Bart Smith Photography

​Walking Down a Dream

​California Trail

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    Fenced gravesite of pioneer woman in Raft River Valley near the Parting of the Ways of the California and Oregon Trails. (On private Property) (Evening)
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    Sunset at the Parting of the Ways from the Oregon Trail. Idaho.
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    Raft River has been diverted so heavily towards agriculture that this drainage ditch is all that remains. It was a challenging crossing for the emigrants.
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    Nimblewill Nomad at Register Rock, City of Rocks National Reserve. Idaho.
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    Trace of California Trail just west of Pinnacle Pass, City of Rocks National Reserve. Idaho.
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    Twin Sisters rock formation with afternoon storm. City of Rocks National Reserve. Idaho. (The Twin Sisters were an important landmark along the California Trail)
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    Walking beside the California Trail through the western reach of City of Rocks National Reserve. Idaho.
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    Pronounced trace of the California Trail descending the west side of Granite Pass along the California Trail, Idaho.
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    Myself, exhausted and very glad to reach Goose Creek Valley after following the California Trail route from Granite Pass, Idaho.
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    Flat Iron Mtn camp spot along Goose Creek, Idaho. This was a popular camp location for the wagon party's. (Early evening)
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    Storm clouds over Record Rock along Goose Creek, Nevada. It is on private property, it is very important to gain permission before entering.
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    Iris blooming in a long swale of the California Trail along outer edge of Goose Creek, Nevada.
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    Moonrise from Little Goose Creek Canyon along the California Trail, Nevada. (with a dose of artistic license)
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    Little Goose Creek Canyon, Nevada. (morning)
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    Shared water source. We were given permission to camp on this ranch.
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    Nimblewill Nomad walking through rain squall west of Wells Nevada along Starr Valley Road. Nevada
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    Nimblewill Nomad beside tent in a barn stall along Starr Valley Road. Nevada ( We were given permission to seek shelter and camp in this barn)
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    Ghost town of Halleck Nevada.
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    Diorama depicting failing oxen along the Forty Mile Desert section of the California Trail. California Trail Interpretive Center near Elko Nevada.
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    Emigrant Pass along Interstate 80 west of Carlin Nevada. ( We had to walk several sections of the California Trail along Interstate 80).
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    Multiple swales of the California Trail and rocks piled to the side by the pioneers descending towards Gavelly Ford crossing of the Humbolt River. (We were allowed permission on to the private property).
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    Approaching storm from unknown emigrant graves near Gavelly Ford crossing of the Humbolt River. (We were allowed permision to traverse this private property). The cross memorializes several unknown emigrant graves.
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    Coyote tracks and my tracks emblazoned on rain drenched ranch road. A few miles west of Gravelly Ford. Nevada.
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    Another warm day along the trail
    Nimblewill Nomad on frontage road T- S Rd beside I-80 heading west. East of Battle Mountain, Nevada.
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    Welcoming sign to Valmy Station, Nevada.
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    A well earned ice cream and rest.
    Nimblewill Nomad resting in camp following a 34 mile walk from Winnemucca. Near Mill City Truck stop, Nevada.
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    Marker C-65A near Imlay, Nevada.
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    Window display of Frank Chang Memorial Museum. Dedicated to remembering the Chinese contribution to the American Western settlement. Lovelock, Nevada.
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    Nimblewill Nomad ready for another day of walking setting out from Lovelock, Nevada.
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    Dawn breaking over Forty Mile Desert. Nevada.
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    Rusted piece of debris likely from an oak barrel band from some 160 years ago along the Forty Mile Desert. The Forty Mile Desert was one of the most challenging dry stretches along the entire California Tail.
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    California Trail trace near Carson Pass. A very challenging location for the Emigrants. Carson Pass, California.
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    Nimblewill Nomad atop West Pass, the highest point on the California Trail and entire National Historic Trail System.
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    Wagon wheel iron marks grave site of emigrant named George Cottonwood near Mud Lake.
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    Downtown Placerville California.
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    Nimblewill Nomad and myself following our epic walk of the California Trail from the Parting of the Ways near Burly Idaho to Sutter Fort in downtown Sacramento. Photo taken by Cameron. Thank You Cameron and Romel for all your help! And of course thank you Sunny.
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    First day of our journey leaving Raft River Valley, Idaho.
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    "Raggedy Al" followed us for five miles until a mysterious car pulled up and a door opened, Al jumped in and the car sped off. Raft River Valley, Idaho.
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    Inscription of a California Trail traveler painted with wagon axel grease, City of Rocks National Reserve. Idaho.
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    Western reach of Cedar Hills, City of Rocks National Reserve. (Evening) Idaho.
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    Along the California Trail. Thousand Springs Valley, Nevada.
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    Humbolt River through Carlin Canyon. (If Wagon parties opted to bypass the GreenhornCut-off, they had to cross the Humbolt River 4 times through Carlin Canyon). Nevada..
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    Dried mud near Silver Springs Nevada.
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    Very nice fellow named Bill who cooked a big breakfast for Nimblewill Nomad and myself. Hope Valley, California.
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    California Trail descending several miles west from West Pass following a long gradual ridge line. Sierra Mountains, Ca.

​Summary of the Trail




1992 - California NHT

The California NHT traces many of the routes that gold seekers (known as "49ers") followed to California between 1849 and 1852.  After the discovery of gold in late 1848 at Sutter's Mill, a flood of 250,000 novice gold seekers and settlers headed west to California from many points in the East.  The Trail starts in a variety of places along the western shore of the Missouri River and merges onto the earlier Oregon and Mormon Pioneer routes in Nebraska's Platte River Valley.  On the far side of the Continental Divide at South Pass, the Trail braids as the 49ers raced west on the best routes they could find.  There are over a dozen ending points in the California goldfields.  All these routes total over 5,600 miles in combined lengths.  The Trail is administered by the National Park Service and much hard work is carried out by volunteers to mark, map and maintain the historic and auto tour routes, The Oregon-California Trails Associationis integral to this Trail's survival.

(Scherer, Glenn, 2002, "America's National Trails: Journeys Across Land and Time, Guilford, CT: Falcon Press
pp. 42-45)