On Aug 29, 2015, I will attempt to establish a speed record on the brand new 800-mile Oregon Desert Trail (ODT). Shane von Schlemp thru-hiked the trail in 2014 in 34 days and—to the best of my knowledge—holds the current (and documented) record. My goal is to run the exceptionally challenging and largely unmarked trail across the Oregon deserts solo and self-supported in 17 days, half of the current record time. I picked this challenge because it’s right in the backyard and because of its difficulty.
The trail is the brainchild of the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA). Because of its novelty and uniqueness, it was recently featured in both a National Geographic (“World’s Best Hikes: 20 Dream Trails“) and CNN article (“10 of the world’s most amazing long-distance trails“). Compared to other long-distance trails, the ODT is extraordinarly challenging for a through-hiker/runner, both physically and logistically. There are very few reliable water sources, the trail is extremely remote, 267 miles (36%) are cross-country, there is a lack of cell phone coverage, and the environment is very unforgiving.
I will start from the Tumulus trailhead in the Oregon Badlands, just outside of Bend, and then head east on the trail. If all goes well, I will finish the adventure in the Owyhee Canyonlands at the Owyhee State Park.
Over the last couple of months, Ursina and I buried nearly 40 food and water caches along the approximately 800-mile long route. We drove thousands of miles to drop caches in places that were often very challenging and time-consuming to access. But we got to discover new and incredible places we would otherwise never have gotten to. The preparation for the speed record was a challenging adventure in itself.
I have a deep love and fascination for the wild Oregon deserts. There is an incredible beauty, openness, silence, and richness out there that many Oregonians have never experienced. I hope to inspire some of them to visit these unique regions. I also hope to inspire others to go outside of their comfort zones.
Stay tuned for more news about this adventure before the Aug 29 start date!
The challenge will be completed by following strict leave-no-trace ethics. In order to reduce landfill waste, all trash will be recycled. In particular, gel and energy bar wrappers will be recycled by TerraCycle.The buried cache bins will serve as temporary trash bins during the adventure. They will all be retrieved after the adventure.