2001 was an anomaly in the annuals of Florida Trail history because of the sheer number of hikers who both started and completed the trail. The reason? Ten Million Steps, originally published in 2000, recounting M.J. “Nimblewill Nomad” Eberhardt’s 1998 journey up the East Coast from Key West to Quebec. In his book, Eb popularized the concept of the Eastern Continental Trail, which had been first hiked in 1997 by Jon Brinda. To complete the ECT, it was necessary to hike the entirety of the Florida Trail.
Eb also completed a southbound hike in 2001, becoming the first person to do so on the Florida Trail. He used the Western Corridor, making him the first person to do so on a thru-hike. Sandra Friend assisted him with trail data collected as she hiked ahead of him around this big new loop around Central Florida, which she and her hiking partner Rich Evans dubbed “The Big 360.” Making the loop was now possible because of the completion of the Florida Trail along the Cross Florida Greenway in 2001.
In 2001, Bonita “Mother Goose” Helton became the first woman to complete the ECT. She’s retired along the Florida Trail in North Florida and you’ll frequently see her on the trail during hiking season.
Hikers completing the Florida Trail in 2001
Michael “Del” Delahunty, Lancashire England
Luke “Gnome” Denton, Tampa FL
Eb “Nimblewill Nomad” Eberhart, Dahlonega GA (SOBO)
Ray Ford, Nikiski AK
Judy Geisler, Fort Myers FL
John “Jester” Gillette, Hartford CT
Bonita “Mother Goose” Helton, Kentucky
Kim Jackson, Boulder, CO
Dakota LaCroix, Cambridge MA
John “Johnny Looksee,” Hordup OH
Gene McAllister, South Paris ME
Joe “Wild Flamingo” Masters, Elkton FL
Sridhar “Spider” Ramasami, Fort Lauderdale FL
Jeff Smith, Cedar Crest NM
Mike Smith, Cedar Crest NM
Ed Talone, Silver Spring MD
Links that lead to Amazon.com provide a minor source of income for the Florida Trail Hikers Alliance in the form of commissions on your purchases.