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Four Hikers Attempt the 900-Mile Idaho Centennial Trail

The lost trail spans the length of the state


Every sip was taken slowly and carefully. The four hikers from Boise who decided to walk across the expanse of southern Idaho's desert on June 30, watched with worry as the water levels dipped in their plastic Nalgene bottles.

Clay Lindquist had one liter of water left. Clay Jacobson and his girlfriend, Kelly Bussard, had 2 1/2 liters between them. Nate Malloy only had one cup. The next water cache was still 14 miles away.

By noon, the temperatures had reached 114 degrees. They pitched their tents and waited out the heat, hot and thirsty, and soon realized they were in trouble.

The whole thing was Jacobson's idea. He decided five years ago to hike the entire length of Idaho but, on that day in June, he and his friends had only made it five miles.

Already, his girlfriend's feet were torn up and forming blisters. An evening thunderstorm rolled in, giving the group a break from the scorching sun. They took their chance while the air cooled to make it to the next water cache—one of several carefully spaced across the desert by Jacobson a few days earlier. Bussard started to feel sick.

"Every time I tried to eat or think about eating, or even stand up, I just projectile vomited everywhere," she said.

She was sobbing; she couldn't eat or keep down water.

"That's when I started to panic," she said, "thinking I was going to die out there."

Without consulting the group, Lindquist made the decision to call for help on his satellite phone. A friend drove through the night and reached the group at 4 a.m., bringing them back to Boise. Thus ended Day 1 on the Idaho Centennial Trail.