It’s been more than a year since I finished the Florida Trail, and I still dream about it often. The palmettos, the sand pines, air plants, mangroves, palm trees, azaleas, and mossy oaks; the armadillos, wild hogs, fox squirrels, and raccoons; alligators, green and brown anoles, fence lizards, water moccasins, garter snakes, pigmy rattlers, leopard frogs, fowlers toads, box turtles; the anhingas, pelicans, wood storks, sandhill cranes, Florida scrub jays, limpkins, spoonbills, barred owls, bald eagles, turkeys, snowy egrets, blue and white herons, and red bellied woodpeckers… just to name a few. The diversity and abundance of life on the Florida Trail is just incredible.… Read more
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” –Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray .
Today, I will discuss a few specific interactions I had with people here on the Florida Trail that have changed the way I view my own hopes and fears, and may in turn do the same for you. Their personalities and lifestyles could not be any more different from one another, but the wisdom they left me with was the same. To gain context for how the timing of these interactions played out as I hiked farther North each day, consider reading Part 1 of this post.… Read more
What a wild series of adventures the past two weeks have been. I have traversed through dozens of wilderness areas of varying terrain and ecology, met people from all different places and backgrounds and got to connect deeply with a handful of them, and spent hours every day reflecting on and analyzing the many things I had learned in such a brief period of time. In order to recall my experiences and transcribe my thoughts fully, I have decided to split this post into two parts. The first part, which I will delve into today, will provide a look into what it was like to hike over 250 miles in 2 weeks, including the entire Eastern Corrider of the Florida Trail.… Read more
Balance is an incredibly vital part of life. From a neuroscience standpoint, balance is controlled by the same part of the brain that performs other basic functions like breathing and regulating temperature. Over the millennia of human history, we have collectively accomplished pretty incredible feats of balance, and we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible; ever heard of Cirque du Soleil, or Sketchy Andy? But there is another way to be a master of balance, and while does it not demand that you do flips on a high wire or stand on the seat of a unicycle, it often does require just as much practice, patience, and trial and error.… Read more
It’s been almost a full month since I started hiking northbound from Key West, and I have started to become desensitized by the climate and terrain of Southern Florida in the dry season. Walking with wet feet, being chewed up by mosquitoes, having sunburn on sunburn, rationing my food for long stretches of strenuous and hard to navigate swamp walking, and staying vigilantly aware of my surroundings for the presence of alligators, snakes, wild hogs, and rapidly changing weather; all part of the day to day life of a Florida thru-hiker. Even though I have come to tolerate and even welcome these everyday challenges, I find that the difficulties of inconsistent and variable hiking conditions lead to some of the greatest problems on the Florida Trail.… Read more
The most physically exhausting experience I’ve ever had in my life was undoubtedly reaching the summit of Mount Whitney last summer. It was the middle of the night, I had been breaking trail through fresh snow for miles at high altitude, and I probably should have had more to eat and drink beforehand. Though in many ways the mental challenge of consciously willing my shivering and energy-depleted muscles to continue to push on, was even harder. I could have turned back or set up camp below the summit at any time, but I fought to achieve my goal and refused to let my body quit on me.… Read more
The Miccosukee tribe, once part of the Seminole nation, now have a reservation in southern Florida that is encompassed by Everglades National Park. Their roots can be traced back to a tribe in what is now Georgia, but their history, as with the history of nearly every Native American tribe, is one that is complicated and wrought with great struggle and tragedy. Having been displaced from their native and adopted lands time after time between the 18th and 20th centuries, they were greatly dispersed for generations, and only through becoming federally recognized in the 1960’s, did they begin to reform in Florida.… Read more
Never get between a hungry hiker and their food, especially after a long day on tough trail and a massive calorie deficiency. Give a hungry hiker some food in the same conditions, and like a naturally obedient dog, they will be your best friend and go through hell or high water for you.
Until we met at the Shell gas station on the far Northern end of Key Largo, Ryan and I were total strangers. We were thousands of miles away from each other and lived entirely separate lives. The odds of our crossing paths were practically non-existent. But through the thoughtfulness of a friend named Jake whom I sat next to in one of my classes in high school, we were able to exchange phone numbers and discuss how, with my hiking pace and his work schedule, we could arrange a time to grab a bite to eat.… Read more
This morning I woke up in the woods, greeted by the first few orange and pink rays of sunlight that had broken through the trees. With a groan, I sat up and slowly reached my arms above my head, then leaned slightly from one side to the other, simultaneously stretching my back, obliques, and triceps. I noticed that my feet were dirty with toe jam and sand, so I stuck them straight out and reeeeaaached to pick and brush all the gunk away while giving my hamstrings a good stretch. It took a few tries to loosen them enough that I could reach my toes, but damn did it feel nice once I could.… Read more
THE WALL. Ask any endurance athlete about it, and they will likely say the same things. The wall is not a physical brick and mortar barrier, but refers to the point at which, after an extended period of grueling exertion, your body just starts to give up, as if trying to say “I’ve got nothing left to give dude, so can we please just stop!?” You might lose your form, feel exhausted, experience pains all over, become nauseous… Everyone’s responses are different, and while most practical remedies for symptoms of hitting the wall are preventative rather than palliative, when you do inevitably reach that breaking point, there is one crucial trait you must have if you want to make it through the discomfort: mental toughness.… Read more