The next episode of OPB’s OREGON EXPERIENCE takes you on a ride you’ll never forget.
In 1959 Washington ranchers Don and June Mulford decided to attempt the first “Thru-Ride” from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. At the time the 2,400-mile trail stretching across California, Oregon and Washington was poorly marked and not fully coordinated between the three states. In California in particular the trail would often disappear for miles – and off maps — with no signs to show the way.
To prepare for their ride, the Mulfords contacted the Forest Service and Park Services for maps and information. Invariably they were told that the trip couldn’t be done in one “season” or year because of changing weather conditions and the sheer length and logistics of the trip.
But the Mulfords were determined and decided to give it a try. After trucking their horses to the Mexican border, they started their journey on April 19, 1959 and ended at the Canadian border on September 25, 1959.
The trail carried Don and June from parched Southern California to high desert to rugged mountain passes perched on the spines of the High Sierras and Cascade Mountains. They kept going despite treacherous snow, fog and rain.
With film equipment they’d purchased before the trip, the Mulfords documented daily life on the trail, stunning scenery and captured surprises, that will delight viewers.
It was an adventure of a lifetime. The Mulfords became the first horseback riders to complete the trip in one season. Their trip attracted media attention from their first day on the trail until their successful finish at the Canadian border five months later. Once back home, the Mulfords made a movie of their trip and toured 12 Western states bringing attention to the Pacific Crest Trail and the need for it to be improved, coordinated and maintained. Today, the 2,650-mile trail is nearly complete and well-traveled by hikers and riders.
While Don Mulford passed away 20 years ago, June still lives in Vancouver, Washington. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, November 24 at 9pm as the story is told entirely with Don’s narrative voice taken from the original movie, and a recent interview with June who enthusiastically retells an adventure still fresh in her mind after 50 years.
Watch online anytime after the broadcast at watch.opb.org.
About OREGON EXPERIENCE
OREGON EXPERIENCE is an exciting history series on OPB TV that brings to life fascinating stories that help us understand who we are and that reinforce our shared identity as Oregonians. The series, co-produced by the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), takes advantage of the extensive film, video and stills from the archives of OHS and OPB, and draws upon the expertise of OHS researchers and historians. Each half-hour show features captivating characters — both familiar and forgotten — who have played key roles in building our state into the unique place we call home. Funding for OREGON EXPERIENCE is provided in part by James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and Oregon Cultural Trust.
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.