Before I start

Hello, my name is “Moose”. That’s obviously not my real name, but is What’s known as a “trail name” by the hiking community. The funny thing about trail names is that no one knows what their trail name will be until it is “given” by someone else. In my case, my name was given to me 40 years ago by my uncle (because I was a large baby). It’s technically a nick name, not a trail name, but things evolve.

A little bit about me:

I’ve always had an adventures spirit. Growing up my dad and I went on many camping trips through the Boundry Waters, Isle Royle and locally in our forests of Indiana. We got to the point where we called it “surviving” instead of camping because we brought as little as possible and spent the trip trying to survive. I joined the Air Force right out of high school, and spent the next 20 years moving around the United States and the rest of the world. I’ve spent over a year in Iraq and over a year in surrounding countries on deployments. I had the great honor of surving our Country and at the same time letting the military fund my desire of adventure.

I have lived in 6 states and 2 countries (not counting my deployments) and have been lucky enough to experience a lot of what the world has to offer. From getting my pilots license in Arkansas and then later crashing my own plane (a great story I will share later), to climbing Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainer in Washington State, scuba diving Japan and guam, hunting deer in Maine and seeing a bigfoot (or something:)) and hiking in Germany, I’ve filled my adventurous needs everywhere I go with what the local area has to offer. Which leads me here.

The Florida trail was never on my to do list, I didn’t even know it existed until about a year ago, but I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail as a thru hike (end to end in one awesome adventure). That was always the plan for when I retired out of the Air Force, but I have a family now and the time needed is too reminiscent of my many deployments and much to great of a burden on those left back at home. A compromise was made amongst my family and I that I could attempt a thru hike of the Florida Trail, since it’s half the distance (and time) of the Appalachian Trail. Another plus side is that the time to hike the FT is January through April, so I won’t miss out on the summer activities with the family. The actual manifestation and plan to hike the Florida Trail this year started just a few weeks ago, and although I read Johnny Molloy’s book on hiking the Florida trail, I’ve had to do a lot of research, planning and permit getting to ensure a sucessful trip. I joined the Florida Trail association, got my permit to cross the Big Cypress Seminole Indian reservation and modified my pack contents to better suit the demands of the Florida Trail.

My pack list is as follows (in my Osprey Exos 58):

In the “brain” is 1 pound of tobacco and rolling papers (I know, I need to quit), a rain cover for pack, a large trash bag to line my pack, a small inflatable pillow, a trowel and toilet paper and my spoon.

In the main compartment is 7 days of food (the most I will carry) in a sent lock bear bag. My food weighs 9 pounds, so I will try to keep down to only whats needed between towns for the rest of the trip.

A 50 degree sleeping bag

An army “woobie” (blanket) which combined with the sleeping bag is less weight, warmer and more versatile then my 20 degree bag

A 50 degree under-quilt for hammock

My hammock (fox brand 11 ft)

Hammock hanging straps

Hammock bug net

Hammock tarp

Stove, fuel, pot, cup combo

And a dry bag with a small med kit, extra water filter, a toiletries bag, extra toilet paper, camp clothes, and a small radio (my luxury item)

In the side compartments I have 2 smartwater 33.8 oz water bottles, a compass, bear spray, trekking poles and camp shoes.

In the back compartment is a 3 liter water bag with filter attached.

And attached to the shoulder strap is a knife.

I’m also carring a fanny pack for quick access items like snacks, a little flashlight, ID and debit card, permits, bug net for face, bandana, phone charger and a few bucks for questionable resupply spots I don’t want to swipe my card at. Below is a picture of my gear laid out.

Ready to go at a whopping 43 pounds!

Well, besides giving everything a spray down of Permethrin to keep the bugs at bay, all I can do now is wait for Thursday to get on the bus and start my adventure. I will hopefully post every day with mileage gained and how each day treats me out there. I hope you enjoy reading about this adventure that only about 300 people have completed. Hopefully I can become one of them 🙂

5 Comments

  1. Love reading your adventure. I think your real love of hiking started when you were 2 and your dad and I took you, Kristen and Craig backpacking on Cumberland Island for a week. The last day we were trying to get to the ferry or else we would have to wait several days before the next one. I kept you going by saying that McDonalds was right down the road. Of course we had to find a McDonalds after we got off the ferry.
    I am praying for you every night. Love you to the moon and back and McDonalds is right down the road.

    Like

  2. I’ve just finished day 26 of your blog. I wanted to check in with you and let you know how much I’m enjoying following your adventure. I’m planning to do a flip-flop or a section hike of the AT with my husband in the next couple of years. In the meantime, I want to start section hiking the FT, as I live in the Tampa area and the proximity is perfect. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Like

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