[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ft-l] Thru-hiking the FT

I had a long conversation with Joan Hobson last night and she was worrying
over the problem of long-distance hikers not being properly prepared to
thru-hike the FT.  Apparently there are 14 hikers setting out in Key West on
Jan 1 and 4 hikers already on the trail.  None of them have really done
their homework.  IE, they don't know about the restrictions on passage
through the Indian reservation and Desert Ranch, hunting season trail
closures, etc.  One of them, according to Joan, ran into all kinds of
problems at the Indian reservation because he did not have any permits.  He
had requested information from the office but apparently only a few days
before the start of his hike and it arrived after he had already left.  Of
the 14 starting at Key West, 12 are hiking as a group in support of some
charity.  They will probably NOT be allowed through the Indian Reservation
as a group, since the contract stipulates only 8 may pass through each
month.  Thru-hikers are coming down here assuming that the FT is like the
AT, PCT and CDT and they can just start whenever they want and follow the
blazes.  Joan is agonizing over how to get the info they need out to them
and prevent this from occuring in the future.

With the increase in thru-hiker interest in the FT these problems must be
addressed in several different ways.  The long-distance hiking community is
a small one but very vocal with an extensive "grape-vine".  Bad publicity
among them at this stage in the FNST's development will set us back many
years.  And it hurts not only the long-distance hikers but can deeply effect
FTA relations with our private landowners and thus effect all hikers and
trail maintainers.  Long term, this means concentrating on developing a
well-blazed trail with signed contracts stipulating the trail is open 365
days a year and excellant maps.  Short term, we have got to get the info
about the FT being a work in progress with many trail restrictions
out to them BEFORE they start hiking.  Even excellant maps and loads of info
at the office will do no good if the hikers don't request the info.

I have contacted Daryl and Jeff on behalf of Joan about putting up a couple
of long-distance hiking specific pages on the FTA website. I also posted a
plea on the AT-L to communicate to any hikers they may hear about
comtemplating an FT long-distance hike to contact the FTA office for info
several weeks prior to starting their hike.

Any comments and ideas on how to get more information out to these hikers
several weeks or months prior to their thru-hikes are welcome.

Deb Blick

* From the Florida Trail Mailing List | http://www.backcountry.net *

To:            ft-l@backcountry.net