Two young men attempting to set a hiking record will travel through Santa Rosa County on their way to the end. Zack Umbarger, 16, and Cody Umbarger, 12, will be the youngest hikers to ever complete the entire length of the Florida National Scenic Trail, doing it in sections over a two-and-a-half year journey.
Organizers say hiking the entire 1,300-mile trail is not a feat for the faint-of-heart. The first “thru-hiker” was Steve Sheridan in 1989. In 2012 only 11 individuals from states including Vermont, Montana, California, and Florida managed to complete the entire trail.
Zack and Cody have slogged through the swamps of Big Cypress Preserve near the Everglades, around Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida, along the lovely Suwannee River, and through the piney woods of the Panhandle where they will end their adventure by crossing the Florida State Line into Alabama.
Along the way they have experienced various wildlife; beautiful forest trails; the kindness of strangers in some of Florida's small towns; gorgeous sunrises and sunsets; frighteningly severe storms and flash floods – all creating memories that will last for a lifetime.
There will be an End of the Trail Celebration on March 30th, at the Florida/Alabama trailhead, north of Hurricane Lake in the Blackwater River State Forest. The trailhead is approximately 57 miles northeast of Pensacola, Florida. Family, friends, and the public are invited to participate in cheering the boys on as they complete the trail to make this accomplishment as memorable as possible.
To read about the boys' adventure, visit their Trail Journal at: http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=11304