Florida Trail – Stage 8 – South Florida

Start:  John Stretch ParkIMG_6160

Finish:  Loop Road

Distance:  95.2 miles (153.2 km)

Time:  3.5 days (January 12-15, 2012)

Daily Average:  27.2 miles (43.8 km)

Total Distance:  1137.6 miles (1830.4 km)


  • Big Cypress National Preserve: From I-75 down to Loop Rd., the trail consisted of some 30+ miles of swamp tromping. Most of these were spent wading in shin to knee high deep water. A challenging, but beautiful stretch of “trail.” Along with St Marks, my favourite part of the FT.
  • Snakes: During the Big Cypress section I spotted three water moccasins.
  • Morning coffee with Girl Scout Troop #48. Promised I would mention them in my blog……………….hope you had a fantastic weekend girls!


  • The shadeless canal walk south of John Stretch Park was ordinary, as was the road section along CR 833.

Notes & Musings:

  • It’s funny the people you run into whilst walking in a swamp: I encountered numerous northbound hikers on this ultimate stage of the FT. Most notable were ‘Amoeba’ and ‘Billy Goat’ (see photo below), the latter of whom I  had met whilst hiking the PCT in 2007. At seventy two years young and with a flowing white beard that would put Santa to shame, Billy is a bit of a legend in the hiking community. With the exception of a couple of months each year, during which he reportedly moonlights as a tightrope walker for Ringling Brothers Circus, he can be found hiking on a trail somewhere near you. His favourite is the PCT, and I look forward to catching up with him again sometime this spring. Thanks again, guys, for the crackers, cheese and kippers!


  • Trail Names: Which brings me to the concept of “trail names”. In the States, it is common for hikers who are walking one of the long distance paths to receive nicknames. Indeed, it is such an excepted part of hiking culture, that the majority of people out on the trail actually begin to introduce themselves by their trail name, rather than their real one.  In 2007 whilst hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, I received the monniker of “Swami”, given to me because of my yoga background and a penchant for stretching during each and every break.

6 Replies to “Florida Trail – Stage 8 – South Florida”

  1. Hi Cam–we shared fire at Ten Mile Camp. Our conversations with you were without question the highlight of our three day slog through Big Cypress. My son and nephew were amazed by your accomplishments, and my son is tonight astounded by your feat of covering Florida so rapidly! I have to say, after lugging 30+ pounds through Big Cypress, you definitely got us all thinking ultralight! The boys were looking up gear on their phone on the way home. Thank you for your kind advice to us around the fire–I know we must have looked a sight to you! You gave us a lot too consider for our future hikes. Best to you on your long walks, and hoping to meet you again someday out on the trail!

    1. Hi Ted,
      Thanks for the mail and kind words. A light or ultralight pack is definitely helpful when swamp stomping through Big Cypress!
      I remember that camp fire well; it came at the end of a very long and wet day. A welcome sight to a cold and hungry hiker!
      Hopefully the website can be of help in helping to cut your pack weights down. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to drop me a line. Best of luck.

  2. Hey Swami! It was nice meeting you, thanks for the Shout-out. The girls were super stoked to meet a real-live Trail Celebrity. Good luck and happy walking!

    Troop 48

    1. Hey Captain,
      Great meeting you guys as well! A hot drink on a cold morning is always much appreciated. Please pass on my regards to the girls. Hope they all enjoyed their time in Big Cypress.

  3. Dear Swami hiker, I love your website! the photographs are excellent. Makes me feel like I’ve actually seen a little of the world while still at home with the baby. Hopefully you’ll be back on the west coast soon!

  4. Glad to hear you made it to the Big Cypress! Congratulations!
    I am the teacher/backpacker who is familiar with most of your routes that you met in the northern portion of the Ocala National Forest near the Penner Ponds. We had a nice chat about hiking destinations for about 15 minutes.
    Since talking to you, I have plans to backpack the Wind River Range in Wyoming in late July.


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