PCT Brochure History

Following the LIFE magazine story, in the September 2, 1971 issue, of the Murray Family’s adventure of riding the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada on horseback, Barry Murray was commissioned to produce this Pacific Crest Trail brochure. Click here to read the Murray Family's adventure of pioneering The Pacific Crest Trail book.

In 1972 this brochure was commissioned by and was to be published by the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council.

This brochure was intended to introduce the Trail to the public. It was to have a 3 million, full color, glossy run on the first printing. The brochure that we show here is one of an experimental six, in black and white, that was hand rolled.

The order was cancelled after the many governmental heads that were involved in the birthing of the PCT decided that the Trail would become too popular and soon be overcrowded.

We give you, our dear readers, the first time ever look at this historic part of the Trail.

We have put the text of the brochure here for your ease of reading. Enjoy.

Comment by Barry Murray: "The following is the text of the above brochure in an easier to read format. I was paid for it but it was never copyrighted, or published. I feel I did a good job presenting the trail as it existed before being upgraded, and this needs to be presented as part of the history of a national treasure. "


Code Yellow

PCT Brochure Text

The sign reads THE PACIFIC CREST NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL. Whether you adjust a pack containing a lunch, a home on your back for a two-week vacation, or toss the final diamond hitch on a pack animal before setting off on the expedition of a lifetime, a question begins to form in your mind, and marches along in step with the passing miles— “Just what is the Pacific Crest Trail?”

The route is easy to describe. It is a continuous 2,400-mile mountain and desert trail that follows the Pacific crest of the Washington and Oregon Cascade range, and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, from the Canadian to the Mexican border.

To those that have followed the emblem of the evergreen tree— the Trail is more than a trail.

To some it is a lesson in living. Hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, experiencing, questioning, thinking, appreciating some thing in life— maybe for the first time. Of measuring their existence against a cliff face where mankind’s life on this earth could be said to be the smallest particle, of the smallest pebble, in thousands of feet of geological strata. The profound may come back quoting volumes of verse; the honest will say, “I cannot explain why, but I think I know myself better.”

And for father and son— or scouts and leaders among others— it is the high trail to adventure. The simple act of putting one foot ahead of the other on the long trail is more dramatic than watching a tall TV sheriff walk into a show down with a desperado. Topping out on a two mile high ridge in The Sierra yourself is naturally more thrilling than reading an account of the conquest of Everest.

Others who have traveled the Trail without a stated reason are surprised today to find that they can be called ecologists. And that it is perfectly normal to try to see the trees because of the forest. Or go on a hunting trip packing a camera instead of a rifle. Or stand against a morning wind breaking upon the glare rock of a craggy pinnacle and bellowing— in appreciation to the rising sun— the hymn, America The Beautiful, because she is.

Then to the person looking for the past to better understand our country, the Trail crosses or follows the footsteps of those who have gone before. Indians, migrating Army explorers encouraging their men and a developing nation to “follow me.” Mountain men seeking the big lonesome, and finding it. Emigrants, searching. Gold worshipers that found mountains, rivers, and lakes that sparkled prettier than a nugget in a gold pan.

The Indians, explorers, and pioneers were the first to follow the game trails that traversed the high mountains of the Far West. Possibly the idea of a trail for the sheer exuberance of rounding another bend to adventure, or climbing over another mountain to see what there was to see, originated with the dream of a 14-year-old boy, Theodore S. Solomons, in 1884. He eventually became the trailblazer of a high trail along, rather than through, the Sierras. Although he traveled only a small part of what was to become the Trail, history has quoted him:
“I could see myself in the immensity of the uplifted world, an atom moving along just below the white, crawling from one end to the other of the horizon of high enchantment.”

Others followed. Joseph N. LeConte, engineering professor and mountaineer (also the nephew of a geologist who was a close friend of famous naturalist John Muir) continued the work started by Solomons. In 1909, LeConte published a map that practically could be used to follow the 212 miles of the Pacific Crest system known as the John Muir Trail.

But, it takes more than a map and a few men to build a trail to the end of the horizon. In 1915, the California State Legislature voted the funds for a survey of the most practical route for a pathway continuing along the Sierra Nevadas. Soon afterward, the U.S. Forest Service began trail construction and detailed studies of routes along the Cascade Mountains. Oregon’s Skyline Trail was mapped in the early 1920’s. By 1937, with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps, Washington’s Cascade Crest Trail was completed.

In 1932 in order to develop public interest for extending the Trail through southern California, a colorful Pasadena playwright, Clinton C. Clarke, helped organize the Mountain League of Southern California. This organization evolved into The Pacific Crest Trail Conference to encourage the completion of a continuous trail from border to border. A visionary, he wrote that Russia had trails for training young people and advised that the U.S. should follow the same policy for the sake of physical fitness and national defense. He also worked out meticulous lists for hikers, without himself ever hiking the Trail. It was an enthusiastic Y.M.C.A. leader, Warren Rogers, who supervised the relays of young hikers carrying a Pacific Crest Trail Conference log book on the first complete trip from Campo, California, to Monument 78 on the Canadian border.

Since the late 1930’s the history of the Trail has been one of continuing relocation and change. Many times to improve it; too often because the postwar population expansion in the Far West left no room for a wilderness trail. The State of California tried to help by obtaining temporary rights-of-way through private lands for sections that coincided with the California Riding and Hiking Trail system, which no longer exists. The U.S. Forest Service, because of its responsibility to manage the forests for many uses besides recreation, sometimes even had trouble allocating funds for maintenance. Private organizations tried to keep the trait headed in the right direction, but the system was too long, too enormous a project for even the most dedicated.

In 1965 the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation initiated a nationwide trails study. This took the cooperation of many federal, state, and local agencies, and interested private groups and individuals. The report entitled Trails for America served to stimulate legislation in Congress. The National Trail System Act, Public Law 90-543, October 2,1963, designated The Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails as the first National Scenic Trails.

Congress also directed that the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail be administered by the Secretary of Agriculture in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior. The Trails Act also provided for the selection of a Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council. Thus, many private organizations and individuals are still working on matters relating to the Trail that to all Americans should be as respected as any national monument.

“What is there to see?”, is the question most asked of this scenic trail. That depends on who does the answering. A naturalist would naturally state mountain goats, eagles, elk, bear, and Clark’s nutcracker. The geologist would report dormant volcanoes, glaciers, and earthquake fault valleys. The foresters would proudly speak of Douglas-fir, redwoods, and ponderosa pines. The botanist would list Indian paintbrush, yucca, and camas. Over 500 different kinds of flowers, 80 species of trees, nine varieties of trout, 46 different kinds of animals, and 86 kinds of birds have been identified.

One way to understand the Pacific Crest Trail is to look at it as a living trail through various life zones. The Mojave Desert Joshua tree lives in an environment far different from that of a wind-sculptured foxtail pine of the sub-arctic alpine Mt. Whitney— not far away as a backpacker hikes. The Trail travels through seven life zones, from almost sea level to a high of 13,200 feet.

Another way would be to visualize the two mountain ranges linked together in the shape of a petrified saw-toothed backbone of a prehistoric monster stretched out north and south over 2,000 miles. These continually changing mountains, violently formed by upheavals 200 million years ago, to lava eruptions only thousands of days past, are far more important than just a subject for a picture post card.

Moisture from storm clouds from the sea, conquered by a barrier of jagged rock, grew giant forests and created vast inland sea basins that today are agricultural wonderlands. The Trail looks down on this creation, and crosses glaciers and rivers that carved the western slope and dictated the location of commerce and cities. The mountains came first. Yet, the droplet of water that fascinates the hiker as it falls from a melting snowbank is the beginning of all life in the Far West.

“What will I experience?”, is a question with many answers, so varied that each hiker’s or horseman’s outing could fill a thick book and still not tell the complete story.

With the coming of National Scenic Trail status, new trail construction is planned to provide more than just a way through. Safety tops the list of requirements. Experts have given much thought to stream crossings, to width of trails, and to avoiding traffic areas. Still, many parts of the North Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas are not for the fainthearted, or those unfamiliar with rough mountain travel. The Trail should not be attempted without a capable companion.

The Trail is, or will be, located to take advantage of the terrain, avoiding unnecessary elevation gain, while at the same time giving the feeling that the land mass is below— rather than above— the traveler. Dangerous crossings of snow slopes, short segments of monotonous switch-backs, and excessively steep grades will be eliminated when the new construction is completed. Until then, sections in northern and southern California are more suited for those who enjoy “adventuring” and detouring by skillful use of map.

The best place to converse with the whisperings of nature, and listen to the heartbeat of the earth, is a designated Wilderness or the backcountry of a National Park. The Trail through these roadless, protected areas— where man is just a visitor— is located to harmonize with its surroundings. Trailheads and feeder trails are surprisingly accessible from centers of population. Many hiking enthusiasts started by taking a simple weekend trip, and returned each summer to complete more ambitious journeys to their own “secret” mountain meadow or hidden waterfall.

One of the paradoxical glories of the Trail is that it can be said to go on forever, while it leads to nowhere. This is why it should not be used as a racetrack from end to end. Going is reason enough. The Trail. is an invitation to a way of living.

A few modern nomads have traveled the Pacific Crest Trail from border to border. At this time there are problems for similar expeditions to overcome. Handling pack stock is difficult and grazing often non-existent. In many ways the safest, easiest, freest mode of travel is backpacking.

Many miles of the Trail have already been signed. Some have not. Others will be marked TEMPORARY for many years. To cross the Mexican and Canadian borders legal entry procedure must be followed.

When completed, the Pacific Crest Trail will cross over 400 miles of private land. Where permission to pass has been granted, respect for the rights of the landowner should be demonstrated by remembering that an easement covers only a narrow strip of land.

Just as a traveler can spend many pleasant wintery evenings reminiscing of experiences on the trail of summers past, there is adventure in properly planning a, Pacific Crest Trail vacation to come.

With all the well-designed, lightweight, camping equipment and easily prepared dry foods on the market today, a backpacker should not have to carry more than 30 pounds for a week’s trip. Good footwear, down sleeping bag, and comfortable pack are the most important items. Leave firearms and heavy axe at home. They’re unnecessary.

Snow has fallen on the Trail in southern California in the summer. The Pumice Desert of Crater Lake National Park has recorded temperatures that rival Death Valley’s hottest. At the same time of year, the night wind of the Mojave can be as chilling as a North Cascade mist. Extreme differences in elevation and weather conditions make it necessary for the trail traveler to be prepared for heat and cold; dark clouds and dazzling sunlight.

The more a dreamer plans his trip, the more will come true. Maps are necessary even where the high trail is well signed. Private publishing houses have, or are planning, guides that point out interesting flora, fauna, and historical sites that the unfamiliar might miss.

Unfortunately, there is no one office that can supply information needed to follow the thin red line of the trail through the National Forests, Wildernesses, and National Parks as shown on the centerfold map. Because of this some areas are too well known— almost crowded— while a few miles north or south, the Trail, with better views and camping, is deserted.

The Trail has meaning for everyone. The mountaineer wanting to be challenged should consider the precipitous Trail along Washington’s North Cascades. The family that enjoys being “one” with snow-capped volcanoes and bluer-than-blue lakes will find the gentler grades through Oregon a vacation.

California offers the challenge, the vacation, plus the unique experience of a desert crossing in the spring when the flowers are blooming and the weather enjoyable. Since the Trail is so varied, it is best to ask for information from one of the Federal agencies listed in the next column.

Wherever you may decide to “hit the trail,” — whether for five miles or 500— you will find that no one leaves unchanged. Only the land remains the same. To keep it this way, there are regulations which should be looked on as reminders, or information: for each one has a valid reason for enforcement. They are, in effect, just good outdoor manners.

Motored vehicles are not allowed anywhere on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Each administering Agency may have special regulations for a specific area such as permits to enter classified wilderness. These are free and easy to obtain by mail, or in person.

Perhaps the most important regulations, or good old common sense thinking concerns the protection from fire all that is The Pacific Crest Trail, and its surrounding countryside. Fire knows no Federal, State, or private land boundaries, or even what a National Scenic Trail is.

Many areas have special campfire permits. Trail signs remind the traveler not to smoke while traveling. And request pack trains to carry specified firefighting equipment. All of us say “I’m careful,” but fires still happen. Follow every fire regulation, and good camping practice, as if your life, and a Living Trail, depended on it. It does!

My name is Barry Murray. My family and I experienced the living Trail from Mexico to Canada a few years ago. Since then we have returned many times to do the simple things that mean so much to us. I am a professional writer and photographer, yet I really have difficulty expressing how I feel about the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. I tried in this brochure. Perhaps I saw something different, or made a few statements some might not agree with. But, if I imparted any of the wonder, or inspired anyone with the awe I feel as one American proud of his country, then my efforts have not been in vain. Let this booklet be my way of thanking all who have made The Trail possible.



They Kill Horses, Don’t They
—an epilogue on the history of the Pacific Crest Trail

by Barry Murray

In June of 1971, National Geographic Magazine published an article by staffer Mike W. Edwards, titled, Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, that needs a little bit of historical correction.

It started out:
“On a warm day in May... I ceremonially set a foot into Mexico... and climbed the hill where the route begins. I remember, too, the September day when I reached the other end tramping alone among the craggy peaks that border Washington and Canada.

Later on in a photo caption the adventurer admits to having walked about 175 miles. He also admits to violating Wilderness Areas in a helicopter, and using commercial pack station horses in the high Sierra that are illegal today.

Curiously his photographer, National Geographic staffer, David Hiser who photographed us taking our horses across the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River, seemed to have independently traveled more trail miles than the author. I professionally respect Hiser’s work as brilliant. Also, in a Western version of six degrees of separation, I once was friends with his wife.

Then Edwards introduced Eric Ryback, who did the trail backwards, from spring snowdrifts to a late summer burning desert sands, with no supply support, in a reported 129 days. A little over four months. For a reference many people today do the new multi-million dollar ‘turnpike’ Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in one-season, in an average time of five, or six, months.

I expended many hours of my life being interviewed on the telephone by Edwards, where my input on what Wilderness Press Editor Thomas Winnett called the, “Ryback Caper,” must have been dismissed as ‘sour grapes.’

When Ryback published his “high adventure” book through the San Francisco Chronicle (also in record time), trail guide publisher, Winnett, doubted in print by suggesting Ryback had hitchhiked part of the route, was sued for liable. I sent my affidavit, among fifty total presented in court, and the case was dismissed.

I have also spent much time supporting the truth that a good friend, Dave Odell, of Kodiak, Alaska, and Toby Heaton, and their Boy Scout leader Bill Goddard —who succumbed to a brain tumor he had known of for years, a couple of weeks after their finish— were the first to actually hike the complete trail. I spent a summer hiking in wilderness Alaska with Odell, and his companion Todd Christenson when Dave completed the first “triple crown” of all three National Scenic Trails. Eric Ryback also claims to have hiked all three, but I believe he needs to go back to Washington State when there isn’t any snow in Indian Heaven, and make good on his claim.

After turning down an offer to share in the National Geographic article with Ryback, Edwards was less than pleased to hear that I had sold seven pages of photos and text to LIFE Magazine — a much more prestigious publication at the time than National Geographic.

My professionalism was such that I tried to help a colleague get the facts straight, even though we had competitive articles. Unfortunately Edwards published his “personality profile” three months before my “geographic portrayal,” and for this reason it is somehow accepted in PCNST blogs as the true “history” of something that should belong to those that walked their talk.

I was very flattered by the editors of LIFE to share the September 3rd, 1971 issue promoting, among other things, an “endless summer” of backpacking, with Edward Abbey (an ecological icon) of Desert Solitaire fame. Again, by chance, Abby and I had met in 1955 in Moab, Utah. He was on horseback on a trail in what was to become Arches National Monument, and I walking. We discussed among other mutual thoughts, that riding a mare trusted enough to hang up the reins and soak in the scenery, instead of having to look down at where one places his “shanks mare” feet to avoid stumbling, was a wilderness wandering advantage.

Edwards also may have been taken back when on the phone, I reminded him that Time, Inc. had a corporate policy of not printing anything without three verifications from independent sources.

So what does my story about an expedition with the purpose of living the American history by being the last of the nomads who traveled great distances on horse involve? Some of my friends feel it was a slur by Edwards listing behind —“Ryback’s extreme risks —and great achievements” that:
Barry Murray of Home Valley, Washington, and his wife, and their three children also went all the way. But they traveled on horseback for two summers, a total of seven months —”a lot of that time spent looking for grass for the horses,” Barry remembers.”

I was pleased that Edwards accidentally acknowledged that I knew twice as much about the trail as his research. What stunned me, coming from National Geographic, was in the Edwards article that we had only taken seven months looking for horsefeed. In truth we had spent a total of 255 days over almost nine months. Our total time blazing the way, when measured against Rybaks 129 days following —almost half of ours— was not intended to be a horse-race between hungry beasts and a heroic young man. Charlie Horse actually gained weight on his “moveable feast.”

So here are ‘Barry remembers’ problems with what has been written, and happened since:

1) We did not attempt to be the first of the PCNST. It was alsmost accidental that we used Campo, California, as a starting point—that Ryback used for his ending— over US Forest Service lines drawn on the map. I actually at the time did not know that what I had experienced hiking as a teenager in Oregon was to be upgraded to a National Scenic Trail. The Oregon Skyline, the Cascade Crest Trails were built by horses to supply manned forest fire lookouts.

I knew about lookouts, and forest fires, having done freelance magazine articles on a fire lookout’s life, and the training of smoke jumpers by the now legendary Francis Lufkin, at Winthrop, Washington — not far from the PCT.

As for being the “first” I know that we were always six degrees of separation behind the real “greats” of Far West History. Jed Smith, Kit Carson, and a relative of mine who pioneered the Applegate route, past Mt. Lassen, where Oregon Trail 48’s went south to become California gold field 49’ers.

These were guys who thought a trail was a describable route —sans sign posts— from Point A, to Point B. I feel that a perfectly good, historic, way-through for the PCT has been desecrated by, in some places, a million-dollar-a-mile upgrade to a “turnpike” trail status legislated by Congress for the PSNST, is one of the biggest Wilderness violations of all times.

2) Yes, we did spend an almost unexplainable —for a ‘Back East’ Editor—“seven months” traveling 2,500 miles. This misunderstanding of our venture obviously was based upon something city folk haven’t got a clue about. I grew up in a horse culture in a time when a “B” movie star kissed his mare instead of rapping a song about his bitch. For me, the equine critter listens to my whispers, as I respect them for being connected to this world.

I am sorry, but as the trip was to be an old West learning experience for my children, one of my goals was not to kill their pets through stupidity. In fact we “burned daylight” by waiting for a foal to be born. That her name became Tagalong, was just another example of our nomadic lifestyle.

When I mention, or show pictures, proving we were so close that our horses, asleep in the sun in yet another glorious “movable feast” meadow, that we could use them as backrests when reading a book, doesn't mean much to those who feed their yappy “trash dogs” (to use an Alaskan mushers term) “mustangs in a can,” from Mexico.

3) And, finally I would like to see if I can undo the idea that somehow the real reason for being for the PCT, has become a PCNST “speed demon” racetrack. Sorry Ryback, and Edwards, but through your “competitive” attitude, today we have ”yo-yo” light-weight hikers that start at Mexico, hike to Canada— with the support of chase cars carrying supplies— and then turn around and head right back to where they started from, inside of one season. As I proved by taking my daughters on their trip of a lifetime, machismo on the PCT has no meaning.

Pleaseeeeee!! Go too fast, and you have no idea what is whizzing by. You might as well be looking out of motorcycle goggles, or a car window. In 1991 a couple, taking advantage of the upgrades to the trail Ryback did not have, beat his four month reported time in three months, three weeks.

One of John Muir’s complaints was that —even when he utilized horse support supplying his sardines and crackers— he could not pull off enough time to really enjoy his beloved Sierra.

The saddest day of my life was ending our sojourn of nine months far, far, to soon. I have been quoted many times for saying — “Part of my life has been lived, and nothing will ever be the same again.”

Unfortunately, even though the Murray family went on to hike the Chilkoot Pass of Klondike Golf Rush fame (following the trail of my Great Uncle ‘Midas’ MacAdam), and then paddled 2,000 miles by folding kayak down the Yukon River (www.AlaskaTravelMagazine.com) nothing came close to the excitement of our PCT pioneering expedition.

After the family was totally destroyed by Bernice running off with her lover, I went on to living in an untouched rain-forest with the Choco Indians in Dariean Provience of Panama while diving for gold. After hooking up with my intended soul mate, Bobby Magee, we have had a lot of fun the past 10 years, “Seeing the USA in our Chevrolet” —actually a GM motorhome— developing our www.USAtravelMagazines.com.

As a travel photographer I have connected with nature, photographing moose in Wyoming, grizzly bears in Alaska out of our “living room” window, and alligators while kayaking through a cypress forest of the Apalachicola River in Florida.

However, nothing has been the same since the days of walking out into a wilderness meadow with nose bags of high energy barley, and calling out, “Oats, babies,” to round up what truly were my best friends, to travel on to yet another day of adventure, has been as exciting.

What I am getting at —finally— is my published words echoing the mantra of “save it for our grandchildren,” have become a bitter joke. There is no clear-cut declaration saying that horses are not allowed on the trail I and my children pioneered. I tried to spend time with a grandson convincing him that the old ways, old values, had meaning. This is why, as nobody has had the nerve to stand-up to PAC groups from the big city, I am speaking out for what I consider the spirit of Western America. Our connection with horses.

The truth is that thanks to obscure “heartbeat” regulations, and feed and grazing restrictions that are impossible to meet over two days travel between supply points fifteen days apart, the backpacker/bureaucrat has precluded anybody from following our hoof-prints.

The reason I have published my “love poem” written for a U.S. Forest Service brochure, above, that was hand rolled on a bxw proof press from the full color plates scheduled for a 3 million copy press run, was canceled because The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council felt, “The LIFE magazine articles of Murray and Abbey,” had attracted too many people.” I also was told I used too many pictures of horses.

Strangely enough, as a self-taught observant naturalist, willing to state the obvious, I accept that the real global warming problem is that the vast herds of resource consumers are the ones to overgraze lush meadows. I understand the need of protecting our home, for the best intrests of all.

But, hey, in a day of letting forest fires “naturally” burn the second growth trees I voluntarily planted as a schoolboy in Oregon, and Nevada open range ranchers closing down healthy (i.e.: natural) cow and calf operations (replaced by mad cow feedlots) to benefit by selling century old water rights, via an intrusive pipeline, to Loss Vegas— let it be known as an Alaskan I am willing, as a believer in Creator, to take my place on an ice flow to make room for more. But, please stop picking on born free horses.

At 70-years old I admit to being an anachronism —out of place in date and time— so don’t bother me with trivial libel complaints.  Happy Trails to you all.


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