Post-Trip Report: Florida National Scenic Trail

Swamp and Concrete

Despite not having travelled out of the country for a few years and then deciding to go into an epicentre of COVID outbreaks, the trip was a great success. I met a ton of great people as usual, both hikers and locals, the food was amazing and the the trail, where is existed, was easy going and often stunning.

Part of me wishes I knew how much time I'd be spending on roads but another part of me is happy I didn't know ahead of time or else I may have never attempted this thruhike. In the end, despite the trail not having much trail, the experience was worthwhile and I'd recommend it to other serious thruhikers especially when there is little else to do in the hiking "pre-season". I have no doubt you will enjoy the wildlife, the swamps and the copious town stops with great food!

This is a weird trip were I don't think I really missed anything along the way. I think I got a taste of all the different parts of Florida up for offer. If there would be one ask it would be that there was more effort to preserve the wilderness and forests of Florida. I constantly see news of plots of land being bulldozed for commercial interests despite the locals saying they do not want their land to be thrown away to the highest bidder. Listen to your constituents!

Here was the gear I brought and my thoughts on some items:

Keep 3:
  • EE Revelation 30F(-1C):

    I love this bag! I'd originally heard complaints about Enlightened Equipment five years ago about them under stuffing bags and customer service spats. Word of mouth carries a lot of power in the ultralight community so much so that it took me five years to consider this brand again!

    I started with a 40F(4C) bag which should have probably been fine on a normal year but the temperatures dipped quite low on my hike. I have a 20F(-6C) bag but I think 30F(-1C) is the perfect middle ground to keep me warm into the high 10sF(-11C) and not cause me to sweat like a pig between 40F(4C)-50F(9C). The quality, loft and feel of this bag are great and I highly recommend it. Link

    If you are looking for a lighter option and less complexity, the Enigma offers a enclosed foot box. Link

  • Six Moon Designs Serenity Net:

    I had three sleepless nights because I underestimated the bug pressure and camping conditions present on the trail. The saving grace was this new bug net I bought that worked like a charm with my existing SMD Gatewood Cape. It's super easy to set up, has a great interior space and offers a fully enclosed netting/bathtub solution.

    My only gripe is that it's quite heavy compared to just the S2S bug net I was carrying prior. In the future I think I will look to grab a complete tent solution from an ultralight company instead of pairing the SMD Gatewood Cape and the SMD Serenity Net which is heavier than most tent offerings. The price point though can't be beat at around 275USD for a 22oz(624g) shelter system. Link

  • Talenti Jar:

    This thing is as amazing as I heard other hikers claim it to be. I had usually just carry and eat dry foods on trail but this has shaken up the game for me. I can now enjoy salty and calorically dense prepared meals on trail without the need for a stove. At the very least this has opened up the range of foods I can feel comfortable carrying and expand my diet somewhat. No, I'm not talking about ramen and instant potatoes. Rather the ability to cold-soak pasta's and things such as Knorr Sides is a huge boon. Link

Lose 3:
  • Sea2Summit Nano Pyramid Single Bug Net:

    While super light and minimal, this gear has failed me a few times in the past when I needed it the most. Since it's just a loose hanging net and doesn't pair easily with other gear it would often be sagging on my body or straight up letting mosquitoes in from small gaps where it lay on the ground. A part of me wishes to spend more time to get this ultralight item to work for me but it's not really worth the effort. I much prefer something slightly heavier than can be set up easily and has a bathtub(see above).

  • McFlurry Spoon:

    Yes it's free and durable, but this spoon is just a little two awkward to use for my purposes. First off it has holes in the main shaft which you have to tape up or else food will get inside and stay inside. Second the design for the ladle and neck has some extremely deep supports were food likes to hide and is a hassle to clean. I have found the Subway spoon to be vastly superior and also easy to resupply on since you don't need to awkwardly ask a server to give you a McFlurry spoon for no apparent reason.

  • Sony Rx100 I:

    I'm a bit camera shy. I'm working on it but for the time being bringing half a pound of weight for something I used rarely does not seem sound. Since I've been using iPhones for my recent trips and taking plenty of pictures with that it make the camera I carry look even more stupid. I will continue to take more pictures but I'll save the weight and just use the phone I know I'll always be bringing.

When ever someone asks me if I recommend the Florida Trail I am somewhat hesitant. My answer always ends up being a version of this statement:

No seriously! Then they look at me like I'm crazy and say: "That's the part I'm least interested in..."

I was scared too before I went. Alligators...Snakes...Florida Man...what else could be in there? I'll tell you what to expect: a direct connection with nature. You'll barely come across anyone or anything that isn't another thruhiker. You'll be walking through gorgeous cypress domes and swamp reeds while you hear the distance calls of birds you've never seen before. You'll be soaking your feet in cool water watching small fish swimming ahead of you as the rest of your body is bathe in a warm sun. Trust me, you'll never experience something like this anywhere else and I'd say it's the crown jewel of the whole hike!

Don't want to thruhike the Florida Trail cause you heard it sucks? Okay fine, but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't do the first 30mi(48km) NOBO through Big Cypress National Preserve!

Do you want to read a day by day journal of the journey?
Start here

Want to see some tips for planning a trip like this? click here

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