Dzil ta’ah Adventures Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series

Dzil ta’ah Adventures LLC was created to offer sustainable cultural experiences in the backcountry via bikes and bike packing with most of the commercial tour proceeds helping to build a bikepack community on the Navajo Nation. Whether it be creating routes or mentoring native youth.

Our year to launch was spring 2020. The COVID pandemic resulted in all non-essential businesses being shut down including the Navajo Parks and Recreation department. Parks and Rec are the issuing authority for permits.

We are involved in many other outdoor and bike projects on Navajo and the kids still ask us when they can go bike packing with us. We did not want to disappoint. Although we are still in the red with permit fees, commercial insurance, lawyer document reviews, and all the obligatory expenses with starting an outdoor recreation business, we wanted to go ahead do something anyway.

We kicked around a bunch of ideas and I remembered a conversation I had with Steve and Liz from Four Corners Guides at Moab brewery after a day packrafting the Animas River. The idea of getting Navajo kids on pack rafts. We revisited this again at a Swift-water rescue course and just weeks prior to a phone conference solidified the plans.

Sitting at the drawing board that evening, I remembered how hard it was to properly outfit the bikes the community youth were bringing, it just didn’t seem possible. They lacked the proper bikes, equipment, know-how and I was throwing them the wolves (Doom). It made sense to build some background first. Get them out riding locally. We can still follow CDC guidelines. We are outside. We can mandate masks. Nature is perfect for social distancing. The Navajo nation lockdown orders still allow for exercise within five miles of our residence. Why not take another shot at it.

We reached out to Doom and Liz again with our concerns about putting kids on packrafts and bikes who have never ridden a loaded bike. Nadine and I wanted to build some background first. With two trips prior, kids will learn how to attach carrying systems to their bikes, pack bags properly, get the feel for riding loaded, and setting up camp. That way they don’t get overwhelmed when the pack rafts are put into the equation.

We are thankful that so many friends and companies have stepped up to help us do this. We have been getting donations of gear, and some monetary funds to offset the cost of running the trips, food, transportation, and gear we are lacking. The first group that has stepped up to take the challenge are a NICA affiliated team, Dine Composite. We are looking forward to sharing rich Navajo history, landscapes, and most importantly the lesson that you don’t have to travel to enjoy an adventure on bikes.

Four Corners Guides will be assisting in the Navajo Youth Bike-Packrafting Adventure Series alongside Dzil ta’ah Adventures in the following ways:

-Utilizing permits, shuttle, packrafting gear, and time, to run the bikerafting portion of the program in October
-Fundraising to pay for gear, food, transportation costs for the program
-Doing outreach, public relations and marketing work to get the word out about the program
-Continuing to plan for the long-term success of the program with Jon and Nadine

If you would like to help out, you can donate at GoFundMe and/or reach out to Jon at Dzil ta’ah Adventures!