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January 11, 2006

Rush Creek Wilderness Trail


First Computationally Derived, Unofficial Public Wilderness Trail

The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail is possibly the world’s first computationally derived, unofficial public wilderness trail. It traverses the backcountry of far northeastern California, extending to near the border with Nevada. It was first "discovered" by a computer algorithm called a "virtual hiker" that pre-explored the landscape by "hiking" through a virtual landscape consisting of data provided by the United States Geological Survey. The virtual hiker found a traversable hiking path between the trailhead and the terminus, both of which were very much arbitrarily chosen by Brett Stalbaum, the author of many virtual hiker algorithms for C5 Corporation. The results of the virtual hiker's exploration produce a tracklog (computer file) that can be uploaded to a GPS device and then followed by a real hiker through the actual landscape. There is no "trail" per se, only a rugged overland backcountry track that can be followed with the assistance of a GPS device. The trail provides beautiful views of the Great Basin desert environment, plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities, and the unique experience of comparing the wayfinding abilities of a virtual hiker to your own wayfinding skills and intuition.

Phase 1 of the trail (From the Rush Creek Wilderness Trailhead to Rush Creek Spring) was opened by Stalbaum December 27th and 28th of 2005. Phase 2 (from Rush Creek Spring to the Nevada Border), will be opened sometime during 2006. Documentation of the project, the trail, and directions can be found here: http://www.paintersflat.net/rush_creek

Posted by jo at January 11, 2006 11:10 AM