I follow various Facebook pages that support the Ozark Trail. In November last year, as I was scrolling my newsfeed, a status update by Illinois hiker Jed Olsen immediately caught my eye.

Jed, along with two of his friends, completed the Ozark Trail in its entirety by dividing the trail into nine sections, which they hiked over a four-year period. 

What started in 2013, ended in 2017 with a celebratory Facebook status that was shared on multiple Facebook pages and ended up in my newsfeed.

I knew I had to know more about this hiking adventure and that Jed’s story was one I wanted to share with the readers of the River Hills Traveler.

Thankfully, once I contacted Jed, he was more than happy to answer my questions.

 

MT: What possessed you and your friends to tackle the Ozark Trail?  

JO: We completed the River to River trail in Illinois from Grand Tower to Elizabethtown in the spring of 2013 for a total of 160 miles. It is easier to plan trips on established linear routes. You know where you end, making it easy to know where you start.

After completing River to River trail, it was only natural to keep the same program with the Ozark Trail.

Again, it made it simple to plan. We drove two vehicles. We would drop a vehicle at the end of our planned trip, then drive the second vehicle to the beginning of the trailhead.

 

MT: You mentioned on social media that there were a few trips to UrgentCare thanks to chiggers and poison ivy. Even with those setbacks, what kept you going back to complete the trail?  

JO: Setbacks are all part of the experience, adding excitement to the trip and the stories to tell. I’ve not had a bad backpacking trip since I started in 2006.

Each trip has its own challenges and triumphs. Fortunately, there were no broken bones, although there were certainly sore feet, knees, and legs after a handful of the trips.

We were fortunate the only real challenges were weather. The trips consisted of sleet, snow, all-day rains and cold weather, but we managed.

A few times water was scarce, but we planned properly so that the next day water was available.

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