A cool breeze whistles through a thick of pine trees, blowing the thin needles off its seasoned branches, sending them fluttering to the ground. Blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, and northern mockingbirds peck and chatter in the early morning hours, letting me know its time to wake up and take down my dew- covered tent. Besides the birds, white tailed deer, marsh rabbits, and gopher tortoises wake up to look for breakfast after a long nights rest.
Once my eyes get adjusted to the young dawn light, I unzip the rainfly of my tent and peer out. Fog covers a majority of the savannah with a thick glaze, but only for a moment, as the rising sun quickly burns it off. The forest gives off a very serene, mystical, almost fairytale feel. I make a quick breakfast, take down my tent, lace up my hiking boots, and I simply begin to hike. I hike from dawn until dusk, from point A to point B. I do this freely; to see what sacred treasures are yet to be discovered. I find an overwhelming peace that fills my heart with happiness when I’m surrounded by nature. This is when I do my best writing – when my words are influenced by what the wilderness is offering
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that shares a love for the outdoors. From a young age, preservation and conservation of our lands, private or publically owned, has always been very important to me. As a young hiker, I have the opportunity to embrace the sport in a different way than the generation before me, and because of that, I hope I am able to make a difference in my generation and future ones. It’s sad when I talk to young adults and find out that many have never been on a camping trip or slept in a tent for that matter. It worries me that the places I’ve come to love aren’t going to be cared for or respected by the next group of young men and woman who pass through them.
Places such as the Florida Trail are in desperate need of our generation’s help. The Florida Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails throughout North America. Currently, out of those 11, the Appalachian Trail is the only continuous footpath from end-to-end making it free of road walks. Currently the Florida Trail has more than 300 miles of gaps that re-route hikers to busy highways and other dangerous conditions. Congress designated the Florida Trail a National Scenic Trail, but now we need your help to make it safe and enjoyable for generations to come. With your support, we can make the Florida Trail the second complete National Scenic Trail and preserve the trail for all time.
How can you help?
I urge you to take a moment and sign the Friends of the Florida Trail “Close the Gaps” petition at https://friendsofthefloridatrail.org/petition/. As a united front, we can show the Governor and the Florida legislature that the community values the completion of the Florida Trail. Your voice counts!