Page 1



Summer 2015 Volume 32 Issue 3

Where Wilderness Takes Over The Lopin’ Gopher Railroad

Building A New Trail and Bridge Trailblazers Tackle Critical Project at Camp Blanding

Transit Relay Hike An Experience Backpacking the FNST

Florida Trail Association Footprint

Summer 2015


Cover Photo: Pam Hale hiking with baby Ben Hale in 1981. Photo taken by Joe Hale. Inside Cover: Anonymous 2

Florida Trail Association


Contents Departments and Features


5 President’s Message 7 Forward Footsteps 9 Membership Matters 10 Thank You 14 Passing of the Blaze 15 Volunteer Spotlight


18 Building a New


7 Florida Trail

Association Trail Staff and Our Trail Volunteers by Tom Daniel

9 2015 Membership Recruitment Announcement by Eve Barbour

12 Where Wilderness


28 Completing the

15 31

FNST in Orange & Osceola Counties by Megan Eno

by Doug Alderson

33 The Florida Trail

by Megan Donoghue

Key West by Ed Talone

by Roy Moore

End to End




A family’s journey along the Trail


by Sandra Friend

38 A Little Respect

16 A Walk from


2015 Ocean to Lake Backpacking Trip

Takes Over

A Chat with Eric, who volunteers with the Panhandle Chapte



15 Eric Lewis

by Janie Hamilton

Chapter’s Transit Relay Hike by Apalachee Chapter’s

Association Awards 2015 State-wide and Chapter Award Winners.

Trail and Bridge in Camp Blanding

22 Apalachee


10 Florida Trail

18 North Florida Trailblazers 21 News from the North 22 The Transit Tales 28 Southern Scoop 31 Loxahatchee Lowdown 33 Book Review 35 Chapters

Goes a Long Way

by Sandra Friend & John Keatley Summer 2015


Footprint The Magazine of the Florida Trail Association

FLORIDA TRAIL ASSOCIATION 5415 SW 13th Street Gainesville, FL 32608 Toll-Free: 877-HIKE-FLA Tel: 352-378-8823 email: fta@floridatrail.org website: FloridaTrail.org Facebook.com/FloridaTrailAssociation Digital Magazine: Issuu.com/FlaTrail


President: Carlos Schomaker VP Trails: Tom Daniel VP Outreach/Development: Holly Parker VP Membership: Eve Barbour Secretary: Leslie Wheeler Treasurer: Pam Hale Directors: Eve Barbour • Christopher Boykin David Denham • Megan Digeon • Gary Knecht Jim Powell • Jan Wells • Adam Wiegand

FLORIDA TRAIL STAFF Administrative Director: Janet Akerson • 352-378-8823 Membership Support: Diane Strong • 352-378-8823 Trail Program Director: Alex Stigliano • 828-333-1529 Volunteer Program Coordinator: Karl Borton • 570-574-3240 North Regional Representative: Jeff Glenn • 352-514-1455

FLORIDA TRAIL FOOTPRINT Editor: Alex Stigliano Layout: Sean Lucas

© 2015 Florida Trail Association All rights reserved. Contributors retain copyright to their work but give the Florida Trail Association permission to use to promote FTA and the Florida Trail. Articles are subject to editing for clarity and space. Materials will be returned if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. Opinions, observations, and endorsements made within the Florida Trail Footprint do not necessarily reflect those of the board or staff of the Florida Trail Association.

The Footprint (ISSN 1064-0681) is published quarterly by the Florida Trail Association 5415 SW 13th St, Gainesville, FL 32608 Bulk rate postage paid at Gainesville, FL. Postmaster: Send change-of-address form 3597 to: Footprint, 5415 SW 13th St, Gainesville, FL 32608. The Footprint is printed with soy-based inks on paper with post-consumer content


Florida Trail Association


The Footprint is published by the Florida Trail Association, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization focused on Florida hiking and trail building. Since 1966, the primary mission of our organization has been the care and protection of the Florida Trail, a 1,300-mile footpath across the Sunshine State - Florida’s own National Scenic Trail.


To provide outreach to our readers through informative articles that express appreciation for and conservation of the natural beauty of Florida; to inform our readers of Florida Trail Association business; and to provide information on Florida hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities.


Contributors are welcome to submit items for our various departments as well as trail and association-related news. Please contact the editor at communications@floridatrail.org to discuss ideas for feature stories prior to submission.



If you’re not already a member, join now. As a Florida Trail member, you receive a subscription to The Footprint magazine, membership in a local chapter, a local newsletter with local activities, opportunities for outdoor skills training, participation in regional and annual conferences and more. Call toll-free 877-HIKE-FLA for more information.


Reach a highly targeted demographic of Florida outdoor enthusiasts by advertising with us or becoming a regular sponsor. Your advertising dollars directly support production and publication of this magazine and assist the Florida Trail Association in fulfilling its mission. Call 877-HIKE-FLA or email fta@FloridaTrail.org for more details. Deadline for articles for the Fall issue of The Footprint is September 1, 2015. Deadline for chapter activities covering July October to appear in the electronic version of the The Footprint fall issue is September 15, 2015.

President’s Message


hat is the proper place of commemoration and remembrance? How do we best honor the things that came before? Are events and Carlos Schomaker places honored for FTA President their own sake, or should their memory serve as kindling and fuel for the future? And should commemoration gloss over the past in a rosy hue, or can it illuminate its true nature, warts and all? I’ve been thinking about commemoration and remembrance lately. Next year, there’s a 30th Anniversary celebration of a US Navy ship’s commissioning, one that I had the pleasure of serving on as a member of the initial “Plank Owner” crew. The ship itself is already gone, a victim of systems obsolescence, cost, and (believe it or not) tests to see what would sink it. It will be nice to see old shipmates; but unless the attendees jointly dedicate ourselves to some other cause or work, the event will be a reunion, not a celebration of the past and a light to the future. There’s an importance difference between the two. The National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2016. Rather than serving as merely a remembrance of what has transpired in that agency’s history, however, the NPS’s Centennial is being used 1) as a tool to remind people about the very special places preserved under the aegis of NPS; 2) to gain and inspire advocates for the continued protection of those Parks and Monuments; and 3) as a springboard for new programs and initiatives to get people, especially younger generations, back into nature. This is crucial for maintaining future public support for NPS’s mission. Urban modernity, voter apathy, generational lack of exposure to the outdoors, and short-sighted or hostile politicians are just a few challenges faced by America’s crown jewels. The National Park Service recognizes its Centennial Anniversary as an opportunity

A look back at FTA’s history to address these problems. You know where this is leading. Next year is also the 50th Anniversary of the Florida Trail and its dedicated volunteer association (FTA). The first blaze of what would eventually become the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) was daubed onto a tree in October, 1966, in the Clearwater Lake area of the Ocala National Forest. Fifty years ago, the Florida Trail story started. So the calls begin for celebrations, for commemorative events and parties and orange-blazed merchandise. The Florida Trail’s founder and other pioneers will be feted and everyone will look at old photos and film and feel good. These things are justified and earned and should be done. Everyone touched by FTA has memories of their time here, whether as a trail maintainer, casual hiker, or hardcore backpacker. Group activity addict or loner, organizer or casual attendee, chainsaw expert or lopper novice, staffer or volunteer--each of them has a different perspective on what transpired, and what it meant. A few veterans have been involved with FTA for that entire half-century. A few uninitiated people may be picking up this magazine because it looks interesting, and they’re wondering what

this Footprint business is all about. But what do we do with this “BigNumber” Anniversary? Celebrate with the bands of true believers and veterans, like a school reunion (or that military unit opportunity I mentioned above)? Or leverage it into an energy source for the next fifty years, like the National Park Service is doing? It’s easy to say “both”, but the truth is, the end result will be determined by overall intention. We should do the latter thing. We must do the latter, if we care enough about FTA and our FNST to work for their continued success. Let’s go back and look for inspiration and insight from other new endeavors and events occurring in ’65-‘66:

Recently the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma and the Voting Rights Act were commemorated. Don’t want to get into politics here, but it’s clear that race is still a topical issue. Based on the speeches about unfinished work, this civil rights commemoration seems more akin to the NPS example above than it does to an alumni celebration. The Ford Mustang! A special-edition 50th anniversary model is coming out, and you can bet Ford will trumpet the successful history of its legendary pony car. Mustang aficionados will wax nostalgic about certain past models, but it’s clear that Ford has, and will continue to, radically change that car. The company has to change it, in order to compete in the marketplace, meet new regulations and economic realities, respond to changes in the buying public, and incorporate new ideas and technologies. The Mustang’s anniversary probably mixes some appreciation for the purists and long-term devotees, with a lot of push to reach new buyers. In television, Star Trek originally debuted as a series in 1966. (So did Batman, That Girl and The Monkees, which might have fans celebrating their 50th as well. Lost in the dustbin of time are Burt Reynolds’ Hawk and a sitcom named Hey, Landlord. It’s doubtful that their anniversaries will be noticed.) Although Star Trek lasted only three seasons on TV, it has gone on to spawn successful movie and TV spinoffs and has been hugely influential on popular culture. The science fiction franchise will release a new feature film on its 50th anniversary, and the half-century milestone will probably be celebrated by astrophysicists, astronauts, film directors and others who were inspired by the space fantasy. Super Bowl 50 is scheduled for February 7, 2016, outside San Francisco. Not “Super Bowl L”. That would follow the convention of roman numerals used through the last half-century, but it doesn’t look impressive. “L” as in “loser”? The world of sports, for better or worse, has changed a great deal since the first NFL-AFL championship game. Legendary TV executive Roone Arledge,


Summer 2015

The National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2016.


Photo courtesy of Sandra Friend / FTA

for example, revolutionized sports broadcasting by focusing on the human interest side of games, way back in 1960. Telling good stories goes a long way toward getting people to watch others play a game. Telling good stories always gets people engaged. These cultural events, and many others, were taking place at about the same time as Jim Kern was first leading small groups of people into the woods to build the Florida Trail. Here in the Sunshine State, the same era saw the opening of the last pre-Disney attractions: Pirates World, Ocean World, and the oddly-named Tragedy in U.S. History Museum. All of them are gone. Thankfully FTA and the Florida Trail are still here, but extinction has always been a possibility--- even if you’re a St. Augustine museum that features memorabilia from the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Elvis, James Dean, and others! So it’s clear that the celebration of milestones can have deep meaning for a wide swath of humanity, or for a few individuals. When these events touch

Pitcher plants along the Florida Trail near Camel Lake 6

Florida Trail Association

many people, they should be celebrated loudly. When they touch less people or are more personal (such as a wedding anniversary), the celebrations are more intimate. But what of celebrations that need to sound a clarion call, like the National Park Service example above? Then the impulse to focus on the history, culture and unique experience needs to be offset by an equal focus on the future, on inclusivity, and on shared values. In other words, when you need new people to join you, you better not make your anniversary party into something that makes strangers feel turned off or indifferent. Why is this so important? Well, besides the obvious numerical reasons (same number of supporters, aging membership, need for more volunteers), the real reason is this: Things are getting complicated for the FNST and all other National Scenic Trails. At a time when only a very small fraction of Floridians even know about FTA or our mission, hiking trails are under siege. Tallahassee and Washington legislators are spawning endless bad ideas for public lands, many of which directly impact our trails--- a return of grazing and other uses to Florida State Parks, advertising along trails, cuts to land acquisition and management funding, privatization of public lands, etc. Under these pressures, our partner land managers start envisioning trails that allow more uses, or cut costs and change the core nature of our trails. Without massive public outcry, what else would they do? These days, even a Florida State Amendment passed by a signal majority of voters to finance public lands isn’t being honored by our legislators. David J. Brown of the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently blogged about the future of that national movement (in many ways similar to the work done by FTA and our sister National Trail organizations). His threepart essay comes in advance of the 50th Anniversary of another landmark piece of legislation, the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. His thesis: change is the new constant; preservation is about people; preservation is a political movement. He argues that the future of America’s significant historic FloridaTrail.org

architectural and archeological sites will depend on a wider net of support, not on arcane arguments and technical minutiae. Success will depend on how well the public knows about, appreciates and supports historic preservation. FTA should take the same approach as it considers the future support for the Florida Trail. The National Park Service, at its Centennial, understands that its ability to fulfill its mission relies on more than the silent, tacit support of the American people--- the vast majority of them feel favorable toward National Parks--- but on strong, active citizen support and action. That’s why their anniversary party is designed to stoke the fires of engagement in Americans of all ages, colors, and creeds. Florida Trail Association should take the same approach as it celebrates its fiftieth year of building Florida’s Trail. Nostalgia is nice. Commemoration and remembrance are good and decent. But relevancy and strength and an eye to the future are everything. Let’s remember the past. The best way to honor it is to prepare for a brighter future for the Florida Trail.

Carlos Schomaker FTA President

Forward Footsteps by Tom Daniel, VP Trails

Florida Trail Association Trail Staff and Our Trail Volunteers


would like to address the need for the sharing of knowledge and responsibilities between the Florida Trail Association (FTA) volunteers and the FTA Trail Staff. I often encounter a misplaced assumption that our FTA Staff arrive with an in-depth knowledge of Florida’s topography and a working familiarity of how Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) trail classes and standards can be applied to specific ecosystems across the state. The reality is that Florida isn’t just a single ecosystem of completely flat land. There are many different ecosystems with vastly different characteristics that affect the trail, and 8 inches of elevation change can make all the difference. When it comes to the FTA Staff’s responsibility of applying policies and procedures across the state, the specific and localized knowledge of our FTA volunteers becomes essential. The responsibility of maintaining the FNST to standard is a two way street. FTA Staff must learn from seasoned volunteers as much as the FTA volunteers learn from the staff!

FTA members and volunteers have always been the champions and stewards of the Florida Trail. As a 15+ year veteran of volunteering on the FNST, sharing the decision and coordination responsibilities with FTA Staff is sometimes challenging for me, as I imagine it is for many of you. But cooperation and coordination in such a massive task as the Florida Trail requires collaboration. FTA doesn’t own one inch of the Florida Trail or the land over which the trail passes. Sweat equity yes, but we are not the owners of the Florida Trail. The reality is we have never owned it, and have always collaborated with partners, FTA staff and others. Ownership belongs to the Public. There was a time when FTA volunteer Section Leaders were able to make unilateral decisions on trail relocations and were the sole coordinator with land managers. That time has passed and we must either adjust to that reality or move on. Over several years, the FTA Trail Staff has grown from the Trail Program Director (TPD) to include a Volunteer

Program Coordinator (VPC), and two Regional Representatives (RR’s). Both the TPD (Alex Stigliano) and VPC (Karl Borton) have statewide oversight, collaboration and coordination responsibilities, while the two RR’s have similar responsibilities for a specific geographical segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Currently, the Florida Panhandle and the Western Corridor of the Florida Trail, together with the Florida Trail System of nonFNST trails do not have RR’s. The reason is simple—the current lack of FTA funding. During the course of updating and revising the FTA Trail Manual, questions arose about how FTA Trail Staff fit into the decision making model, processes and procedures for the Florida Trail. The short answer is significant and widespread! But with the caveat, that these decisions must be made in collaboration with our volunteers. Both RR’s have oversight, collaboration and coordination responsibilities for their trail segments. This includes, but is not limited to, all trail corridor relocations, infrastructure planning and construction, signage selection and placement, partner liaison, monitoring and allocating available funding, and assistance in closing small and large gaps in the Florida Trail. At times, they share FTA Trail Crew Leader duties with local volunteers, but let me be clear—volunteer-led and managed trail maintenance and building duties on the Florida Trail are alive and well. Our RR’s serve to assist and facilitate volunteer work events; they were never intended to replace volunteer trail crew leaders, Trail Coordinators or Section Leaders. The VPC has statewide duties to assist FTA in expanding, monitoring and assessing the capacity and accomplishments of the Florida Trail volunteer workforce. This includes both FTA volunteers and non-FTA member volunteers. The TPD has general oversight and coordination responsibilities for the VPC and both RR’s positions. He or she also has coordination, workplan and budget


Summer 2015


Will the 2015 FNST Maps and Data Book be Accurate?

development and primary liaison duties with the USDA-Forest Service. The TPD also has limited collateral duties for the Panhandle and the Western Corridor Florida Trail segments until a RR can be hired for those regions. Needless to say, the time available for the TPD to apply to Panhandle and the Western Corridor is limited. FTA Staff share the Florida Trail passion and vision. They are professionals that bring their expertise, experience and passions for the trail and wild places! That said, none of us are perfect or all knowing. It is more than OK to tactfully question things that contradict prior procedures, standards and differences in interpretations in your area.

FTA Trail Manual

After accuracy, the next two objectives in revising and updating the Manual were transparency and volunteer input. The process has taken nine months and six drafts. Multiple reviews, peer solicitations, comments and input from USDAFS, FTA staff and volunteers. The final draft is currently posted on the FTA web site at: http://www.floridatrail. org/2015trailmanualdraft/. The Manual will be presented to the Trails Committee on July 11th and the FTA Board of Directors on July 18th. The Manual serves as the handbook to FTA volunteers and staff while engaged in trail development, trail construction, and trail maintenance related activities for the Florida Trail and the Florida Trail System.

Yes, only if the data from 2014 was good and all the 2014-15 trail corridor changes and data are included! In the two counties my chapter covers, there have been five corridor changes in 2015. Each year the trail corridor has multiple small adjustments and occasionally a major one. By the time you read this, the 2015 FNST maps and data book revisions will be underway. Trail Coordinators, Section Leaders and Regional Representatives should survey the 2014 maps data for accuracy and forward any corrections and/or new trail corridor GPS tracks to the FTA office. Identifying inaccuracies is not solely the job of FTA Staff and trail leaders. If you’ve identified an inaccuracy, let them know the specifics immediately. The window for submitting changes and corrections closes July 31st. The procedure and information required for map and data book revisions is detailed in the 2015 FTA Trail Manual, and currently available for review here: http://www.floridatrail.org/wp-content/ uploads/2014/12/206-Trail-Maps-and-Data-Book-050515.pdf.

The window for submitting changes and corrections closes July 31st.

No Ambulance. No Hospital. Miles from the nearest road. Hours, perhaps days from help. No rescuers are coming. What are you going to do?

Wilderness Medicine Training

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) & WFR Recert – 16 hours Wilderness First Responder (WFR) - 72-80 hours

Call Today: 352-870-9646

10 % OFF

for all Florida Trail Association Members


www.FloridaOutdoorAcademy.com Find your store | REI.com


Florida Trail Association


Membership Matters Notes on memberships



omewhere on this day, I hear strains from the “Rocky” theme song playing for the FTA Membership Drive Winners -


Photos courtesy of Sandra Friend

While Suncoast is our largest chapter with 503 members, they recruited 17 new members during the recruitment period of April 9 to June 6. Congrat­ ulations are in order for Suncoast. They have won the Home Depot Gift Card contest by gaining the most new members. The chapter with smallest number of members (15) – Fisheating Creek – increased itself 53.3 % by gaining 8 new members during the recruitment period. This chapter has also won a Home Depot Gift Card. We tip our FTA orange hardhats to these other chapters. While not winning a prize, they made us proud.

Highlanders Chapter – 10 new members, Florida Crackers – 8 new members, Central Chapter – 8 new members, Apalachee Chapter – 7 new members Loxahatchee Chapter- 7 new members. With the help of all 19 Chapters – FTA recruited 109 new members during this campaign. This brings our numbers UP from 4074 in May 2015 to 4143 in June 2015. In case this looks like fuzzy math, we also compute the number of dropped members for the month. Last year in spite of reaching our goal of over 100 new members, our membership numbers actually went down during the recruitment period. Our chapters get an “attaboy” this year for retention of members too.

With the help of all 19 Chapters – FTA recruited 109 new members during this campaign. Footprint

2016 CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT The FTA Board of Directors has appointed a team of our newest, young and enthusiastic board members to spearhead the 2016 50th Anniversary Annual Conference. They are Chris Boykin, Megan Digeon, Adam Wiegand and though not an FTA newbie, Pam Hale. They are full of ideas so stand by for forthcoming details on date and place. Just an FYI for those who attended the 2015 Conference in Leesburg this past April, though the attendance was average, we managed to clear almost $8000 after expenses. So thank you all so very much for spending your money at our auctions and our raffles. Thank you also to all of you who donated such great items.

Summer 2015


Thank You FTA Annual Awards

Florida Trail Association Awards 2015 State-wide and Chapter Award Winners.

Lifetime Achievement Award This award is presented to those select members who have demonstrated lifetime dedication to the mission and goals of the FTA. This award recognizes those individuals who have participated in all levels of the organization throughout their years as a member of the FTA. Fred has held numerous positions at both the state and local levels of FTA and is responsible for the maintenance of several hundred miles of hiking trails. Margaret has demonstrated lifetime dedication to the mission of FTA. She helps plan and execute the Big O hike and the Ocean to Lake hike. She has been an outstanding leader of the Loxahatchee Chapter for many years. 2015 Margaret Brabham Loxahatchee Chapter Chapter 2015 Fred Davis Loxahatchee Chapter Chapter

2015 recipients for the Cornelia Burge Volunteer Award are Don Mock, left and Dave Costakis, right Pictured here with FTA President Carlos Schomaker.


he Florida Trail Association’s annual awards serve as a way to recognize members, volunteers, partners, and supporters for their incredible contributions to the organization and the trail. Every year we ask our partners, members and volunteers to nominate people in the community for their exceptional contributions. FTA is very proud of and pleased to announce the following names of those volunteers who have served the organization and our mission in such an outstanding manner this past year. It is also with great pride that we print the names of all of our award winners, both past and present, as well as the names of all those members who have given 25 years to FTA.


Florida Trail Association

The following awards are presented at the president’s discretion

Cornelia Burge Volunteer Award

Our highest award is presented annually to members who have made extraordinary progress toward meeting the purposes and objectives of the FTA on a statewide basis. Dave and Don worked tirelessly for many hours designing and updating the FTA trail maps and Data Book. We could not have done this without them and are most grateful to them for their amazing work.

Friend of the Florida Trail Association

2015 Don Mock Florida Crackers Chapter

Presented to non-members or organizations that have made significant contributions to the Florida Trail Association. Hazen went above and beyond to accommodate our access to Camp Blanding for trail maintenance, planning and events, including significant assistance resulting in the success of the 2014 Ididahike.

2015 Dave Costakis Florida Crackers Chapter

2015 Hazen Mitchell Camp Blanding


John Weary Trail Worker Award This award is presented annually to members who have made extraordinary efforts as trail maintainers in helping reach our organizational goal of a continuous trail across Florida, and those who have worked diligently in building and maintaining the side and loop trails of the Florida Trail System. 2015 Lou and Rachael Augspurg Central Florida Chapter 2015 Richard Graham Apalachee Chapter Chapter 2015 Janie Hamilton North Florida Trail Blazers 2015 Eric Lewis Panhandle Chapter Chapter 2015 Robin Luger Florida Crackers Chapter 2015 Bernice and Steven Nemeth Highlanders Chapter

Special Service Award This award is presented to members who have made significant contributions to the Florida Trail Association at a state or chapter level. Examples of significant contributions may include leadership, fundraising, recruitment, outreach, or other valuable volunteer service. 2015 Virginia Barton Central Florida Chapter 2015 Elaine Fisher Central Florida Chapter 2015 John Grob Highlanders Chapter 2015 Gail Irwin Loxahatchee Chapter 2015 Joan Jarvis Central Florida Chapter 2015 Doug Kucklick Central Florida Chapter 2015 Scott Lunsford Loxahatchee Chapter 2015 Steve Meyers Loxahatchee Chapter

Florida National Scenic Trail, Volunteer of the Year for 2015 is Tom Daniel with the Choctawhatchee Chapter, here with Megan Donoghue, left and FTA President Carlos Schomaker, right. 2015 Mary Nixon Central Florida Chapter 2015 Bill Roy Fisheating Creek Chapter 2015 Connie Scott Central Florida Chapter 2015 Judy Trotta Florida Crackers Chapter 2015 David Waldrop Heartland Chapter 2015 Jean Williamson Central Florida Chapter

Activity Leader Award This is presented to members who have made extraordinary efforts and are highly qualified as Activity Leaders or Activity Coordinators using activities as a means to introduce the public to the Florida Trail. 2015 Mary Slater Linn Central Florida Chapter 2015 Alan Collins Loxahatchee Chapter

Florida National Scenic Trail, Volunteer of the Year Given to the volunteer with the most volunteer hours logged towards the efforts of the Florida Trail. 2015 Tom Daniel Choctawhatchee Chapter

Florida National Scenic Trail, Trail Maintainer of the Year Given to the volunteer with the most maintenance hours logged on the Florida Trail. 2015 Robin Luger Florida Crackers Chapter

Florida National Scenic Trail, Volunteer Partner Group of the Year

2015 Roy Moore Loxahatchee Chapter

Given to the partner group that contributed the most hours on the Florida Trail.

2015 Shannon Moore Loxahatchee Chapter

2015 Eckerd College Footprint

Summer 2015


Photos by Doug Alderson

Where Wilderness Takes Over by Doug Alderson


lorida is unkind to vestiges of human history. Water, insects, heat, fire, storms and a long growing season often obliterate signs of the past in a relatively short period of time. So it didn’t surprise me that the old rail bed of the Loping Gopher—the Live Oak, Perry and Gulf Railroad (LOP&G)—was overgrown with sable palms and native cane, and most of the original swamp bridges were gone. To reach the rail bed, I had hiked along the Florida National Scenic Trail south of Highway 98 near the Aucilla River through the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area in Florida’s Big Bend. After entering the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, I headed east along the abandoned East-West rail tram, while

the Florida Trail veered west. I’m not sure what I was searching for in the thick tangle of trees and vines. Perhaps I merely wanted to touch a bit of Florida history. “The Lopin’ Gopher (LOP&G) was an important rail line during the days of the big sawmills,” wrote R.C. Balfour III, author of In Search of the Aucilla. “It linked the mill towns and centers together and joined the Seaboard Air Line Railroad at Live Oak to complete the connection to Jacksonville, Florida. At the point where it crossed the Aucilla, the Fish House was built on the side of the trestle, giving commercial fishermen a fast and reliable delivery system to towns and cities.” Early locomotives were known as

‘cabbage heads.’ They burned lightered pine, while the cabbage stacks swirled sparks until they cooled, preventing forest fires. One early LOP&G excursion train seated about eighty passengers and reached speeds of almost seventy miles per hour, but lumber was the main commodity for the Loping Gopher. Historians suggest that the train carried more lumber related traffic than any other short line railroad in Florida. Today, the Loping Gopher line is no longer a place for man. Wilderness has reasserted itself, and the human is now an infrequent visitor who must move at a gopher tortoise pace. Not surprisingly, this area known as the Aucilla bottomlands was designated a federal wilderness area in the early 1970s, soon after the wilderness act was passed by congress. It isn’t virgin land. Loggers cut the original trees and built the raised tram, but the bottomlands are wild again, and if left undisturbed the swamp forest will slowly reclaim its old-growth glory. I found a long beam of rusted metal, no doubt part of the old rail line or logging operations. A stack of mosscovered logs lay nearby, cypress that had been cut but never used. The roar of steam engines and grunting men were no more. Only the distant drone of an airplane.

FNST through the Aucilla Bottomlands 12

Florida Trail Association


Florida has hundreds of lost towns and their associated roads and rail lines. They originally sprung up to cut trees, tap pines for turpentine, mine phosphate, net fish, or entice people to soak in mineral springs. Most are gone, reclaimed by nature or paved over to make new dwellings or roads. Along the coast, many defunct hamlets and fish houses are sinking beneath ocean waters as sea level rises. Men and women worked long hard hours in those early Florida endeavors, often risking life and limb. Little room was left for pencil pushers. To make a living then, especially in rural Florida, one had to exploit the natural resources, whether plant, animal or mineral. Conservation was largely an abstract concept. In another part of the St. Marks Refuge, my wife and I once hiked to the place where Port Leon once existed along the St. Marks River. There was nothing left to see. There were a few foundation pilings just off the trail, but those were from an early refuge headquarters, not Port Leon. That’s the remarkable thing about this former town of 450 along the lower St. Marks River. You can hike or bike there, heading west about three-and-a-half miles from the St. Marks Refuge Visitor’s Center on an unpaved refuge road or the Florida Trail. When you near the St. Marks River, there it is, or was, in a spacious pine and live oak forest—a once bustling port town that was connected to St. Marks and Tallahassee by an infamous mule-drawn railroad. “The railroad is certainly the worst that has been built in the entire world,” wrote French traveler Count de Castelnau in 1838. From the Port Leon town site, you can walk on an old tram to the river’s edge and enjoy a spacious view of water and marsh, and imagine sailing ships being loaded with cotton from North Florida and South Georgia plantations bound for the United States East Coast. Only a few anglers and paddlers move on the river now, along with manatees, dolphins, and schools of fish. It’s almost scary how Mother Nature can erase signs of man, especially near the coast. In the case of Port Leon, two major calamities occurred in less than a decade. Established in 1837, the town quickly grew based on a gross inaccuracy. According to a refuge

Town Site of Port Leon brochure, advertisements stated that Port Leon was “handsomely located on the most elevated site on the bay… beyond the influence of the highest tides.” At its peak, the town boasted a hotel, two taverns, stores, a post office, newspaper, and warehouses, but then a three-month yellow fever epidemic struck, brought by a Key West boat passenger. Residents fled or succumbed to the disease, and the town’s population was cut to less than half. As the town slowly recovered, Port Leon was named the Wakulla County seat when the county was formed in March of 1843. But six months later, disaster struck again in the form of a

hurricane. While only one resident died, the ten-foot storm surge devastated the town and severely damaged nearby St. Marks. The townspeople decided to abandon all hope of rebuilding Port Leon and move five miles upriver near a sulphur spring. This is how the town of Newport came into being, a town that still stands, albeit a shadow of its former self. Port Leon now belongs to the alligators, deer and other critters; not a soul lives there. Port Leon is a good place to ponder mortality. Civilizations and towns have risen and fallen over millennia. People have peeled back the skin of Mother Earth to work the land and build their homes, only to have their works one day be covered again by the wild green veneer of life. And after Florida’s wet, corrosive environment performs its disappearing act on some of our modern creations, how will future generations interpret the last remnants of our passing? Take a walk along the old Loping Gopher rail line or view some other nearly forgotten vestige of civilization from a period not so long ago, and see for yourself. Doug Alderson is the author of several Florida outdoor books. This article is an excerpt from his 2014 work, Wild Florida Adventures. He also works as the assistant bureau chief for the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.


Summer 2015


Passing of the Blaze by Megan Donoghue, Volunteer Program Coordinator


he rumors are true. This born and raised Florida girl is headed west—to the Pacific Northwest to be exact. Come July, I will be on the road to Washington to be closer to my niece and nephew, and to start a new life adventure! For more than three years, the Florida Trail Association has been my family: My loving, loud, crazy, hardworking, fun, tough, adventurous, honest, comfortable, sometimes challenging, but always welcoming family. I look back on that seemingly average day three years ago when I walked into the FTA office and asked if any volunteer help was needed. I can’t help but think of how random life is—how one day, one decision can totally change your path. Going from a volunteer who spent hours filing paperwork to working on communications and membership, to eventually packing my bags and moving to Tallahassee to coordinate the volunteer program has been quite a ride. It’s not easy leaving something you worked so hard to grow. And I only wish the best for the future of the Florida Trail Association and the Florida Trail. I hope to see a growing volunteer base of eager, diverse faces. I hope to see a steady flow of accomplishments in the realm of infrastructure, trail protection and getting more trail off the roads and 14

Florida Trail Association

into the woods. I hope to see our social media sites booming with smiling faces of volunteers and members. I hope to see our volunteers decked out in awesome shirts, and gear sponsored by people who believe in our Mission. I hope to hear about Alternative Spring Break groups from across the country fighting to grab that one week on the Florida Trail. I could go on, but to say it plainly: I hope to see more people wanting in on this so called “best kept secret.” The next couple of weeks will consist of getting an updated website and volunteer hours reporting system off the ground (finally!), designing and mailing out our end-of-year volunteer appreciation packets, assisting with the planning of the 2015 Trail Skills Training, compiling volunteer data from the 2014/2015 trail season for our next Trail Operations Report, and last but not least, training a new volunteer program coordinator. The lush, prehistoric Aucilla Sinks. The air plant and palm tree painted Big Cypress. The white sands and aqua water of Gulf Islands. The Kissimmee night sky. The magical valleys along the Suwannee. Florida is my home and always will FloridaTrail.org

be. The Florida Trail opened my eyes to a Florida that I will forever love. A Florida that not everyone has seen, but because of the hundreds of dedicated, hardworking volunteers, everyone has access to. Thank you to the staff and volunteers who have made the decision to leave so hard. I will make sure to represent the Florida Trail loud and proud. And as Grandma Donoghue always says, “It’s not goodbye, it’s so long.” Happy Trails,


Volunteer Spotlight by Megan Donoghue, Volunteer Program Coordinator

Eric Lewis

FTA: If you could have one item while

A chat with Eric, who volunteers with the Panhandle Chapter FTA: How and when did you get involved with the Florida Trail Association (FTA)?

EL: I joined the FTA in 2012. I was

FTA: What has been your favorite volunteer project/event to date?

EL: So far my favorite project was the

invited to a hike along the Econfina and loved it!

FTroop to extend the Eglin section of trail. I got first hand experience in seeing how a trail is built from scratch.

FTA: As FTA members of the Panhandle

FTA: What’s your favorite way to enjoy

EL: I’m currently the Section Leader of

EL: It’s being on the trail. I go out almost

Chapter, what do you do?

the 18 miles of the Econfina section. I also act as Trail Master and Activity Leader for the chapter.

FTA: What’s your favorite section of the Florida Trail and why?

EL: Econfina Creek, the entire

Rattlesnake Section. Miles of creek, springs, suspension bridges, flowers, longleaf pines, prairies, and oaks. I have it all just 25 miles south of me.

the Florida Trail?

weekly just to walk sections and keep an eye out. It’s meeting random people on the trail that I really enjoy. Finding out where they are from and getting a picture of them.

FTA: Where is the neatest place you’ve ever hike?

hiking, what would it be and why?

EL: Go Pro. I really need one! Just to

record all the things I see and encounter.

FTA: What’s your favorite volunteer activity on the Florida Trail?

EL: Leading hikes. Getting to share

everything I’ve learned from listening to others.

FTA: What is the best part about volunteering on the Florida Trail?

EL: Meeting everyone. All the other

volunteers from across the state. Working with the USFS on occassion. I’ve learned a lot by talking as well as watching others.

FTA: If you could give advice for

someone interested in volunteering on the Florida Trail, what would it be?

EL: Have fun! I was nervous when I

up the side of a mountain. You could see miles from the top.

signed up for my first trip with the FTA. I did not know anyone there but I ended up loving it: Working outside and helping to create something so many enjoy.


Summer 2015

EL: Just outside Casa Grande, Az. Hiked


Now on US Route 1, I began to cross the more than 40 bridges that link the keys to the mainland. My planned campsite was the Bow Channel Bridge near mile 20. Just before camp, I passed a campground where two women from Quebec offered dinner. I fell asleep to the sounds of waves against the pilings of the old railway bridge. The next day, perfect weather followed me another 20 miles over a number of the old bridges. For trail use, they have been narrowed to their historic

A Walk from Key West

Photos by Ed Talone

by Ed Talone


n 1998, I decided to thru-hike the Florida Trail. My first task was not to buy maps, or a guide, but rather to call the Florida State Police. The reason for my call was to find out if it was legal to walk the bridges of the Florida Keys. You see, my Florida Trail was going to start at Key West if at all possible. The call I made brought only good news, plus a bonus. Not only could I walk the road bridges, but a number of the original bridges of Henry Flagler’s railroad were being saved for a rail trail, and on those I could camp! A railroad builder from New York, Flagler opened up Florida to development by building the Florida East Coast Railway. By 1896, his railroad reached Biscayne Bay. The citizens of the area were grateful and wanted to name the new town after him. He declined the honor, insisting they use the Indian name Miami. In 1905, Henry got restless and decided to see if he could build a 156 mile extension to Key West. Already 75 years old, he did not expect to see it completed. However, in just seven years the wonder was done. On January 22, 1912, a triumphant Flagler rode into Key West. The railroad overcame five hurricanes and many engineering challenges. For instance, the US Government forbade the construction of many planned miles of causeways to carry the railroad. It was feared that the 16

Florida Trail Association

Gulf Stream would be altered. This meant the construction of more bridges. Flagler won one point however, converting the planned Nine Mile Bridge to the Seven Mile Bridge with causeways at the south end. The railroad operated until it was wrecked by the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. At that point it was decided to extend US Route 1 south utilizing much of the famed route. In 1969, a modern version of the road opened and much of the railroad right of way was abandoned.

When I heard that I could walk parts of the railroad, I was ecstatic. I had arranged a ride to Key West and began my walk among the stately homes of the historic district. A highlight was the grounds of the “Truman White House.” Soon I arrived at the buoy that marked the southernmost point in the US, and turned north. A number of harbors along here were filled with colorful houseboats. FloridaTrail.org

railway width. My second camp was along the southern end of the original Seven Mile Bridge. A section some 3000 feet long has been converted to a fishing pier. This would allow me a very early start for crossing the modern Seven Mile Bridge. My third day was magic. At first light I started out over nearly 7 miles of open ocean. Traffic was light as I enjoyed the spectacular views. To my left, the ruins of the original bridge were fun to study. I noted that the guardrails of what had been the highway were actually the rails from the railroad. At the north end, over two miles of the original bridge are open for walking and biking out to the village on Pigeon Key. After three hours of “walking on water,” I reached land on Marathon Key. I stopped to resupply and sample conch fritters. I then passed through the city of Marathon till near day’s end. Camp was a sliver of state land near Tom’s Harbor in a very developed area. I was congratulating myself on stealth when up walked a man named Greg who knew exactly what I was up to! Five minutes later I was enjoying a

My third day was magic. At first light I started out over nearly 7 miles of open ocean.

hot shower in the resort across the street. I returned to camp with homemade rabbit stew and a new friend. It turns out that Greg led bike trips through the Keys and his group was here for the night. He knew of my campsite because he had used it on solo trips of his own. The focus of my trip the next day was Islamorada. First, I crossed the Long Key Viaduct. This famous 2.3 mile long bridge was featured in many of the publicity shots for Henry Flagler’s railroad. Perfectly restored, it is currently the longest trail bridge in the nation. Shortly after leaving the viaduct, I crossed two restored railroad bridges and entered Islamorada. The trail here wound through beautiful gardens and past yards in a very upscale area. In such a manicured area, I wondered where I might camp. As usual, I got lucky. There was a short section of trail bordering an undeveloped strip of land covered with marl. Slipping off the trail, I was able to fashion a “lights out” camp just 75 yards from civilization. The next day, my last in the Keys, began with a visit to the Windley Key State Park. Here, great outcrops of limestone were quarried for the overseas railroad. Interesting railroad artifacts and walls of cut limestone are carefully explained at an exhibit there. Too soon, I pushed on over the last restored railroad bridges and on north to Key Largo. There was no thought of camping as I found that the nearby state park is booked a year in advance. Towards evening, I found reasonable accommodations at an old hotel and began to muse about the second half of my journey to Loop Road and the FT. The next leg consisted of a 10 mile walk along US Route 1. Near Surprise Lake (so called because it was a surprise to railroad builders) I spotted a railroad spike coming through the pavement where I walked. I wondered what other things were buried there. After crossing the Intercoastal Waterway, I reached the C-111 Canal. Based on my atlas map and faith I intended to follow this canal all the way to US 41. I was gratified to see the first segment signed as a greenway. With evening coming fast, I made camp just off the wide service road that served as a path. Within minutes, a large dump truck lumbered up the road towards me. I had just passed a milepost, so I felt legal, although as usual I had no idea if I was permitted to camp. I

On my left, Everglades National Park stretched to the horizon. need not have worried. A friendly man got out with two sizzling burgers, potato salad and ice tea. It turns out his wife had seen me walking near US 1 and thought I might be hungry. Each evening, Henry had to return the truck to a work area about two miles from my camp. She got things fixed and got him to deliver my feast. I still am filled with wonder and gratitude 17 years later. Henry watched me eat, and gave me valuable tips about how to follow the correct canal route at intersections up ahead. With a wave he was off, and although I passed the work camp we never met again. The route here was fascinating. On my left, Everglades National Park stretched to the horizon. On my right, fruit trees and other farm products revealed themselves around every turn. At one point I had to jog two miles east on a side canal just to cross a bridge. An hour later I was back headed north on the main canal. The area was filled with all manner of wildlife, and I even saw sign of black bear. I was hesitant to use canal water, even filtered, but was able to fill up courtesy of engineers at a pump station. After three days along the canal, I reached US 41 and turned west. My first stop, Coopertown, Florida advertised airboat rides, so I took one. What a thrill this was, skimming over the water as our host pointed out wildlife and sites of interest. It turns out scenes from the movie “African Queen” were shot here. My camp for the night was across from the restaurant along the Tamiami Canal.

The next leg of my journey was a long one. I followed the Tamiami Canal to stay off US 41 and eventually reached the lands of the Miccosukee Indians. Numerous airboat ride concessions beckoned, but I stopped only to sample their famous Indian Tacos. Towards evening, I reached Loop Road and entered another world. Loop Road dates to around 1928, tracing 26 miles through the Everglades to rejoin US 41 at Monroe Station. What I found was a wildlife paradise interspersed with history. Gators by the score, egrets, herons, and vultures kept me company. I saw signs of bobcat and black bear. Near Pinecrest, I passed a yellow structure that had been a restaurant until recently. Just down the road was a dwelling said to be the base of operations for Al Capone. Just at dark, I reached a campsite provided by the National Park Service. I am certain I have never seen so much wildlife in a small area, to say nothing of orchids and other plants I could not name. Only two cars interrupted my reverie. The next day I reached the Florida Trail by 10 AM. In total I had come 200 miles from the buoy at Key West. The route had been an unqualified success.


Summer 2015

2015 note: Because of the expansion of the Overseas Heritage Trail since 1998, along with bikeways along US Route 1, there are now more than 175 miles that can be hiked off road between Key West and the FT. Soon, the only exceptions will be a few major bridges and Loop Road which sees few cars. 17

North Florida Trailblazers

Building a New Trail and Bridge in Camp Blanding

Clay Electric delivered the poles as close as they could get them to the creek crossing.

by Janie Hamilton


he North Florida Trailblazers were very busy this past hiking season. Not only did they host the annual Ididahike fundraiser, they also completed a critical new section of trail and built a bridge in the Camp Blanding Military Preserve. After the 2011 closure of the Keystone Airpark Trail and many failed attempts to get it back open again, we started pursuing alternate routes for the Florida National Scenic Trail in the Camp Blanding area. The existing trail in Camp Blanding was an approximate 4 mile section which hit a dead end when it reached the Airpark property fence line. This made Camp Blanding undesirable for thru-hikers unless they just wanted to hike in and back out to the same trailhead to be able to claim they had completed it. Then you had to continue down the busy SR 21 for another 3 plus miles to get to the reroute around the Airpark property. Some hikers just avoided this section altogether due to the road walks. Before the current administration, there was talk at the US Forest Service to simply move the trail onto the Palatka to Lake Butler Trail and reblaze the Gold Head and Camp Blanding sections of trail to make them blue side trails. Well, the North Florida Trailblazers were determined to not let this happen! 18

Florida Trail Association

Conversations with Camp Blanding to try to find another route around the Keystone Airpark property started over three years ago. In the interim, we decided to try for an addition which would loop the trail around Magnolia Lake and bring it back out onto SR 213, just 3 miles south leaving a short distance to reach the reroute around the Airpark. Camp Blanding personnel were in support of this endeavor and started looking at areas that might support a trail. We joined them and started mapping out a new section of trail. Along this new section, we had to find a way to cross Alligator Creek which was over twenty feet across, with water too deep to wade through. We found a perfect spot to cross, but needed a bridge to do so. The goal was to get this trail in before another hiking season came and went. I contacted our local power company, Clay Electric, in hopes of getting a few power poles donated. They gladly offered to bring us used poles as soon as they had them available. In the meantime, with the assurance that we could get the poles, we flagged our new trail section and started planning our bridge project. With hiking season in full stride it seemed impossible to get the bridge completed in time, so we decided to go ahead and cut the new trail with a temporary bypass of the creek. FloridaTrail.org

With the help of Camp Blanding personnel and FWC, we moved the existing kiosk to its new location.

Then we had to build a stile for the new fence crossing.

Trail Coordinator Cary Beuershausen Once the trail was opened with the temporary bypass we started planning our new bridge project. Hazen Mitchell from Camp Blanding volunteered to transport the power poles up to the creek crossing and then we were in charge of the rest. With the approval from the Forest Service engineering team to proceed, Jeff Glenn started gathering tools and what supplies he could and then gave us a list of additional supplies to gather. Finally, April 19th was set as the start date and April 25th would be our finishing up day. I sent out an email to several of our members requesting their help in building the bridge. We had a total of 12 volunteers for the first day, with Jeff Glenn coordinating the project. First, Jeff reviewed the safety procedures and gave out the safety equipment.

Once the poles were across the creek (which took several hours) the abutments were installed and the poles cut and notched to fit.

He gave a short training session on While all this was going on others use of the pulley system to get the were cutting the decking boards. I was so proud of the skill and poles across the creek. enthusiasm that was shown by all. Footprint

The decking was added with a kick rail on one side to keep the mower on the bridge. Summer 2015


What a great group and what an awesome time we all had working on this project. Camp Blanding was very pleased as well and said they weren’t expecting such a professional job. They asked if we would be interested in replacing the aluminum bridge on the other section of trail next. They also gave us permission to place a picnic table along the trail at the old Magnolia State Park location and a bench beside the beautiful Lost Pond area.

Day one was complete! The following weekend was set aside for finishing the project by building and installing the handrail. Our 6 volunteers basically came up with the handrail design on site. We added the final touches with a few signs and were done in time to remove 4 fallen trees from the trail before a storm set in.

Lost Pond

The final product – a bridge to be proud of.

Even with this new section completed, we still have not given up on the Keystone Airpark trail. Shawn Thomas, the FNST Program Manager with the US Forest Service has taken over the task of trying to reestablish the FNST on our Airpark trail. For now, if you haven’t hiked the Camp Blanding trail and even if you have in the past you won’t be disappointed. Come check out this new trail section and bridge. I am so proud of our crew

Lime Rock Washout at Lost Pond and once again I am reminded why I love being a part of this awesome family of Florida Trail members. To see more pictures and a video of the bridge building go to our chapter meetup and check out the links listed below: www.meetup.com/NorthFloridaTrail Blazers/photos/26062458/ www.meetup.com/NorthFloridaTrail Blazers/photos/26076189/ https://youtu.be/zwBhrifjO9s

Bridge building crew:

Darlene Altman, Cary Beuershausen, Aaron Bowden, Walter Bryant, Mike Campbell, Jeff Glenn, Janie Hamilton, Joel Hickox, Allen Janosz, Scott Johnson, Leon Meeks, John Ruskuski, Kevin Sedgwick, Donnie Snow, Leslie Wheeler and our mascot Strawberry

Special thanks to:

Hazen Mitchell – Environmental Division/Camp Blanding Allan Hallman – FWC/Camp Blanding Chris Carson and Barry McGee – Clay Electric Coop 20 Florida Trail Association


News from the North by Jeff Glenn, North Florida Representative


s the weather transitions from pleasant to broil this time of year, our work outside on the trail slows from a boil to a simmer. Only the bravest among us willingly go out for work hikes during the hottest parts of the summer, leaving the FNST to the red bugs, banana spiders, and ticks. The vegetation takes this time to soak in the heat, humidity, and ample rain to thoroughly grow over the trail so that come autumn, FTA volunteers have plenty of work to do. So what’s a trail maintainer to do?

Safety in the Summer

If you do work during the summer as many of our volunteers do, please be careful out there and take precautions against heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. Never work alone, carry plenty of fluids, salty snacks, and replacement electrolytes. Make sure someone knows your itinerary and check in often with your crew mates about how they are doing. Have fun and enjoy the solitude!


Maintain equipment Now is a great time to make sure trail maintaining equipment is stored properly: a full tank of ethanol free fuel treated with fuel stabilizer, the gas turned off, and some sort of injector cleaner like Seafoam sprayed into the carburetor. This will ensure that the old mower or brushcutter will start up after sitting for a few months. Climate controlled environments are ideal, but we do the best we can. If you are looking for the perfect activity on a Sunday afternoon, hone your sharpening skills and get those mower, chainsaw, brushcutter, and lopper blades sharp and ready for a busy fall.

Scout Projects

Urine Color Chart

1 2

If your urine matches the colors 1, 2, or 3, you are properly hydrated.


Continue to consume fluids at the recommended amounts.


If your urine color is below the RED line, you are


DEHYDRATED and at risk for cramping and/or a heat illness!!



There are already many events scheduled for the North region starting in September so sign up early and if you are from another part of Florida, please come join us!

Helpful tips for working in the heat Proper hydration is key to preventing heat related illness DO

 Start work well hydrated  Drink plenty of water throughout the day  Consider sports drinks for electrolyte replacement when sweating a lot


 Drinking pop and other sugary drinks  Drinking lots of coffee and tea  Drinking alcohol  Waiting for thirst before drinking water

When the time comes to hit the trail in earnest, have a full work plan ready to go by doing some scouting this summer. Pay attention to infrastructure needs, signage, needed reroutes, and problem areas and work with your chapter and FTA Staff to plan work projects.



• Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness. • Salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness. Although heat exhaustion isn’t as serious as heat stroke, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even cause death.

With your chapter’s trail coordinator and regional FTA Staff plan and post at least 2 Volunteer Work Parties on the FTA website! By doing so you can reach out to new volunteers, receive extra logistical support from staff, have food provided, and get help with the planning. In addition to chapter Meetup sites, using the Volunteer Opportunities page on the FTA website is a great step towards making your events successful.

8 There are two types of heat exhaustion:

Treatment for Heat Exhaustion

If you, or anyone else, has symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can’t get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place. Footprint

Summer 2015


The Transit Tales Contributed to by Apalachee Chapter’s members

Apalachee Chapter’s

Transit Relay Hike by Linda Patton. A backpacking experience on the entire section of the Florida National Scenic Trail maintained by the Apalachee Chapter.

Sec. 2 – St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Mar. 1-4, 2015 Hikers: Gwen Beatty & Gary Sisco (leaders), Andrew Baratta, Paul Geyer, Rayanne Mitchell, and Mike Tucker

Sec. 1 – Fort Braden Trails – Feb. 28-29, 2015 – Hikers: Dawn Griffin (leader), Toni Courtier, Debbie and Kevin Grant, Larry Reese, Gwen Spivey, and Mike Tucker


awn—We learned that the Aucilla River was at flood stage and the trail within the ravines was around 4’ deep. Several participants hover around 5’ in height, so the thought of swimming through these deep areas with our backpacks was not appealing. Since we had been looking forward to this event for some time, an alternative plan to hike within Ft. Braden Trails was organized. We started hiking from the trailhead, along the East Loop, Center Loop and a portion of the West Loop--where we camped along Lake Talquin. It rained on us slightly, but the creeks were filled with water and the sounds along our journey were wonderful. The next day, we lingered at the campsite enjoying views of Lake Talquin before hiking back to the trailhead. Howard Pardue provided us with fabulous breakfast cookies! Life was very good. The Fort Braden Trail was opened on National Trails Day in 1995 thanks to the volunteers of the Florida Trail Association. What a jewel so close to town! (Gwen—What a great way to celebrate the arrival of Spring... getting ‘back in the swing’ of backpacking! Debbie—We enjoyed sharing stories about things we forgot to bring. Larry—So glad we didn’t let the rain deter us...but we forgot my fishing line. Toni—Neither rain, nor cold...can prevent me from enjoying this much-anticipated hike with good friends and new friends.) 22

Florida Trail Association

Gwen ~ Day 1: Linda Patton and Karen Berkley dropped off our team of six at Small Game Rd. off US 98 on the east side of the Refuge to begin our hike. My first glimpse of the trail indicated water, water everywhere–a continuous string of large puddles stretching like a chain of beads before us. It looked like a long linear lake. There was nothing to do but slog through it. Like small children delighting in stomping through mud puddles, we plunged in and waded through ankle-to-knee deep water, making our way over and around unseen obstructions, cypress knees, and root systems with no major mishaps, not stopping until we reached higher ground. Fortunately for us, the water wasn’t deeper, so we kept our packs dry. Nevertheless I was happy see the end of submerged trail. We were better able to enjoy the experience when it wasn’t necessary to watch every step; and the Refuge was indeed beautiful. (Rayanne ~ A little over a mile in, the trail returned to high ground, boardwalk, and puncheon at the Refuge boundary. A red bud in bloom, Fla. maples, feathered red flowers, buckeyes with palm shaped red leaves, yellow trumpet flowers on the forest floor, fallen from the jasmine vines high in the forest canopy. The pools & swamps along the old tram road are stark & beautiful. Trees with bare branches, trunks and limbs alive w/ resurrection fern, mosses, lichens & turkey tails. The dark green of the sweetbay magnolia in the wet woods. We see only two other people on the trail the first day. Andrew saw a pygmy rattlesnake on the tram road just beyond the east boundary of the Refuge.) The bridge over the Pinhook River was a perfect place to stop for lunch and check for blisters. The

Over nine inches of rain fell in the Tallahassee area during Jan.-Feb. 2015, leaving the FNST severely flooded along the Aucilla River section and extremely wet everywhere else.


river, sheathed in marsh grass and enclosed by sandy banks, stretched sinuously beneath the bridge headed toward the Gulf of Mexico. We were reluctant to leave. No matter how much you look forward to a particular campsite, hiking is not about the destination, it’s about Pinhook River was a perfect the journey. It’s about resting spot for lunch. the delight of spotting and identifying wildlife, appreciating the nuances and variation in colors, marveling over shapes and sizes and locations of both flora and fauna and getting to know your fellow teammates. It’s about feeling the ground pass under your feet and listening to the sounds of the world around you and feeling the sun on your head or the fog on your face or the rain wetting your arms or whatever the day happens to bring. Much of what you experience may be mundane and not the composition of a remarkable photo but there is always much to admire in the small things: a clump of violets, a burst of color from a budding red bud tree, or the trill of a song bird paused for a moment on its migration. Having appreciated the small pleasures, you are all the more prepared to drink in the splendor of the moment when you round a curve and see a magnificent vista. It was a splendid sight indeed when we walked out onto the levee, with astounding vistas that stretched in both directions as far as you could see. On both sides of the trail, sinuous streams of water accompanied us on our way, gurgling occasionally as they tumbled over obstructions or pushed their way through narrowed apertures. Alligators lay on the banks enjoying the sun, and slipped shyly into the water as we passed. Marsh grass stretched to the horizon on both sides, relieved by hammocks of palms trees rising above the water. It was a world of endless variation and nuance, the gray greens merging with bottle greens fading to avocado greens highlighted with golden greens, and a gentle breeze blowing through it ruffling the leaves and teasing our cheeks. We were tired but elated when we reached our campsite at Ring Levee, a small dry oasis of high land surrounded by water. The gnats and no-see-ums were elated to see us. We were the featured entree of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Much is always said about the larger and more glorious wildlife but rarely do they affect hikers as much as the ticks and chiggers and gnats and biting flies. I gave so much blood at Ring Levee Campsite that I’m thinking of claiming it as a donation on my tax return. The gnat wildlife Sunset at Ring Levee campsite population was indeed healthy and prolific,

forcing us to make a hasty retreat to our tents earlier than we would have preferred, but not before a bear was spotted in the far distance meandering between the palm hammocks. (Rayanne ~ Mike saw the bear. He called us over from our chores to see the bear moving far off in the distance. We stood together looking hard—searching the grassland between the palms in the dwindling light of that first day. Such a small thing to stand together and look off in the distance for a glimpse of a wild creature in a wild and beautiful place we had walked into together.)

Between Ring Levee and Port Leon Gwen, Gary and Rayanne Day 2: The prettiest part of our hike may well have been the hike from Ring Levee Campsite to Port Leon Rd. Hiking the levee rewarded us with another day of magnificent vistas merging in time with tall pines before succumbing to the inevitable long road to Port Leon. Just past the Port Leon Campsite, the trail turned sharply and headed into the woods which had recently been burned. Soon we were at the St. Marks River and waiting for a boat ride across to the other side. I had arranged for someone to ferry us across but when we called, we found he had forgotten and had scheduled another charter. He was kind enough to call Shell Point Boat Club and send someone over for us. But a person in our group had already hailed another boat (Thank you, Top Notch Tree Service guys!) and soon we were all across the river and walking to Miss Joy’s store for ice cream bars and snacks. From there, we drove to the Thompson House to camp in the yard and enjoy amenities such as a campfire. Mike provided the entertainment. What a story-teller! He told us of the time when he and his friends were trying to remove a washer from a steel rod that was crimped to hold it in place. As he worked on cutting through the rod, both the rod and washer became hotter and hotter. As he neared completion, the washer, hot as a firecracker and seeking refuge in the nearest safe haven, launched itself up Mike’s undefended left nostril with all the aplomb and enthusiasm of a baseball player sliding into home base to score the winning point. Mike could not dislodge it; it would not budge and could not be retrieved


Summer 2015


using the usual digital recovery system. He had no choice; he ran from the building pressing his right nostril tightly closed and vigorously and repeatedly inhaling great bursts of air and blowing lustily through the affected airway to dislodge the offending alien. After many attempts, the gasket, acting like a whistle and keening shrilly with each blast was launched amid a stream of blood and mucus into the air. His friends had been no help; they were doubled over with laughter. We were too when he told the story. Gary told him it was shame he had removed it. If he had left it in place, he could have held one nostril and whistled out of the other one the next time Florida Fish and Wildlife stopped him while paddling to ask if he had a whistle. Day 3: Our third day took us past a high sawdust mound, through the Cathedral of Palms, and on to Shepherd Spring. It was a bit salty but the springs provided a potable water source. The water required treatment before drinking and everyone had a few floaters despite different filtering methods but it was wet and the day was hot and it was deemed drinkable. It was a beautiful place to stop and spend a few minutes before continuing down the trail. The trail was very, very wet. Much of it was loose, sticky black mud that sucked at our boots with every step. In places, the trail passed through ‘lakes’ of standing water. We waded through it all. Our boots and socks never dried

Day 4 at Purify Bay Rd trailhead after shuttle around Spring Creek closure Gwen-Paul-Mike-Rayanne-Andrew-Gary out during the whole trip. It was good to have dry socks to sleep in at night. I discovered that wet socks and boots aren’t all that uncomfortable after the initial shock of trading warm dry socks for the already wet hiking socks. Most of us ended up with at least one blister and many hot spots. Every water break was an occasion to stop and check our feet. We used a lot of duct tape and blister wraps during our four days of hiking. Hiking through standing water and gooey mud is tiring and it was a bit discouraging to arrive at the Wakulla Field Campsite and see a sign pointing back the way we had come saying it was 3.1 miles to the nearest campsite we

Map section of the Florida National Scenic Trail hiked 24 Florida Trail Association


had passed and 7.1 miles to the nearest campsite ahead of us. It didn’t match the mileage in the source book or the data sheets. [note: they just interpreted it backwards--it was 7.1 mi. to the last campsite they had passed, and 3.1 mi. to the one ahead.] We thought we were much nearer to the Porter Tract Campsite where we had intended to camp for the night. We wondered if perhaps the Porter campsite was fairly new and they might not have updated the signs yet. Not wanting to take a chance on having to hike another 7 miles of wet trail, we opted to stay at Wakulla Field Campsite for the night. It was a great choice. The campsite was very near to a large swampy area that was heavily populated with frogs, which formed a chorus and serenaded us at intervals all night long. If something came along to disturb them, they sang lustily in protest sending the interloper on his way with a cacophony of song. It was wonderful lying in my sleeping bag and listening to the night music. The next morning over breakfast, I learned that everyone had awakened during the night to enjoy the frogs. Day 4: Our last day was our shortest day for hiking. For safety reasons, FTA recommends avoiding trying to hike through the dangerously deep mud and shifting debris in the area around Spring Creek. So we hiked out to the road and met Linda and Karen who ferried us west to the Purify Bay Rd. trailhead. We then hiked from there to our terminus point at the Carraway Cutoff Rd. trailhead.

Day 4 - at Carraway Cutoff (Medart) trailhead - end of Section 2 Paul-Gary-Gwen-Mike-Andrew-Rayanne

Once the storm had passed Rayanne and Mike took the opportunity for a quick dip in the Sopchoppy.

When you’re with a group, much of hiking experience depends upon the people who share those experiences with you. I enjoyed Mike for the stories he told, his wise quips and the wealth of knowledge he is always so willing to share. He showed us things his wife, Betsy, had made for him that make his pack lighter and more efficient. I enjoyed Rayanne for her enthusiasm and joy of life and her ability to appreciate the small things so easily overlooked. I enjoyed listening to Paul talk about his wife, Jan–how intelligent and organized she is and how much he loves her. To hear him tell of his health problems and how he copes with difficulties and continues to enjoy outdoor experiences is inspiring. Andrew was the youngest member of our group. I enjoyed his resourcefulness and carefree pleasure in trail experiences. Most of his equipment was homemade. He hiked the entire way in sandals and doctored the many blisters and hot spots he had to deal with without complaint. Most of all I enjoyed Gary with his constant gentle humor and concern for my feet. It was great sharing his pleasure in the wildlife and grand vistas we enjoyed. Our four day trek across the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was indeed an event to remember. (Rayanne— The St. Marks Wildlife Refuge is full of wonders...and the Florida Trail provides all of us with the opportunity to walk right up to it and through it. I am grateful for an organization that provides all of us with an opportunity to walk through public lands that are part of our natural heritage. I am grateful for the many volunteers who worked to blaze and maintain the trail. I am grateful for the responsible and diligent leadership of people like Mike Tucker and the other activity leaders for seeing to the safety and well being of those of us fortunate enough to be a part of this hike.)

the night. After making good time we arrived at our camp site around 3 pm and set up our tents and hammock on the banks of the river. We had been watching an approaching storm for most of the afternoon and shortly after we set up camp it hit with strong winds and pouring rain. Fortunately no one’s gear got wet, but I did have to get out in the rain at one point and tighten down my tarp tie outs after the wind blew one loose. Once the storm had passed Rayanne and Mike took the opportunity for a quick dip in the cold waters of the Sopchoppy and I took a nap. Afterwards we tried to get a fire going but the wood was too damp so we sat around the unlit camp fire and cooked dinner before retiring to bed for what would prove to be a very cold night. (Mike ~ Trail angel Toni Courtier had supplied us with lots of fresh water and peanut butter pretzels in the morning, which lasted long into the day.)

SECTION 3 – Apalachicola National Forest, East – Mar. 5-8, 2015 – Hikers: Louis Brooks & Al Ingle (leaders), Paul Geyer, Rayanne Mitchell, and Mike Tucker Louis ~ Day 1 started off nice and cool but quickly warmed up. The trail was in good shape but got considerably wetter the closer we got to the Sopchoppy River, our camping spot for

Day 2: Dawned clear and cold with temps in the 30s. It was at this point that I proposed an alternate plan due to the weather forecast. No one was very excited about wading through Bradwell Bay, which was deeper than usual this year, in temps in the low 30s with the possibility of hypothermia. I proposed that we hike to tonight’s campsite and catch a shuttle into town so others could clean up and resupply while I took care of an equipment issue. Then we would resume at the western side of Bradwell Bay the next afternoon when it was supposed to be warmer. The others agreed and we set out on our hike along the Sopchoppy River. I have never hiked this six-mile section and I must say it is now one of my favorites with beautiful views as it meanders along the bank of the river. (Mike ~ The trail along the Sopchoppy river required a short detour around a deep ravine that was previously crossed on a bridge that had been torn down. The detour was not much help because we still had to find a way across the ravine, requiring some scouting and delicate maneuvers on a shaky log. The native azaleas were already in full bloom, adding to the gorgeous scenery along that portion of trail.) After hiking about 5 miles, we reached camp around 3 pm and Scott, Rayanne’s husband, was kind enough to pick us up and shuttle us back to Tallahassee.


Summer 2015


SECTION 4 – March 8-11, 2011 – Apalachicola National Forest, West – Hikers: Barry Haber & Dawn Brown (leaders), Louis Brooks, Paul Geyer, Larry Reese, Cindy Shrestha, and Mike Tucker

Day 4 - at Al Ingles cabin for dinner Barry-Cindy-Mike-Dawn and back FEATHER-Louis

Barry ~ DAY 1: There was concern about the difficulty and the safety of hiking under wet-trail circumstances, so we scouted alternate routes and came up with detours that traded underwater trail for forest roads. Not exactly what I wanted, but better than the alternative. On day one, Larry Reese and I stashed water along the trail with Dawn’s help. That night we met at Al’s Cabin, where I briefed Mike on the detours and got his approval. (Larry ~~ I met Dawn Brown and Barry and Cindy at the Camel Lake Campground where we left two vehicles, riding with Dawn to Porter Lake Campground. We met Linda Patton there. After pitching our tents we all drove to Al Ingle’s cabin where we met up with Mike and Louis and had a cookout. After stuffing ourselves with hamburgers and hot dogs we headed back to our camp at Porter Lake. Sleep was difficult until some nearby owls settled whatever disagreement they seemed to be having.)

Day 3: We reconvened the next day at the western side of Bradwell Bay, where Al Ingle joined our merry band of hikers and Rayanne informed us she had to leave the hike. Our planned campsite for the night was almost completely under water, so we decided to head to Al’s cabin--a few miles away on the Ochlockonee River--for the night. After stuffing ourselves with spaghetti, we decided another night off the trail would be OK. Day 4: Al and I went back to Bradwell Bay to slack pack to Porter Lake where we would spend the night. The trail continued to be very wet and we spent most of the day wading through calf deep water, but the final two miles was through a diverse forest containing the most beautiful steepheads we would see on the entire trip. Half way through the day’s hike we met up with Paul Geyer and his nephew who had joined him for the day. It was a beautiful day for hiking with clear skies and warm sunny weather. We reached Porter Lake campground around 2 pm and headed back to Al’s cabin to meet up with the Section 4 hikers for a hamburger/hotdog feast brought in by Linda Patton. Then it was back to Porter Lake to spend the night and start out on section 4 in the morning.

Day 4 - at Al Ingles for dinner, Larry-Linda-Al 26

Florida Trail Association

Where Barry slipped off log DAY 2: The hike was routine except there was a lot of water on the trail. At one point I slipped off a log bridge and got wet – no big deal, just embarrassing. The trail was so wet that we spent half of the 10-mile day on forest roads. In addition, the Forest Service had been doing “prescribed burns” and much of the forest was charred. We finally camped at the corner of Forest Roads 175 and 107 and met up with Louis, who had hiked ahead. He had met up with two other hikers and provided them with some of our stashed water; he also described how he had been lost for a period of time. (Larry — The terrain varied, with some spots fairly wet with narrow board or log bridges to maneuver across. At least one of our party slipped off soaking his boots. Some broken pieces of old clay turpentine pots could still be found along the trail – a reminder of the turpentine industry that existed there in the past. We set up camp at a crossroads of forest roads. Forest along one side of the roadway had been prescribed-burned. The next morning we would learn that the other side, through


Day 2 - camping at FR 175-107 Barry-Cindy-Dawn-Mike

Day 4 - at Camel Lake - end of Section 4 Paul-DawnLarry-Mike-Cindy-Barry

which we had planned to hike, was scheduled to be burned as well. The weather seemed hot while hiking but as we settled down at our campsite it was quite enjoyable, and we were able to enjoy a beautiful red sunset through the pine tree forest.

their chants. The rhythm of what must have been thousands of frogs persisted a good while and initially sounded to me like “two, two, two”, but then the rhythm would change a little and it would sound to me like “ check for ticks, check for ticks”-somehow matching up with my subconscious thoughts. After the frogs finished their chants, it then sounded like some ducks decided to show what they could do. Eventually it quieted off and the day’s heat subsided as the darkness of the moonless night set in.)

DAY 3: We woke to forest trucks and rangers getting ready to do more prescribed burning. We were glad that we did not camp in the forest that night. We literally could have been part of the ‘prescribed burn.’ This day was spent doing another 10 road miles and camping along Forest Road 112. We were about 2 miles ahead of schedule due to our detours. (Larry — Soon after beginning our daily hike we were notified by forest personnel that the section of forest that we would be walking along would be set on fire in about an hour. A mile or so into our hike we ran into a large group of forestry personnel planning the day’s burn. Occasionally, a low flying helicopter and plane would circle over us as we walked along the roadway. We were probably a good half mile past the forest personnel before they started the fires. While we were never real close to the fire itself, we continued to experience its smoke and ash for the remainder of the day. Since this day’s hike was along the roadway and not as shaded as the trail through the woods it seemed much hotter. This night’s planned campsite was at an area referred to as Vilas. Since we arrived there fairly early we decided to try to put in a couple more miles to get a little further away from the smoke of the forest fire and shorten our hike on the following day. After getting some rest and bandaging up blistered feet we loaded up our stashed water and moved on. After going a couple more miles we decided to call it a day, again camping along a forest roadway. Although it was only about 5:30 p.m. many of us decided to get in our tents to avoid the gnats that were plaguing us. As darkness fell, the critters of the forest and swamp began

DAY 4: On the last day we were finally able to get on hikeable trails. It was a quick 8 miles and we concluded the hike about 12:30 at Camel Lake Campground. (Larry — Today we got an earlier start, possibly eager to get home and get a bath and something besides trail food to eat. The weather was cloudy keeping the temperature cooler. After a short walk on roadway we were again able to get back on the Florida Trail. The hiking was enjoyable, with the terrain changing from pine forests to wet areas with an interesting grove of either cypress or cedar trees and then some sand hills with scrub oaks. There were a couple of challenging water crossings on this section with some difficult-to-cross single or double plank walking bridges. We went through an area that seemed to contain an unusually high population of bees, but as far as I know none of us got stung. Although we thought we had plenty of water, it seemed to go quicker than expected. However, we shared what we had between us and made it to our parked vehicles at the Camel Lake Campground with a swallow or two to spare. After posing for one last group photo, we said our goodbyes and headed off. After getting home, cleaning up, eating a good meal, and later laying down in my soft bed, I found myself wishing I was back on the trail, in the open air, in my tent and sleeping bag, and among my hiking companions.)

Florida Trail Association South Regional Conference November 13-15, 2015 Theme ~ WATER See page 36 for details Footprint

Summer 2015


Southern Scoop by Megan Eno, USFS

Completing the FNST in Orange & Osceola Counties Follow-up to the Southern Scoop by Alex Stigliano: Closing the Deseret Gap – Winter Footprint The Gap

There are approximately 60 gaps within the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) corridor: some a matter of only a few feet without permanent protection between designated portions of trail, and the more extreme requiring dozens of miles of road walks for those who are attempting to thru-hike. One of our largest, and most prevalent, gaps on the FNST has become known as the Deseret Gap. The name comes from Deseret Ranch, a 300,000acre agriculture and cattle operation that occupies portions of Osceola, Orange and Brevard counties in central Florida, and flanks the 31 mile road walk on CR 419 and CR 520 on both sides. The Florida Trail did at one time traverse the Deseret Ranch property along a levee, but was removed in the 2000’s as the Ranch, and many other properties owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, revised their

28 Florida Trail Association

policies on public access. Unless the property was sold or developed for other uses, relocating the Florid a Trail was unlikely.

A Ranch in Transition The recent transmission of the North Ranch Sector Plan to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity shows that the framework for such future sale and development is being put in place . By 2080, the 133,000 acre portion of Deseret in Osceola County considered under this plan could be home to 493,000 people and 83 million square feet of retail, office, and industrial space. A remarkably different landscape from the one we see today. There are several conservation corridors set aside within the plan and these are likely to be of continued discussion during the pending Plan review. As those corridors


Willie Angel paints historic blaze at Deseret/Tosohatchee boundry Summer 1989 are currently proposed, the Florida Trail would be able to make the north-south connection to existing trail in Bull Creek and Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area’s. The Florida Trail and the Florida Greenways and Trails System Priority Networks are addressed by name in the Plan’s Urban Form Framework, Policy 5.1: Transportation: Greenways and

Trails Network. Being identified and specifically named means long-range completion of the Florida National Scenic Trail within this corridor may, in fact, still be possible. Even so, both the County and the Ranch have emphasized that development will proceed slowly as Sector Planning is only the first step. The current road walk, however, continues to present unsafe passage long-distance hikers, and with the timeframe and partners for development of the Deseret Ranch property unknown it has become prudent to revisit alternatives in the area.

Completing the Trail in Orange & Osceola Counties

Our Options A- The Western Route – taking advantage of the network of public lands in both Osceola and Orange Counties, this route of approximately 60 miles will still contain road walks, but with natural oases anchoring the trail in between these connectors. With designated trailheads, campsites, water access and recreation areas along the way, this Western Route has quickly risen to the top as the preferred alternative. Public lands include: Holopaw Conservation Area, Lake Lizzie Conservation Area, Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park & Wildlife Environmental Area, Moss Park, Crosby Island Marsh Preserve, the Innovation Way Trail, Hal Scott Regional Preserve & Park, Pine Lily Preserve, and Savage/Christmas Creek Preserve. B – Deseret Ranch – this long term alternative depends largely on the rate and scale of implementation of the North Ranch Sector Plan. The US Forest Service, Florida Trail Association, the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation and Osceola County will continue to monitor and the review the long term implementation of the conservation corridors identified in the plan as opportunities future trail connections. (See North Ranch Sector Map – meant to be a thumbnail image, okay if can’t ready key, etc please delete highlight). C – St. Johns River Eco-Heritage Trail – already slated for construction, the St. Johns River Eco-Heritage Trail

would make up a significant portion of this eastern proposed route. Major road walks along 4 lane highways and continued development made this corridor likely unfeasible for permanent north-south connectivity of the Florida Trail.

The Partners In planning, the assembled group of partners have included: the U.S. Forest Service, National Forests in Florida as administrator of the Trail; the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation as champions of connectivity for all major state trails; the Florida Trail Association as stewards of the Florida Trail; and Orange and Osceola Counties as public land owners and long term planning interests for the region. Footprint

In implementation, the group will grow significantly to include public and private land owners, and ultimately community interests for stewardship and enjoyment of the trail. Preliminary discussions have been held with the Harmony Development, the Orlando Utility Company, and St. Johns River Water Management District. Outreach continues to a handful of private land owners within the corridor as well as the Department of Transportation for those connectors within their boundaries and right-of-ways.

Long Term Implementation An initial stakeholder meeting hosted by Osceola County in October of 2014, tours of the proposed routes in fall of 2014 and spring of 2015, and Summer 2015


Show your FTA colors on and off the Trail. Be the first to sport the

New Bucket Hats!

New Vapur Bottles! Available Now

BPA FREE - You can fold it, stand it, freeze it, put boiling water in it, and it is dishwasher safe, 34oz (1L)

individual meetings with land owners have provided a wealth of information and a great sense of opportunity for the proposed Western Route for the Florida National Scenic Trail through Orange and Osceola Counties. Draft Memoranda of Understanding are being circulated with the counties for continued consideration and implementation of the proposed route as consensus is reached with individual units. The Florida Trail Association Board of Directors, recognizing that implantation of the North Ranch Sector Plan may provide other opportunities for consideration in the future, passed a motion of support for the Western Route at their most recent meeting. The ultimate decision to construct a new route for the Florida National Scenic Trail will be documented in an Optimal Trail Location Review (OLR). Prior to major trail relocation and potential land acquisition, OLR’s have been utilized by the Appalachian National Scenic

Trail, and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The OLR is a process that is designed to ensure that the proposed route meets the original intent of these Congressionally designated National Scenic Trail insomuch as they “emphasize nationally significant scenic, historic, natural and cultural features,” and that the physical, biological and social environment are considered for optimal user experience and sustainability. To learn more about Optimal Location Reviews visit the Florida National Scenic Trail website here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/fnst/ land-resources-management/resourcemanagement For other Resources related to the North Ranch Sector Plan start here: http://www.osceola.org/agenciesdepartments/smart-growth/ north-ranch-sector-plan.stml

It has a tough seal, durable 3-ply construction. Pays for itself in approx 5 uses vs retail water bottles. FNST logo and you can write on it with marker to personalize

Order online at ftashop.floridatrail.org 30

Florida Trail Association

Site visit at Harmony FloridaTrail.org

Loxahatchee Lowdown by Roy Moore, Loxahatchee Chapter of Environmental Resource Management, ERM. This is now a permanent relocation of the trail. Several veteran OTLHT hikers met us on the trail and spent a night with us at DuPuis and Corbett. We also crossed paths with a couple from Cape Cod, MA doing the entire hike in 5 days. Although there was some standing water on the trail again this year, the trail was in great shape due to the work of the Loxahatchee Chapter trail maintainers and outstanding support from our area land managers.

2015 Ocean to Lake Backpacking Trip


he Ocean to lake backpacking trip is always an opportunity to enjoy a bit of adventure, get some exercise, and meet new friends. Hikers this year hailed from all over Florida and further. We enjoyed company with packers from Colorado, New York and Pennsylvania, too. Equally divided between men and women, there was a wide range of ages from 13 to 70. The average age was “younger” than ever before and every hiker was a member of the FTA!

After a hearty breakfast at Harry & the Natives in Hobe Sound, a cool but sunny Saturday greeted the 24 hikers for the 6 day Ocean to Lake Hike. From the very start there were many surprises. First, two Palm Beach County Sheriffs met us at the LOST trailhead and escorted us across a very busy US 441. To avoid the active mining operation west of the DuPuis Management Area, a re-route on County rights-of-way farm roads was provided by The Department


On Monday we “camped” at the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp managed by FWC/Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The weather, cooperative at the start of the trip, gave us rain early Wednesday, but by 8 AM skies cleared and we packed up wet tents for the hike up to Indiantown Road. Pizza, Mexican and junk food awaited us at a strip mall there, and due to the sunny day, we were able to dry our tents before getting to the last campsite in Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The weather was cool again that night but all were ready bright and early for the last day and a lunch at Taste in Hobe Sound. Due to the cool (cold for South Florida) we had the beach to ourselves. Too bad—I always enjoy the reaction of beach-goers watching a bunch of exhausted backpackers walking down to the ocean. Summer 2015


Ensure the Florida Trail’s Future.

Remember the Florida Trail Association in your will. Contact FTA at legacygifts@floridatrail.org or call 352-378-8823.

Did you know you can now easily spread your donation to FTA across several months or years?

List of Hikers 6 days: Brian Bohmuller, Landsdale PA Rick Byrnes, Loxahatchee, FL Fred Davis, Lake Worth, FL Bill Detzner, Miami, FL Nancy Frey, Baker, FL Susan Friedman, New York Patrick Given, Key Largo, FL James Hoher, PBC, FL Phyllis Malinski, Miami Beach, FL Brian McArdle, Inverness, FL Charles Noe, WPB, FL Rich Quinn, Stuart, FL

Donate Please consider putting your donation to FTA on a recurring basis. You decide the amount, you decide the frequency, you control your account, and it all benefits the FTA. You will be directed to our secure donation page. The Network for Good, a leading giving platform for non-profit organizations. Florida Trail Association

List of Hikers 3 days: Dag Adamson, CO Jerillyn Clark, Homosassa, FL Bill Herr, Boca Raton, FL Paul Madeira Joe Mehrten, Boynton Beach, FL Colt Mehrten, Boynton Beach, FL Wayne Vassello, PBC, FL

Much planning and work the hikers seldom see goes into a trip such as this, so many thanks are due! I want to thank all of my fellow hikers for their support and cooperation as well as all the great stories around the campfires. After 8 OTLHT hikes, I can say this was the best hike ever! Thanks to the supporters of the hike for our chili dinner that raised $480 to offset cost of maintaining the trail. Bill Helfferich was my delivery man for the chili dinner supplies and my cook. He also donated salad and the bread. There have been many improvements to the Youth Conservation Camp since last year. Kudos to Camp Director Janice Kerberos, her staff, and the Commission! Once again BJ Kattel provided a water drop at the DuPuis campsite. This will be the last year that will be necessary thanks to the South Florida Water Management District; there is now a pitcher pump at the campsite. Thanks to Palm Beach County ERM for the 441 crossing. Last but not least we must thank Scott Lunsford and all the shuttle drivers for their support for the hike.

Go to FloridaTrail.org and click


Barbara Quinn, Stuart, FL Judy Steinbicer, Ft. Walton Beach,FL Trish Thomas-Arnold, Cocoa Bch, FL Beth Tobin, Ft Lauderdale, FL Elaine Zumsteg, Stuart, FL


Book Review by Sandra Friend

The Florida Trail End to End A family’s journey along the Trail


hen Mike Umbarger first boys showed the others how to set started making plans to take up their camp. The final season, I his boys hiking on the Florida remember asking Zack to start getting Trail, his questions popped up on a the gear out at camp while Bear forum I was running on FloridaHikes. (Cody) and I went for water. When we com at the time. It was heartening to returned, Zack had the entire camp see a father planning to get outdoors set up. The tent was up with all the with his children. What began as a day gear inside, the bear rope was hung hike here and a backpacking trip there, (downwind), and the camp stove was mostly centered around their home base set up with our food waiting to be of Orlando, became a jigsaw puzzle of cooked. hikes across the state to complete the “I was also impressed on how they Florida Trail. both stuck it out, especially the last Released in April, Mike’s book, The six months,” said Mike. “Our last six Florida Trail End to End, recounts their months of the trail, we would hike journey. It took two and a half years for a week, take three weeks off, then for Mike and his sons Zack and Cody head out for another week. I loved (ages 13 and 10 when they started) to how their motivation remained high finish their series of backpacking trips, with such a fast turnaround, which day hikes, and roadwalks to say they’d also included the Big Cypress Swamp, walked from one end of Florida to the which was their toughest hike ever.” other on the Florida Trail. John hiked When you roam the length of Florida, with them as part of a group hiking the you discover our state’s diversity. “We Big Cypress Swamp in 2013, and we did not realize just how much a few encountered them again that spring as feet in elevation could totally change they were finishing up in Blackwater the trail,” said Mike. “It was pretty neat River State Forest. to start off the day in a pine forest and You’ve read about some of their watch it change to an oak canopy, adventures in the pages of the Footprint before. But after then an open prairie, a palmetto thicket, and a dense junglereading the book, which recounts their adventures through the like hardwood hammock. Florida may be flat, but we see more journals that Mike kept along the way, I asked Mike to reflect different types of plants and trees in one day than we see on on how hiking the Florida Trail changed their lives. any mountain hike.” “The most fulfilling part of completing the trail was seeing With his wife Dawn an integral part of logistics for their Zack and Cody transition from new backpackers to long hikes, Mike had high praise for the entire family pulling distance hikers,” said Mike. together. “I think our adventure really brought our family They showed such great teamwork helping each other stay together as a team. Even though the boys and I were the only motivated when the other felt low. Watching them learn to hike ones hiking, it took the entire family to work together to make was amazing. I still remember how nervous they were the first this adventure possible. Dawn and Hannah only got to camp a time I told them that they were in charge up setting up the tent. handful of times as we hiked through Ocala. We would all stay I showed them how to do it multiple times and now I would together at the established campgrounds through Ocala, slackonly show them where to place it and they would do the rest. packing along the way. The rest of the time Dawn and Hannah I sat back and watched them work together would drop us off and pick us up, driving and set our little tent up, they kept asking “Is of miles and several hours at a time. I think our adventure hundreds this right?” and I would respond “We’ll see.” It Several times they would have unscheduled really brought our took them a while, but they set it up perfectly. trips if one of us got sick, or some equipment The next hiking season, we had bought our broke. I lost track of how many times their family together friends an identical tent so they could hike schedule was interrupted in order to help as a team with us. I watched in amazement as my two us out. If it had not been for them, our Footprint

Summer 2015


The Umbargers at the last Florida Blaze on the Florida Alabama State line adventure would not have been possible and we are truly grateful. That’s why I tried to give them a well-deserved dedication in the front of the book, but even that cannot reflect how special they are to us.” Living simply is something that every long distance hiker learns, and the Umbargers were no exception. “Since we were already avid campers, we were used to pretty simple living. It did take several trips to narrow down what equipment we actually needed and what we did not, to try to bring our pack weights down as far as possible.” What was the toughest part of their journey? “Making sure the boys were safe, having fun, and staying motivated,” said Mike. “The last thing I wanted to happen was for one of them to get hurt, sick, or just not have fun where they would never go out again. I would always walk in the back so that I could

watch how they were walking, and listen to their conversations so I could make sure that we could make adjustments if needed, which we did many times.” To make adjustments, Mike planned their days in advance. “I usually always planned three pickup points for the end of each trip,” Mike said. “One primary, one closer (in case we were not making very good progress), and one farther out, in case we made better time. I finally got to a point that I could tell how each of the boys were doing by just the way they walked, or held their head, or how they were talking to each other.” Spending so much time on the trail let them learn their strengths and weaknesses. “As a group, our third day out was always our toughest,” said Mike. “For some reason ‘Day Three’ usually meant a slower pace and a little lower morale. However, ‘Day Four’ and the remaining days of the trip were fantastic. We did attempt one 30

Photo courtesy of Diane Dammiller


Florida Trail Association


day trip. During that 30 days, we ended up coming off the trail for a day or two each week because of sickness and one very low morale day, but we did head right back out as soon as we recovered. Our average trip for our entire adventure was 7-10 days. I made sure that if it seemed like it was getting to be too much, we always came off the trail and headed home. I kept telling the boys that ‘It’s not a race or a forced march. The trail will be here when we get back.’” With their big accomplishment behind them, the family still gets into the woods together. “Zack is starting college...and Bear has headed off to public high school, so it is much harder to plan trips around their schedules. The entire family went out on an overnight backpack trip last year and Bear and I hiked for five days on the AT in North Carolina. Later this summer we are heading down to camp for a few days at Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys.” At 312 pages, it’s an engaging read to follow the family’s adventures (and misadventures) along the Florida Trail, including how their friend “Cool Breeze” got his trail name and how they were strafed by a crop duster during a rural roadwalk. The boys enjoyed surprising people they met by telling them how far they walked, and why not? It’s an incredible accomplishment for teenagers. “I had a great time watching Zack and Bear grow up on the Florida Trail,” said Mike, “watching them go from holding their cookies above their heads because the grass they were hiking through was as tall as they were to seeing them become self-sufficient near the end was awesome. Hopefully, I will get to do it again with them and their kids in the future.” The Florida Trail End to End is available online at Amazon.com as an e-book or paperback.

FTA Chapters List of Florida Trail Association Chapters ALLIGATOR AMBLERS CHAPTER Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Carl Kepford 239-252-8363

When you join the state-wide Florida Trail Association you automatically become a member of your local chapter based upon your zip code. However, members may attend the activities of any chapter and may transfer to any chapter they wish simply by informing the FTA Office. Florida Trail activities are organized by our local chapters and are led by authorized volunteer activity leaders. Many of our activities are open to the general public so you can get to know us before you join. Activities can be found online at www.floridatrail. org Click on “About Us” then click on the “Upcoming Events” button on the left. Local activities are usually also listed on the chapter websites, Facebook pages and Meetups. Click on “About Us” then “Our Chapters” for links to local chapter sites. Participants in activities must sign an Assumption of Risk form and agree to accept personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of accompanying minors. Always contact the activity leader in advance for more information, to let them know you are attending, to find out any special requirements or equipment for the activity, and to check for any last minute changes.

AA Sub Chapter FISHEATING CREEK Glades and hendry Margaret England 863-674-0695 APALACHEE CHAPTER Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla Dawn Brown 850-668-0091 BIG CYPRESS CHAPTER Miami-Dade and Monroe David Denham 350-667-8643 BLACK BEAR CHAPTER Flagler, Putnam, and Volusia Linda Taylor 386-774-0734

For more information about chapters and links to websites/meetups/photos go online to FloridaTrail.org/about-us/chapters/ then select the chapter

CENTRAL FLORIDA CHAPTER Orange, Seminole, and Osceola Bill Turman 407-359-8318 CHOCTAWHATCHEE CHAPTER Walton and Okaloosa Richard Kersten 850-683-0803

HAPPY HOOFERS CHAPTER Broward and Hendry Lynn Thompson 954-609-4727 HEARTLAND CHAPTER DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, and Polk David Waldrop 863-605-3587 HIGHLANDERS CHAPTER Lake and Sumter Howard Pospesel 352-589-2543 INDIAN RIVER CHAPTER Brevard and Indian River Richard Loudon 321-638-8804 LOXAHATCHEE CHAPTER Palm Beach Roy Moore 561-422-2189 NORTH FLA TRAILBLAZERS CHAPTER Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns, and Union Walter Bryant 904-704-6218

Photo courtsey of Gretchen Dewey

FLORIDA CRACKERS CHAPTER Alachua, Levy, Gilcrist, and Marion Mitch Sapp 352-332-2065

Sunset over the Savannahs PANHANDLE CHAPTER Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Charissa Thacker 850-814-5365

SUWANNEE CHAPTER Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor Irv Chance 386-330-2424

SUNCOAST CHAPTER Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota Sue Bunge 727-504-8574

TROPICAL TREKKERS CHAPTER Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Jim Couillard 772-485-8367


WESTERN GATE CHAPTER Escambia and Santa Rosa Helen Wigersma 850-484-0528 Summer 2015



IT IS IMPORTANT TO OUR LIFE And it is the THEME for the FTA South Regional Conference, November 13-15, 2015 Riverside Retreat (United Methodist Camp), 7305 County Rd. 78, LaBelle, FL 33935 (see registration form in this issue)

HIGHLIGHTS Camaraderie  Hikes, Kayaks available for rent, and a “Crazy Walk”  

Speakers include: Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policies for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will address “fracking”. Bob DeGross will deliver a presentation on how water impacts the Big Cypress National Preserve and the portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail that lies within it. Ray Judah, a former Lee County Commissioner, active in water conservation Mary Mangiapia will tell about her experience as the first woman to circumnavigate Florida by Kayak. Stories of the “Florida Crackers” around the campfire. And, of course, we’ll have the “Wuz-nu”, Raffle and Auction along with lots of good food. Registration and Check-in begin Friday at 4pm. Friday night features Hospitality night from 6-9pm. Bring a dish/snack to share and spend a fun evening with “like-minded” friends. Deadline for Meals and Reserved space (RV or bunkhouse) is October 25, 2015. Tent space is not as limited.

Registration forms at: www.meetup.com/Alligator-Amblers or http://Amblers.FloridaTrail.org 36

Florida Trail Association


Florida Trail Association South Regional Conference November 13-15, 2015 Theme ~ WATER LOCATION: Riverside Retreat (United Methodist Camp), 7305 Co. Rd. 78, LaBelle, FL 33935 DIRECTIONS: From the West Coast – take I-75 to Exit 141, east on 80 - 12 miles turn left on Broadway and go over the river to the stop sign. Alva school will be directly in front of you. Turn RIGHT (east) on CR78. Camp is 5 miles on right. From the East Coast: Go to LaBelle. Go west on CR78. Camp is 10 miles on your left. CAMPING: There are bunkhouses (bring your own sheets, pillows, blankets, etc), tent camping and RV spaces. Shower and toilet facilities not available inside the bunkhouses, but are a short walk from bunkhouses, tent sites and RV sites. You may wish to bring: chairs for the campfire ring; your bicycle to get around the 150 acre site; your kayaks and canoes for a paddle on the Caloosahatchee River - rentals are available. NO SMOKING and NO PETS permitted in any public facility, including bunkhouses. Owners must keep pets on a leash and pick up after them. If you play an instrument, please bring it for the campfire. REGISTRATION/CHECK-IN - GO TO THE RED PAVILION:  4-9 pm Friday and 8-12 noon on Saturday INFORMATION:  Please bring your own water bottle (we will have water for refilling) and your own mug for coffee/tea  Friday night hospitality 6-9 pm, bring a dish/snack to share.  Saturday Workshops and Events  Saturday Night Entertainment : Dinner, Raffle, “Wuz Nu” Silent Auction, Campfire and stories.  Sunday Chapel Services 7am, Breakfast, Closing ceremony

REGISTRATION FORM Names of Adults: _______________________________________________________________________________ Names and Ages of Children:_____________________________________________________________________ Mailing Address/City/St/Zip: _____________________________________________________________________ Telephone: Day _______________Evening/cell___________________email_______________________________ Chapter Affiliation _________________________________________ Is this your first conference? Y N Registration Fee: Number over age 6 attending (6 and under free*) _____ x $10.00 = * Children 6 and under are free in tents and RVs, but pay full price in bunkhouse. Bunkhouse: Number of people________________ x $10.00 per person x______ nights RV site: Number of sites____________________ x $27.50 per site x______ nights Tent: Number of people__________________ x $5.00 per person x______ nights Tent w/power...................................................... $16.00 per site x______ nights

$______________ = $______________ = $______________ = $______________ = $______________

MEALS: Saturday breakfast: Number _______________ x $6.00 = $_______________ Pancakes, sausage, oatmeal, eggs, cottage cheese and fruit Saturday lunch: Number_______________ x $9.00 = $_______________ Grilled cheese sandwich/quesadillas w/tomato soup, cottage cheese, yogurt and fruit Saturday dinner: Number_______________ x $11.00 = $_______________ Baked chicken BBQ, vegetable, rice or potatoes, rolls, salad bar, cottage cheese, yogurt and fruit, cookies Sunday breakfast: Number_______________ x $6.00 = $_______________ Breakfast casserole (french toast, sausage, egg), toast or biscuits, cottage cheese and fruit TOTAL: include Registration fees, Camping fees and Meals = $_______________ DEADLINE: Registration for Meals and Reserved space - October 25, 2015 Make check payable to: FTA Alligator Amblers, Mail check and registration to Karen Bledsoe, 13155 Chesterton Ave, Ft Myers, FL 33919. Additional Information: Karen, 239-267-1404 email: KBSOE@yahoo.com Footprint

Summer 2015


A Little Respect Goes a Long Way by Sandra Friend & John Keatley


hen the news came through of a landowner closure along the Superior Hiking Trail - one of those mid-length trails we’ve planned to do but haven’t gotten around to yet - we figured it was a sell-out of the land to someone else, something that’s happened here along the Suwannee section of the Florida Trail. A new owner buys the property, doesn’t realize there is a trail on it or, worse, thinks hikers are going to break into their home, and kicks the trail off their land. Not so along Lake Superior. Here’s a quote from the article, from landowner and avid deer hunter Randy Bowe, who has owned the property since the 1980s and wants it to stay a forest. “We were cussed at for using our four-wheeler on our own trails. On our own land.” Speaking of the incident that sparked his decision, Bowe talked about an elderly friend who was in his deer stand. “Three guys came up and gave him heck for being a hunter, basically said he was the devil. They proceeded to stay by his deer stand and howled like wolves for an hour. They ruined his hunt,” Bowe said.

During our “Not Quite Thru” in 2012, we saw bad behavior by hikers all along the Appalachian Trail’s southern reaches. It started with grafitti in shelters and names carved into trees. This isn’t a new problem, but it’s increasing in volume, and we met people who felt carrying a Sharpie and “tagging” their name on every surface was “the thing” to do. The bad behavior escalated to tossing trash in privies, leaving trash in shelters, and even skipping out on hostel owners without paying. Here on the Florida Trail, we’ve heard about intentional “branding” by Sharpie and hikers breaking into buildings - not for emergency shelter, but to brag that they did so. This, folks, is how services shut down and how trail access disappears. It’s why a scenic piece of the Superior Hiking Trail is now missing. People who provide trail services - especially private landowners - deserve respect. From the article: “Ninety-five percent of the hikers are great. But those other 5 percent ruined it for the rest. It was going from two or three incidents each year to four or five,” said Bowe. You may not approve of hunting, but when you’re crossing private land leased by a hunting club - as the Florida Trail does many times - stop and say hello when a hunter walks or rides up towards you. Take the time to thank them that their club supports the Florida Trail by providing access. If they don’t know that the Florida Trail is on their land, show them your map and tell them how the trail goes from one end of Florida to the other. Keep in mind, just like us hikers, hunters would rather have a forest than a subdivision on that land. And we’d rather have a trail going through their hunting lease than on another roadwalk. Reprinted with permission from FloridaHikes.com May 2015 eNews.

You can read the whole article here. http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/3731849landowner-kicks-superior-hiking-trail-property

Become a Member! Support the Florida Trail Association and our mission by becoming a member or by renewing your current membership today! 38

Florida Trail Association





ORDER BY FAX 352-378-4550

ORDER ONLINE www.floridatrail.org

Name ___________________________________________________ Daytime Phone Number ______________ Address _________________________________________________ Email ____________________________

e ANNUAL FUND Provides funds to ensure a steady income stream for Florida Trail Association operations. It’s how we keep the lights on and The Footprint coming.

City ____________________________________________________ State _______ Zip __________________

MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES Please mark one of the boxes below if you are joining or renewing your membership in the Florida Trail Association

Please send a gift membership to: Name _____________________________________

$35 Individual $50 Family* $125 Sustaining* $250 Supporting* $1000 Individual Life $1500 Family Life* $30 Senior (65+) or Student (18-23) $45 Senior (65+) or Student (18-23) Family

Address ___________________________________ City ______________________________________

*Includes spouse and children under 18.

I do not want my address shared with FTA-affiliated organizations

State _____________ Zip _____________________


Employer/Occupation ___________________________

Daytime Phone Number _______________________

Spouse Name _________________________________

Email _____________________________________

ENDOWMENT FUND Provides an ongoing endowment to the Florida Trail Association from interest earnings. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Spouse Occupation _____________________________

Ship membership package to

Number of children _____________________________

The Footprint magazine?


New Member



I learned about the Florida Trail from _____________________________________________________________

MY GIFT TO THE TRAIL I am making a gift to the Florida Trail Association and want my gift designated to:

e TRAIL PROTECTION FUND Supports land acquisition and trail construction projects with the ultimate goal of protecting the trail corridor and completing the entire Florida Trail. Independently funds programs like F-Troop, trail crews, and outreach to implement programs wherever they are needed within the Florida Trail System.

Annual Fund My gift is

Endowment Fund

Trail Protection Fund

Map Fund

In Memory of _____________________________ In Honor of ______________________________ FUND



MEMBERSHIP TOTAL _______________

FLORIDA TRAIL ASSOCIATION 5415 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608

GIFT TOTAL _______________ GRAND TOTAL _______________


CHECK: Make checks payable to “Florida Trail Association”. CREDIT CARD:



American Express



Credit Card Number: ____________________________________________________________ Exp. Date: _____________

MAP FUND Provides funding for updating the Florida Trail’s maps and databook.

Signature: ________________________________________ Security Code (3 or 4 digits): ________

To order merchandise from the Florida Trail General Store, visit


or call the Florida Trail office at 1-877-HIKE-FLA. Footprint

Summer 2015


FTA Chapter Activities List of Florida Trail Association Chapters

The Florida Trail Association offers activities throughout Florida. These activities, led by authorized Activity Leaders, Section Leaders, or staff members, are organized by our local chapters. People interested in attending any activity should contact the Activity Leader for more information and for last minute changes. All activities are open to the general public unless otherwise indicated. Almost all of our chapters now post their activities on Meetup.com To find your local chapter go to http://www.floridatrail.org/about-us/ chapters/ or go to Meetup.com and do a search for “Florida Trail Association” then join the chapter(s) in your local area.

August 9 Backpacking DIY Gear Bag Workshop. We will be making cuban fiber stuff sacks for use while hiking and backpacking. This uses a no-sew process and is a good introduction to making your own gear. No equipment needed, however there is a $30 fee per person to cover materials which should provide 3-5 stuff sacks. Mail fee (check payable to Louis Brooks) to: 8785 Minnow Creek Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32312 at least two weeks before the event to reserve your space and so supplies can be ordered. Limit 8 people, FTA MEMBERS ONLY. Sign up at http://www.meetup.com/Apalachee-Florida-TrailHiking or contact Louis Brooks (850) 728-3018 louisbrooks@ yahoo.com or Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103 griffindd@aol.com August 11 Chapter Meeting. To give everyone a much needed break, there will be no chapter meeting for August. See you in September for the fall Hiking Kickoff!


Activities August-September 2015 August 1 Wacissa River and Slave Canal Paddle. A wilderness paddle on the Wacissa River and Slave Canal. Expect many pullovers and low trees on this float through this bottomland hardwood forest. Limit 15 canoes/kayaks. Contact Kent Wimmer (850) 528-5261 August 4 Paddle on Lake Lafayette. A 7-mile paddle through open water and cypress lined paddle trails. Originally this system was a wet prairie, much like Gainesville’s Payne’s Prairie, filling during heavy rains then draining through sinkholes into the Florida Aquifer. Over millennia, when the lakes drained, Native Americans hunted and gathered flint for tools and weapons on the lake bottom. In historic times farmers grazed cattle and planted crops in the fertile lake soil. Two dams constructed around 1950 divided the lake into three sections: Upper Lafayette continues to be a wet prairie, Piney Z Lake is a 200-acre open water lake, and Lower Lafayette resembles a cypress-covered Louisiana bayou. Limit 10 canoes/kayaks. Contact Mike Tucker (850) 5453489 tuckems@hotmail.com August 8 “Red Hills Ramble” Hike. Who doesn’t like to “ramble” along a beautiful county road?! Join us for our fourth 6-mile ramble on the entire length of Old Centerville Road from Centerville Road to the Florida/George state line (a canopied road, half paved road and half hard packed clay; it’s an easy hike.) The Red Hills has been identified for special conservation efforts and the Nature Conservancy has designated the Red Hills as one of America’s “Last Great Places.” Wear comfortable clothes & walking shoes and bring water & trail snacks for several hours. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Retreat (parking under oaks) across from at Bradley’s Country Store where we will begin our walk 40 Florida Trail Association

(approximately 6 miles beyond Bradfordville/Roberts Roads). Afterwards plan on enjoying a well-deserved sausage dog and drink at the country store. Sign up at http://www.meetup.com/ Apalachee-Florida-Trail-Hiking / or contact Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103 griffindd@aol.com

August 15 Hikes for Tykes: Mother Nature under the Microscope. Phipps Park--Meridian Park Trailhead on Meridian Rd. @ 10 a.m. Allow your little one to explore the wonders of nature on the microscopic level! Children will be provided with magnifying glasses and a field microscope will be available so they can investigate what they find along this 2-3 mile hike. Parent or guardian required to accompany child. Trail is not stroller suitable so baby wearing is encouraged. Limited to 10 families. Contact Mike Tucker (850) 545-3489 tuckems@hotmail.com or Ashley Hopkins (850) 339-3488 hellokiddo@gmail.com August 15 Night Prowl at the Tallahassee Museum. Special group program only offered in the evening. Group will head down the Florida Wildlife trail at @ 7:00 p.m. to observe the nighttime behaviors of the animals. Guides will be located throughout the trail to help us find animals in the habitats. Guided tour lasts 1.5-2 hours and includes a wildlife encounter. Museum staff provide flashlights, but wear closed-toe shoes, bring bug spray and water. Cost is $10 per person, paid directly to the museum. These night prowl programs are open to the public and fill up quickly, so reserve your spot ASAP directly with the Tallahassee Museum at (850) 575-8684. Contact Carol Watkins-Babcock (313) 319-9463 carolwkns@yahoo.com August 16 Chipola River Paddle: Yancy Bridge to Magnolia. Leisurely 10-mile paddle with a lunch stop at Hinson Park. The river flows through river swamps and hardwood forests. At lower water levels, enjoy viewing limestone bluffs and caves, visible from the water. Cool off in the abundant refreshing springs! Plan to enjoy a late lunch/early dinner at a restaurant in Marianna before returning to Tallahassee. Limit 12 canoes/kayaks. Contact Gwen Beatty (850) 539-6027 gfbeatty@yahoo.com or Gary Sisco (850) 545-4776 gsisco42@yahoo.com


APALACHEE CHAPTER - Continued August 23 “Chillin’ in the Hot Summer.” Join us at a musical ice cream social. Steve and Carol Babcock will host, Dawn Griffin will provide ice cream and Howard Pardue has generously agreed to provide banjo music. We are having a lazy day--come anytime after 2:00 p.m. with your own plates/bowls/beverages/ silver, and we will provide hotdogs, ice cream toppings, and a place to wander around. We live on a long dirt road, so a walk is a possibility. FTA MEMBERS ONLY. Please sign up by Aug. 19 so we know by how much food to provide: contact Carol WatkinsBabcock (313) 319-9463 carolwkns@yahoo.com or Howard Pardue (850) 386-1494 hpardue@comcast.net August 6 Moonlight Hike on the Miccosukee Greenway: Good Food, Good Folks, Good Times. Laissez les bon temps roulez! Hike a 7-mile section of the Miccosukee Greenway in a unique way, cast in shadows and (almost full) moonlight. You can meet at 5:30 p.m. at Coosh’s Bayou Rouge [(850) 894-4110 located at 6267 Old Water Oak Rd., NE Tallahassee 32312 Suite 101], grab some good eats before the hike or meet us at 7:30 p.m. at the Crump Road trailhead (across the street from the brick house at 4955 Crump Road). Then carpool to the Fleischman Road trailhead to begin our hike. The first 1.5 miles of trail are natural path. The remainder of the pathway is broad level gravel. The white stones will make following the path an easy task. Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes and bring water, a flashlight or headlamp, and bug spray. Sign up at http://www.meetup.com/ Apalachee-Florida-Trail-Hiking or Contact Dawn Griffin (850) 509-6103 griffindd@aol.com. September 1 Lines Tract Off-Road Bike Ride. A 9-10 mile offroad bike ride through pine forest and hardwoods with sections bordering Lake Talquin. Casual pace with numerous rest spots. Limit 10 people. Contact Mike Tucker (850) 545-3489 tuckems@ hotmail.com September 4-7 Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail – Springer Mountain to Neel’s Gap. This will be a 4-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail starting at Springer Mountain and hiking 32 miles to Neel’s Gap. This will be a very strenuous trip and participants should be comfortable hiking 10-12 miles a day in mountainous terrain while carrying a full backpack. Note: Start training with your pack on the Monday Brisk Walks! Limit 6 people—FTA MEMBERS ONLY. Sign up at http://www.meetup. com/Apalachee-Florida-Trail-Hiking or contact Louis Brooks (850) 728-3018 louisbrooks@yahoo.com September 8 Chapter Meeting: “Rules of Two: Recognition and Preparation for Life’s Emergencies.” The program will be preceded by presentation of the Chapter’s annual Volunteer Awards. For our hiking-season kick-off, join Al Ingle as he categorizes emergencies that we may face in our lifetime, and provides simple guidelines to prepare for and overcome the challenges faced. Based on Al’s former experience as an Assistant Scoutmaster in an active outdoor-focused Boy Scout troop, and lessons learned as an Alaskan bush pilot, he will offer his summary of experiences and how to survive by expecting, categorizing, and preparing for the risks of a given activity. And come early--6 p.m.--for our annual used-hiking/backpacking/ camping/cycling/paddling-gear sale! NOTE EARLIER TIME. Contact: Liz Sparks (850) 570-5950

September 19 Kolomoki Mounds State Park: Day Hike, Museum Visit & Picnic. Located in Blakely, GA, approximately 90 miles from Tallahassee. This historically significant park is the oldest and largest Woodland Indian site in the southeastern United States, occupied by Indians from 350 to 750 A.D. Georgia’s oldest great temple mound, standing 57 feet high, dominates two smaller burial mounds and several ceremonial mounds. The park’s museum is built around an excavated mound, providing an unusual setting for learning who these people were and how they lived. Inside, visitors will find numerous artifacts and a film. Carpooling from Tallahassee. Park fees apply: check out at gastateparks.org/KolomokiMounds. Bring your own picnic lunch, snacks and beverages to stay hydrated. Limit 25 people. Rain Date Sunday 9/20. Contact Carol Watkins-Babcock (313) 319-9463 carolwkns@yahoo.com or Melanie Knapp (850) 3398830 mermelly22@hotmail.com September 26 Hikes for Tykes: Tree Leaf Rubbings. Phipps Park-Gate B on Miller Landing Rd. @ 10 a.m. On National Public Lands Day, in Take A Child Outside Week, explore the delightful trails and trees of Phipps Park with your little explorer on this child-friendly 2-3 mile hike. Paper and crayons will be provided for children to make leaf rubbings for their nature journals. All ages welcome, parent or guardian required to accompany child. Trail is not stroller suitable so baby wearing is encouraged. Limited to 10 families. Contact Mike Tucker (850) 545-3489 tuckems@hotmail.com or Ashley Hopkins (850) 339-3488 hellokiddo@gmail.com

FLORIDA CRACKERS Summer Activities

Kayak Wednesday, August 15, 9 am. Monthly week day kayak day trip. Exact location will be set in July. See http://www.meetup.com/Crackers-FTA/ for details. Kayak Saturday, August 18, 9 am. Monthly weekend kayak day trip. Exact location will be set in July. See http://www.meetup.com/Crackers-FTA/ for details. Kayak Wednesday, Sept. 16, 9 am. Monthly week day kayak day trip. Exact location will be set in August. See http://www.meetup.com/Crackers-FTA/ for details. Kayak Saturday, Sept. 19, 9 am. Monthly weekend kayak day trip. Exact location will be set in August. See http://www.meetup.com/Crackers-FTA/ for details. Chapter Activity Leader Meeting, Saturday, Sept. 19, 10 am. Meeting for all Cracker Chapter Activity Leaders and those who are interested in learning about leading activities for FTA. Bring your fall/winter activities and ideas. We’ll cover requirements for becoming and Activity Leader, hours and form submission, and work on scheduling. Exact location will be set in August. Deb Blick at dblick@windstream.net See http:// www.meetup.com/Crackers-FTA/ for details and to RSVP.


Summer 2015




July 31, Friday - Full Moon Hike – Bull Creek – Meet at 8:30 p.m. at Sam’s Discount Club, 4255 W New Haven Ave, Melbourne. Please call Activity Leader: Tony Flohre 321-723-6339

FUN FRIDAY WITH ANDRE Every Friday Andre is doing something “fun”. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, bicycling and more, to find out what is going on, call Andre a few days ahead at 386-362-7308

Activities for August - September 2015

activities for July - August 2015

1 August, Saturday, Trail Maintenance Hike – Bull Creek - Meet at 7:30 a.m. at Sam’s Discount Club, 4255 W New Haven Ave, Melbourne. Activity Leader: Tony Flohre – Phone: 321-723-6339 3 August, Monday - Monthly Chapter Meeting - Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Melbourne Public Library on Fee Avenue in Melbourne – Socializing, Program (TBD) followed by a business meeting. Contact. Richard Louden-321-638-8804. For additional details. 8 August, Saturday - Trail Maintenance Hike – Three Lakes/ Prairie Lakes - Meet at 7:00 a.m. at Sam’s Discount Club, 4255 W New Haven Ave, Melbourne. Activity Leader: Noreen Poor Phone: 813-956-0855 e-mail: noreen.poor@att.net

Friday, August 14, 2015 - Workhike Day The Jones Spring Area needs work. Let’s meet at Gibson Park at 8am (route 751). The trail is approximately 1-1/2 mile and we will be lopping and blazing. Bring water, snack, lunch, bug spray etc. For more info contact RJWildlife@windstream.net Saturday, August 15, 2015 - Workhike Day Alapaha Suwannee Section is also in need of work. Meet at Gibson Park at 8am (route 751). The trail is approximately 1-1/2 mile and we will be lopping and blazing. Bring water, snack, lunch, bug spray etc. For more information contact RJWildlife@ windstream.net

17 August, Monday - Bi-Monthly Planning Meeting – Meet at 7:00 p.m. at the Melbourne Public Library on Fee Avenue in Melbourne. Leader: Richard Louden, Phone: 321-693-3820, e-mail: lindaglouden@cfl.rr.com.

October 19-23, 2015 The Blackwater activity is rescheduled for October 19-22 and return on the 23rd. I have reserved the same site as before #21. Maybe the weather will cooperate this time. Please let me know your site # after you make reservations. Hope to see you there. 22 August, Saturday - Annual Turkey Creek Paddle & Cook-Out There is vacancy now. – This event is for Florida Trail Members only. If interested in PS Motels 1 & 2 are 11 miles from the park entrance. joining Florida Trail Association go to Website http://www. Activities include Paddling, Hiking and more. For more floridatrail.org/. Must provide your own canoe/kayak and safety information call Sam at 386-362-5090 or email Sambar2@ equipment.  Personal floatation device (life jacket) is required.  windstream.net We will canoe/kayak up Turkey Creek and then return for lunch/ cookout.  Hamburgers, hotdogs and sodas will be provided. November 4, 2015 Bring a side dish, chips or dessert to share. Must call activity Join Fred at Steinhatchee River Paddle for approximately 12 leader: Dale Weddle, Phone: 321-729-9162 for details. miles downstream. Meet at the parking lot at 9am. For more info email Fred at fcschiller@windstream.net 29 August, Saturday - Full Moon Hike – South Tosohatchee – Meet at 8:30 p.m. at the Viera MacDonald’s on North Wickham Rd. Please call Activity Leader: Tony Flohre 321-723-6339 for information

42 Florida Trail Association



Summer 2015


Florida Trail Association

Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit No. 702 Gainesville, FL

5415 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608

Create Your Volunteer Profile Online! You can start volunteering today! www.FloridaTrail.org/NewVolunteers/ 44 Florida Trail Association


Profile for Florida Trail

FTA Footprint summer15  

FTA Footprint summer15  

Profile for flatrail