The Best of Patagonia – Here in North America

Jarbidge WildernessAnd so it begins.

Jarbidge, Nevada is perhaps the most isolated town in the lower 48. With a permanent residency of about a dozen people, Jarbidge is one of those places that reminds you how truly vast this country can be.

Its unique name stems from a Native American legend about a monster living in the canyon — eating lost souls. And the name fits, getting there feels more like going through Patagonia than it does the United States. It’s peaceful and charming and the people are wonderful.

Oh yeah, we’re supposed to tell you, “you’d probably hate it”.

First Time Hiking

Episode 1 picks up with me in the backseat of my friend’s van. Let me start by saying that I was so woefully underprepared for what was about to happen that it’s almost comical.

I can see how soft, and green I was in these early scenes – totally unprepared for what we were about to do. The only real ‘preparation’ I did for this hike was to eat a lot and put on weight (which actually WAS important, but not nearly important enough).

It’s also worth mentioning that before this, I had never hiked before. Sure, I’d been on day hikes here and there. I’d gone camping. But I never thru-hiked, and I didn’t take my training seriously.

I suffered much more than I had to. I’m stubborn and I usually have to learn the hard way – but the point is that if I did this, ANYONE can do this. You just have to want it.

3 Things You Should do to Prepare For a Thru-Hike

backpacking with too much gear

      • Hike with your pack on
      • Put on some body fat
    • Get rid of half the items in your pack

Also, take note of how BIG and heavy my pack was. It’s needlessly ridiculous. I’d come to find out that when it comes to hiking, like when it comes life itself, less can be so much more.

As I’m waiting for Joel to arrive I decide to go exploring.

A great couple from Twin Falls, Idaho was camped nearby and they were generous enough to show me around a bit. We started exploring the mines, which is dangerous and illegal. (Note: if you are law enforcement, this was actually CGI and didn’t really occur.)

Then, without further ado, Joel arrives at the shoe tree.

Stagecoach Robbery

The Jarbidge Jail is a 100+-year-old structure made from stone, with iron bars. Locals claim it is still used on guys who get too rowdy at the local saloon.

A bit of history: the last stagecoach robbery in the U.S. happened just outside of town, and it was the first time fingerprints (in this case a bloody palm print) were used to get a murder conviction.

There’s actually a lot more history in town, but that’s for you to discover – this is a hiking video, not a history lesson! Though we would be remiss not to mention anything.

Thanks to Andy in Twin Falls, ID who not only showed us some of the local histories but also taught us what morels are and how to find them. Had it not been for Andy, we may have missed out on one of the true joys of the whole hike.

Where do Morels Grow

Morel Mushrooms in The Frank Church Wilderness

      • They like burned areas, especially under fallen logs
      • Avoid areas with pine, as they don’t like acidic soil
      • They tend to like areas with Aspen

Keep in mind that the morels you are looking for will have a hollow stem and center. Once you see enough of them you’ll be able to see the difference between true and false morels.

We ate dinner. We slept. Then, in the morning, we started walking.

The date is May 15, 2018.

Plan B

The plan was to hike the Jarbidge Wilderness, go up and over Jarbidge Mountain, and connect to the start of the ICT in the Owyhee. We’re laughing like a bunch of idiots.

My pack is 50-60 lbs. The pain on my face is real. As we approach 8000 feet, a snowstorm comes in (around the 16:30-minute mark). We are post-holing. We are cold. And we are wet.

Needless to say, things did not go as planned. We turn back and decide to take the alternate route through a lower elevation section of the mountains. Upon reflection, we believe the original route was doable, we just weren’t prepared for what we ran into. Me especially.

My favorite mental breakdown of the whole series happens right at about the 17:45-minute mark.

We make it down the mountain, back the way we came, to the trailhead which we started at. We set up camp, Joel catches Redband Rainbow Trout for dinner (one of the few places in the world where this subspecies has a healthy population), and I drop about 5 lbs of crap from my pack (a good start, but still not enough).


Author: @carmenrao

In 2018 we filmed our time on The Wild West Trail | This article is based on Episode 1: Jarbidge Wilderness | You can watch the full video HERE

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