Odyssey 2011: Triple-O Ozark Trail-Ozarks Highlight Trail-Ouachita Trail

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On May 4th of this year, before trekking down the final two of our eleven National Scenic Trails, the Nimblewill Nomad headed out on the Ozark Trail (OT), right here in his home state of Missouri.

Of the 500 miles of proposed trail in Missouri, some 350 miles of the Ozark Trail have been completed. Isolated sections are interconnected (for now) by somewhat lengthy roadwalks. It’s a scenic-but-rugged trail, as it traverses the highest land between the Appalachians and the Rockies, the Ozark Mountains, as they’ve come to be known.

And these Ozark Mountains?  Well, they could be more correctly categorized as highlands, since they sprawl across an elevated, deeply dissected plateau. And for sure, the region is unique, certainly as to its culture, in both folklore and folksong.  The descriptive term Hillbilly, or Ozark Hillbilly; they’re pretty much synonymous (Yup, that’s Nimblewill!).  It’s a remarkably diverse region.  Here can be found mountainous terrain marked by deep valleys through which clear, meandering streams flow.  Caves are numerous.  Hillsides throughout are heavily forested in oak, hickory, and pine.  Minerals abound.  Agriculture, forestry, mining, tourism, they’re the mainstay.

nrt-oht-logooht-logoAs the Nomad left Missouri, he continued his trek along the Ozark Highlands TrailThis cross-country route in northwest Arkansas stretches 165 miles from Lake Fort Smith State Park, across the Ozark National Forest, to the Buffalo National River. The trail passes through some of the most remote and scenic portions of the Ozark Mountains, like the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. It also visits White Rock Mountain, Hare Mountain, the Marinoni Scenic Area, and countless other breathtaking spots, and crosses more than 60 named creeks, streams and rivers, passing hundreds of seasonal waterfalls, lots of sandstone bluffs, giant boulders and scenic vistas.

nrt-out-logoot-ouachita-logoThe Nomad completedp his Triple-O odyssey on the Ouachita Trail, which stretches 223 miles through the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma. The first 192 miles lie within the Ouachita National Forest; the remaining 31 miles, maintained by Pinnacle Mountain State Park, traverse lands owned by timber companies and Central Arkansas Water. He picked up the Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma at Talimena State Park, some 90 roadwalk miles southwest of Fort Smith. From there the Nomad trekked the Ouachita east, back into Arkansas, then on to Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock. Elevations range from 600 to 2,600 feet as the trail passes through forested mountains, across sweeping valleys and near clear-running streams.

Missouri Waltz

Odyssey 2000-2010: The Nimblewill Nomad’s Sea-to-Sea Route (C2C)

Nimblewill Nomad’s second Transcontinental Trek


Sea-To-Sea Route Map Disclaimer:The path here (as hiked in sections by Nimblewill Nomad) was created by connecting certain existing trails/roads.  As shown, this amalgamation forms a continuous transcontinental route, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as it tracks the better part of a trail known as the Sea-To-Sea Route.  It should be noted, however, that variances from the recognized Sea-to-Sea Route do exist.  For more information, please visit the website of Ron Strickland, Sea-To-Sea Route founder.

The Sea-to-Sea Route (C2C) is an amalgamation of existing trails, much like the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT).  It was first envisioned byRon Strickland back in 1996.  Strickland is founder of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) now one of our three new National Scenic Trails.

Early on Strickland realized that once his trail was complete, it would provide the missing link in a system of trails connected such that hikers could trek the entire continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  He also realized that a trail high up in our northern tier of states would be much more rugged than the American Discovery Trail (the other transcontinental trail route), as the C2C would traverse some of the most scenic of America’s mountainous terrain.

“The 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark’s epic journey reminded us that exploration is an essential part of the human endeavor. C2C distills that spirit of adventure for 21st century walkers. In the 19th century, ordinary people talked of ‘lighting out for the territory.’  Millions sought their dreams over the horizon in the forests and on the prairies.  From settled precincts to the wildest mountains, they made their way on foot and on horseback.  Now, generations later, that excitement can be rediscovered on the Sea-To-Sea Route.  Whether you have a day or many months, C2C’s opportunities await you.  Experience the simple joys of putting one foot in front of the other.  Slow down.  Open your eyes to the wonders of the North American continent.  Discover hidden strengths within yourself.  And know at the end of the day that you have accomplished something special.  There is nothing chic or trendy about the eternal verities out there under the sky.  But that’s why decades from now people will still treasure a weekend or a fortnight on the Sea-To-Sea Route.”

Ron Strickland

Strickland’s concept struck a chord and kindled a passion in the heart of one Andy Skurka, who, on August 6, 2004, set out to thru-hike the C2C.  Skurka trekked for 11 months, nearly 8,000 miles, an incredible feat of endurance.  On July 10, 2005, the final day for Skurka, the two celebrated together at Cape Alava, Washington.  On that day, Strickland’s dream became reality.

Here are the trails (or sections thereof) Strickland linked together to create the C2C:

International Appalachian Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Long Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (along the PNT)

To provide continuity for the C2C Route, two connecting roadwalks are currently required.  One links the Long Trail to the North Country Trail (a short distance) through Vermont and New York.  The other hooks the North Country Trail to the Continental Divide Trail (a very long distance) through North Dakota and Montana.

Let’s swerve off-path here for just a moment to talk a little pie-in-the-sky:

The amalgamation of long-distance trails, this concept, as exists with both the C2C and the ECT, holds great potential (see detailed map), as the idea extends the horizon toward a much more far-reaching goal, that being to ultimately interconnect our (now) 11 National Scenic Trails.  This grand vision (of linking all long trails) will encourage not only unity of purpose within the National Scenic Trails system, but in addition, will energize those volunteers who unselfishly give of their valuable time and resources in the ongoing effort to satisfy man’s instinctive desire to—connect with *Nature.

Isn’t it fascinating that the C2C and the ECT not only interconnect, but that they also link together all but four of our National Scenic Trails.  Those trails so connected are: The…

Florida National Scenic Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

Thus, by trekking along the ECT, then the C2C, far-distant trails such as the Florida and the Pacific Crest, those trails can now be interconnected.  Is this not a beautiful thing!  Want to start in Key West and hike to the Mexican Border in California?  Well, come on; the trail’s there—Sure it is; Nimblewill’s hiked it!

Ah, and again, starting on the Florida Trail, it’s now possible to hike to/through 29 of our lower 48 United States—all made possible by two trails, the ECT and the C2C, trails not represented (let alone recognized) by any organization or authority!  Again, Nimblewill’s hiked them; so can you!

Okay, let’s get back to the C2C…

Throughout the hiking community, folks seeking the trail tend to stay the narrow, canopied path.  Nimblewill’s labeled them “The Green Tunnel Crowd.”  So, guess it just stands to reason that those who plan and create our trails, those folks tend to be single-trackers too. They strive to keep their paths as far away as possible from even the slightest semblance of a passable road.  Those planners—Ha, well, they could sure be looked at as having a “One Track Mind” (no disparage intended).

So, makes sense then, that planners looking to create the ultimate C2C Route would frown big-time on ever taking to the highways and byways.  Their plan, as how to close the gap, near a staggering 900 miles between the North Country and Continental Divide Trail(s), is to hack out a single-track path across the sprawling upper Great Plains.  Looking at Nomad’s itinerary below, you’ll see only a 24-mile gap between these two trails.  And how can that be, you ask?  Well, had he trekked past Lake Sakakawea State Park during his outbound Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (L&CNHT) Odyssey back in 2004 (the 200th anniversary of their expedition), rather than the route through Knife River Indian Villages, that gap wouldn’t even exist, as the L&CNHT also passes by Lake Sak.  Anyway, instead of the huge gap trail planners say is out there, in Nimblewill’s mind (since he doesn’t continually seek the narrow, green tunnel), there’s no gap at all.

So, the trails (or sections thereof) Nimblewill Nomad trekked during his C2C journey are: The…

International Appalachian Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

Below is Nimblewill Nomad’s itinerary.  Listed are the dates and mileages for the trails Nimblewill trekked during his (section) hike o’er the C2C—385 days, 8457 miles.  Clicking any one of them will take you to that specific Odyssey, where you’ll find the respective journal dates/entries.  Also, on those pages you can view some spectacular photos and videos.

We’re sure you’ll discover Nimblewill Nomad’s C2C trek to be a remarkable adventure.  So, why not come along; Nomad would certainly enjoy your company!

International Appalachian Trail – Odyssey 2000 (North to South)
May 24, 2000—July 12, 2000
Trail Days—50
Trail Miles—731

Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2000 (North to South)
July 12, 2000—August 18, 2000
Trail Days—37/87
Trail Miles—511/1242

East Connector, North Country National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2009 (West to East)

September 3, 2009—September 4, 2009
Trail Days—2/89
Trail Miles—52/1294

North Country National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2009 (West to East)
March 23, 2009—September 2, 2009
Trail Days—165/254
Trail Miles—4426/5720

West Connector, North Country National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2009 (West to East)
March 22, 2009
Trail Days—1/255
Trail Miles—24/5744

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail – Odyssey 2004 (East to West)

July 5, 2004—August 9, 2004
Trail Days—35/290
Trail Miles—932/6676

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2005 (North to South)
June 22, 2005—July 21, 2005
Trail Days—30/320
Trail Miles—581/7257

Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail – Odyssey 2010 (East to West)
July 19, 2010—September 21, 2010
Trail Days—65/385
Trail Miles—1200/8457

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee; How great Thou art!
How great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Carl Boberg – English translation by Stuart Hine

How Great Thou Art

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

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