From Fields and Forests to Swamps and Cypress: Tackling the Buckeye Trail and Florida Trail

With the AT completed in ‘21 and its accompanying injuries behind me, it has been time to move on to new horizons.

One has been practically right out my back door, Ohio’s Buckeye Trail. As of this October, I’m half way done following this varied 1440 mile route that basically follows the perimeter of our state.

Where has it led me?  From the SW corner of the state, overlooking the Ohio River,

to a beach on Lake Erie in the NE corner of Ohio.

These feet have taken me many miles on paved bike/hike trails,

country roads past countless acres of corn and soybeans,

on towpaths following historic canals connecting Lake Erie with the Ohio River,

following paths through forests,

and in quaint towns I would never have known existed.

After several weekends of hiking with a group, I realized that, if I wanted to do this solo, I’d need to figure out how to transport myself from the end of my hike back to my vehicle.  The answer: an electric assist bike, chosen because of its speed and help up hills.

My method: early in the morning, drive to my finish point for the day,  the bike on a bike rack on our pickup truck.  Leave the bike there, securely locked to a fence, post, pipe, tree.

Hiding in the woods, locked to a tree, at a park

At a police station

Oh, how humiliating for the bike! Locked up all day in an little country church’s old outhouse, present days used to store Baby Jesus’ manger in the off season.

Drive back to my starting point, leave the truck in a parking lot, city street,  or on an obliging farmer’s property, and then walk my usual 10-15 miles on the BT to my awaiting bike.  Cycle back to my truck, either the same way that I walked, or on a more direct or bike friendly route, and reunite the truck and bike.

Finally,  drive to where I’ll camp for a night or two

The next day, repeat from above.  All of this certainly takes advance planning and time, but it’s worth it.

Having the truck along for the ride means I can bring lots of fresh meals and snacks for the week.  Because I am now entering my third year of eating a whole food plant based diet free of added salt, oils and sugars, I avoid the Standard American Diet (“SAD”) that is found at fast food chains, restaurants and on the majority of the shelves in supermarkets.  So in the weeks before my planned section hike, I freeze generous portions of breakfasts, lunches and dinners and plan my snacks, which are usually  fresh fruit, cooked small potatoes, homemade oatmeal cookies sweetened with mashed bananas, and self made trail mix.  For longer trips, I dehydrate all these meals and snacks.  For the BT, I load these frozen meals into a large, well-insulated cooler with ice packs, which I replace with a bag of ice mid-week. I simply set my meals out to defrost hours or the night before needed, and enjoy them at room temperature.  Easy cleanup!

I’ve developed a real affection for both my delicious food and my sturdy bike, both of which help make all this possible.

The Buckeye Trail is not dramatic like some other long distance trails, but I have come to appreciate it the past two years.  There is lovely, gentle scenery to see and very friendly people to meet.

A newlywed couple from the UK who are mid-way on their cycling journey around the world. Whew!

A friendly farm wife who called out to me as I was walking past her home. I later stopped by a second time, when on my bike, to check out her vegetable garden.

I look forward to resuming the blue blazes next spring.

So what about those cypress trees and swamps mentioned earlier?  Well, in about 2 weeks, I will begin what I presently project to be a 3-part long distance section hike of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

I will begin this 1100 mile trek at Big Cypress National Preserve in the south, which will involve several days of walking through water, ankle to thigh deep.  The trail continues to head generally north and then west the full length of Florida’s panhandle to Fort Pickens beach.  I plan on completing just under 400 miles this January, finishing NE of Orlando.  I’ll return in January of ‘24 and ‘25 to complete the job.

I know each trail has its challenges, and I’ve certainly heard the “A” word often from concerned folks, followed by the “S” word.  I promise to be careful and keep my eyes open for these animals. I plan on hiking with other women for the swampy beginning, and then we’ll see if I revert to my preferred solo style.

I have done plenty of training on trails near home and have continued to do knee-strengthening exercises. The past month has been a whirlwind of dehydrating all my meals and snacks, which Bill will mail to me at the hotels or campgrounds where I take my rest days.  It’s a real treat having a varied and healthy diet on the trail.

Dehydrating sweet potato chili, one of my favorites


One month’s food supply for my final month on the AT in 2021.

I greatly look forward to experiencing a whole new type of environment and climate.  My gear, food and I are ready to go!  I’ll be back to report to you after my first week.  Thank you so much for following me!



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Comments 8

  • Myra : Dec 26th

    Looking forward to your updates Ruth! Best of luck❤️

    • Ruth Morley : Dec 31st

      Thank you, Myra, for your ongoing support. Let’s see what the Florida Trail sends my way!

  • Jon : Dec 29th

    Have fun!

    • Ruth Morley : Dec 31st

      I plan on it. Thank you, son!

  • Val : Dec 31st

    You’re adventures are amazing and inspiring, Ruth! Good luck! Looking forward to reading about your adventure.

    • Ruth Morley : Dec 31st

      Val, I truly appreciate your support. I’m presently doing a mad inventory of my gear and wondering, “What have I forgotten?” So everything is normal for pre-hike jitters. It’s always such a relief to finally set foot on the trail.

  • Jane murphy : Dec 31st

    Godspeed Ruth. Sending admiration and envy.🙂

    • Ruth Morley : Dec 31st

      Many thanks, Jane. I know that you too enjoy time out in nature. I’ll try to describe this new environment as best I can.


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