Florida Hike Prep Post
My Florida Trail hike prep is coming along nicely. My son and I will hike from Key West to Lake Okeechobee where he will stop to return to school. I'll decide at that point how much farther to go. At this point, I'm looking forward to hiking to Pensacola but a lot depends on the trail.
Here are some key items that might be helpful to others considering this hike.
- $26 - I ordered and received my Florida Trail Guide. It contains non-navigation section maps that just give an idea where things are generally located along the trail. The pages that list water sources and camping spots are the real reason I purchased this book. Knowing how far to the next water helps me carry enough, but not too much. I've used the camping information to make my own 2-sheet list of camp spots and mileages that I will carry. That also is a starting point for my hiking schedule, but it is out-of-date even before I start hiking.
The book weighs a lot, so I expect to only take a few key pieces along.
- $35 - I purchased the Florida Trail app for my phone. It lists a lot of the important information in the guide, but weighs nothing. I expect to use it mostly to pinpoint my current location and see how far away water and camping spots are. The AT app was terrific, so I'm hoping this is just as good. One thing about it, the elevation profile is silly since the highest point on the FT is under 300 feet. :-)
- $45 - I submitted my Florida Trail Association membership request and received their member packet. You have to be a member to hike through the trail and cross some private areas. We need to remember to take our FTA membership cards with us on the trail.
- I submitted liability waivers to the Seminole Indians so we can walk across their land. I took pictures of the originals so I have a copy with us while on the trail.
- I'm hiking. I've been putting in about 5 miles each morning on the long, flat trails around home. This should be perfect training for FL since the trail there will have no mountains to climb.
- I'm hoping to visit Boy Scout groups on my hike. I've found troops in towns along the trail and sent emails letting them know my plans. I've received a couple of positive replies already so I'm excited to meet, and maybe hike with, other scouters.
- All my gear is ready to go. There's nothing new I need to buy, but I expect I'll need new shoes after the first 300 miles since the long Keys roadwalk and Big Cypress swamp will probably be tough on them.
- Food will be purchased in Florida as needed. The first week will be walking through population so we'll carry little and spend more to eat along the way. On our way out of Miami, we'll supply ourselves for 5 days at a Publix or Walmart fairly close to our route.
Researching the trail, both online and in the guide, I've run into some peculiarities of the Florida Trail. It is probably the most bureaucratic trail in the country.
Besides the FTA membership and Seminole waiver I mentioned, a hiker also has to do the following:
- Get a permit and pay to hike the FT across Elgin AFB. But, I can't do that now - I must wait until 30 days before I expect to arrive there.
- Get permits to use campsites in some state areas. They cost no money, but are required to camp.
- Get super secret instruction and permission to cross canals at a couple of locks. Not now, I must wait until I'm just about there.
- Pay fees to camp in some state parks and forests.
- Acquire other permits, pay fees, get permission, ... for two pages of requirements that the FTA sends to its new members. And, at the bottom of the list, it states "list may not include every permit and fee".
- Oh, hikers also must have blaze orange clothing. The trail crosses some hunting areas where it is mandatory to wear blaze orange, not an entire outfit, but a large swatch - just in case your hiking pace resembles a deer or alligator.
Well, if you couldn't tell, the red tape strikes me as a bit much for this trail. But, the FTA is working to make it simpler and, in the grand scheme of things, it's not a big deal. Just don't expect to wake up one morning and set off to hike the whole trail like some folks do on the AT.
I promised my wife I would stop mentioning all the scary things I might encounter on the trail in Florida, so you'll just have to See for yourself if you're interested in what's waiting out there.
PS: If you, or people you know, are in Florida and want a hiker visit, just give me a holler. I've got Stickers I can give them.
Posted: 17:12 12-11-2015 1223
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