Take a hike

Brian Tanzman at the Similkameen Trailhead in Oroville. Tanzman is hiking the 1200 mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and Oroville is the halfway point. He spent a few days resting up at the Camaray Motel before continuing his journey up the Sim

Brian Tanzman at the Similkameen Trailhead in Oroville. Tanzman is hiking the 1200 mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and Oroville is the halfway point. He spent a few days resting up at the Camaray Motel before continuing his journey up the Sim

OROVILLE – Brian Tanzman, just back from hiking 2,000 miles in New Zealand, decided he’d like to try the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). Oroville is the halfway point on his journey, which began in Glacier National Park on June 26.
Tanzman is one of the few who have completed the Triple Crown of trails – the Appalachian, the Pacific Crest and the Continental Divide. He says he’s one of about 150 who are recorded by the ALDHA West, which recognizes those who have done the “big three” with an award and plaque, but guesses the number could be anywhere from 200 to 300 people who have actually accomplished the feat.
“Most recently I walked the length of New Zealand; it took me five months to go 3,000 kilometers or about 2,000 miles,” said Tanzman, who grew up in Rochester, New York, but calls San Diego, Calif. home now.
He said the New Zealand hike was so hard he thought he’d do something less mentally demanding this summer, but was pushed by one of his sometime hiking partners.
“She said, do you want to do something easy or challenging like the PNT,” said Tanzman. “She called me a name I can’t repeat here. I’ve always wanted to do the PNT, which was just recently recognized as a national scenic trail, because it’s a challenge and so few have done the whole thing. I felt it was time to do something unique.”
When he started the 1,200 mile PNT at Glacier National Park he said there was still snow on the ground.
“The only other footprints I saw for days were of bear, elk, cougar and other animals,” he said.
From Glacier he crossed Western Montana and the Idaho Panhandle, where the trail is especially challenging.
“You have the ruggedness of the Selkirks and much of the trail is not maintained, or even acknowledged,” he said. “The weather can always be a factor too. In the Idaho Panhandle, in the Priest Lake area, I was in my tent and there were lightening strikes every three seconds. My tent was completely flooded.”
He says he was actually sleeping in a motel bed when he was in the Republic area during the recent storms there.
“I spent the next days walking over old growth ponderosa pine that had been blown down,” he said. “There were huge trees lying across the trail.”
While in Oroville last week he said he was soaking up as much rest and food as he could. He was staying at the Camaray Motel, which he said had made him feel welcome.
“It was the first time I had slept in a bed or eaten pizza in a couple of weeks,” he said. “Oroville is the halfway point of the trail. I’ve been through a half dozen towns since starting and Oroville is actually the first town I’ve been to that clearly recognizes the PNT and embraces it. Other towns you mention the trail and they just give you a blank stare.
“Usually I come into a town from some forest trail or gravel road and I feel like a transient… I’m carrying a backpack and I’m dirty. In Oroville I walk in and it’s like ‘wow’ I’m a hiker and everyone knows it… I get a real welcome feeling.”
Tanzman said that so far the PNT has been a balance of “beautiful scenery and interesting towns.” He adds that he especially liked the Whistler Canyon portion just south of Oroville. So far Tanzman has been stopped twice by U.S. Border Patrol Agents while hiking the PNT, but used the visit in Oroville to make contact at the local Border Patrol station.
From his blog:
The remaining miles down Trail 100 and into Whistler Canyon were real pleasant with the scenic canyon walls and ponderosa pines growing at weird angles and I popped out to the main highway around 8. I saw my 7th PNT marker and walked the 3 miles along the busy highway into town while typing on my phone. I stopped by the Border Patrol station on my way into town looking for Cory, an agent a couple of other agents had said hiked the PNT. Turns out they weren’t quite right as he had actually hiked the PCT but he knew all about the PNT and we chatted for a while. I didn’t realize they actually patrolled the mountains on foot and horse and camped out, sometimes even on the PCT or PNT. It sounds like some people will do anything to blend in to get across the border and I guess looking like a dirty hiker is a pretty good way!”

From his blog:

From Oroville he expects the next leg of the trail to be “really amazing” as he walks up the Similkameen and into the Pasayten Wilderness. At Ross Lake he said he will stop by the resort and pick up a package of supplies that he mailed to himself ahead of his journey.
“From there I head right into the North Cascades National Park,” said Tanzman.
The hiker said he’s been lucky that the accounting firm he worked for in San Diego, Ernst and Young, has given him multiple unpaid absences over the years to pursue his dreams.
“Over a 12 year period I probably walked 12,000 to 13,000 miles yet always had a job to go back to. That’s pretty unique in this world. The more people you meet along the way and the more amazing things you do the more you want to do it,” he said.
He says financing for his trips has all come from savings from his job and that hiking is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy the outdoors at a minimal cost. Being single and having no mortgage doesn’t hurt, he adds.
Tanzman said his gear only weighs 15 pounds, not counting food and water. He carries maps, GPS and a mobile phone and calls his parents and his younger sister on each of his stops. He advises anyone planning a hike of this sort to do their research and speak with people who have made the hike before. His journey can be followed on his blog at postholer.com: http://postholer.com/journal/viewJournal.php?sid=adbdaf2a6eb07abdc003a0409e12cd39

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.