Finish: SR 78
Distance: 104.6 miles (168.3 km)
Time: 3.5 days (January 7-10, 2012)
Daily Average: 29.9 miles (48.1 km)
Total Distance: 986.9 miles (1588 km)
- Three Lakes WMA: Alligators, wild hogs, whooping cranes, gorgeous sunset and a wonderful campsite beneath a canopy of Oak trees.
- Wild grapefruit trees and solar shower at the FT. Kissimmee Campsite.
- Seven mile stretch along SR60. Very little shoulder to walk on and cars/trucks speeding towards you at 60 mph plus.
- Water: In a place called Three Lakes you wouldn’t think that water would be an issue. It’s not so much that there isn’t any, it’s just that what there is you really don’t want to be drinking. Shit brown in both colour and consistency, this place (and much of Florida for that matter) is the water filters equivalent of the fabled elephant’s graveyard.
Notes & Musings:
Overall I have been satisfied with my gear selection for the FT. My base weight has been around seven pounds throughout the hike. Here is a quick rundown of some of the equipment I used during the hike, as well as a few notes on resupply and hydration strategies:
- Shelter: I employed the same combination of poncho tarp and lightweight bivy that I have used the entire trip. It worked fine. For the most part bugs weren’t an issue. On the few occasions that mosquitos were buzzing around, I simply zipped up the bivy and attached the netting area to a clip on the inside of my tarp. I would recommend carrying a ground sheet of some description, as occasionally it may be necessary to camp on soggy ground in some of the swampy areas. I used a piece of tyvek, cut down to the same size as my bivy.
- Sleeping Bag: I carried my Western Mountaineering Summerlite. Rated to 32° farenheit (0° celsius), I found it to be sufficiently warm for the majority of nights. On the odd occasion when temperatures slipped down into the 20’s farenheit (as it occasionally does during the Floridian winter), I simply slept in all my clothes.
- Footwear: Don’t even think about boots for the FT. Running or Trail running shoes should suffice. I went through two pairs – Montrail Sabino Trail and Brooks Adrenaline.
- Resupply: The FT would have to be one of the easiest long distance hikes in regards to resupply options. I chose to send four resupply boxes (St. Marks, The 88 Store, White Springs and the River Ranch), however, if you weren’t too picky and preferred to buy all of your supplies along the way, you could certainly do so without too many issues. As with other thru-hikes, it is best to call ahead whenever you plan to send a box to a non-Post Office address.
- Water: You definitely need to carry some form of water purification or treatment whilst hiking the FT. Indeed, I can think of only a handful of places where I obtained water from a natural source without treating it. I would recommend tablets or drops rather than filters, due to the fact that many of the water sources in Florida are so dodgy, that it will be very likely that your filter will die a gruesome death before hike’s end (see ‘Three Lakes’ entry above).