VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: MONIKA HOERL HEARTLAND CHAPTER
Fall 2015 Volume 32 Issue 4
Capturing The Florida Trial Saving Those Cherished Moments
Floridaâ€™s Biting Insects Discussing Repellents
Home Is Where the Heart Is Volunteering, Being More Than Just an Experience
Florida Trail Association Footprint
Cover Photo: Forest Floor by Megan Donoghue Inside Cover: Juniper Prairie Wilderness
Florida Trail Association
Contents Departments and Features
5 President’s Message 7 Forward Footsteps 8 Trail Treading 9 Suncoast Story 12 Gear Review 13 News from Europe 15 Happy Hoofers
13 FEATURES 5 Mind the Gap
7 Trail Maintenance Season by Tom Daniel
Capturing The Florida Trail
by Tom Daniel
Purgatory on Earth Hike
Withlacoochee State Forest
Every Kid in a Park
by Simone Nageon de Lastang
by Lynn Thompson
News from Europe
by Jeff Glenn
Trail Kiosk and Picnic Tables to the Trail System
by Karen Miller
Heartland Chapter Section Leader
by Karl Borton
18 Dealing with Florida’s Biting Insects
by Carlos Schomaker
16 Volunteer Spotlight 18 Bug Bit 23 Snap Shot 24 The Transit Tales 26 Conservators Corner 30 Founders Feature 34 Chapters 35 In Memory
by Dav Costakis
The Great Bradwell Bay Swamp Hike
by Doug Alderson
23 Winter Backpacking Trip
A Photo Essay
by Karen Miller
24 Words to the Woods
by Dan Duer
by Karl Borton
26 Home Is Where the Heart Is
28 Come Experience the Trail in a Whole New Light Create lasting memories
by Karl Borton
Celebrating 35 Years
by Jim Kern
32 Florida Vines
by Bob Schultz
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: firstname.lastname@example.org website: FloridaTrail.org Facebook.com/FloridaTrailAssociation Digital Magazine: Issuu.com/FlaTrail
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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 • Auz Gage Gary Knecht • Jim Powell • David Waldrop Jan Wells • Adam Wiegand
FLORIDA TRAIL STAFF Administrative Director: Janet Akerson • 352-378-8823
Membership and Retail Coordinator: 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 email@example.com 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 Winter issue of The Footprint is November 20, 2015. Deadline for chapter activities covering July October to appear in the electronic version of the The Footprint fall issue is September 15, 2015.
friend of mine works for a defense contractor, in a high-pressure job that requires attention to detail and an analytical bent. She is Carlos Schomaker also a long-term FTA President Florida Trail Association (FTA) member who joined our organization at a young age, feels passionately about our Mission and gets emotional when thinking about FTA friends who have passed. She is a very smart mix of cool head and warm heart, so I listen closely to her ideas. Several months ago, we were having a conversation about the cultural issues we sometimes encounter at FTA. In this case it was about an insular feeling of trail ownership, as if the only people who have a stake in the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST) are the existing and historical members of FTA. And my friend said this:
“We gave up ownership of the Florida Trail when we gave it to the world.”
Mind the Gap playground, jealously guarded by the true believers. If FTA leaders hadn’t pursued National Scenic Trail status, they still would have had to deal with the State of Florida and other local land managers— or buy a thousand miles of narrow, connecting real estate lots. Based on its underwhelming history of fundraising and the high price of that much land, it’s safe to say that FTA had to give the Florida Trail to the world. Third, my friend succinctly stated that giving the FNST to the world meant that we would give up ownership, in the sense that FTA couldn’t forever unilaterally dictate the nature of the trail. This, of course, has occasionally been a core source of resentful turmoil and gnashing of teeth. That’s a part of human nature. But an organization with an aging membership, less-than-ideal recruiting of fresh blood, and a suspicious eye toward outsiders isn’t going to last anyway. Once again, FTA had to give the Florida Trail to the world, and work collaboratively with partners to get the project completed. The project isn’t completed. There’s still much work to do. Like most of the
other National Scenic and Historic Trails, the FNST has gaps. Big gaps, little gaps, road walks. Occasional closures and reroutes. Funding issues, changes in land ownership, and sometimes surprises. We work with our partners to close the gaps, and it isn’t fast and easy. But there are other gaps here, too. They aren’t shown in trail maps, and they don’t get solved by a land purchase or the construction of a bridge. These are human gaps. They are the “places” where something is missing that could complete part of our joint project. If these gaps were bridged, we could more perfectly give our trail to the world, and feel an even greater sense of pride of ownership over it. There is a resource gap. Every National Trail organization that is excelling at their Mission makes a huge effort to ensure they have the resources to properly support their trail. They raise funds to field an adequate staff of professionals. This staff supports volunteers and the organization’s partners to further the Mission. When the sources of funding change or dry
This blew my mind a little, because it perfectly encapsulated several thoughts that had been rolling around in my head. First, my friend and her husband have raised two fine sons; her utterance reminded me of the deep mixed emotions that come from steering children through infancy to adulthood. Shaping someone from a baby to an adult who can stand on their own and contribute to society is a source of pride, bittersweet memory and a little trepidation. Letting go, even when the time is right, isn’t always easy. Second, my friend’s thought made clear that from the birth of the Florida Trail, the intent was to build something that would be given to the people of America and the world. Back in the mid-1960s, Jim Kern wanted to build the Appalachian Trail of the Sunshine State. Like that venerable trail, our project could never be kept a private 5
up (less Federal or state money available, for example), they commit to closing that gap themselves. There is a performance gap between how well FTA does this and how well some of the other trail non-profits are doing it. We need to close that gap. We need to instill a widespread culture of supporters that enjoy donating to our cause. You can become part of that culture! Go to floridatrail.org and donate right now. The funding gap causes other shortfalls, such as the technology gap. FTA, like any other business (and that, at heart, is what FTA is— in the business of building and supporting the Florida Trail), needs to compete in the ever-changing world of ideas and interests. Nowadays, we need to reach current and new supporters through social media and other innovative methods, while still using face-to-face efforts as well. We need to fight the things that threaten or damage our trail. Like many non-profits, we endure a gap in the ability to do these things, using obsolete software and aging hardware. Outreach materials and media, lobbying expenses to prioritize the trail— all these cost money. Existing membership dues don’t begin to cover it, and the government money that used to pay for so much has been severely truncated, with tighter restrictions on how those funds can be used. Thus the gap. There are volunteer and supporter gaps. In the future, FTA will need to replace dedicated volunteers that have run the race. New volunteers will need to be trained and motivated to carry the torch (um, and loppers and chainsaws). New members need to replace chapter officials and fulfill chapter functions, such as introducing even more people to the outdoors. Nearly fifty years on, FTA and the Florida National Scenic Trail are still mostly unknown to the vast majority of citizens of the third most populous state in the Union (with America’s second-highest tourist numbers, after California). There are also gaps in commitment to the Mission. Ideally, most members, supporters, and volunteers should have a “big picture” sense of what it is we’re all trying to do. Chapters should feel like they’re an integral part of a living, breathing movement to build and promote this National Scenic Trail. They should feel they’re given the resources to further the Mission on a local level, and they should feel a responsibility to keep up their end of the work. Members should feel like
Florida Trail Association
they belong to the entire organization, and chapters should feel a cooperative kinship with other chapters. Land managers, volunteers from outside, and other friends and supporters should know how and why they work with FTA. They should feel like working with FTA is the best investment of their time and effort. These performance gaps, like the ones physically impeding the FNST, will take time to close. We’re making headway on them all, and the Board of Directors of FTA is committed to closing them. Expect to see larger efforts at chapter strengthening, fundraising, recruiting, and training as FTA enters its next half-decade. Expect to see progress. Don’t be surprised if more is asked of us all. As my wise friend noted, the Florida Trail Association gave up ownership of the Florida Trail when we gave it to the world. The gifting was necessary, for otherwise it would have never become this wonderful national treasure, one of only eleven National Scenic Trails. It would have wallowed in obscurity. But I think the FTA actually gained far more than it lost. We joined a pantheon of champions--- champions in the sense of proponents, apostles, and advocates--- who have selflessly built something of enduring value for the common good. As we move toward the fiftieth anniversary of our Florida Trail Association next year, let’s close the gaps, on the trail and in our efforts.
Carlos Schomaker FTA President
Forward Footsteps by Tom Daniel, VP Trails
Trail Maintenance Season is HERE! Time to Volunteer. Volunteering is at the core of the Florida Trail Association (FTA) mission. It is time to waterproof our boots and sharpen our tools. If you’re unable to work on our trails, there are leadership positions where your help is valued. Those that volunteer in leadership roles are GOLDEN! GET INVOLVED AND VOLUNTEER!
After five years as VP Trails I still have no answers to these questions: Why did less than 600 of FTA members actually volunteer on the trail or serve in leadership roles last year? Why don’t all of FTA Members have a Volunteer Profile? How many know what a Volunteer Profile is or why we have it? Why do the majority of FTA members show up for float and other leisure activities, but are ‘missing in action’ for trail maintenance?
FTA - Trail Manual Why do we NEED a Trail Manual? So each maintainer doesn’t have to self-interpret what’s expected of them, and so there is a level of consistency over the 1300+ miles of FTA maintained trails. With limited exception, trail standards for clearing and blazing are not self-evident. After nine months of input from volunteers and many hours of revising and re-revising, the FTA - Trail Manual is now final and available to the FTA membership on the FTA website. The final version was posted in July. The Manual serves as a guide to trail volunteers and FTA staff for both the Florida Trail (aka Florida National Scenic Trail) and the Florida Trail System of trails. The FTA - Trails Committee met and adopted the Manual on July 11th, and the FTA Board of Directors did the same on July 18th. A special thanks to those FTA Volunteers and Staff who provided guidance and feedback! What is Next? Additional comments will be accepted thru November. Please identify the relevant chapter and forward written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org NLT November 30, 2015.
Being at the Table While I’m an addicted trail volunteer, I recognize that there are limits to what maintainers can contribute to the organization, our mission and the trails we maintain. Chapter level leaders are needed to help keep the local chapter mindset & activities focused on the larger objectives of volunteering on trails and educating the public. It is all too common for local members to become overly focused on leisure activities and disregard much-needed volunteer work. If FTA and our partners are to close the small and large gaps in the Florida Trail, it is essential that local FTA volunteers be involved in both long-term and short-term planning. Local land managers periodically review management plans and, on a larger scale, counties review and develop regional plans. If our volunteers are not present to represent FTA interests, others with a different pointof-view will finalize those plans without us. I often witness the unrealistic mind-set from members that let FTA Staff do it, or this isn’t my job. The FTA Staff is vigilant but their duties are many and their time is limited. I’ve often been reminded that if you’re not at the table representing your ideals then those ideals may not be on the menu! I challenge you to find your volunteering niche this maintenance season.
m Daniel o T Tom Daniel VP Trails
Trail Treading by Alex Stigliano, FL Trail Program Director freshwater swamps. These animals are adapted to fluctuating water levels. The shadowy tree root system and cypress knobs provide a rich, sheltered habitat for nesting birds, as well as fish, amphibians and reptiles.
Capturing The Florida Trail
ow do you record your most cherished trail moments? For some folks, it means carrying around a favorite camera, protecting it from the elements and remaining at the ready to take a picture of that perfectly lit moment of a sunset or a sudden wildlife encounter. For many of us, these moments are documented in journals, notebooks and diaries while sitting at an inspiring spot on the trail or at a quiet campsite. And still others relay their special encounters and grand adventures lit only by the flicker of fire-light, in the oral tradition of a campfire story. Whatever your preferred medium, I want to take a moment here to encourage you make the effort to ensure these moments are preserved. In the past decade, people have often joked that if an event or emotion isn’t shared via a Tweet or on a Facebook page then it may never have happened! While this is an accurate critique of our social media saturated lives, I don’t think it should deter a thoughtful, intentional chronical of our outdoor journeys. The natural world is inspirational, and so it is unsurprising that it would prompt many of us to spend the time and effort to craft a special thing that would convey these stirring moments of connection to the environment. Capturing the beauty of a place can also be a political act. The swamp ecosystem is an apt example. How often 8
Florida Trail Association
do we here in Florida hear the word “swamp” used as pejorative description spoken in the tone of an expletive? Most of the Miami coastline was removed because the public were convinced that those saltwater swamps and mangrove lagoons were without significance. And yet, these water-inundated forests sustain a crucial, biodiverse habitat found on every continent except Antarctica. Consider these excerpts from National Geographic Online: Swamps are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They act like giant sponges or reservoirs. When heavy rains cause flooding, swamps and other wetlands absorb excess water, moderating the effects of flooding. Swamps also protect coastal areas from storm surges that can wash away fragile coastline. Saltwater swamps and tidal salt marshes help anchor coastal soil and sand. The swamp ecosystem also acts as a water treatment plant, filtering wastes and purifying water naturally. When excess nitrogen and other chemicals wash into swamps, plants there absorb and use the chemicals. Because the young of many marine animals find food and shelter in saltwater swamps, these wetlands are sometimes called the nurseries of the ocean. Alligators, frogs, and many other animals live in FloridaTrail.org
Still, many passionate hikers and outdoor enthusiasts across the nation have no idea how much beauty can be found in a swamp. The qualifiers, “just” and “only” often precede the word swamp, as in, “The Florida Trail is just a bunch of swamps.” This is an uninformed statement equivalent to, “The Continental Divide Trail is just a bunch of rocky mountains.” The challenge is this: go explore the Florida Trail with the intent of capturing a bit of splendor that you find there. Whether it is a recreation hike with friends, or a volunteer work event with other FTA members, come prepared to somehow translate the beauty you witness or inspiration you find. We here at the Florida Trail Association encourage these efforts to relay your personal experiences because they are an important tool to communicating the importance of protecting the Florida Trail. Unleash the artist, photographer, essayist, storyteller, poet, and documentarian within. And then share the product with us! We would love to feature your creative endeavors on our website, in our e-mail newsletters, on social media and in this quarterly publication. In this issue of the Footprint, we feature works that were inspired along the Florida National Scenic Trail: a drywitted comical piece about a challenging hike from Gordy Hawkins; an introduction to the Great Bradwell Bay Swamp excerpted from Doug Alderson’s newest book; a sonnet and photo essay from Karen Miller; and a heartwarming letter to the woods from Dan Duerr. Please enjoy!
lex Stigliano A Alex Stigliano Trail Program Director Florida Trail Association
Suncoast Story Notes from the Suncoast Chapter
Purgatory on Earth (POE) Hike
August 26, 2015 - Withlacoochee State Forest, Croom Tract
he sun played its game today going from beaming down to bearing down to beating down. The drive to the start was 79 degrees with the sun pleasantly beaming down. By the time we were ready to start, it was bearing down. By mid-hike it was beating down and continued that way whenever it could break through the merciful clouds. It was fortuitous that the route had plenty of shade. But the shade could not handle the humidity’s assault, and thus I was soaked, from the bill of my dripping hat to the soles of my soggy sahoes. The route started from Smith Prairie parking lot where FR 7 intersects Croom Rd. Heading north on FR 7 we picked up the A-B blue cross trail heading east. Then more Forest roads and some bushwhacking to a giant pit. At the bottom of the pit was a large pond smothered with green scum. It was so inviting that we worked our way down a steep ravine and circled a small portion of the pond. We were so very pleased to find a manmade relic to contrast with the remoteness and beauty - an old car tire, partially submerged near the shoreline. After ascending another steep gorge we continued with bushwhacking until hitting an unnamed forest road, and proceeded on in an attempt to find the desecrated spirit tree. Did we? Well, each person had to decide that on their own. In the true spirit of a POE hike, those that needed more contrition were able to get wrapped up in spider webs, or even better, recline on a red ant hill - whatever it takes. And we are Kathy P, Peter, Fran, Caroline, Frank, Alex G, Arnold, Ed S, Bob D, Mitch, Wes, Steve N, Gordy
Florida Trail Association South Regional Conference November 13-15, 2015 Theme ~ WATER
Speakers include: Jennifer Hecker, Bob DeGross, Ray Judah, Mary Mangiapia
Registration forms at: www.meetup.com/Alligator-Amblers or http://Amblers.FloridaTrail.org Riverside Retreat (United Methodist Camp), 7305 County Rd. 78, LaBelle, FL 33935 (see registration form in this issue) Footprint
IN A PARK by Simone Nageon de Lastang
tarting this school year, the White House is rolling out a new initiative called “Every Kid in a Park.” It is designed to make it easier for kids and their families to enjoy America’s public lands. This initiative arrives in conjunction with the National Park Service’s upcoming 100 year anniversary in 2016, in which the Administration
Florida Trail Association
hopes to engage the younger generations and expose our ever growing urban populations to the beauty of America’s natural wonders and historic sites. Until the end of the school year in spring 2016, entrance to federal lands and waters across the nation is now free for every fourth grader and their family. In part, Every Kid in a Park is a
response to recent studies showing that younger generations of the U.S. spend an average of 53 hours a week using electronic media–which is more than a full time job! The initiative also goes along with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which hopes to get kids and families active to help prevent childhood health problems such as obesity and diabetes. By inviting every fourth grader and their families into America’s federal lands, the White House looks to inspire the next generation to discover, learn and play in the great outdoors. So how does Every Kid in the Park effect the Florida Trail? Both the Northern and Southern Terminus of the Trail lie within National Parks, Gulf Islands National Seashore and Big Cypress National Preserve respectively. Along with national parks there are also three national forests, Ocala, Osceola and
South Regional Conference Update
T Apalachicola National Forests, and dozens of historic sites located across the state and along the Trail which normally require a fee are now free to enter with your fourth grader. One of these sites is Leon Sinks Geological Area outside of Tallahassee where one can hike along a network of sinks, cypress swamps and the entrance to the largest underwater cave system in Florida. And what better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Florida Trail than to share your love of the Florida environment with the next generation? So this 2015-2016 school year, make sure to grab your fourth grade kid, grandkid, friend’s kid or even local school groups and take them onto the Florida Trail to experience the natural wonders of Florida and have some fun! “Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans,” as President Barack Obama rightly said. To get your 4th grader a park pass just visit www.everykidinapark. gov and navigate to the Get a Pass page and print out their ticket to a year of free outdoor adventures.
he Alligator Amblers invite members and friends to the November 1315, 2015 South Regional Conference to be held at the Riverside Retreat Campgrounds in LaBelle, FL, Route 78. Our theme “Water” encompasses the current issues regarding water conservation, pollution, fresh vs. salt, aquifers, and other water topics. If you wish to bring news articles from your area, please do so and we will post them. We have been fortunate to engage four knowledgeable speakers to address these topics. (See Footprint – Summer Issue – Page 36) The Friday evening pot luck dinner will begin at 6pm, so get your tents up and RVs organized to join in this traditional meet and greet event. Bring a dish to share. Following the Saturday morning speaker program, we will provide optional afternoon activities, such as “stretching exercises” with Dr. Vivian Ebert, DC, trail activities within the campground, horseshoes, and, of course, time for browsing the excellent FTA store. Lasso specialist “Cowboy Mike” Wooldridge will amaze you with his precision whip-cracking skills. David Denham is planning two bike rides – Saturday (24 miles) and Sunday (16 miles). Check with him as details emerge. Explore the Raffle Section for new items and purchase tickets throughout the day. The “Wuz Nu” with gently used items will have great sales opportunities, as will the auction for super purchases. Remember monies collected will be shared with the participating chapters and FTA. Saturday evening activities will include “Cracker Campfire Stories” (can bring your marshmallows and guitar), and probable star gazing with Bill Dishong and his extraordinary telescope. The Amblers need volunteer chapters for the following areas: raffle tickets sales and setup, auction ticket sales and setup, Sunday morning walk, and Sunday morning “Chapel in the Woods.” Please call chapter chair Carl Kepford (239-2534255) with your choice. Closing ceremonies TBA. We will provide post-conference local hikes and paddles (Hickey’s Creek, Fisheating Creek), and offer additional information regarding other area venues. Remember that the campground is located on the wide Caloosahatchee River; you may bring your own kayaks or rent canoes and kayaks after a brief required paddling lesson at the campground. Circle your calendars for November 13-15, 2015. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone and enjoying the activities. Footprint
Gear Review by Lynn Thompson, Happy Hoofer
Osprey Viva 65 backpack
y husband and I decided to put in some miles on the AT this year. In preparation for that, we needed to upgrade or replace some of our old backpacking gear. Here are a few of my recommendations for gear that worked for me.
Darn Tough Socks out of Vermont http://j.mp/DarnToughSocks They can be bought on Amazon as well. I have a problem in the heat with getting a heat rash on my ankles from wool socks. A friend in GA recommended these socks in the coolmax version. They were terrific! Nice padding, no blisters, and no heat rash. They are guaranteed for life too. They also come in a merino wool version if you want wool.
LuminAID Solar Light http://j.mp/LuminAid Weighs only 2.9 oz, charges all day hanging off the outside of your pack. Blow it up like a small pillow, it illuminates the entire tent/shelter, and you can read by it. Could leave it on all night if needed. Developed to help aid victims after Haiti disaster in 2010, as seen on the television show, Shark Tank. 12
Florida Trail Association
http://j.mp/OspreyViva65 I loved my REI Flash 65 pack that I bought in 2010, but the entire hip belt came unstitched from the pack. I tried to hand mend it, but it did not hold. When I called REI they said they no longer guarantee anything longer than one year. I decided that for the amount of money we spend on gear, a company should stand behind their product. My husband really liked his Osprey pack so I tried the Viva 65. It worked terrific, held up well, and it has enough pockets and compartments for all my gear. The torso length and hip belt are adjustable, so they fit a wide range of women’s sizes. This worked well as I lost weight along the trail. Has an “exterior” pocket for hydration pack so you don’t have to dig down inside to refill your water.
Zpack Cuban fiber dry bags http://j.mp/ZPacksDryBags I got this one to put our food in for our backpack. It could store 6 days of food and it held up beautifully. The mice at the hostels and shelters ate through two other dry bags with food and toiletries in them, but they did not get into this. The bags are super light and sturdy. Since the AT hike, I’ve now purchased their pack cover and rain skirt as well. They have dry bags and stuff bags in every size you could want. I just received the belt pouch as well. I will be trying it out on a trip in a couple weeks. It makes it nice to have some snacks, lip balm, ibuprofen, etc. at your fingertips so you don’t have to take off the pack all the time.
News from Europe by Jeff Glenn, FTA North Florida Representative Milan. We do have The 88 Store in the Ocala National Forest, home of cheap beer in a dusty and smoky bar room, but that comparison would be like night and day. Many rifugios also provide sleeping accommodations to hikers, so the need to carry heavy loads is non-existent. My family, however, prefers the privacy and comfort of our own tent, camp stove meals, and solitude that we are used to on trails in this country, so we avoided the hospitality if at all possible. I will admit that my 65 pound backpack was brutal on all day climbs, and maybe at some point in the future I will hike in a more luxurious style. I will also say that having to carry dirty diapers on the trail for several days was not the most pleasant experience; having trash cans along the way was very welcome. We started our hikes on the Alta Via 8, one of the least popular of the high routes and at lower elevation than some of the more popular treks. This trail was devoid of any people, and at time the trail was hardly a goat path, only discernable to a very attentive eye. The trail was steep and the heat was similar n a departure from the typical News from the North section to a Florida summer. Highlights of the trail included the several of this magazine, I am delighted to share some stories and malgas, traditional summer dairy pastures and cheese-making photos from my recent backpacking trip in the Dolomite huts that offered outstanding meals to tired and hungry hikers. mountain range of Italy. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the These are very different from the rifugios in that the meals are Dolomites form a part of the Southern Alps. The mountains home cooked, traditional, cheap, and made from ingredients are known for their sheer stone peaks that jut out of lush green produced on site. The entire Dolomite region is known for valleys like giant teeth in an open mouth. cheeses, and at one malga we ate a 4 course meal of cheeses This was our first foray not only into international traveling and cured meats. We were literally served a huge bowl of with a toddler but also our first backpacking trip as a family melted cheese, and it was amazing. of three. We had an ambitious three week itinerary, planned Continuing on from the malga, the very loosely of courseâ€”a la toddlerâ€”but trail became very difficult to follow and we had a general sense of which trails we climbed into a very steep valley. The wanted to hike. The Dolomites are home trail skirted the valley below the ridge to the Alta Vias, or High Roads. These are and we had to traverse wet grass on a long-distance trails that traverse the high 45 degree slope with no trail tread. The country, many of them built and used valley floor was hundreds of feet below, by soldiers during the Great War. They and there were no trees to catch us in vary in length and difficulty, but on the case of a fall. We found ourselves in a whole they are challenging multi-day treks very uncomfortable position. With my through very rough terrain. We also found wife Sam carrying our son River on her out that some are extremely busy while back, we decided that it was simply others are hardly used at all. not worth the risk to continue on. Even Our intentions were clear from the without a toddler-in-tow, the trail would start: sleep outside as many nights as have been extremely difficult and risky possible and eat everything we could get for any experienced hiker. It was the our hands on. Mission accomplished. right decision, and it brought us right Hiking in the Dolomites, especially back to the ultimate cheese plate at our on the Alta Via, hikers have the serious favorite dairy. We ended up hiking down luxury of the rifugios along the way. Think a beautiful valley into a small village Appalachian Mountain Club hut, but with which led us to probably the best week of steak dinner, espresso machine, and full our whole trip. We met a family that took bar. This does not exist on any trail in the us back to their 15th century home and United States that I have ever heard about, shared with us several days of outstanding nor do I think it would ever be deemed A meal of farm made cheese and food, wine, and entertainment. Leave it to appropriate by the hiking community. They cured meats is the perfect lunch some old Italian hippies to show a young can be overwhelmingly busy, at times American family a good time! for tired hikers mirroring a crowded cafĂŠ on the streets of
The house was originally constructed in the 1400s Injuries are often unexpected and never welcome, so when my knees made the decision to hold off on any more multiday trips it really changed our expectations and plans. Instead of diving deep into any more challenging treks, we opted for shorter stints on more forgiving terrain. Ultimately, we found that day hikes and base-camping allowed us to explore an area or a National Park in more detail. Though in my opinion, the Italian National Park Service pales in comparison to that in our own country. Camping is prohibited basically everywhere inside the parks, and they are run more like what we in the US would consider a National Forest: the old conservation vs. preservation debate. We were forced to stealth camp, always using Leave No Trace wilderness etiquette as our ethosâ€” something we want to instill in River.
Some words on backpacking with our toddler: River is an intrepid traveler and backpacker. We honestly had no idea how he would do on this trip, and he blew us away with his excitement, wonder, and awe towards the natural world. It helped that we were there in the peak wild raspberry and blackberry season, but he definitely follows in his parents boot steps. Plus, there is nothing cuter than a tiny person inside their own tiny little outdoor gear. Pretty soon he will be able to join me on my Volunteer Work Parties and become a more integral part of the FTA trail maintenance community. Some trails we did led us into spectacular mountain scenery. Alpine lakes, monolithic cliff faces, high grazing pastures, sunsets, and thick beech forests were abundant. Outside the very chic moutain town of Cortina we visitied the famous Lago di Sorapiss, known for its turquise water and cirque of jagged peaks. 14
Florida Trail Association
In Tuscany, we visited the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona, and Campigna National Park and camped in a historic Chestnut tree seed farm. We climbed a peak, only to be chased off the mountain by a massive thunderstorm. If there is a better way to arrive at the base of a mountain after a cold rain than with hot bowl of wild boar, porcini mushrooms, and polenta, with a bottle of wine to wash it down, I have not found it yet! Seems we did have some use for the rifugios after all.
Italy was a great trip away from the sweltering heat of a Florida summer and a very much needed revisit to topography where the elevation lines are measured in 100 feet rather than 100 inches. We ate our way from village to village, stopping along the path to meet amazingly hospitably families that took us into their homes simply because they wanted to know us. That, and because all Italians love il bambino! This was our first time in Europe, and we definitely learned a new way of travel; it became clear rather quickly that the country was not set up for cheap travelling and dirt bag backpacking as it is in other parts of the world. This led us, however, to treat ourselves a bit more than usual. More meals out and more hotel rooms this time around. Coming back to Florida, we were excited at the prospect of autumn. At the time of writing this, it is still not here, but I can smell it in the air and see it in the sycamore leaves that daily descend to cover my lawn. Autumn means trail season is here again and with that the chance to be outside with the great volunteers that make the trail such an amazing place to work. See you out there!
Happy Hoofers by Karen Miller
Hopkins Prairie Sonnet By Karen Miller I left my love to walk on prairie’s path, Big scrub replete with red lyonia, To follow black bear, kite and cold spring bath,
Adding Picnic Tables and a Trail Kiosk to the Trail The Happy Hoofers, in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 333, are happy to announce the addition of a trail kiosk and picnic tables to the FNST and other trails in Big Cypress North Section II. The kiosk and picnic tables were part of a project for Scout Colton Pray. The kiosk is located at the trailhead on the north side of I-75 at Mile Marker 63. We positioned the kiosk next to our old mailbox where the maps and sign-in book were located. One of the picnic tables was placed at Nobles campsite. You can now find the new fire ring and picnic table back in
the shade of a small oak hammock next to the water hole on the south side of the main campsite. We intend to clear an area in the shade to accommodate more tents during the work hike in November. It appears that this was once a road that parallels the old overgrown runway. The second picnic table was placed at Panther camp, near the fire ring. We would like to give a big thanks to Scout Colton Pray and the scouts of BS Troop 333 for their hard work and planning. We would also like to thank Bob DeGross and the National Park Service for further enhancing our trail system.
While wind sang out its sweet sinfonia. If I had walked with you to prairie’s edge, Your hand in mine beneath the azure sky, Would I have seen the baby limpkins fledge? Or heard the alligators’ lullaby? If you had kissed me ‘neath the autumn moon, I would not glimpse the myrtle or marsh pea. I’d never hear the prairie’s ancient croon, Nor hear the whippoorwill’s proud rhapsody. I’d leave my love, my home, my human race, So long as I can stand in prairie’s grace.
Volunteer Spotlight by Karl Borton, Volunteer Program Coordinator
cypress swamps. This is a wild and beautiful section of trail, with a lot of wildlife.
Heartland Chapter Section Leader
FTA: What has been your favorite volunteer project/event?
FTA: Why did you get involved with the Florida Tail
MH: My favorite project has been the Arbuckle Bridge in
MH: In 1994, I met John Weary and was inspired to serve
on his section of the Florida Trail (FNST). Even though I was new to trail work, he invested the time to introduce me to backcountry maintenance, and to equip me with the skills that I’d need to build and maintain trails in Florida – including axe skills! But what I remember most about him was his mantra. He used to say, “I don’t care how long it takes, just do it right!” I’ve adopted this mindset in all of my trail work. Today, I’m proud to introduce new faces to the Florida wilderness and to lead my own crews. I truly think it’s important for leaders to invest time in their volunteers to best prepare them for trail work, and I’m glad John invested time in me.
FTA: As a FTA member of the Heartland Chapter, what do you do?
FTA: What is the best part about volunteering on the Florida Trail?
MH: I love the companionship of the people around you.
Yes it’s work, but it’s not really work—it’s fun! Everyone makes a difference – no matter how big or small – and I love that. People are the best part of volunteer work!
FTA: What is the biggest adventure you have ever done – on or off the trail?
MH: I am a Section Leader, who is responsible for 18 miles of trail in the Tenoroc Wildlife Management Area. This section of trail is a part of the Florida System of Trails. I help coordinate maintenance events, and am responsible for recruiting, training, and leading volunteers. I also went through the certification to become a chainsaw S212 sawyer, a certified First Aid/CPR responder, and an FTA Activity Leader.
FTA: What’s your favorite section of the Florida Trail? Why? MH: My favorite section of the FNST is Green Swamp East.
On this section, you never get bored and you get a real sense for Florida’s diverse ecosystem. It’s an adventure to navigate through the dense pine forests, and then through the open 16
the Arbuckle Wildlife Management Area. This bridge spans 80 feet, and took 50 volunteers five days to complete. We partnered with alternative spring break students, and I helped Ken Williams coordinate the construction of this metal bridge. It was truly an engineering feat, and now allows emergency vehicles to drive through this section of the Forest. The Heartland Chapter is proud to have built this bridge.
Florida Trail Association
MH: Last summer, I visited Logan
Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. This trip reminded me of my home country, Germany, where the wildflowers bloom in the mountainside. Glacier’s scenery was breathtaking, and along my daytrips I fell in love with the waterfalls and lakes. My daughter lives out there, and it was fun to spend time with her. I’ve also taken many trips to Germany and have hiked all throughout the Alps.
Ensure the Florida Trail’s Future.
Remember the Florida Trail Association in your will.
FTA: When you’re not on the trail, what do you do?
Contact FTA at email@example.com or call 352-378-8823.
MH: I paint in the traditional Rosemaling style. This translates
into the “Painting of Roses.” It’s Norwegian Folk Art, and I often lose track of time when I’m in the moment - it’s so relaxing. While it’s a dying art, I still love it, and I continue to fine-tune my own style. You can see my work at local art and craft fairs.
FTA: If you could give advice to someone who is interested in volunteering on the Florida Trail, what would it be?
MH: My advice to you is don’t think that you have to work like a crazy person. Go easy and try it out. You can work at your own pace, and you don’t have to worry about making a mistake. We all make mistakes. Enjoy yourself, talk with people, and have fun!
Did you know you can now easily spread your donation to FTA across several months or years?
FTA: If you were on the trail and could only bring three things,
Go to FloridaTrail.org and click
MH: Mosquito spray, a hand saw, and a trekking stick – I love
what would you bring?
volunteering on the trail!
FTA: If you can transport to any trail in the world, what trail would you choose?
MH: I’d love to section hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It sounds like an amazing adventure.
FTA: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? MH: Gatherer! I love blackberries, and I can spend hours foraging for this hidden treasure.
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. By clicking on the donate button, you will be directed to our secure donation page from Network for Good. Network for Good is our partner and a is a leading giving platform for non-profit organizations.
Bug Bit by Dave Costakis openings around my tent door(s). I think the instructions direct you to spray way too much, and I have had no problems when I spray enough product on the material to cover it with a light mist.
(Cutter Advanced, Natropel):
Dealing with Florida’s Biting Insects
s a native Floridian who enjoys the outdoor life, people frequently ask me how I deal with the various insect ambassadors who greet you in the warmer months and may develop an attachment to you (literally and figuratively). Luckily, there are numerous products on the market that can help ward off these stalkers seeking to prey on your blood. Below are my thoughts and tips on how to deal with these bothersome creatures and the strategies I prefer.
Permithrin (Repel, Sawyer):
Permethrin insect repellent is an odorless repellent for clothing and materials such as tents, sleeping bags, and gear bags. It repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and mites. The active ingredient is a contact insecticide which is non-toxic to humans (it is not meant 18
Florida Trail Association
to be sprayed directly onto your skin, though). The product comes in aerosol or non-aerosol spray, although I prefer the non-aerosol version because most of it is not wasted in the overspray cloud. It lasts up to six washings, before the treated article must be re-treated. Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Military, government agencies, universities, and others, the product offers superior protection from diseasecarrying biting insects. The active ingredient is a synthetic molecule similar to those found in natural pyrethrum which is taken from the Chrysanthemum flower. Not only does this product repel insects, but will actually kill ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, mites and more than 55 other kinds of insects. Permethrin insect repellents are odorless when dry, and during the drying process, it tightly bonds with the fibers of the treated garment. It will not stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces, or any of your outdoor gear. I prefer to spray my boots, top portion of my socks, pants, shirt (if I know I will be brushing up against tall plants), and FloridaTrail.org
Does not damage fabrics, surfaces or materials. Comes in strengths up to 20% (8 hrs protection against lightweight mosquitos). For kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made no recommendation on the use of Picaridin. All repellents should be kept off infants under 2 months. Picaridin is noted to be more effective than DEET against biting flies (Deer flies, black flies, yellow flies). I use it as a first attempt to prevent mosquitos from attacking, and then move to more aggressive tactics if results are not productive.
Comes in various strengths. I start with 15% (gives about 2 hrs of protection for wimpy mosquitos), and increase the strength to match the tenacity of the mosquito (up to 98% for 8 hours of protection against wimpy mosquitos or a couple of hours protection against the battle-hardened variety). DEET is absorbed through the skin, so I use it only as a last resort. I gave up on micro-encapsulated forms of DEET when I realized it worked by keeping the mosquitos busy laughing at the fact I wasted my money purchasing microencapsulated DEET (you’re better off beating the mosquito with the container). Considered a “plasticizer”—DEET can damage rubber, plastic, leather, vinyl, rayon, spandex, elastic, and auto paint. I am not sure why a product that is known to damage leather is fine to put on human skin (isn’t leather just recycled
skin?). I use one of my wife’s makeup application pads to apply it so I can keep my hands clean and keep from ruining my sunglasses, compass, or trail snack. I then store the pad in a makeup compact to protect my other gear, while talking football in a very deep voice to remove any puzzled and questioning stares when I pull out what appears to be feminine maintenance gear. Sawyer’s Broad Spectrum contains DEET and other isomers, and is the most effective spray I have tried against biting flies. I don’t think Ponce de Leon, Hernando Desoto, and other early Florida explorers wore their armor for protection against Indian arrows, I think it was to ward off yellow fly bites. The Fountain of Youth that Ponce was looking for was probably a fountain of DEET. Whatever strength you decide to use, it is a good idea to wash it off with soap and water as soon as the threat of getting bitten is over.
past, I dusted Sulphur powder on the boots and socks of Boy Scouts until one Scout was found to be allergic to Sulphur. To me, the risk of having someone go into anaphylactic shock is not worth the benefit of repelling an annoying insect when there are other options available.
Natural and synthesized plant oils
When I find myself without a bottle of insect repellant, I have used nature’s offerings, such as dog fennel, wax myrtle, beautyberry, or others. Crush the leaves and rub on your clothing or skin. Make sure you are not allergic to the plant by testing a small area of skin first. My worst experience was smearing dog fennel over my legs without realizing I also had poison oak sap already on my legs from a mountain-biking wipeout. When I went surfing the next day, applying sunscreen to all exposed areas ensured the poison oak oil (uroshiol) spread even further until even the sharks and jellyfish were repelled by the sight of the grotesque, oozing skin rash. For areas where the bugs are so thick you actually inhale them when you breathe, I prefer a bug suit. Both of my bug suits have tops, bottoms, and gloves to fully encase your head and body in netting. One is a single no-see-um mesh which is compact and lightweight, while the other (Bug Tamer) has a double mesh to keeps mosquitos from reaching your skin through the outer mesh. I have literally been completely covered with mosquitos while wearing my Bug Tamer suit, with no bites, although the constant humming of the mosquitos
(lemon of eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, citronella, etc.):
Sometimes effective for a short while against wimpy mosquitos, but I have found some of these concoctions are the only thing that works against no-see-ums and biting gnats (usually found in salt marsh or seaside environments such as Cumberland Island, while waiting for the ferry). Build up the spray-pump muscles of your index finger, as you will need to re-apply these products frequently. The alternative to using these potions in heavily infested areas is to let these pests drive you insane to the point where authorities will place an insect-resistant jacket on your upper torso (a straightjacket). Thrashing insanely will also deter some mosquitos from landing and provides entertainment to onlookers who may donate money to the dance act.
Some Florida Trail workers I work with swear by ChiggAWay, a sulphur-based repellant for ticks and chiggers, but I found Permethrin more effective. In the
Skin So Soft (by Avon):
Some people claim this repels mosquitos, but it only appears to work on individuals with the right body chemistry. All it does for me is make my skin softer and easier for the mosquito proboscis to penetrate. Perhaps I am using it incorrectly and it is intended to be sprayed on the insect to make it softer and easier to squish.
tested my sanity and caused me to hear the 400-hertz mosquito tone for several hours after I returned home. Don’t waste your time or money on ultrasonic or electronic personal devices claiming to ward off mosquitos. You might as well tap a vein with an intravenous needle and connect it to a champagne fountain so the mosquitos can toast and celebrate your stupidity and gullibility.
Post-attack strategies Chiggers:
Contrary to common belief, chiggers do not burrow under the skin. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject enzymes that cause destruction of host tissue. Hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chigger larvae then feed upon the destroyed tissue. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely the case because they cause substantial itching) they may feed through the stylostome for a few days. Chigarid or fingernail polish painted over the bites will only make people think your new Halloween costume is a star chart of the universe painted across your body, and you may wake up finding your “friends” have attempted to document all of the constellations with an indelible marker on your body. Chiggers are removed by simply rubbing them off with a towel, or with soap and water when you bathe with a washcloth. Anti-itch creams and afterbite topical ointments help relieve the desire to scratch the bites. I have found Anbesol works well to prevent itching (dab a little on the bite) and I can use it if I have a toothache caused by gritting my teeth during attempts not to scratch.
Get these critters off of you within 36 hours if you don’t want a Lyme Disease-carrying tick to infect you. Don’t smother them with any substance or attempt to burn them off. A bull’s-eye-shaped ring around the bite is a sign you need to get to a doctor as soon as possible, but the ring does not always appear in infected people. A rash, headache, joint pain, fever, or flu-like Fall 2015
symptoms are indications you need to call your doctor. I have a myriad of tools to remove ticks (Tick Pliers, Tick Key, Tick Lasso, Tick Twister, special tweezers) depending on where they have attached, but my favorite is the Tick Lasso. It uses a spring-loaded noose to grab the tick and pull it out, ensuring the head of the tick is also extracted. I like to hum the theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” while the noose slowly enforces its sentence on the tick until it surrenders its grip. After removing the tick, clean the bite area with alcohol or soap and water. Placing your clothing in a hot dryer for fifteen minutes will remove ticks from clothing, although I probably now have a large collection of tick skeletons tumbling around my dryer.
Over-the-counter treatments such as After Bite, or other ammonia-based product can help reduce pain and itching. Some people put ice on the bite for 15 minutes, several times a day, but I would rather save the ice for a cool refreshing drink to take my mind off of the well site bored into my skin.
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If you need to use sunscreen and insect repellant, I prefer the CDC guidelines of putting on the sunscreen first and then applying insect repellant. DEET will reduce the effectiveness of the sunscreen by 30-40%, so you will have to apply sunscreen more often than usual. Some products contain sunscreen and insect repellant, but they are not as effective as using sunscreen and repellant separately. If you are applying insect repellant with a spray, please be thoughtful and go downwind of people so your spray does not get into their eyes or food. I will admit that I have frequently taken advantage of their rudeness by allowing the downwind mist to coat me while holding my breath with my eyes closed. Thanks for the free insect-proofing! Instead of wasting the product by attempting to spray it directly on your skin or clothing, I prefer to spray it into the palm of my hand (for non-DEET products), and use my palm to spread it onto desired areas. Unless you are a yoga artist, you won’t be able to hold the bottle upright to effectively spray hard to reach areas. I keep insect repellant spray bottles in Ziploc baggies, so they won’t spill and ruin the waterproof liner of my backpack, food items, or other valuables. DEET is especially destructive when it escapes the confines of its packaging. Even the plastic drawer where I once kept my repellant collection was deformed and ruined from a DEET spill. Hopefully, those annoying warm-season pests won’t scare you away from hiking adventures or make you think the Florida Trail is actually a Florida Trial (by ordeal), and you can use some of these tips to make your hike more enjoyable. If you don’t want to be a prisoner of air conditioning, you will at least want to protect yourself in the least toxic manner from those attempting to make an unauthorized withdrawal from your personal blood bank.
Enjoy the Trail ~ Dave
The Great Bradwell Bay
Swamp Hike night before, most newcomers who are with me have a “what have I got myself into” look on their face once the shockingly cold water inundates socks and shoes. “It’s not so bad once your feet get numb,” I tell them. I sometimes wear waterproof socks, but that only tempers the initial shock. There’s a reason why the October, 1999 issue of Backpacker magazine named this section of the FNST one of the nation’s “Twelve Toughest Trails.” If the water in this first wet stretch is knee-deep or higher due to a major rain event such as a tropical storm, then it’s time to turn around. That means that the water level in the big swamp might be waist deep or chest deep and possibly too dangerous for hiking. And if it’s any season except winter, the mosquitoes can seem life threatening. For the next 2.5 miles after this first wet stretch, the hike is primarily in open pine woods on an abandoned tram rail
line. Most of Bradwell Bay was logged in the early twentieth century, but the tramways stopped at the big swamp. It was just too impenetrable. The large grove of virgin trees were first protected in 1963 when it was designated a scenic area by the United State Forest Service. In 1975, Congress included the entire roadless area into the US National Wilderness Preservation System. Only foot travel is allowed and Florida Trail crews can only use non-mechanized hand tools to maintain the trail—no chainsaws, bush hogs or weed whackers. Wildfires erupt on occasion in Bradwell Bay, often burning several thousand acres. The last large fire was in 2004. But the flames usually die out in the shaded big tree area, even if it is bone dry due to prolonged drought. The surrounding piney woods and titi strands recover quickly to where only bleached and blackened pine snags serve as reminders of past infernos. This natural process is nature’s way of cleaning the forest of excess debris and allowing new growth to sprout from the forest floor. It makes for a lot of extra work for trail crews, however. “It seems that every old dead tree falls right across the trail,” complained one volunteer.
by Doug Alderson
iewing the world record trees in north Florida’s 24,600-acre Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area takes some grit and determination. First, you have to drive 30 miles southwest of Tallahassee through the massive Apalachicola National Forest. Once parked at a Florida National Scenic Trail trailhead, you walk—or wade—to the “big tree area.” The old-growth tupelo gum trees are well hidden in a deep swamp amid knee-deep water and a tangle of vines and undergrowth. I like to hike in from the west side along the unpaved Forest Road 314 because it’s the shortest distance to the big trees, about three miles, and the trail is usually well maintained. Still, after only a quarter mile, a span of ankle-deep water about a hundred yards long must be traversed through a strand of waterloving titi trees. I call it the “weeding out” area. It’s usually winter when I explore the swamp, and temperatures have often dipped below freezing the
From the piney woods, the trail makes an obvious change once in the heart of the swamp. Light is significantly diminished as every living plant and tree seems to be fighting for available sunlight. The water is deeper, the ground spongy from sphagnum moss and thick layers of leaves and pine needles. The air feels fresh and moist. It’s also sweet smelling, partly from the presence of numerous red bay trees—the aromatic leaves of which can be used as seasoning like the California bay. Spans of tannin-tinted water are not as shallow as they first appear, and the deepest holes are often in the trail itself, perhaps wallowed out by hikers who have struggled through. Several hikers have lost shoes and boots in the sucking mud. A walking staff helps with stability but only if it’s arm-thick. A thin stick or pole simply sinks down into the almost quicksand-like muck. To see the largest tupelo gum trees, of which Bradwell Bay boasts two national co-champions, one must veer north of the trail and wander about a quarter mile. A compass and GPS unit are a must. This swamp was named for a 19th century hunter who became lost in the swamp and took several days to find his way out. Even in winter, vines can be entangling and visibility is diminished by the thickness of the trees and plant growth. The reward, however, is to admire and touch trees that are centuries old. Many are hollow, but still living, their bases bulbous and full of character. If ever there were an ideal home for gnomes, this would be it. Several wildlife species such as deer and coyote find the remote Bradwell
Florida Trail Association
If the water in this first wet stretch is knee-deep or higher due to a major rain event such as a tropical storm, then it’s time to turn around. That means that the water level in the big swamp might be waist deep or chest deep and possibly too dangerous for hiking.
If You Go
Bay to their liking. Their narrow trails are everywhere. I once followed tracks of a large black bear for several miles through the swamp and found a territorial marker tree that had been slashed by large claws. It only confirmed to me that the great swamp is more suited to infrequent human visitors who take only photographs and leave an occasional shoe stuck in the mud.
Cooler months are ideal times to trek into Bradwell Bay when reptilian life forms and bugs are less prevalent, but bear in mind that water from a large rain event can sit in the large swamp bowl for several weeks. To check on conditions, call the U.S. Forest Service at 850-926-3561 during weekdays. Trail maps can be obtained from the Florida Trail Association, http://www.floridatrail. org/. Due to the challenging nature of the hike, it is best not to venture into the swamp alone. The Apalachee chapter of the Florida Trail Association organizes an annual winter trek into the swamp, so this is ideal for an initial journey. Hunting is allowed in Bradwell Bay, but no vehicles are allowed. This is an excerpt from Doug Alderson’s newest book, Wild Florida Adventures. Alderson is the author of several other award-winning books and magazine articles (www.dougalderson. net). He also serves as the assistant bureau chief of the Office of Greenways and Trails
Snapshot by Karen Miller
Winter Backpacking Trip A Photo Essay
Each winter I plan a backpacking trip with my friends. Two winters ago was a particularly memorable trip, as my companions and I headed to the forgotten coast of Florida, to hike in St. Markâ€™s Wildlife Refuge, along the National Florida Scenic Trail.
Words to the Woods by Dan Duer
ear Woods, Being here again is wonderful, almost like I never left. I close my eyes and enjoy the clamor of overhead birds. The distant cars on Highway 301 are a faded buzz. Do you remember when I visited you in the spring, 1969? I was beaming with 22 years of immaturity. You probably don’t recognize me today. Forty years is a long time, half a lifetime, for me anyway.
But I sure recognize you. You remain marvelous, with your towering green cypress trees, draped in tangled Spanish moss. The colors offer a pleasing contrast against that soft blue March sky. Your red maples stand eloquently above the bed of browning leaves, resting motionless after a winter’s tumble from the sky. Your age doesn’t matter. Your beauty is timeless.
You were a special place to me. I can’t believe I’ve been away so long. Through the years I’ve visited your nearby cousins throughout the county. I frolicked in the oak hammocks along Fletcher Avenue, hiked in the swamps at Cypress Creek, and canoed across the rocky waters near the state park. Perhaps the memories you gave me were too sentimental for a return, until now. When I last saw you I was not alone. Remember the group of eight boyish men who wandered deep into your interior? We must have been a sight, walking around with sticks, making outlandish noises, balancing on your downed trees to avoid your 24 Florida Trail Association
shallow, murky water. What did you think we were doing? That’s okay. We didn’t know either. We were having fun, escaping from final exams, forgetting about finding dates for the evening party. You were a master of stealing time from our youthful, lively days. I thank you, a little late, but sincerely. You look so clean today. I see no signs of the candy wrappers we discarded rudely on your tidy, fern-covered floor. I’m sorry for our thoughtless littering. I’m sorry we killed that snake, innocently sunning on one of your majestic logs. Moccasin or not, killing your creatures will not happen today. But, please, could you look away should a deerfly land on my uncovered leg? I stand and study the assortment of plants. It could be 40 years earlier. Do I see a difference? Yes, maybe. I spot a few healthy Caesar Weed plants, known for inhabiting disturbed soils. I wonder if we invaders trampled the native ferns and allowed these invasive plants to flourish. Hey woods, I’m sorry if it was me who brought you these outlaws. I hope there’re no hard feelings. I will tread your ground with lighter steps when I leave. I promise. My mind returns to that fun-packed, adventurous day, when friends and I roamed your woods. How did we get so lost? Was it punishment for littering the neighborhood? We deserved it. But getting lost sure was fun, and more fun as time fueled our memories. I recall when we first knew we were lost. We split into two groups and set out in directions 90 degrees apart. I remember our plan. The first group reaching the cars was to honk a horn, three long honks every five minutes. Do you remember never hearing those honks? Do you remember watching us meet 25 minutes later, under your canopy, in darn near the same spot from where we split? How could you be so tricky? How could we be so clueless? Somehow, you let us unknowingly cross Cow House Creek and wander our way clear up to Morris Bridge Road. The creek crossing was magic to us. How did we do it? We ambled through your palmettos, under your pines, and found a house along the quiet road. I telephoned my roommate and he “rescued” us in his brown ‘66 Chevy Nova. We cruised back to college life amid the concrete and the buildings. That was a day whose memories we share whenever we rendezvous and resuscitate the good ole days. Woods, you are part of the good ole days. For that, and to you, I am grateful. I’m getting over stimulated with our reunion. Please wait while I swig a swallow of water. You can bet we brought no water in 1969. We sure traveled light, no pack, no compass, no tick spray, no sunscreen, no first aid kit, and certainly no GPS. Okay woods, I’d better get back, don’t wanna get lost today. I’m not as tough as I was. I’m glad I returned. Better late and now, than after a lifetime.
Hey woods, one more question…. Is an after a lifetime visit possible? You need not answer today.
FTA Partners with
1031 33rd Street, Ste 210 Denver, CO 80205 303-772-2723 http://www.EWB-USA.org/ See us in action on facebook http://j.mp/LSU_EWB
The Florida National Scenic Trail is a federallydesignated, non-motorized, recreation trail that meanders approximately 1,300 miles across some of the most beautiful, unique landscapes in the entire country. For up to date information visit the U.S. Forest Service online at http://www.FS.USDA.gov/FNST Footprint
Conservators Corner by Karl Borton, Volunteer Program Coordinator
(Left) Volunteers taking a break at the 2015 Big Cypress Volunteer Work Party
Home Is Where the Heart Is
t is said that “home is where the heart is,” and for me this old English proverb rings true. In a very short time I’ve come to call the Florida Trail Association(FTA) my home and my family. I’ve met our trail maintainers, our Board of Directors, and our local Chapter leadership, and with each new encounter I feel more and more at home. It is for this reason that I am excited to begin this new chapter of my life. The Florida Trail(FNST) now occupies a special place in my heart, and while I have not had the opportunity to explore it in great detail, I believe that our trail will transform me in ways that I cannot begin to imagine. As many of you can relate, I was first 26
Florida Trail Association
introduced to the Appalachian Trail, with an absurdly heavy pack. Despite the 40+ pounds of dead weight on my back, my first few encounters on the trail were transformative, and I felt truly alive in the wilderness. Nothing before had compared to this experience, and I discovered that my deepest passions lived within the forest canopy. This lead to more adventures at national parks and forests, including the Grand Canyon NP, Zion NP, George Washington NF, and Lackawanna SF, among other destinations. It also lead me to explore the many National Scenic Trail organizations, who work daily to protect these beautiful natural resources. These environmental stewards inspired me to pursue a career FloridaTrail.org
in the field of conservation and outdoor recreation. I started this career at the River Common Park in Wilkes-Barre, PA, serving as their first Director. Here, I was responsible for connecting my community to the mighty Susquehanna River. My favorite memories from this time, include introducing our youth to the river at our flagship “Chalk Fest” and “River Fest” festivals. It was always a delight to see their little eyes light up, after being shown the life that lives within the waterways and nearby riparian forests. While I returned to my corporate roots, I never lost my connection with the environment, and continued to seek adventure within America’s wild landscapes. So, when I saw an opportunity to join the FTA, I jumped at the chance to be a part of this important trail organization. I’m now excited to help support their mission to develop, maintain, protect, and promote a network of hiking trails throughout the state, including the unique Florida Trail. The Florida Trail is relatively young, compared to its sister trails, but that didn’t stopped Jim Kern and others from achieving what many thought was impossible in Florida; in less than 50 years, FTA built a 1,300 mile trail from scratch, and united a broad network of hiking enthusiasts, trail maintainers, and multi-sport users. FTA succeeded due in large part to its volunteer base, who gifted us with the Florida Trail. We continue to grow with the support of members. But, there is still much work to be done. There are still gaps in the trail, and trail maintenance and protection continues to be a top priority for our organization. This is why I’m inviting you to contribute to FTA’s meaningful volunteer mission. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization, and as a volunteerdriven steward of the Florida Trail, FTA
Show your FTA colors on and off the Trail. Be the first to sport the
New Bucket Hats!
continues to rely on our volunteers to maintain and build trails in Florida. Simply put, you are the reason why the Florida Trail and the FloridaTrail System exist today. The Florida Trail was built by our dedicated volunteers, and with the support we receive from the USDA Forest Service in Florida, our volunteers continue to work hard to keep the trail open to the public. As you take a walk through the forest canopy, you’ll see the handiwork of our many volunteers. They cut grass and lop overhead branches, they build bridges and boardwalks, they chainsaw deadfalls, and they even construct new sections of trail to close gaps and to continually improve the trail experience. During last year’s season our volunteers contributed 39,796 hours to our mission. Through FTA’s staff-led and chapter-led Volunteer Work Parties, they maintained 1,664 miles of trail, built 9.15 miles of new trail, maintained 3,701 feet of structure, and built 102 feet of new structure. While the value of their work is close to $600,000, the impact of their service is immeasurable and way more valuable to those individuals, who are transformed and energized by the trail. Each year, volunteers like you help to connect more than 350,000 citizens with our wilderness, and personally, I am extremely proud to be a part of this trail community. We have a heavy workload this year, and I hope you can join us,
as we begin to prepare the Florida Trail and the Florida Trails System for the 2015/2016 trail season. Your work allows your family, friends, and neighbors to experience what native Floridians call the “Real Florida.” Help us achieve our goals by visiting our website to find a volunteer opportunity near you! Without you, the trail wouldn’t exist. Thank you for your service, and I look forward to meeting you on the Florida National Scenic Trail.
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) 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 Footprint
Come Experience the Trail in a Whole New Light *
As a FTA volunteer you create lasting memories and enduring friendships by Karl Borton
rom the moment you step onto the trail, you begin to share in an experience that bonds you, your fellow trail maintainers, and the trail together. Through the process of caring for this public resource, our volunteers leave the trail with a better understanding of themselves and their relationship to the environment. It’s a transformative experience that creates a lasting impression. Our organization’s network of volunteers constitute a service-based community with a strong sense of identity, loyalty, and accomplishment. This is why we invite you to participate in a Volunteer Work Party (VWP). VWPs are a lot of fun, and are an amazing opportunity for you to connect with the trail and with our 18 volunteer chapters. At a VWP you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the Florida Trail, and how we work with our chapters to maintain it. Working alongside seasoned veterans, you can expect to make new friends, learn more about trail construction and maintenance, and participate in a project that will help you discover your own meaningful connection to Florida’s wilderness. Our VWPs are an opportunity to experience the trail in a whole new light! More than 350,000 people use the Florida Trail each year, and your contribution allows us to keep this trail open and accessible to the public. Thank you for your time and talent. We appreciate all that you do for the Florida Trail Association. Visit our website to learn more about volunteering on the Florida Trail! www.floridatrail.org/volunteer/volunteeropportunities 28 Florida Trail Association
Staff-led Volunteer Opportunities
At staff-led Volunteer Work Parties, we can coordinate volunteer registrations, food purchasing, equipment procurement, crew leadership, and database entry. These events tend to be larger in scale. Visit our website to see how you can contribute to our mission. www.floridatrail.org/volunteer/volunteeropportunities/
Chapter-led Volunteer Opportunities
As a volunteer-supported organization, the heart of FTA exists within each one of our 18 statewide chapters. Each chapter hosts maintenance projects, outdoor activities, and monthly chapter meetings. Visit our website to learn more about your local chapter, and to find an event near you. www.floridatrail.org/about-us/chapters/
Conferences and Chapter Events
Nov. 13-15, 2015 - South Regional Conference Alligator Amblers Chapter, Riverside Retreat, Theme: Water *Reprint from Florida Trail Association’s 2014/2015 Trail Operations Report. See the map on page 29 for upcoming volunteer work parties
Statewide Volunteer Work Parties 14
8 7 13 1 3-5 11
Volunteer Work Parties 1
Oct. 1-6, 2015 - Suwannee Holton Creek Volunteer Work Party Florida Crackers Chapter, Holton Creek Conservation Area
Oct. 18-22, 2015 - Western Corridor Volunteer Work Party Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Fore Lake Camp Area
Oct. 25-30, 2015 - North Ocala Volunteer Work Party #1 Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Northern Tier, OHV Camp Area
Oct. 30-Nov. 1, 2015 - North Ocala Volunteer Work Party #2 Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Northern Tier, OHV Camp Area
Nov. 1-5, 2015 - North Ocala Volunteer Work Party #3 Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Northern Tier, OHV Camp Area
Nov 4-8, 2015 - Kissimmee River Region Volunteer Work Party Tropical Trekkers Chapter, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Nov. 5-14, 2015 - Multi-Chapter Maintenance Marathon North Florida Trail Blazers, Osceola National Forest
Nov. 14-21, 2015 - Pine Log Gathering Volunteer Work Party Choctawhatchee Chapter, Pine Log State Forest
Nov. 15-20, 2015 - Juniper Springs Volunteer Work Party Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs Camp Area
Nov. 16-20, 2015 - KICCO Volunteer Work Party Heartland Chapter, KICCO Wildlife Management Area
Jan. 15-23, 2016 - Juniper Prairie Wilderness Volunteer Work Party Black Bear Chapter, Ocala National Forest, Owlpine Camp Area
Feb. 5-12, 2016 - Big Cypress Volunteer Work Party FTA Staff and Big Cypress Chapter, Big Cypress National Preserve
Feb. 12-14, 2016 - Eglin AFB Volunteer Work Party Choctawhatchee Chapter, Eglin AFB Reservation, Nokuse Plantation
Mar. 12-13, 2016 - Yellow River Ravines Volunteer Work Party Western Gate Chapter, Blackwater River State Forest
To volunteer for a statewide Volunteer Work Party, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Volunteer Program Coordinator at 570-574-3240
HIKANATION Celebrating 35 Years
t’s ancient history now, but at the first board meeting of the American Hiking Society, Bill Kemsley, founder of Backpacker magazine, told the group we ought to come up with a splashy event to announce that AHS was now up and running. “Let’s hike across America,” he suggested, “from the Pacific to the steps of the Capitol.” I volunteered to organize the trip. The project was two years in planning, but in April, 1980, about 75 people left Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to hike to the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Fourteen months and 4400 miles later, a hardy band of hikers left Harpers Ferry, hiked down the C&O Canal bank, up the green, past the Washington Memorial and stood on the steps of the Capitol 30
Florida Trail Association
where the Coast Guard Band heralded their arrival. The demands of the hike gave the group a rag-tag appearance, but many of them were shouldering state flags that waved briskly in the bright sun. After speeches and a dinner later that evening, most of the group hiked on to Cape Henlopen to dip their boots in the Atlantic. We can just imagine the sense of community that developed among the hikers on their trek across 14 states. They’ve kept in touch all these years, and in late September they met in Estes Park for a 35th reunion. I flew out for the event, landing in Denver and heading first to pick up Gudy Gaskill in Golden. Gudy, founder of the Colorado Trail, joined the hikers when they entered her state at the Utah border and hiked with FloridaTrail.org
photos courtesy of Hikanation.com
by Jim Kern, Founder of Florida Trail Association
them through Silverton to Colorado’s eastern border. At age 90, she was our honored senior citizen at the reunion. When the hike was over, many members of the hiking community wanted to memorialize the trail. There were permutations of the route, but HikaNation now lives on in the route of the American Discovery Trail. Go to www.discoverytrail.org to learn more. To read about this recent HikaNation event, go to www.hikanation.com. I have volunteered to host the 40th reunion in St. Augustine. In 2020, it will probably be held in March. Stay tuned.
Excerpted from the Hiking Trails For America Blog: http:// hikingtrailsforamerica.org/hikanation35th-anniversary/
alking through the woods you see them crossing the trail. Be careful not to let them get on top of your hiking boot or rest on your hand – you could find yourself in a world of trouble! They seem to be everywhere and add to a hiker’s concerns. Just what are these ubiquitous “things” that require such caution? They’re vines! And you’ll find about three dozen indigenous or exotic species of vine growing here in Florida. Rather than deal with them all, let’s concentrate on a few that we’re likely to run across on our woodland travels. Recently, one of our trail mates was plucking something from her hands. She had met that unfriendly group of vines called smilax. The sharp thorns had
imbedded in her skin and gave her little to smile about. Perhaps you know them better as green or cat briar. This vine belongs to the Sarsaparilla family, so if you want to make yourself a drink, have at it! Surprisingly, the young new shoots of the vine are edible and have a slight sour taste. They are often used in salads. But you’d have to be super adventurous to try one, as their flowers smell like rotten animal flesh. In brief, it’s a smelly pest, yet edible. In stark contrast, the Carolina Jasmine adds a bright yellow color, and a pleasant aroma to spring hikes. But beware! All its parts are quite poisonous. The vine is pleasant to the eye and nose, but is completely inedible! Meanwhile, Virginia Creeper, also
called woodbine, is often confused with the most notorious vine – poison ivy. And to make matters worse, they often grow together. In the fall, the two vines display autumnal coloration that adds a splash of brilliant reds to the woodland collage. Little needs to be said about poison ivy. Its botanical name, Toxicodendron, means “poisonous woody plant.” That pretty much says it all. Two invasive vines that were introduced to Florida have become a menace to our forests. Skunk vine arrived here at the close of the 19th century, and is now spreading across our state at an alarming rate. It climbs up other vines and into tree canopies, eventually smothering its host. Much of the natural landscape in conservation areas is being covered with this vine, and authorities are trying to remove this invasive species from the landscape. And no, those aren’t potatoes. They’re “bulbils” of an escape vine that came from Asia to overwhelm our Florida forests. They’re known as air potato vines. Like skunk vine, they’ll climb 60-70 feet up a tree and deny the treetops any sunlight. Both species belong to the yam family and there is controversy as to whether or not parts of the plant are edible. Most of the vines that you’ll see on the trail haven’t been mentioned in this article. You can Google “Florida vines” to learn more about these interesting plant species. Some vines are deadly or parasitic, while others flower beautifully. Go out and hike the FNST to see our interesting creeping botanical neighbors.
Air Potato Vine
Florida Trail Association
FLORIDA VINES by Bob Schultz
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION AND GIFT FORM
MY GIFT TO THE FLORIDA TRAIL DESIGNATIONS
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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.
MEMBERSHIP CATEGORIES Please mark one of the boxes below if you are joining or renewing your membership in the Florida Trail Association
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e ENDOWMENT FUND Provides an ongoing endowment to the Florida Trail Association from interest earnings. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
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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.
Trail Protection Fund
My gift is In Memory of _____________________________ In Honor of ______________________________ FUND
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FLORIDA TRAIL ASSOCIATION 5415 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608
GIFT TOTAL _______________ GRAND TOTAL _______________
CHECK: Make checks payable to “Florida Trail Association”.
e MAP FUND Provides funding for updating the Florida Trail’s maps and databook.
Credit Card Number: ____________________________________________________________ Exp. Date: _____________ 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
FTA Chapters List of Florida Trail Association Chapters ALLIGATOR AMBLERS CHAPTER Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Carl Kepford 239-253-4255 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
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. 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 FLORIDA CRACKERS CHAPTER Alachua, Levy, Gilcrist, and Marion Mitch Sapp 352-332-2065 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 34
Florida Trail Association
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
BRUCE HOBSON 1926-2015
ruce Carter Hobson was born May 17, 1926 in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of Maybell Kingsley Hobson and Earl H Hobson, a veteran of WWI.
Bruce entered military service in June, 1944 and attended technical school in Lafayette, IN. He was assigned to serve on the USS Mackinac AVP-13 and did several deployments to the Pacific Theater. He was awarded the WWII Victory Medal, the American Theater Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Medal with 2 stars and received his Honorable Discharge in June, 1946. While enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, College of Agricultural studying animal husbandry, Bruce met Joan Morison and six weeks later, he â€œpinnedâ€? her with his Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity pin--a sign of serious commitment in those days. Bruce and Joan were married in 1951. Bruce and Joan had four children of whom they were exceedingly proud. They joined the Florida Trail Association in 1991 when Joan went on her first backpacking trip and maintenance hike with the Suncoast Chapter. Bruce logged over 949 trail maintenance hours with the Highlanders Chapter and even more hours volunteering for other FTA chapters. Bruce and Joan were trailmasters in the Ocala National Forest and also for a section in the Richloam Wildlife Management Area. Bruce continued volunteering on trail maintenance work hikes until he was 86. In 2004 Joan and Bruce received the FTA Special Service Award and in 2011 they were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. This was not all that Bruce accomplished for the Highlanders. Bruce knew the Highlanders needed to raise money so he took upon himself the project of aluminum can recycling. For years, Bruce rode his bicycle, collecting cans thrown out on roadways. Bruce crushed the cans and stored them, waiting for the best price, and then transported them to Leesburg to sell. Bruce donated all of this time and money from this endeavor to the chapter.
Bruce and Joan Hobson
Bruce died July 20, 2015, in Sumterville, Florida. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan, and his daughters, Marsha Dymond (Jay) and Susan Kingsley, and sons, Mark (Jean) and David (Dorothy), eight grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren. This was a man called Bruce. We will all miss him. --Bill Milton and Bobbi Keenan
activities for December 2015 Nov. 28 Sat. P/M Fern to Food Fun Hike. Five-mile walk from Panera-Publix parking lot (101 N Blairstone Road Tallassee) through woods, along canal to Tom Brown Park and back. Following the hike, lunch at Panera is an option. Be at parking lot ready to hike at 10:00 a.m. Contact Wendy Dial 941-3208470 email@example.com Dec. 2, 9, 16 & 30 Wed. P/S Wednesday Brisk Walks. [see description at Oct. 7] Dec. 5 Sat. P/M Torreya State Park Trail Care. Clip off encroaching vegetation and remove fallen limbs from the Torreya/River Bluff Trail. Bring loppers if you have them, along with water and lunch. We will meet 7:30 a.m. in Tallahassee for carpooling. Contact Jerry Herting (850) 878-3426 or Bob Gilley 850-557-1536 Dec. 5 Sat. P/M “’Tween Two Lakes” Fun Hike. Walk through J.R. Alford Greenway to the Alford Arm of Lake Lafayette then, after a break, walk to view Piney Z Lake from the canopy bridge, then return--hiking a total of about four to five miles. Be at the J.R. Alford Greenway parking lot at the end of Pedrick Road ready to hike at 10:00 a.m. Contact Wendy Dial 941-320-8470 firstname.lastname@example.org Dec 7, 14, 21 & 28 Mon. P/S description at Oct. 5]
Monday Brisk Walks. [see
Dec. 13 Sun. P/S Apalachicola National Forest–West Trail Care. Clearing brush, limbs and repainting blazes. Contact Al Ingle 850-509-1162 email@example.com
Florida Trail Association
Dec. 19 Sat. P/L Junior Trail Trekkers “Winter Solstice Nature Clay Impressions.” Celebrate the last weekend of fall and the coming of winter with this solstice-themed hike through Phipps Park. Children will be invited to collect textured natural objects, and clay will be provided for them to make nature impressions. Each child will be able to bring their clay impressions home to bake. The impressions make for great ornaments or present gift tags! All ages welcome; parent or guardian required to accompany child. Trail is not stroller suitable; baby wearing is encouraged. Limit: 10 families. Contact Ashley Hopkins 850339-3488 firstname.lastname@example.org Dec. 19 Sat. P/M-S Seek and Destroy Invasive Plants! From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at City of Tallahassee’s Lafayette Heritage Park. Get great exercise ...[see rest of description at Oct. 10] Dec. 20 Sun. P/L Day Hike at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Hike a 7-9 mile section of the levees and old roads dissecting the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. This will include a segment of the Florida National Scenic Trail that overlooks magnificent waterway vistas with abundant wildlife. We will enjoy a late lunch at a local restaurant after the hike. Contact Gary Sisco (850) 545-4776 email@example.com or Gwen Beatty 850539-6027 firstname.lastname@example.org Dec. 26 Sat. P/L Annual Phipps Park Holiday Fun Hike! Feeling a little lethargic after too many holiday celebrations? Too much shopping, partying, out-of town relatives? Let’s get outside and play. This hike is a nice long, leisurely all day hike at City of Tallahassee’s Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park. Entire loop is 7 miles. There are several bail-out points for those who want a shorter hike. Bring fluids and trail snacks for the day and a lunch for a mid-way break at the Oak Hammock. Families and pets (on leash) welcome. Contact Dawn Brown 850-545-0351 dbrown1948@ embarqmail.com
Florida Trail Association
Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit No. 702 Gainesville, FL
photos by Karen Hileman
5415 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608
Create Your Volunteer Profile Online! You can start volunteering today! www.FloridaTrail.org/NewVolunteers/ Footprint
Florida Trail Association Fall 2015 Volume 32 Issue 4