Tuesday, February 23, 2010

VIP treatment

Hiking around the Orlando area included a lot of road walks, but it also had a wonderful side: I met a lot of trail angels! I slept in a bed for nights in a row! Jon and Joan treated me like a visiting royalty. They even invited my to their monthly chapter meeting where I was given the opportunity to give a little talk about my thruhike. Most interesting for me about that was actually meeting the people who create and maintain the trail and hear about their problem and challenges. I still do not like roadwalks, but now that I have learnt about the reason behind some of the roadwalks and the efforts to put the trail back into the woods, they seem to be less awful. Thanks a lot to all the FT volunteers who look after such a challenging trail!

FT bridge near Oviedo
When I left Oviedo on the (paved) Seminole bike path I had some very unexpected trail magic: I ran into two guys who looked like a mixture out of homeless, hikers and workers - and turned out to be bird watchers! We chatted for a minute when one of them offered me his gloves! (It was very cold that day...). Very nice knitted gloves! I felt I could not accept that offer but the bird enthusiat just told me to put them into the trail register mail box in Seminole Forest - he would retrieve them some other day on a bird excursion.

And more trail magic later that day: I was on the final stretch of the road walk when suddenly a car stopped and out came Carl and Lynn, local FT members who had heard my little talk at the chapter meeting. This is a small world. We chatted a bit and they left - just to come back a little later to bring me some backpacker gourmet food! I usually eat Lipton side dishes and Idahoan mashed potatoes, but that was real dehydrated gourmet food! I was eating very well the next days. Thank you Carl and Lynn!

Bromelia
And still more trail magic: A couple of days later I stayed with Ken Smith, another FT trail angel in Belleview. He picked me up on the trail together with a local hiking friend of his - and it turned out that I had met his friend in 2008 on the AT! Again, this is a small world.... Ken Smith is 82 years old and a truly amazing guy. When he had turned 80, he organized a hike called "Over 80 across Florida". This was a 110 miles hike across Florida and you had to be older than 80 to participate. Their oldest participant was 90 (!) and I was told that he married his 80-year old girl friend after finishing the hike. How amazing! I stayed with Ken's daughter overnight and Ken brought me back to the trail after a very hearty breakfast. Life can be good on the Florida Trail.

1 comment:

ArizonaAnnie said...

I guess my excuse that I am age 68 and too old to hike long distances won't fly any longer!