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[ft-l] Status -- The Big 360 Hike



Length of hike - 360 miles

Starting point - Clearwater Lake - Ocala National Forest

Direction - Western Corridor - westbound

Days into hike - 17

Latest Segment hiked -  Intersection of Old Tampa Hwy. & Hwy 17-92 West of
Kissimmee to Green Swamp East Gate

Length of Segment - 28.8 miles

Cumulative miles hiked - 158.5 miles

Miles to go - 201.5 miles

Comments:  Our biggest mileage weekend to date!  We wished to get this big
road walk behind us, and with our arrival at Green Swamp we've done it.  
Allowing for the 30 mile gap in Deseret that we'll have to return to hike, we
have now completed over half of the circumference of this hike.  Starting in
the Ocala National Forest, we headed generally south through Lake County,
then turning to the southeast through Seminole County and Orange County until
we got to Osceola and turned generally west.  We've now reached Polk County
and are following a northwest heading.

Most of the last 80 miles has been on paved surfaces, including a bike path
in Kissimmee and the Van Fleet Rail to Trail today.  We are excited that our
next hike will take us back in the woods, but wanted to point out that there
was much to see on the country roads we passed.  Wildlife was every bit as
abundant -- if not more so -- during the road walk.  Today we saw at least 5
red tailed hawks, a couple of armadillos and a deer.  Certain stretches give
the hiker a glimpse into the "Old Florida" that has been erased in and near
our metropolitan centers, and it gives one pause to see so much high density
development and habitat destruction in highly inappropriate places.  But some
of the history can still be found.  There's hope if we act to save some of
these unspoiled places.  

We experienced the joy of picking a ripe orange for a snack, also a not quite
ripe watermelon growing where soon there will be homes.  And we saw our first
hiker-friendly no trespassing sign, which read, "No Trespassing, Unless On
Foot."

We also claim -- subject to refutation -- that we are the Florida long
distance hiking recordholders for most miles hiked while holding hands, now
at least a hundred!  The secret is to switch sides every mile or so to let
the sweaty hands dry out!  :)

Happy trails,

Rich Evans
Orlando