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  • Archive for January, 2011

    So after doing our slackpacking the other day we did an easy 13-14 mile day on Tuesday because we thought it was going to start storming sometime after lunch. We’d stopped at an RV resort to fill up our water before walking three more miles to the campsite which we arrived to at 1pm. Cloudy, maybe a sprinkle, but no thunder in ‘sight’. We ho-hummed for the next four hours until it really did decide to rain, right at hiker bedtime, 6pm. Damn, could’ve put in six more miles and stayed at our Trail Angel’s house again. Oh well, instead we hung out at the campsite in Seminole Ranches. After looking on the map it appeared we were quite close to the St. John’s river so I kept getting worried we were going to be flooded by the rain—not likely, just me being paranoid.

    The storm came and I listened to a local talk show and it was interrupted several times by tornado warnings for various counties including the one we were in. We were dripped on by our leaking tent but eventually the rain left and we slept soundly, except for the call of a bald eagle that had a nest probably within a quarter mile of a site.

    Yesterday took make up miles but also because we discovered the map was newer than the book and was adding about five extra miles we hadn’t planned for, we did 27 miles, breaking our AT day mileage of 26.3. It wasn’t too bad, just took very quick afternoon breaks and a thirty minute lunch. I wouldn’t do it again often, but at least I know it is doable by 5:15pm. We had a very nice walk in the Little-Big Econ State Forest in which we walked along the Econlockhatchee River, a very lazy, molasses looking river.

    Today we woke up anticipating our hotel stay! We were entering a no-legal-camping-zone through suburban Orlando, but we did find that there were many places along the Cross-Seminole bike path that one could stealth if needed. For the most part the hike through the streets was not bad since for the most part we were on the bike path and it mostly wound through very naturey areas, but we did walk by a few schools, through a sketchy neighborhood in Oveido, and a small industrial type area. We encountered many people wondering what we were doing, some asking if we were training for the AT, but most had no clue that we were indeed on the Florida Trail!

    We also caught up to most of the group hiking with Chuck Norris and we saw Speaker and most of the group again at the shopping center when we ended today. Tomorrow we may overtake most of them as they are heading to Ocala for a birthday party. I am sure we will see some of them again.

    I am looking foward to getting a haircut. And a pedicure. And inserting my face in some sort of deep moisturizing treatment. I didn’t realize how dry my face was…it’s ick. We’re sporting some pretty rad looking hiking pole strap tan lines now…awesome!

    Other than that, all is good. We should be walking into Ocala National Forest this weekend and spend a few days in there and then within the next week we will be halfway done with the trail and soon after I know we will make our turn west towards the panhandle.

    Until next time…happy hiking!

    Hello! I am alive! We are in Titusville at a Trail Angel’s house for the night. He’d contacted us prior to our hike about our propsects of doing the east side of Lake Okeechobee and told us they were doing work and had been kicked off recently. Then he said when we got to the Christmas area to give him a call and we could get a shower and laundry done. We gave him a call last night to tell him we thought we’d be there Tuesday afternoon but he said he’d meet us where we started a 24 mile roadwalk today at noon. So, we ended up slackpacking some of that roadwalk today, about 12 miles or so and nixed sleeping on the side of a county road in favor of a shower, laundry and comraderie with a large group that is hiking together about a day and a half ahead of us. Look up Chuck Norris on if you are interested. Our friend Speaker from the AT started on the 4th and caught up to that group so we got to see him as well.

    So far the trail has been very different than the AT. For one we’ve seen all of 1 thru-hiker so far other than the group today. We met southbounder, Plugger, on the Seminole Reservation when he was a few days from being done. Other than that we’ve mostly met either day hikers, fishermen, lock workers around the lake, people curious on what we were doing, hunters (deer or squirrel) and that’s about it. We did meet a guy out hiking for a few weeks and he was taking a zero at the Kicco ghost town due to a sore foot.

    After leaving Big Cypress we were either on a road or levee most of the time until we arrived at Hickory Hammock…which is a veryyyyy long distance. Road and levee walking sucks, sucks, sucks. It sucks worse than PA rocks, it sucks worse than the Mahoosuc Notch, it sucks worse than the AMC hut system. Why? It tears the crap out of your feet. Chris, who had barely a blister on the AT, has been plagued with blisters, too. Finally though I think we are slowly coming away from that and other than the sore feet the last two hours of the day and hiker hobble after, we are doing better.

    The trail is very quiet and that is another difference. Logbooks are rare and finding a trace of anyone else is hard. We look for footprints and fellow AT hiker Love it or Leave It left a note in the sand north of Mosquito Hammock so we knew we were within a day of him.

    Anyway, I am definitely done with thru-hikes after this. Someone should have reminded me that oatmeal and breakfast bars really suck for breakfast, lunch is mediocre at best and the sore feet—ahhhhh! And the people missing. I am definitely better when we are around people, talking to others. I know that having Merf around on the AT helped a lot towards the last bit of the trail. I think section hiking, shorter trails and such are in my adventure book after this.

    Here’s a few photos. We’re having some issues with our camera card so we lost a lot of our photos from Okeechobee north, including a super cute otter picture. We saw three otters three days in a row!

    Chris at Robert’s Lake Strand in Big Cypress.

    Oasis Visitor Center, 8 miles into the trail.


    Swallows diving for water at the pond behind Oasis Visitor Center

    The eastern diamondback that we nearly walked upon in Big Cypress

    13 mile camp in Big Cypress, 13 miles from I-75

    Florida Trail version of Trail Magic…green beans from a local farm. Guy drove by while we were eating lunch, then came back by with this gigantic bag of green beans

    Sugarcane fields burning

    Green bean smile

    Campsite along Lake O

    Ridley and Panther at a campsite along Lake O

    Tick Island Slough bridge in Kicco WMA. Saw our second otter here. Playful fellow.

    Well, we will write more when we get another chance. We will be going through a more suburban area around Orlando and will more than likely try to motel/hotel it within the next week and take a half day off somewhere. Then we’ll really start getting into some nicer hiking of Florida. I’ll have my brother post again when I call him.


    Happy Birthday baby girl.

    Your mom would’ve made you the best birthday cake. Your dad would have flicked cake at your mom again. Your big sister would have probably helped feed you the cake. And we would have all been there for a grand jamboree.

    We miss you and love you.

    I talked to Misti today. Here is a rundown of what has been going on…

    – They made it to Clewiston on Friday.
    – Lots of road walking. Walking on levees and through burning cane fields. Its been pretty boring since leaving Big Cypress.
    – Had a trail angel pick them up today and take them to the grocery store to pick up food for the next week.
    – It’ll be about about 10 days until they will be anywhere to access a computer and post something themselves.
    – Wildlife seen: osprey, snail kite, white pelican, eastern diamondback, cottonmouth, raccoon, armadillo.

    That’s about it. Misti and Chris seemed to be in good spirit and having a great time.

    Hello all! My name is Kathy and Misti has me doing a little “guest blogging” for her now that they’ve hit the trail.

    My hubby Randy and I just dropped Chris and Misti at the Florida Trail on Loop Road this morning. They stayed with us a few days this week before this trail adventure. It was nice seeing them in what amazingly enough has been almost a year since they left South Florida.

    Chris got out to Fakahatchee one day while Misti and I went “thrifting” all over town. We hit up a few of my favorite local shops and of course Misti did lots of window shopping as they’re shipping back whatever isn’t carried on their backs.

    We talked about how relaxed they were leading up to the hike and Misti mentioned that it’s just not as daunting after the A.T. I guess it’s all relative and I can certainly understand that! Now that they’ve done the A.T., I guess there’s not a lot that will make them nervous about a hike. At least the Florida Trail is mostly flat, but they weren’t looking forward to the mud that was most likely at the beginning of the trail.

    We drove out to Loop Road this morning to drop them off. They’re well prepared and Misti brought her colder temp sleeping bag which is good because it looks like we’re getting some more cool weather. We took some parting shots and sent them on their way…”Ridley and Panther” take on the Florida Trail!

    Looking forward to keeping up with them on the trail with updates here on Misti’s blog!

    We went to Kathy and Randy’s friend Dar’s house last night for their Thursday Night Drinking Club. Dar is an animal lover and feeds the local cats, an opossum and apparently one day an albino ferret showed up. It came around last night for us to see and Chris took a camera phone photo of me with it. It had a nice, outside smell to it and was super sweet, yawned a few times for us and made me want a cute little ferret.

    I think Leo would eat it, though.

    Well, we’re here in Fort Lauderdale and well, aside from 595 having an insane amount of construction, Florida is the same. It’s warm in January, all the invasive species are still out and about (Brazilian pepper, melaleuca, Australian pines, iguanas, monk parakeets) and all of the tropical plants make me want to garden like crazy.

    We drove down to Miami to visit our friend Christine and while driving down Krome Avenue I wanted to stop in at every nursery and buy orchids. We did stop in at one of our favorites and poked around at all the beautiful vandas. Mmmmm, orchids! My only sadness is that it isn’t mango, lychee or avocado season—that’s in the summer. The avocados are ripening on the trees, though, getting ready for later on this year.

    Our resupplies have been bought, food to start and two boxes for our friend Chris/FootTrax to bring. The water levels in the glades seem to be getting lower but we didn’t see the Big Cypress area. Chris is going to Fakahatchee today so he will report back on how much water is out there and what we might be facing on Saturday. I’m thinking more mud or only ankle deep water, but we shall see.

    We’re already having to renegotiate our planned stops. We were thinking of doing the east side of the dike around Lake Okeechobee but someone recently emailed Chris to tell him they’d been kicked off in two different locations by construction crews on the dike. So, we’re heading west instead, which is two miles shorter but more remote. Also, the Avon Park Bombing Range has been closing more often so we’ll have to probably plan to get there on a weekend. They have a phone # to call so we’ll be checking in on that as well.

    Other than that, we’re ready to go. I’m wondering why I brought my 15* bag when it is so pleasant out but I’m sure I will want it at some point as it does get cold here in Florida. A few weeks ago there were some 20* nights and heavy frost on the ground here. It isn’t always tropical year round!

    Anyway, probably one more update and then I am having our friend Kathy do a post after they drop us off at Loop Road. I’ll call in to my brother when I can and have him post here when he has a chance and then whenever I get to somewhere with a computer I’ll post, too!

    Meanwhile if you are an AT hiker keep an eye on Onward and Upward’s AT 2011 hike. I found them while trying to look up future AT hikers to follow for the year.


    It took me awhile to come up with my word for the year. 2011 is a year of a fresh, blank book with crisp white pages to be written. The first few chapters have been sketched out, the Florida Trail, but haven’t been written yet. The rest after that are full of possibilities.

    It’s Misti’s version of Choose Your Own Adventure.

    Aside: You have to check out my Flickr friend’s Florida panther photos!

    Having grown up in the suburbs of Ft. Worth I am partial to this town versus its neighbor Dallas. I love walking through the streets, checking out the old buildings and when the Tandy Center was still in existence, my friends and I would drive down to the subway that took you to the Tandy Center and we’d go shopping or ice skating and then walk around Main Street or Sundance Square. It’s an easily maneuverable city and in the past several years has seen a revitalization on the west side of the town. I particularly love the arts district on the west side and with the new shopping and loft housing in the area it has a nicer appeal than it used to.

    On NYE we went downtown during the day to sightsee and get out for a bit. It was chilly and the wind tunneled through the streets between the buildings. Lots has changed, art galleries that I remember were gone, Billy Miner’s restaurant was gone, but there is a lot of new stuff to see and I was glad to have gone.

    I hadn’t seen the Ft. Worth Water Gardens in ages and thought it might be busy but there weren’t many people there. The water was also not running for the winter season.



    My mom.




    I’d forgotten about the ‘mountain’ you could climb!



    Dad climbing the ‘mountain’.

    We walked over to the Omni hotel afterwards to warm up and get some coffee.


    Dad reminisced about the many times he volunteered with other parents from my softball team in highschool, working the vending booths during various concerts and boat shows. I remembered doing it at least once and wondered why the players didn’t do it more.


    A Chris portrait of me. My hair has gotten long!





    I’m fond of all the ornate decorations on the buildings.

    A little courtyard near Sundance Square. I have some real black and white film that I shot during an art class field trip. We were supposed to take photos I think to come back and draw from. I remember trying to draw an opposite view of this courtyard and failing miserably!


    Reata restaurant in the old Caravan of Dreams club.

    My dad wanted me to take the photo on the right so I did…he seemed excited for me process it and so here it is—is it as cool as you thought it would be, dad? I like it in b&w more than in color…what do you think?

    When we get back from our hike I want to do a lot more walking around downtown and the arts district, taking similar photos. Maybe spend a couple days seeing what I can see!

    Zoe got a car for Christmas from Santa. We hadn’t seen her drive it yet until yesterday and boy was that fun!

    She has a radio in the car and her dad told her to dance so she sticks her arm out and does a little funk dance!

    She’s mastered the part of accelerating but hasn’t quite figured out how to steer yet.


    When we asked her about it last week all she could say was that it “goes real fast!”



    There were some off-road incidents….

    And she certainly takes the no-hands approach to driving.



    Uncle Chris has to help guide a bit.

    She’s followed by a chaser vehicle called Daddy!

    Tomorrow she’ll be wanting a real Mustang—horse or car. She’ll probably take either one!

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