After three months, over 2,400 miles and four pairs of shoes, one Oregon man’s journey to hike the entirety of the Oregon Trail is complete.
Donald “Dundee” Martin began his hike back in April and started at Independence, Missouri. He originally thought the Oregon Trail was similar to treks he’s made before on the Appalachian Trail, but soon realized their history and stories are very different.
“Something like 350,000 people made that trip over roughly 25 years,” he said. “After it went out of use, it was almost immediately forgotten.”
Martin says he knows fewer than 10 people who have hiked the entirety of the trail in modern times. He says he wishes this wasn’t true and believes more people should experience it.
“It’s a natural route to take a long walk, to get away from your day-to-day life and to reflect on the people who went before you,” he said.
Martin did not travel alone. Along with him he brought a stuffed steer named Last Ox and a modernized version of a covered wagon to carry his supplies. He says this is probably the smallest covered wagon to travel the trail and perhaps the first wagon to make this journey in a very long time. Martin also dressed in period clothing throughout the hike, though he wasn’t initially planning on it.
“When I started this out, it was just a hike,” he said, “But I kind of got into it,”
Martin says that despite the clothing, wagon and stuffed ox, he does not consider himself a reenactor, but simply someone who is taking a hike.
”I’m kinda going out of my way again to draw a little bit of attention to the Oregon Trail along the way,” he said.
The hardest part of the trail, according to Martin, was dealing with the changing weather. He faced strong winds, a number of thunderstorms, a couple of tornadoes and more recently, heat. He said despite all of this, there was one thing that kept him going: thinking of the people who made this journey before.
“Thousands and thousands of eight-year-olds did the same thing,” said Martin. “And most of them did it in bare feet.”