When we started hearing a lot of buzz about friends and friends of friends headed to the Florida Trail this season, we figured that our new book The Florida Trail Guide and the talks we’d done at venues like ALDHA and Trail Dames had worked some magic. Sure enough, nearly a dozen people we knew were headed for the trail. So we teamed up with Chuck Norris & Tigger, who’ve hosted kickoffs for thru-hikers at Big Cypress the past few years, and headed south.
First to appear was Lynn McNutt, aka Nutty Buddy, who we’d met at the Big O Hike. We’d hoped for nice weather but the skies were drizzly and misty. That didn’t deter anyone, however!
Chase appeared next, an old friend of mine who’d also come to the Big O Hike. As more thru-hikers piled out of cars, us support folks provided them with donuts (thanks, Shortcut!) and other munchies and gathered for the first ever group photos around the newly installed FNST terminus monument.
Saying goodbyes, they headed by ones and twos into the swamp. We took a break to visit Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery and came back to Oasis to watch the film that Elam Stoltzfus had masterfully produced for the visitor center at Oasis.
Popping back out of the visitor center, we found three more thru-hikers ready to roll, a little late, at 2 PM: Xana, Dead Animal, and Inspector Gadget.
Northbound thru-hikers are spread across the ECT route (starting in Key West) to the Florida Trail up through Christmas, with one southbounder near Crestview. At our latest count of online posts, trail registers, and personal encounters, we estimate 35 thru-hikers on the trail right now, which is pretty amazing!
For the folks we know of who are keeping online journals, you can follow their journeys via this page.