Odyssey 2010: Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNNST)

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pnt-map-smOn July 19, the Nimblewill Nomad again shouldered his pack and headed back out to thru-hike the second trail planned for this year’s 2010 Odyssey. This journey will be ‘oer the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, which runs along the US-Canadian border from Chief Mountain Customs, in Montana, through the northern panhandle of Idaho, to Cape Alava, Washington, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

The trails route was first conceived and explored by Ron Strickland in 1970. In 1977, Strickland founded the Pacific Northwest Trail Association (PNTA), the organization that oversees education, maintenance, and fund-raising for the PNT. On March 30, 2009 the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 included the addition of the PNT as a national scenic trail, and named the Department of Agriculture as administrator of the trail.

In an article titled The New Northwest Passage, written by Ron Strickland, a portion of his description states, “Stretching from the Continental Divide to the sea, the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) hearkens back to the Northwest Passage, that fabled gateway to the east sought by explorers of old. This 1200-mile route, however, doesn’t lead to gold or furs but something infinitely more valuable—true adventure.

The PNT links Glacier National Park in Montana with the northwestmost point of the Olympic Peninsula at Cape Alava, Washington. Deliberately designed for high-altitude enthusiasts, the trail offers superb scenery, solitude, and geographic diversity as it traverses mountain range after mountain range. En route, you’ll cross the Rockies, the Purcells, the Selkirks and the North Cascades; meander through the Salmon-Priest, Okanogan, and Pasayten Wildernesses; climb through the North Cascades and Olympic National Parks; and dip your toes in the water of the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and the Pacific Ocean.”

The Nomad, a devout and seasoned thru-hiker, is always ready to answer the call to be one with God’s Nature, to see and feel such a vast variety of sights and experiences for himself, and to share them with you. So, if you’re not lacing up your bootstraps to hit the trail yourself, then sit back, relax, and enjoy hiking along the PNT with the Nimblewill Nomad, through the photos, videos, and written journal entries he will post along the way.

Although the Nomad began this trek as a lone hiker, with van support from his long-time friend Gordon Smith, 10 days out on the trail his path crossed with a fellow thru-hiker named John Mother Nature’s Son Calhoun. The two have since been hiking the rest of the PNT together.

View Journals of Mother Nature’s Son

Dances with Wolves

Odyssey 2010: Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZNST)

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aztmap-smallThe Arizona National Scenic Trail is one of the eleven National Scenic Trails. This trail goes from Mexico to Utah, traversing the whole north-south length ofArizona. The trail begins at the Coronado National Memorial near the US-Mexico border and moves north through parts of the Huachuca, Santa Rita, andRincon Mountains; then through the Santa Catalina north of Tucson and theMazatzal Mountains before ascending to the higher elevations of Northern Arizona and the San Francisco Peaks, and then continuing on across theCoconino Plateau to the Grand Canyon. It terminates near the Arizona-Utah border in the Kaibab Plateau region. The Arizona Trail is about 96% complete, and is planned to be about 817 miles (1,307 km) long when completed. It is designed as a primitive trail for hiking, equestrians, mountain biking, and even cross country skiing. It showcases the wide variety of mountain ranges and ecosystems of Arizona.

On May 1st, Nimblewill Nomad again shouldered his pack and returned to the trail.  His trek this year will encompass two National Scenic Trails, the Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.  As the miles go, the distance for both will actually total less than half that hiked during Odyssey 2009, so the pace should be a bit less hectic.  Plans are to allow a couple of months for each.  For the Arizona—May and June; for the Pacific Northwest—mid July through mid September.

Since these trails ply not only desert, but also mountainous terrain, with remote wilderness areas, spectacular scenery, lots of climbing, this journey should present many challenges.  Just as during past odysseys, Nomad will be posting journal entries.  Additionally, there should be lots of great photo and video ops along the way.  He’ll also have scheduled mail drops.  He’d love hearing from you.  Please check the itinerary page for towns and tentative dates.

So, why not plan on coming along.  Check back often; we’ll have a grand time!  And as always, please keep the old fellow in your prayers.


The features of the Arizona Trail are diverse including historic sites, natural features and geologic wonders, quaint communities, and large remote wilderness areas. Prehistoric and historic sites dot the entire trail. These sites include the mining history atKentucky Camp, the cliff dwellings at Tonto and Walnut Canyon National Monuments, the historic Roosevelt Dam, 1900 tourism era structures and trails of Grand Canyon National Park, the former railroad town of Patagonia, and the former logging railroads near Mormon Lake.

Coronado National Memorial

Kaibab Plateau

Journey with the Nimblewill Nomad and let the adventure unfold!

Blue Shadows on the Trail

Odyssey 2009: North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST)

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The National Trails System Act of 1968 established two national scenic trails, the Appalachian (AT) and the Pacific Crest (PCT) and called for studies of 14 other routes.  Since that time eight National Scenic Trails (NSTs) have been officially designated (most recently through enactment of the 2008 National Trails System Act), including the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  Presently, of the eight, only those originally designated, the AT and the PCT, are anywhere near completion.

The NCT has a long and winding history.  No one really knows who dreamed up the idea.  Seems the earliest anything appears in writing, at least as can be found, is 1965–as documented in The Early History of the North Country Trail.  Those concepts show varying distances for the trail, around 3,000 miles, give or take.  Even as recently as 2008, in that act, the NCT is described as being “…a trail of approximately thirty-two hundred miles.”  What the final distance might end up being (as it continues growing in leaps and bounds with each passing year) is anybody’s guess.  When the dust finally (and literally) settles, it’ll probably extend for a staggering 4,600 miles or more.  To date, 1,800 miles of tread meet required standards and have been “certified off-road.”  What this means is that less than half the trail is (currently) forevermore protected.  The remaining miles, around 2,800, share treadway with other users, with a fair number ending up on county back roads, and state and federal highways.

And so, onto this trail will the old Nimblewill Nomad venture.  Odyssey 2009 began on March 22, in North Dakota on the banks of the Missouri River at the Knife River Indian Villages NHS, one of the most significant of sites along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail in North Dakota.  From there he’ll hike the short distance north to Lake Sakakawea State Park, the official beginning/terminus of the NCT.

And why would Nimblewill want to trek the NCT you might ask?  Well, seems Nomad’s ultimate quest, before heading on up that final treadway in the sky, is to hike all eight NSTs.

Of the eight, he’s hiked all but two, those being the NCT and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.  So he’s decided that 2009 is the year to take on the NCT, good Lord willin’ the old fellow is now 70.

The NCT will present great challenges for Nimblewill.  Being such a very long trail as it is, around 4,600 miles, and being primarily latitude-oriented along the northern tier of states, successfully thru-hiking the NCT will require both great endurance, as to continual long-mileage days, and in addition, the likely need to withstand harsh, winter-like conditions, no doubt on both ends of the journey.

So, now an invitation from Nimblewill Nomad, to all dear friends–to follow along as journals, video/audio segments and photo albums are posted.  Also, and if you would, please keep him in your prayers for a safe and successful conclusion to this latest great adventure.

Yesterday Once More

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