Nimblewill Nomad: AT Thru-Hiker
February 19, 2001
Two miles north of West Tower in the Osceola National Forest, Florida, I finally turned the corner, after weeks of hiking almost due east, to finally head south. It's hard to believe that from Ft. Pickens in the spellbinding Gulf Islands National Seashore, way in the western extreme of the Florida Panhandle, deep in another time zone, that it's taken well over 500M to round that bend!
What a remarkable amalgamation of trails, this grand ECT, the Eastern Continental Trail. On the venerable old AT I recall oft hearing thru-hikers lament their less enjoyable experiences in dealing with the "Virginia Blues," a funk-driven sort of mood that descends like a fog after hiking for so many, many days and miles on the trail through that longest AT state.
But here on the FT/ECT I've already exceeded that great distance through Virginia, seemingly heading all the while in the wrong direction...and I've still over 800M yet ahead of me, still in Florida, before reaching Key West!
Ponder this if you will: Where else on earth is there such a grand, extended trail, where it's possible for this year's southbounders to meet this year's northbounders...and also next year's northbounders! On Carter Dome, on the AT late last summer I met my dear friend Jon "Class V" Leuschel, bound for Cap Gaspe, out of Key West...and just this month I've met Luke Denton and Joe "Wild Flamingo" Masters, bound for Cap Gaspe, out of Key West! Oh yes, I'm still bound for Key West, out off Cap Gaspe!
Of all the thousands and thousands of hikers that shouldered a backpack and headed out on an extended trek in the year 2000, only two, just two are still out there, still going! One of those intrepids is Sridhar "Spider" Ramasami. Spider departed the Cliffs of Forillon, June 1, 2000, on the IAT/ECT, where the Appalachian Mountains rise from the sea at Cap Gaspe, PQ Canada, bound for Key West, where the trail meets the Caribbean. We've hiked together off and on. He's only a day or two behind me now, on the FT, still headed for Key West...still southbound on the ECT.
And the other intrepid? Oh yes, it's the old Nomad, still headed for Key West, still southbound on the ECT! I am now at trail day 256, trail mile 4,050. The treadway is kind, the climate refreshingly mild and it's strange, very strange, having feeling in my fingers again! I can most-near see Key West now, dancing, beckoning on the horizon. Ithink another 5-6 weeks will do it. I am strong, healthy and of good cheer.
Thanks dear friends and kind hearts, for all your prayers--they uplift, support and carry me!
God Bless, EB
Ten Million Steps, the book
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication