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Desert Trail group maps huge hike
Trail stretches from Mexico to Canada
The Desert Trail Association, based in Madras, has finalized and mapped a hiking trail that touches both borders with Canada and Mexico.
Simply known as the "Desert Trail," the route covers more than 2,200 miles, and begins near Jacumba, Calif., on the U.S.-Mexico border, and ends at the U.S.-Canada border near Selkirk, Wash.
It winds through the Mojave Desert, up through Death Valley, then into Nevada and the Black Rock Desert and continues north. From there, it enters Oregon through the Pueblo Mountains, and through the Alvord Desert and Steens Mountains, before it reaches the Malheur National Forest.
The trail continues through the Umatilla National Forest, past Vinegar Hill and crosses Oregon Highway 224. It passes through the Mount Emily Wilderness Area near Hilgard, then takes a turn toward Tollgate and crosses into Washington.
Once in Washington, it runs through Dayton, and then up to Cheney and Spokane before making one of two brief appearances in the Idaho panhandle. The trail returns to Washington for its big finish, up to the Canadian border near Selkirk, Wash., but runs back into Idaho for the end of the trail.
Bruce "Buck" Nelson, the first person to ever hike the entire trail, made the trip in a single traverse and provided the verification from on the ground. He is a retired smokejumper from Anchorage, Alaska, and began the trek in March 2012. He finished the hike on July 9 of the same year.
The trail incorporates some existing trail routes, wilderness sections and plenty of open deserts, said Dave Green, past president of the DTA.
Green, of Madras, pointed out that unlike the popular Pacific Crest Trail, the Desert Trail features point-to-point navigation, which Nelson provided the bulk of during his journey. Extensive map studies, along with help from the Bureau of Land Management - and other public land-use agencies - also contributed in finalizing the mapping of the route taken by Nelson.
A point-by-point map of the route, using Google Maps, can be found at Nelson's website, www.bucktrack.com.