Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Intrepid hiker tackles Florida Trail, all 1,150 miles of it

Tampa’s Amanda Hus, 53, set out from the Big Cypress trail section in South Florida and backpacked the Florida Trail for 10 weeks, completing her 1,150-mile journey in March in the Panhandle.

Courtesy of Amanda Hus

Tampa’s Amanda Hus, 53, set out from the Big Cypress trail section in South Florida and backpacked the Florida Trail for 10 weeks, completing her 1,150-mile journey in March in the Panhandle.

When Amanda Hus was a little girl growing up in Fort Myers, she dreamed about hiking the Appalachian Trail. "I used to read about it in magazines," said the 53-year-old former stay-at-home mom. "I said to myself, 'Some day.' "

The Tampa resident had done a few day hikes in parks and nature reserves, but nothing serious. Then last fall she heard a talk by hardcore backpackers about "thru hiking" the Florida Trail.

The hiking path, which stretches more than 1,100 miles from the Everglades to the Panhandle, doesn't get as much publicity as the fabled "AT," but for Floridians who love the state's scrublands, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks it is every bit as beautiful.

"They said they were going to help support a group that would do the whole trail," Hus recalled. "So I went up after the talk and asked how I could sign up."

Hus didn't have any equipment except a pair of boots. So she went to Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park and started asking questions in the backpacking department.

"They outfitted me from head to toe," said Hus, who spent about $800 and began training with day hikes. "On Jan. 2, 2011, 12 of us started walking down at Big Cypress."

Every time the group hit civilization, the hikers connected with a van driven by fellow trail enthusiasts so they could restock supplies.

But after a few days Hus realized her pack was full of nonessential items (such as a book she was too tired to read, extra fuel, etc.)

"We just dumped my backpack upside down and poured everything out," she said. " 'This has got to go, this has got to go.' … It is amazing to look at all the things you think you need but you really don't."

One by one, Hus' fellow hikers dropped out. One had to go back to college. Another had to return to work. Two succumbed to injuries. But Hus and a handful of others kept going.

"I was never scared or fearful for a moment on the trial," she said. "I loved every minute of it."

There was a point in North Florida, hiking through a forest that recently underwent a controlled burn, when her enthusiasm began to ebb. "It was a little rainy, the sky was gray and we had to walk through ankle-deep water, day after day," she said. "It was kind of depressing, but even then I never thought that I would rather be home."

Hus pressed on. Then, on March 12, 2011, she finished her trek at Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore, exactly 1,150 miles traveled from where she started 10 weeks earlier.

"I didn't want to stop," she said. "I felt like crying. It was the most fantastic thing that I have ever done."

Would she do it again?

"In a heartbeat. You bet."

And she would recommend a similar adventure for anyone willing to try.

As fall nears, now is the time to prepare for hiking season. The Florida woods are best October through April so get your hiking books, buy some maps and plan an expedition.

Some of the best places to hike in Florida can be found just a short drive from the Tampa Bay area. The segments of the Florida Trail that run through the Richloam, Croom and Citrus tracts of Withlacoochee State Forest can keep a trail walker busy for years. With nearly 160,000 acres of wilderness to explore, Withlacoochee has hiking and backpacking trails that will challenge beginners as well as experts.

To learn more about the Florida Trail, go to Bill Jackson Shop for Adventure will host another a Florida Trail presentation at 7 p.m. Oct. 17.

Intrepid hiker tackles Florida Trail, all 1,150 miles of it 09/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jose De Leon sent back to minors after helping Rays win


    RHP Jose De Leon worked 2 2/3 innings to get the win in his Rays debut Monday and then was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

    De Leon was brought up to provide length and depth in the bullpen after the Rays played 15 innings on Sunday, and he did that, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 69 …

  2. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    The Rays had good reason to have faith in RHP Erasmo Ramirez starting Monday after closing Sunday based on his resiliency, versatility and efficiency. But it still turned out to be a bad idea as he allowed four runs without getting through three innings.

  4. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  5. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)