Man seeks to make Idaho a thru-hike destination

Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-14 17:53:52-04
"Unlike any trail in the country, this is the biggest stretch of wilderness that you can hike," explained Clay Jacobson, an avid thru-hiker.
Jacobson has spent months if not years of his life hiking trails across the country.
From the more than 2000 mile Appalachian Trail to the 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, step by step, he's done it. 
Just this past summer, he took on the Idaho Centennial Trail, a nearly 1000 mile long trail stretching from Nevada to Canada.
"To go out and have that kind of experience, that life changing type of experience in Idaho just creates a bond with the place," said Jacobson.
Jacobson says unlike the AT of the PCT, hiking the Idaho Centennial trail is literally taking the path less traveled. 
Each year thousands set out to thru-hike the AT and PCT but Idaho's thru-hike only sees a handful of folks each hiking season. 
"You know the Pacific Crest Trail is a beautiful maintained trail that goes for 2700 miles. The Idaho Centennial Trail is a line on a map that you can follow on the ground sometimes, other times it disappears," said Jacobson.
A big reason why is not only because it's not well known, but because it passes through arguably the most remote area in the lower 48, where man is merely a visitor in the land of wolves and bears and does not remain. 
"The Idaho Centennial Trail is intangible in the sense that it is more of an idea than a real trail," explained Jacobson.
It's the idea of a real trail that have Jacobson canvassing the state to raise awareness of the Idaho Centennial Trail and the pristine areas it passes through.
"We have a unique opportunity here in Idaho to explore these places and to protect these places. They have been protected by generations that came before us, so areas like the Frank Church and the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness, they only exist here," said Jacobson.
Maintaining the trail comes with a price-tag. Forest service and BLM trail crews are stretched thin already.
"Maintaining and keeping the trail in hike-able conditions is a huge project. One, it's going to take a lot of money, and two, it's going to take a lot of people working together," said Jacobson.
With the Centennial Trail weaving through millions of acres of wilderness, mother nature can make long stretches of the path virtually invisible in a short amount of time. Fallen trees litter the trail creating a natural obstacle course that can be difficult for even the most experienced hikers. 
"The maps are not very reliable. The routes haven't been updated, along with every year there is fire damage and trails change," said Jacobson.
Despite these challenges, Jacobson says making the trail synonymous with long distance hiking not only for Idahoans, but for adventure seekers across the nation is as simple as more folks lacing up their boots, and going for a hike. 
"You have to have people out there hiking it," said Jacobson. "It will change the character of the trail a little bit but overall it makes it more assessable to more people."
For more information CLICK HERE