, where travel, vehicle prep, driving, and navigation were all on topic. For example…

On international travel: if you’re traveling through a town and you don’t see any women or children, something is wrong. That said, the world is a pretty safe place and trouble is usually highly localized and easily avoided.

On vehicle prep: the most important change you can make on a vehicle is tires. Select ones that are suited to the environment in which you’ll be driving. For example, mud terrain tires work in mud but not on asphalt and snow.

On navigation: if you end up lost, stop. Figure out where you are (by plotting your GPS coordinates on a map or using a compass to triangulate your position from known points); make a plan; and proceed by dead reckoning (traveling a certain distance, on a known heading, from a known position) or by plotting GPS coordinates every few miles. Precision is the key. An error of a few millimeters on the map can translate into a few thousand feet on the trail. When following your compass, don’t forget to account for magnetic deviation (the difference between magnetic north and true north). Read the rest of this entry »

Looking up the road towards Laurel Lakes

The sign for Laurel Lakes trail

At the start of the trail

Click here for a downloadable .gpx file to use with your GPS device.

Labor Day found us driving a rocky dirt road cut through a landslide of rubble into one of the most beautiful valleys I’d ever seen. We were on the trail to Laurel Lakes, over 9000ft up in eastern Sierra Nevada. Every off-road guide I have rates this as a gorgeous trip and I’d been wanting to take it for some time. There’s a good little video, more pics, a map, and the rest of the story after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »