Make us your home page
Instagram

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 floridatrail.org. 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

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    Did the Rays make the right call in picking RHP Austin Pruitt rather than top prospect Brent Honeywell? Though Honeywell had tweeted he was as ready as he'd ever be, the Rays felt better going with Pruitt, who gave them the five innings they were seeking.

  2. Damion Lowe returns to Rowdies after eventful Gold Cup

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pretty well emotionally spent, and not at all rested physically having just finished a life-changing stint with his native Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Damion Lowe wants the Rowdies to know he's ready.

    Damion Lowe, right, returns to the Rowdies — though he is likely to get a rest in tonight’s 7:30 home game against Pittsburgh — after an eventful six Gold Cup matches.
  3. Rays journal: Lineup dominated by Masahiro Tanaka in loss to Yankees (w/video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Sometimes you just have to dig out the good news, and for the Rays on Friday it may well have been that they didn't get no-hit in a 6-1 loss.

    Austin Pruitt waits for Brett Gardner to round the bases after leading off the first with one of three homers Pruitt gives up.
  4. Rays at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. Saturday, New York

    The Heater

    Today: at Yankees

    1:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

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

    Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Rockies during the first inning Tuesday. He left after allowing just one hit and striking out nine in six shutout innings.  {Associated Press}
  5. Steve Cishek latest bullpen upgrade for Rays, who now must translate that to wins

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The Rays made another addition to change the look of their bullpen Friday in acquiring veteran side-armer and former closer Steve Cishek from Seattle.

    Reliever Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games after recovering from offseason hip surgery and a 1.86 ERA since a rocky second outing of the season.