The John Wayne Pioneer Trail

Well, It’s that time of year again.  Spring storms march across the landscape, the daffodils and the forsythia are blooming, everything is budding up.  All I want to do is to plan and plant a garden.

It’s the same thing every year.  I don’t have a place to dig up tho.  I’ve knowingly chosen something different this year, regardless of how I feel right now.  I might as well get this out there…

This year my friend Sandy (Coyote) and I (Tubbs) are planning to hike southbound (sobo) from Canada to the Columbia River on the Pacific Crest Trail.  This will be a similar trip to the one we took in 2016 when we hiked north (nobo) through Oregon.  The mileage will be a bit longer this time… closer to 500 actual trail miles.

Naturally, I feel a need to train a bit before hitting the trail.  I do a lot of this at home… I normally lift weights at the gym, so I also walk, a lot, with a 20# weight vest.  But nothing trains better than walking with the real thing, so we’re going to hit the John Wayne Pioneer Trail before we head out on the PCT.  The JWT is an old rail bed that travels 285 miles across Washington from near Tekoa (Idaho state line) to the Cedar Falls Trailhead at Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend.  Over on the western end the trail is known as the Iron Horse State Park Trail.

You may have heard about the JWT trail in 2015 when two lovely (note the sarcasm) state representatives tried to give away 135 miles of the trail to adjacent landowners.  State Representatives Joe Schmick and Mary Dye slipped a last minute provision into the Capital Budget that was not its own bill.  Fortunately the typo “… closed from the Columbia River to the Columbia River” nullified the provision and saved the trail.  They were trying to close the trail from the Columbia River near Beverly/Schwana east to Malden with no public input whatsoever.  In my opinion, that’s a load of crap.  If you’re interested in this, you can read more about it here.  And by all means, apply for use permits and go for a hike on the trail.

So to support the trail and to show the state that people are interested, I’m busily planning away.  Most of the information I’ve been able to dig up on this route is from bicycling blogs, or from groups like the Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.  I have found a couple running blogs and the like, but even still the trail doesn’t appear to be a big hiking route… yet.  But it’s there, and should be explored.

Make no mistake, this is not a national scenic trail.  The eastern portion will be nicely graded since it’s an old rail bed.  But the surface may leave a lot to be desired and there’s no water caches etc.  This trail comes complete with a lot of unique challenges of its own, most notably the lack of water in Eastern Wa.  It’ll be an adventure in its own right, and might even carry more of a sense of accomplishment.  Not hating on the PCT, just stating facts.  While there’s a lot of trail journals out there, the real essence of a hike is always personal.

So one of my main purposes for this blog is to draw more attention to both the eastern portion of the trail, and also to the viability of hiking the trail.  I want to encourage those that follow behind.

I don’t know if I’ll continue the blog for the PCT, we’ll see… 😉

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