In 2015 Six Moon Designs' Media Manager Renee Patrick completed the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). In doing so, she completed her Triple Crown. That's hiking the three major US trails, Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Together they represent over 7,000 miles of hiking.This fall, Renee became the tenth person to complete the new 750 mile route, the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT). Over a series of five different sections and almost 7 weeks, she hiked and pack-rafted her way across the remote terrain in southeastern Oregon.
She not only completed the route, but has been working as the Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator for the last year, and what better way to learn what the new long-distance trail needed to help get it established, than to hike it herself.
The trail was created by conservation organization the Oregon Natural Desert Association, and in 2014 they released a full set of trail materials including maps, guidebook and way-points. Renee was hired to draw from her 10,000+ miles of long-distance hiking experiences to help the route get established, and she introduced several new resources this year prior to her hike: a data-book/water chart, water caching guidelines and maps, and section overview maps.
Part of her goal is to create a series of alternates across the desert, similar to the Continental Divide Trail. In addition, Renee plans to explore routes for other forms of quiet recreation that might want to explore the desert route including bike-packing, horse-packing, skiing and pack-rafting. In July she completed a 140 mile “water alternate” in the Owyhee River in her pack-raft. She hiked in about 40 miles using the Six Moon Designs Flex Pack to carry her boat, paddle, helmet, PFD, camping supplies, and 7 days of food.
Trail materials have been available to the public for just over two years for this trail that’s not quite a trail. Consisting of 10% trail tread, 35% cross country terrain, and 56% roads (primarily little-used 2-track and dirt roads crossing the desert), the route is one of the more difficult long distance hiking experiences in the country. But for those hikers who have the navigational skills and desire for solitude, the seven mountain ranges, expansive alkali deserts, numerous hot springs, and unpolluted night sky provides a unique experience in a time when many other popular long distance trails are experiencing a surge in numbers of backpackers.
All the trail materials are free for download on the website (www.onda.org/OregonDesertTrail), but wait until the spring to print the materials as Renee will be updating and refining the resources with the information she gathered on the trail, and with feedback from the other four hikers who completed the route this year.