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Woman out to be first to trek Oregon Desert Trail

TRAILS — Aptly named Sage Clegg, 33, is attempting to become the first person to solo hike-and-bike the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail.

Clegg has the credentials, having already proved to be among the country’s fastest ultralight female backpackers.

She left her home in Bend on June 5 and is en route to Idaho, hoping to finish by July 20 before the desert goes from hot to broiling. She's already encountered treeless stretches, arrowheads, bighorn sheep and this week entered some forested terrain, accordng to her desert trail blog.

The Oregon Natural Desert Association created the concept of the desert trail to raise awareness for desert protection.

The staff has worked two years mapping the route, which links trails, roads and corridors through Oregon desert jewels, including the Badlands, Hart Mountain, Steens Mountain and the Owyhee canyonlands.  (See a map of the route.) But Clegg will still have some dots to connect as she bicycles the flatter, most boring sections of trail and walks another 600 miles.

Her support team will mail food packages to spots along the way (Frenchglen, Fields, McDermitt, Rome), just as it did during the 18 months it took her to hike 8,000 miles of the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide and Appalachian national scenic trails.

Clegg carries about 12 pounds plus food and water. Her tent weighs 3.5 ounces. This is the perfect time for the wildlife biologist to go hiking because her work as a desert tortoise researcher in California’s Mojave Desert goes on hiatus while the reptiles spend summer underground.

Follow her desert journey online, onda.org.