A Solo Sobo Experience On The Florida Trail

Packing up the last of my things, I’m reminded of a familiar feeling.

A feeling that I’ve had two times before. It’s a dreamy feeling, like I’m walking on another plane. Is it really gonna work out? Am I prepared enough? What’ll I do when I get back? All things running through my mind on a daily basis. But I’m reminded this is what I love, this is what I sacrifice for so I can be ready to leave. And I know that once I get my feet on the trail, I’ll be perfectly fine.

All has been good leading up to me leaving, but that’s always the hardest part. Getting out there and getting started, I’m very excited to get going, but at the same time nervous. Especially knowing I’m gonna be telling my friends goodbye for a few months.

Although most of my friends now are hikers and can understand what I’m doing, it’s still a bit rough on the people around me, I can feel it. But everyone wants me happy, and I’m lucky to be blessed with an amazing group of people around me.

So on January 22nd I set out from Harpers Ferry to get to the northern terminus of the Florida trail. It started with a long ride with my uncle, who was nice enough to to bring me down to Knoxville Tennessee. Here I ran into another hiker, who I would get to know over the course of the 17ish hour bus ride.

At least four different busses later, and I make it into Tallahassee. Here I would go see a friend of a friend, and a previous Thru hiker named Bulldog. I walked through the busy streets of Tallahassee to get to his business, and I’m reminded of the busy streets of New York or Washington DC. Giant buildings stretch as far as I can see.

Bullfrog showed me around once I got to his business, a little glass shop in the middle of town. At first it seems like a lot of other shops I’ve been to. But this one was definitely unique, as I’m allowed into the back I get to see a giant workshop for working on glass, and I got to hang out and watch them do their work glassblowing for the night. Eventually Bullfrog and I went back to his place for the night to sleep and get ready to go out to the start of the trail the next morning.

January 24th, my first day on trail. I’m greeted to Pensacola by a closed road to the northern terminus, so I’m gonna have to tag it later on it seems. But also I’m greeted by very strong winds, reminding me of my time in the wind farm outside of Tehachapi on the Pacific Crest Trail. A storm is blowing in and I’ve just started! So I take off down the beach, making sure to take my time and enjoy myself as I also try to prepare for the inevitable rain coming in.

As I’m walking down the beach I pass by seemingly very expensive beach houses, accompanied by the stares of everyone wondering what I’m doing with a big backpack on, but everyone has been nice so far. One of my favorite things on a hike is the looks you get from people that don’t know what you’re doing. To round out day one I ended up camping right along the beach, on the only backcountry camping site on the island. I managed to start dry and get my tent up before the storm came in.

So now I’m laying in my tent, day one over, writing this article because it’s 2 am and I can’t sleep because of the lighting and rain. And loving absolutely every second of being out here. Sometimes it’s easy to be discouraged when things don’t go perfectly, but you need to remember to make the most out of this moments too. Those are the truly important ones, and the ones you’ll remember.

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Comments 4

  • Tee : Jan 26th

    “Sticks out front keep hiking “ you got this keep us posted ?

    • Josh Widdowfield : Jan 26th

      Much appreciated my friend ?

  • Jeff : Jan 26th

    Hi. Good luck to you. A buddy and I are doing 126 miles in couple of weeks starting at Northern Terminus. Is the road closed for awhile? Thanks Jabez AT thru hiker 2019

    • Josh Widdowfield : Jan 26th

      As far as I know it should be open now! I think it was closed because of the bad weather. Thanks so much and good luck to you too!


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