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[ft-l] The Big 360 Hike - Final Update

This group that walked the big "360" has mentioned a slide show, wonder if
they would have it ready by the time the annual rolls around?
A world without wilderness is a cage- David Brower
Sylvia Dunnam
FTA/VP for Membership
15894 129th Rd
McAlpin, FL 32062

>From: TOKTAADN@aol.com
>To: FT-L@mailman.backcountry.net
>Subject: [ft-l] The Big 360 Hike - Final Update
>Date: Mon, Sep 24, 2001, 6:19 PM

> Days into hike - 34
> Latest segments hiked:
> Big Scrub to SR 445 at Alexander Springs - 10.1 miles
> SR 445 to Clearwater Lake - 11.0 miles
> Cumulative miles hiked - 353.7
> Miles to go - 0 !!!!!!!
> Comments:  Our last two hiking days of the Big 360 hike!
> We set out on Thursday on a hike that was to be all road walk.  Because Sandy
> had a morning doctor appointment, we couldn't hit the trail until early
> afternoon.  Since we had a 10 mile road walk, we didn't take the challenge
> too seriously, but wound up baking under the hottest part of the day.  This
> sapped our energy and made the 10 miles seem like 15.  But we finally
> struggled up SR 445 where the orange blazes were a welcome sight, but no more
> so than the air conditioned car and the cooler of drinks!  And since I had
> picked up a quarter, a nickel and two pennies on the trail, it had been a
> very profitable day as well!  Those blazes meant that our hike of the western
> corridor was officially complete, and now only an 11 mile segment remained to
> cap this adventure.
> A note to the trail coordinators:  About two miles of road walk could be
> eliminated by having the western corridor follow the high voltage utility
> easement that runs from Big Scrub Road to 445.  I'm sure long distance hikers
> would prefer the easement walk.
> Sunday's hike began earlier in the morning to avoid the worst heat of the
> day.  It was exciting to think that we would finally complete this hike we
> conceived over a year earlier.  And this hike would have a new component --
> company.  Tami Jicha from this List asked to join us and we met her outside
> Alexander Springs where she had been contracted by some mosquitoes to be the
> main course at an all you can eat all night buffet under her new tarp setup.
> It was impressive to see Tami's lightweight gear, including the 1 pound G-4
> backpack.  This is the same pack I expect to use when I hike from Key West to
> Canada in 2003.  And even though Sandy and I only carried daypacks, Tami set
> a very brisk pace carrying a full backpack.  Not bad for someone fairly new
> to our lifestyle.  We are also happy to report that she comes by her trail
> name of "Trail Talker" honestly!  ;-)  Tami lives in nearby Paisley and wants
> it to be known that she'll be happy to trail angel for backpackers in her
> local area.
> After the recent days of road walks, it was a real joy to be in the woods
> again.  Even though we've seen over a thousand orange blazes during the hike,
> they were absent during most of the western corridor.  They greeted us
> cheerfully along the trail.  Even more fun was the FT logo some enterprising
> artist had carved into a tree that had fallen across the Trail.  Speaking of
> fallen trees, the section from Juniper to Alexander Springs and about the
> next four miles south have many blowdowns needing removal.
> It was wonderful to see the sign at the ranger station informing us that fire
> danger was low.  Most of our hike has been in drought conditions, so it was
> appropriate that we had to slosh through wet trails on our final day of
> hiking.  What was surprising though was how treacherous the boardwalks were.
> Some kind of green algae or moss covered the wet shady parts and made them
> slick as ice.  Not bad when the treadway was level, but very dangerous where
> the boardwalk tilts to one side.  A handrail might be advisable to help the
> hiker prevent a nasty fall.
> We were lucky to witness one of the most exciting wildlife encounters of the
> whole trip.  Just to the left of us on the Trail, we watched as a 4 foot
> Black Racer swallowed the last couple of feet of another snake who had the
> misfortune of becoming lunch.  Sandy got a picture of this, so look for it in
> our upcoming slide presentation.
> About 5 minutes after the snake episode, we saw a hiker coming toward us on
> the Trail.  As he approached, I recognized none other than our List
> moderator, Jeff Walters, AKA "Prairie Dog."  Jeff brought cold Gatorade for
> all of us, a wonderful treat now that the day was getting hot.  Now we were a
> group of four walking the last three miles of the hike.  How fitting!  To be
> able to share our last few miles with an old friend and a new one.  As I
> reflect on that I find an inescapable symbolism for what is so great about
> hikers and hiking.  That our common passion for hiking makes for quick and
> easy friendships, and yet friendships destined to last a lifetime.  Thanks
> Tami and Jeff for the hike on Sunday and your friendship.  THAT is what it is
> all about!
> This hike has covered 10 counties, with over a hundred miles of road walk,
> walking on the left and dancing into the ditch hundreds of times as  cars or
> trucks approach.  We have hiked winding paths through private and public
> lands and containing a rich array of flora and fauna it has been our
> privilege to observe and document.  We've hiked paths well manicured and lost
> the trail in weeds 8 feet tall.  We've hiked hand in hand for over 200 miles
> of this hike.  We've given a lift -- and a meal -- to mosquitoes, ticks and
> chiggers.  We've walked confidently as well as cluelessly.  We'd have been
> lost without the FTA maps -- and we've been lost with them.  We've had plenty
> of assistance from our knowledgeable hiking friends, giving us updates on new
> trail development which makes maps outdated so quickly with such a young and
> dynamic thru-trail such as ours.  Its youth is its beauty and its curse,
> beauty because there is adventure and excitement with the uncertainty of
> route and trail condition.  The curse is for the small but dedicated staff of
> the FTA and the hundreds of volunteers in all our chapters who have to deal
> with this Trail's growing pains.  We hope you all have thick skin and can
> accept the criticism from us hikers of the Trail as it is intended,
> constructively.  Those who do your jobs in the future may have an easier time
> of it, but only you will have the satisfaction that comes from taking the
> dream of a hiking trail the entire length of the state and making it a
> reality.  Thank you!
> This concludes our final trip report.
> Happy trails,
> Solar Bear and Navigator
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