About


Dan Dick and Mike Ruso
Dan Dick & Mike Ruso at the end of the CT, Fort Clinch State Park

On November the 11th, 2008 I set out from Big Lagoon State Park near the Alabama border with my friend Dan Dick to do something no one had ever done before: paddle kayaks along the entire 1500-mile coastline of Florida, including the Keys, in a single, self-supported journey. The odds were against us. Dan had only sat in a kayak three times before the first day of our trip. I didn't have experience at sea either, but I had thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, so at least I knew something about extended camping trips.

 

Around the same time, three other paddlers led by Matt Keene, set out from Fort Clinch with the same goal as us. Together, the five of us were guinea pigs testing the new Florida Saltwater Circumnavigational Paddling Trail, or CT developed by Doug Alderson at the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails.

 

Dan and I arrived at the Georgia border with Florida five months after we started, on March 26th 2009. During that time, Matt Keene's two partners dropped out and Matt completed the circumnavigation alone, reaching Big Lagoon SP--where we had started--a few weeks before Dan and I finished.

 

Dan and I prepared as best we could, but we had a lot to learn. The state's online guide had not been completed yet and there were no guidebooks or blogs to consult. We had to wing it, and so we made a lot of mistakes. This website exists to pass on what we learned to all future paddlers who hope to do what we did or paddle one of Florida's great rivers.

Check out the official notification of our completed circumnavigational trip in the Office of Greenways and Trails Newsletter.

After returning from the wilderness, I graduated from the creative writing MFA program at the University of South Florida.

 

In 2015, Tess and I will thru-hike both the Florida Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the Florida Trail we plan to collect photos and conduct research for a coffee-table style book about the trail, with the goal of elevating the trail's profile nationally and within the state and raising money for its completion and preservation.


Contact

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I spend a lot of time in the wilderness without internet access so please don't be upset if I don't get back to you right away.

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My Upcoming Book:

The Florida Trail: Discovering America's Forgotten Footpath

Released in time for the trail’s 35th anniversary as a National Scenic Trail in 2018, the book will be filled with more than 230 full-page color photographs as well as dozens of previously unpublished historic photos, documents, and images from the archives of the Florida Trail Association. Essays will cover topics ranging from the many ecosystems and habitats along the trail that exist nowhere else Earth, the unique challenges facing hikers, the history of the trail, the volunteers who first created and still maintain the trail, and the challenges confronting the trail such as logging, pollution, urban sprawl, and incomplete sections.

 

In the months to come, we will be interviewing Florida Trail Association volunteers and thru-hikers about their experiences on the trail, as well as scientists working for the many public lands over which the trail crosses. Regular updates about our progress will be posted on our blog, facebook.com/hikefla and you can follow us on Twitter:  twitter.com/hikefla.