Along with Tom
On the Centennial Trail
Story and Photos by Michael Stubbs
Tom Klein swore he wasn’t writing a book and wasn’t having a midlife crisis. He simply wanted to see Idaho on foot—nine hundred miles or more along the Idaho Centennial Trail (ICT), which begins just over the border from Nevada near Murphy Hot Springs and ends at Upper Priest Falls, less than a mile from the Canadian border.
It includes hundreds of miles through wilderness areas. Tom wanted an adventure. And this wasn’t spontaneous, even though my decision to join him for part of it was. He planned, he mapped, he researched. He invited experienced hikers to Idaho State University, where we both teach English, to share their tales and knowledge.
When Clay Jacobson and Kelly Bussard, both from the Boise area, spoke at ISU’s Pond Student Union Building, nearly a hundred people filled the Salmon River Room to hear their stories of the trail, to share their own, and to wish that they too could drop everything and hike for a summer. The pair attempted a through-hike in 2015. Kelly suffered a near-collapse after two days in the desert but recovered quickly and hit the trail again. Clay led them for five hundred miles or so through the wilderness, and then tromped a path toward Canada alone, later returning to finish the desert. The trail, they warned us, was not well maintained. Without GPS, a hiker could get lost. Even with GPS, a person could become bewildered and befuddled. There were many downed trees to scramble over, there were swollen creeks to cross and re-cross.