With over 1300 miles of orange blazed trail, the Florida Trail traverses diverse habitats throughout the state of Florida and is visited by thru-hikers and section hikers, trail maintainers and volunteers, and day hikers and casual use visitors. These are the stories of the Florida Trail.
79. Podcast Book Club Announcement No. 1
New this season is the Orange Blaze Podcast Book Club! Our first book will be Life and Death on the Loxahatchee: The Story of Trapper Nelson. If you have spent any time around Jonathan Dickinson State Park or the Loxahatchee River you may already know the legend and lore of Trapper Nelson. I've had this book on my shelf for years and it is about time I read it! Reading along and if you want to participate in a book club discussion email me at orangeblazepodcast at gmail dot com or leave a comment below. I'm looking for 4-6 folks to have a zoom chat with about the book and those who don't want to participate in the zoom chat are welcome to read along on their own and listen to the episode airing in April! We'll have another book club this fall! Book suggestions wanted!
78. How to Thru-Hike the Florida Trail
After our 2011 thru-hike I wrote a post on my blog detailing some of the more important notes needed for thru-hikers on the Florida Trail. There wasn't a lot out there at the time on social media, though there were Trail Journals and the books produced by Sandra Friend---there just wasn't the community in 2011 that there it today. That said, I think this episode is long overdue and should have been one of the first episodes I produced when I started the podcast. If you have questions about hiking the FT, I am always here to answer questions and point you in the right direction!
77. The Hidden Appalachian Trail – The Green Tunnel Podcast | Mills Kelly
When the Green Tunnel Podcast debuted in late 2021 and I began listening to episodes I quickly realized this was not your average hiking podcast. Mills Kelly and his team at R2 Studios at George Mason University have put together a stunning series of podcast episodes that rival some of the NPR-style podcasts out there. Covering history of the Appalachian Trail from Benton MacKaye to the Roller Coaster section of the trail and everything in between, every few weeks we get to learn in-depth history about the AT we may not have known. Mills and his team dig deep into the archives of the ATC and local trail club chapters to come up with their stories and as you’ll hear Mills say, it is easy to fall down rabbit holes to get new stories.
76. Florida to the Carolinas and Beyond – A Year of Adventure | Jason ‘Out and About’ Tompkins
Jason ‘Out and About’ Tompkins is a 2022 Florida Trail Thru-Hiker and progenitor of a new eastern route called The Carolinian. A Florida native, Jason has spent many years living and exploring regions outside of Florida but returned to Florida in late 2021 to begin a year of thru-hiking. He first kicked off by hiking the Ocean to Lake Trail and getting his legs literally and figuratively wet for the Florida Trail which he started a few weeks later. From the Florida Trail he continued on to many other trails including putting together the Palmetto Trail, a Carolina Road Walk, the Mountains to Sea Trail, the AT, and the Bartram trail to create the 2200 mile Carolinian route. Even with all of that done, Jason wasn’t done, and went off to hike the Superior Hiking Trail, too. It’s been a big year for him!
2023 isn’t going to be any quieter as Jason has plans to complete the Eastern Continental Trail, which includes another thru-hike of the Florida Trail. We talk about the ups and downs of trail life, hiking with a trail family and then hiking completely alone, and his goals for future adventures. I think you’ll love the conversation and Jason is an all around interesting and inviting person to talk to! Maybe you’ll come across him on your own hike this year!
75. From Pandemic Hiker to Thru-Hiker: New Adventures on the Florida Trail | Maria ‘Sawgrass’ Llorens
Maria caught my eye as someone to interview for the podcast because I though she offered a unique perspective to podcast listeners. Having discovered hiking during the early parts of the pandemic in 2020 as a way to get outside and not go stir-crazy, she began exploring Everglades National Park and other parks closer to her home in Miami. As you’ll hear Maria say, Miami residents aren’t often known for their extensive outdoorsyness, unless it is particularly centered around the beach and partying, though there are definitely folks getting out there and exploring their own backyards. Maria’s interest and confidence in hiking grew which led her to create the Miami Hiking Club, an effort to mentor other folks in the area who might be curious about hiking but unsure where to begin. This fledgling group is spreading their wings and several group hikes have already been led by Maria. Maria is currently on the Florida Trail and we recorded this episode a few days before she was scheduled to leave for her southbound hike. I’m hoping I can get Maria to come back on for an ‘after’ interview to share her different perspectives.
74. Welcome Back To A New Season!
Welcome to a new season of the podcast! The podcast in 2022 floundered a bit and if you saw my social media posts you will know that I lost a lot of momentum to keep the podcast going in late summer. If you’ve listened to podcasts with any sort of high frequency over the last 8-10 years you will have noticed how podcasts typically fade with time. Some because they had a certain lifespan to begin with, and others because the hosts lose interest or move on.
I don’t want to lose interest in this podcast, because I truly enjoy it and have so many ideas for it but it does get tough to keep up with monthly because I’m also juggling life, work, a family, another podcast, and other hobbies. Plus, i’ve gotta get some hikes in there, too! To prevent burnout I am switching to a quarterly release of episodes. I’ll be recording podcasts in between releases but this will allow me to edit them in a bit more relaxed schedule and not feel compelled to get an episode or three out every month. Instead you can look for 4-7 episodes every 3-4 months that will be released all at one time. That’s how I’ll be handling the podcast for 2023 at least, and we’ll see how it works and go from there.
In addition to these changes, I’m also looking for ways to spruce up the podcast, to not have strictly interviews with hikers but I’m also interested in having a few folks on just to have a conversation and chat about hiking, nature, and the outdoors. It could be Florida focused but also, maybe not. I have a few folks in mind to consider for this but if you think you’d be up for a chat or two this year with a lot more flexibility than a typical episode, email me at orangeblazepodcast at gmail.com or DM me on social media!
I would also like to get more interviews from folks running the local trail chapters and will be digging into some of those Facebook groups this year. If you listen and are involved in any of those chapters and can recommend someone to interview, get in touch with me!
I’m also starting a book club this year! You’ll hear more about it in a special episode for this batch of released episodes in January 2023 but the gist is to have a group of 4-6 folks chat about the chosen book with me and discuss it. Everyone can read the book on their own, whether or not you will be in the discussion, and then listen to the chat afterward. I am hoping to also pair this with an author interview if I can make it happen for each book. So, that is one other addition I’ll be doing at least twice this year.
The five year anniversary of the podcast is coming up in the spring, too. I’m still brainstorming some ways for listener involvement on that and will let you know as soon as I have some more information for that so y’all can get involved with that. I can’t believe it will be 5 years! The last three years have been simultaneously a whirl but also the most slow years ever!
One last note, the FT has been seeing an increase in usage over the last several years and I think we’re on the cusp of an even bigger explosion. This means there is likely going to be an increase in folks who may not play nice, let’s just say it that way, and an increase in negative rhetoric about the trail may proliferate on social media. Long time FT hikers and supporters all know of the trail’s shortcomings—please limit your complaining to the trail itself and not to the people who have put in many hours of effort and work over decades to get the trail to what it is today. There’s no reason to belittle people if you are having a bad day on a roadwalk. If you have significant issues with the trail, like poor blazing, conditions are bad enough to prevent safe crossing of areas, please contact the FTA itself, or contact me and I’ll put you into contact with people who will be there to listen and solve problems. There are now several thru-hikers on the FTA board of directors and they wi...
Diamond in the ruff
Finding this podcast got me so excited about the Florida Trail that I did it myself; after having listened to every single episode twice!
Even more so, it pretty cool meeting many of the folx, from these episodes, in real life, out on trail!
Thank you Misty, for all of the hard work that you put into making this podcast a top tier experience for us listeners.
So glad to have found this podcast dedicated to the Florida Trail. I’m a basic occasional day hiker and live vicariously through other hiker’s stories. I’ve gotten great tips and enjoy the local storytelling. Misti is a great host, some guests are more interesting than others, but overall one of my top podcasts.
It’s so funny to stumble upon this podcast now and to listen to the big cypress podcast after completing it brings back those fresh smells and feelings. Funny to see this produced on Jan 3rd when I made my backpack through on Jan 8th lol. Keep up the good work!