Challenge: 90 Trails in 100 Days
In the fall of 2020, I went on a wonderful, adventurous, hike down from the rim of the Grand Canyon into Phantom Ranch on the river. The trip was arduous and the climb out was tough given my hailing from the vertically challenged state of Florida. Prior to this undertaking, I had begun training, in Florida, including perhaps Florida’s most vertical trail, the Torreya Challenge in Torreya State Park. After this adventure and the two months of training leading up to it, I became a bit of a couch potato in December and January. About the middle of January, I decided to do something about that. Seeing all the wonderful trails in my area, I set myself a challenge, to hike or bike 90 different trails in 100 days. I gave myself a hundred days to account for weather, work or other impediments to doing a trail each day.
Now you may be asking, what this has to do with privacy. The short answer is not much, but there is always an angle. In using AllTrails, the trail mapping application, I discovered a nifty way to stalk people. See my previous blog post for more.
In February, thanks to Publix Supermarkets, I procured a large amount of trail mix. By the end, despite adding some more in March and April, I was down to one container.
My typical kit consistent of day pack with water reservoir, bear bell, bear mace, Chapstick, headphones to listen to Privacy podcasts, snacks (not pictured trail mix), and trail maps. Also not pictured are optional sunscreen and insect repellent.
Off I set on January 30th. The task seemed simple but, as with many things, implementation was more fraught than at first imagined. I tried to do longer trails or those farther away when I had more time (like weekends) or during nice weather. One early trail, Pond Loop, at Okeeheepkee Prairie County Park, I completed on a rainy afternoon was only 0.5 miles. I decided after that to only include trails over 1 mile long. This lead me to a few times combining short trails into one “trail” or stretching a trail to it’s extreme (exploring every nook and cranny) to try to get that mile in. Trying to define a “trail” also led to some creative interpretations. Not all trails are simply laid out in the platonic idealized state. Some are based on forest service roads, some intersect and loop and figure 8. Some are out and back, retracing your steps. I had to break some long trails, like the 30+ miles of the St. Marks trail into more manageable pieces of about 16 mile chunks (8 out and 8 back). Some of my trips weren’t trails at all, but I counted them, like when I walked 6 miles home after dropping off a truck at the rental car company. I learned about new trails, which weren’t easily found, like the Capital to Coast trail still under construction, which when fully complete with be 120 miles of biking or shared use paths from Tallahassee to the Emerald coast.
It was perhaps the best time to be out hiking and biking in Florida. Spring weather meant it wasn’t too hot, the parks were green and flowers were in full bloom. I saw so many animals, many that your rarely see as a weekend warrior. In addition to the usual squirrels and lizards, I saw a bobcat, a family of boar, water moccasins and other snakes, a mole, a red pileated woodpecker, a gopher tortoise, giant mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, and many more. I did not, however, see a bear. Not to say they weren’t there, but ever since I encountered a bear last year, I’ve been hiking with a bear bell and bear mace, so they’ve thankfully kept their distance.
What lurks beneath? Creature from the black lagoon? Manatee? Large alligator? Something was moving fast and leaving a wake under the Crooked River in Tate’s Hell State Forest.
As a capstone to my challenge, I returned to Torreya State Park to take on the Torreya Challenge. It was a wonderous exhausting 4 hours which left me with a terrible head ache, but I made it. 90 different trails. 98 days in the making. 478 miles covered. Challenge complete. Level UP!