The Florida Trail
A little over a week ago I decided it was time to go hiking again.
When I start to spiral downwards, as I’m colloquially referring to it, depressive and suicidal symptoms begin appearing and ramp up quickly.
I have plans to return to the PCT and finish the southern 1,000 miles in March, but unfortunately I can’t wait that long to get back on the trail.
I need to be hiking soon, but I also need to stay relatively close to home. I briefly flirted with the idea of doing a winter hike of the Long Trail in Vermont, but seeing that I don’t have nearly enough overnight cold weather gear, that was out.
After a bit of research, the only long trail I could find in the USA that’s feasible with three-season gear in January is Florida’s National Scenic Trail.
The past few days have been filled with pre-hike preparations. Inventorying and inspecting my gear, purchasing and replacing anything that is unserviceable, scheduling transportation, and ensuring my responsibilities around the house are taken care of in my absence.
Also been doing a bit of map reconnaissance as well. The Florida Trail is unlike my previous hiking experiences on the AT, LT, and PCT. Those three trails are pretty well established, blazed, and have stable communities surrounding them. This is not the case for the FT.
While there is a small group of people who care very deeply about the FT, the trail itself is still in its infancy. From land rights issues, to a few hundred miles of road walking, and a much less informed public of even the trail’s existence - these things lead to a whole different type of experience.
I’m looking forward to it though. Both for the known therapeutic benefits I receive, as well as a new experience.
Even with the seemingly cyclic nature of depressive/suicidal spells, on top of the primary symptoms of PTSD and a TBI I’m dealing with, it’s still progress.
Flying out New Year’s Eve for Miami. Stepping off on the trail New Year’s Day.