Wilson Price Hunt Trail (‘Astorians’) 1811 — 1812

Map of Wilson Price Hunt Trail Map of Wilson Price Hunt Trail
Map of Wilson Price Hunt Trail

In 2006 I follow the trail of Wilson Price Hunt, who will later be known as the leader of the ‘Astorians’. The employer was John Jacob Astor, who sailed a year before with his ship Tonquin around Kap Horn to establish Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. Nowadays the city of Astoria in Oregon can be found at this place. Hunts order was to find suitable places for trading posts and a southern route over the Rockies, without entering the territory of the Blackfeet Indians.

First I follow the Interstates from Pittsburgh to St. Louis. The trail would follow now the Missouri up to Mobridge. But I have traveled this stretch of the Missouri often enough in my previous trails, so I decided to stay on the Interstates. When the river changed its course to the west, I have to follow on bigger Highways until I reach Mobridge, where the main trail starts at the Arikara settlements. I follow the Grand River west to Montana. Crossing Custer National Forest I head on further west. When Hunt reached the Powder River, he had to turn south, as the mountains were not passable. I reach Wyoming this way and by passing Gillette and Buffalo I arrive at the Bighorn Mountains. At Shoshoni I reach the Wind River, which I follow up to the north of Dubois. Hunt crossed the Wind River Range at Union Pass. But a fire stopped me there, and I had to turn back and cross the mountains at Togwotee Pass. Around nowadays Jackson Hole, Hunt tried to use canoes, but the Snake River was impassable. So the route goes via Teton Pass into Idaho. At Henry’s Fort Hunt sent hunters out to the north to refill their meet supplies. I follow Henry’s Fork up to Mesa Falls. Then I drive along the Snake to Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. At Bruneau I take the opportunity to visit the sand dunes.

Hunt followed the Snake further only for a short distance, before he was forced to leave the river and ride across the country up to nowadays Boise. Along Boise River he went to the Snake River and then up north. Due to the oncoming winter, the whole expedition nearly starved at Hells Canyon. Hunt met a group, he has sent out weeks before on a different route. They told him, that the canyon was impassable for horses. They turned back and followed the Snake down to Weiser. From there, they turned west and reached Oregon. Following an old Indian Trail, they reached LaGrande and Pendleton. By following the Umatilla River, they reached the Columbia River, which showed them the way to Fort Astoria at the Pacific coast.

On bigger Highways I drive back to Portland, where I hit the Interstates for the rest of my way back to Pittsburgh. In the area of Evanston the first snow fall arrives, but with no bigger impact on my traveling. I make a small detour to Detroit to visit my friends Matt & Jean, before I eventually reach Pittsburgh again.

The daily trails are in preparations