Let the 2018 Hiking Season Begin!

The 2018 hiking/backpacking season is in full swing–in (where else?) Florida!
If the latest report from Sandra Friend (Florida Trail Hikers Alliance) is any indication, 2018 is shaping to be a banner year, not only for thru-hikers on the Florida National Scenic Trail, but also for hikers (in record numbers) coming out of Florida on the Eastern Continental Trail.
Presently, and to date, there are 66 long-distance hikers on the Florida Trail. Here’s Sandra Navigator Friend’s report:
“Good morning Eb! Here’s the full list of ECT Hikers. They’re scattered from the Keys to the Suwannee. All are looking forward to meeting you.
Will Dukes, Christopher Ellmann, Tony Flaris, Matt Softwalker Halfar, Joe King, Jeremy Knopp, Matt Gator Miller, Emily Fine Line Rhodes, Albert Ninja Tortoise Scott, Theresa Sheahan, and Cory Last Buck Talbert.
Total 66 FT hikers known so far: 53 thru (including the 11 above) and 12 section”
Ah yes folks, 2018 is going to be a great year for hiking/backpacking!
So, grab your pack, head south–and let’s hit the trail!

Nimblewill Nomad (Eb)

Long Distance IAT hiker – "Sail Away" How she got her trail name

You might sit down. There’s a story behind every name, yours and mine; and here’s a part of it I think you ought to know.
On Nov. 13, 2017, Niels Tietze fell to his death in a rappelling accident from Fifi Buttress in Yosemite National Park. He was a phenomenal climber, a mad potterer, and an errant philosopher; he lived his life with infectious vitality. On my forays out in search of humanity, he made an excellent stopping point for books, food, and good conversation.(He would also hate this.) “I’m definitely planning on being forgotten,” he said. Ok, Niels.
To understand how this fits into our story, walk back a few years into the meadowlands of Yosemite Valley, with the grasses waving gold between tall glacier-eroded cliffs, near the banks of the Merced. Imagine me: a wee lassie, struggling with depression like a bagel, newly sprung from the university scene, with no idea who I am or what I am doing, wondering how a physics-oriented** rapscallion, drenched in mediocrity, sadness, and erstwhile failure, ended up getting an internship as a backcountry ranger in some random valley in the western mountains of our vast turtle continent.
**For the record, you don’t need a degree in the outdoors to work as a ranger. Or to be outdoors, in fact. Crazy stuff, I know.
There were four of us, all lasses that year (truly they are amazing people) and all certified EMTs, because the corridor we were assigned to had a consistently high level of incidents and preparation is great. We lived in two canvas-walled cabins on the SAR site in Camp 4. Mostly, I patrolled the trails as a mediocre intern, functioned as a mediocre SAR technician when necessary, and existed as a mediocre socially awkward bagel* in camp.
There were four of us, all lasses that year (truly they are amazing people) and all certified EMTs, because the corridor we were assigned to had a consistently high level of incidents and preparation is great. We lived in two canvas-walled cabins on the SAR site in Camp 4. Mostly, I patrolled the trails as a mediocre intern, functioned as a mediocre SAR technician when necessary, and existed as a mediocre socially awkward bagel* in camp.
*Truly nothing changes, my people.
There is no real way to write about folks who have touched your life. Every human I met that summer did; and they are all important. Sometimes, we lose our words; but hold your horses, dear reader. Perhaps I can tell it in this way, going backwards from the present.
You call me Sail because when Don Hudson asked how I would hike across the Atlantic, I said something like, “mumble snarfle sail or something snarfle grumble.” Then he said, “This is great!! SAIL AWAY. How’s that for a name,” and it was good.

‘Monumental’ – A Journey through Katahdin Woods and Waters

On August 24th in 2016, an 87,563-acre plot of land in the heart of Maine was designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument by former President Barack Obama. Although met with controversy on all sides, the area had yet been explored on a large scale. In September 2017, a team of four Maine-born photographers set out on a three-part journey through Katahdin Woods and Waters to investigate. The goal? To refocus attention from the debate back onto why the monument was created in the first place: to protect and encourage public access to Maine’s outdoor resources. The short film Monumental showcases the area’s sweeping beauty and undeniable value to outdoor enthusiasts.
Katahdin Woods and Waters comprises miles of serene forest, winding rivers, and exquisite mountain peaks. The vast land is adjacent to Baxter State Park and was donated by the Quimby Family Foundation in addition to funds that would jumpstart its establishment. The location boasts premier hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, camping, hunting, fishing, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and sightseeing.