Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trail Resources: Behind the Curtain

The No-Name Route is one that I am putting the land first. I have not disclosed too much of the route because I do not want to promote 'me.' Contrary, I want to describe the route as it happens, as it unfolds before me. The simple sentiment behind my process is solely the need to be immersed in some of the most wild places in the U.S. I really do not care if the route gets notoriety. I am not trying to celebrate me being the 'first one', nor am I striving to do what anyone else wants to do. Hence the no-name, not even mine deserves to be associated with it. However, what one person's effort into a new route may show by walking it solo, behind the curtain shows the invaluable resources of trail/route pioneers and caretakers. 

This Winter has been one of extensive research in the extreme environments I am embarking into. I believe more detail and work has gone into this route than the Vagabond Route. Although I am not able to do on-the-ground route planning in the actual environs, I think I've gotten a better glimpse into all the hours and diligent work route-plowers, pathfinders, and trailblazers task themselves to. Because of the deeper route research I feel a greater appreciation and gratefulness towards the ones who have scouted before. I often thought of Brett Tucker this past Winter in regards to his GET creation. How painstakingly he toiled and researched a route to be walked twice. I recall on my GET hike, as part of the Vagabond Loop, the number of ribbons tied along tree, brush and shrub branches in the Santa Teresas. What these little 'notes' told me was that Tucker had been going to that area for years, retracing a walk-able route through very rugged, eroded, and burnt terrain. I found it incredible that one person could put that much work into something that big. The hours of work probably tabulate into the thousands of hours. I became humble because of Tucker's love of the area. 

The No-Name Route is because of hike-inventors and pioneers like Brett Tucker, like Ron Strickland, like the indefatigable map-updaters like Li Brannfors, among others. Wilderness and trails are in a better shape because of these few stalwart fighters of wild places. Routes are held even more sacred, trails are more accessible yet more challenging. We all need the traits of these irascible explorers. When I hike I try to pay homage to these toilsome, exploratory few by holding myself in accordance with LNT, passing along information on the routes and maps in a sacred manner, and providing information and feedback to the resource itself. The symbiotic relationship between wilderness protector, route pioneer, and wilderness is somewhat intangible and unrecognizable in our new day and age of information being able to be accessed so expediently and quickly on the worldwide web. I think as experienced hikers we need to pass along respectable etiquette to the route and/or trail resource provider. I want to pass along how important it is to hold what we have as gold. 

These resources:

   Enhance our wilderness experience by providing info on otherwise non-researched items such as crucial intersections, water info for the shoulder seasons, environmental concerns and terrain tendencies, weather issues, and map publications and files with a 'written' route.

   Enable hikers to visit wilderness areas that may be otherwise unknown to the public by keeping certain places in public memory and even providing the opportunity to accomplish an intimidating route.

   Provide crucial safety information such as route obstacles, the quality and reliability of water resources, town info, bailout points, emergency services, shoulder season info, and most importantly updated map info.

   Promote responsible wilderness travel and stewardship as the resources manage users in an area without over-bearing the land, keeping them on a path and enriching an area by being 'used.'

   In essence, author a written documentation and interpretation in the form of guidebooks and map sets of the trail/route that empowers us to understand our relationship with the land better.

Lastly and most importantly, I would like to pass along much gratitude to Steve Tabor, creator of the Desert Trail and author of the guidebooks, who had an incredible vision to find a route through incredible terrain; George Huxtable for providing me the Death Valley Desert Trail Guidebook; Buck Nelson, the first ‘thru-hiker’ of the Desert Trail, who provided me with crucial water information, contacts for the maps and guidebooks, and general temperament of the route. I truly enjoyed reading Buck’s Postholer journal on the Desert Trail, as well. For my Nevada and Great Basin Traverse I valued the reading of Zoner’s Trail Journal on his hot spring and Great Basin tramp. For the Idaho Centennial Trail, Brian Frankle’s journal has been a crucial resource. By far the best and most personable resource for the ICT has been Stephan Taroli, who has put in hours upon hours of work in a map set, guide, and tips. Also, his general conversation on the ICT has really given me an insight into what I can expect. Finally, Li Brannfors has once again provided me with valuable information. His PNT map set is so amazingly good. 


  1. Great stuff, Ryan. Looking forward to hiking with you as I read your incredible narrative postings. Be safe.