Man walking the Oregon Trail to pass through eastern Idaho next week
POCATELLO — A Prineville, Oregon man is walking the Oregon Trail with nothing but a covered-wagon cart for his gear and the companionship of a stuffed ox.
Donald “Dundee” Martin departed Independence, Missouri on April 17 on a journey he expects will take about four months.
The goal, he says, is to do his part to raise awareness for the trail — the one 350,000 people walked in the 1800s to open the northwest for expansion.
“The Oregon Trail is kinda special,” he told EastIdahoNews.com during a phone call from western Wyoming. “A lot of people died and are buried there, and it ought to be 2,000 miles of hallowed ground. But basically, when it stopped being used it was, for the most part, forgotten.”
As Martin explained, the Oregon Trail is a National Historic trail, “but that just defines a dotted line on a map.”
The trail, as a whole, is not honored in any sort of way. There are no memorial sites, where people can see a portion of the trail, and walk it themselves. It has pretty much been lost in time, he said.
Martin, who goes by the trail name “Dundee” which he earned after he completed the Appalachian Trail, is fully aware of how unique it is to walk the trail since it stopped being used.
“It is a little unusual to do this, I know of fewer than 10 people who have walked the entire trail,” he said. “I’m sure the number is larger than that, but I’m also relatively sure that no more than 100 people have walked the whole trail since the 1900s.”
Concerns are different now than they were when the trail was the only passage west.
Cholera is no longer the fear it was then, nor is robbery by armed bandits, Martin joked.
But there are new concerns. While walking the 2,000-some miles, Martin has to remain wary of trucks passing by. Water is also much tougher to find these days, he added.
Asked how he meets his food and water needs, Martin laughed, “I’m handling it however I can.”
His plan had been to make occasional stops at grocery stores and stock the cart he uses to push his gear — a cart he outfitted to resemble a covered wagon. But supermarkets are few and far between along his path.
Through just about two months, Martin has trekked about two-thirds of the complete journey. As he explained, the path is filled with uncertainty — with weather and terrain presenting the unknown — so he doesn’t have points he plans to hit each day. Instead, his goal is to walk at least 150 miles per week.
He has met that mark each week thus far, with his single-day high coming in at 44 miles. As of Thursday morning, he had walked more than 1,450 miles.
Martin crossed the border into Idaho around 9 a.m. Thursday. At his current rate, Martin expects to pass through Pocatello sometime next week — likely early in the week.
Martin has a GPS that plots his position on a map regularly. Anyone interested can see those plot points here.
He also journals regularly, providing updates no the journey. You can view that journal here.