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[ft-l] Thru-Hikers at Southern Conference

It was my privilege to spend most of the weekend of the Southern Conference
with two of the 2002 FT thru-hikers.

I was in the dining hall at Corbett WMA setting up the FT Map Survey display
when I turned around and there stood Magellan, a former AT hiking friend
from Maine.  I say "former" friend because she wasn't supposed to begin her
FT hike until January and was supposed to inform me of her departure.  :-)
After hurling a few recriminations about not keeping in touch, we hugged and
she introduced me to Jojo Smiley, her hiking partner.

Magellan and Jojo started at Key West on November 27.  Jojo is hiking the
ECT this year. Magellan, who thru-hiked the AT in 1999, has joined Jojo for
the Florida and Alabama portions and will re-join her for the IAT/SIA when
Jo Jo gets to Maine.  Jon "Wanchor" Phipps picked them up at the north end
of the 7-Mile Bridge in the Keys and drove them up to the conference for the
weekend.  He also returned them to the Keys on Sunday afternoon.  Two FTA
employees who had reservations for the conference could not attend, so
Magellan and Jojo were treated to lodging and meals at the conference at no
expense to them.

I hope everyone who attended the Southern Conference had an opportunity to
speak to these two amazing women.  They are one of the reasons we are
building this trail, after all. As the back of the Loxahatchee Chapter
t-shirts says "Build the trails and they will come..." Jojo has promised to
send me her insights on the Florida Trail after her trip.  I'm sure all of
us can learn from what she has to say.

When I left them on Sunday they were still debating exactly what to do about
the high water in Big Cypress.  They were considering bypassing the Loop Rd
section, road-walking around all of Big Cypress or bypassing all of BC and
returning to do it later in the spring.

Jojo's journal can be read at http://www.trailjournals.com  (Do a search on
2002 and scroll down til you find Jojo Smiley under Eastern Continiental

Deb Blick