Class of 2015

As Tom “DoinIt” Kennedy will tell you, 2015 was a crazy wet year for hikers headed northbound. The Kissimmee River overflowed into Starvation Slough and Kissimmee Prairie, the St. Johns River overflowed into the Orlando area, and the Suwannee River was so high that the Florida Trail had to be bypassed on roadwalks during the peak of hiker season. Nevertheless, these hikers persevered through some of the wettest and coldest conditions we’ve seen in years, some of them because legendary hiker Nimblewill Nomad showed up to tag along with them and provided a bit of trail magic from end to end. We also held a meet-and-greet with Florida Trail founder Jim Kern at an AYCE in Lake City, which was Jim’s first-ever opportunity to meet thru-hikers on the trail.

Hikers completing the Florida Trail in 2015

Mary “Believe” Aikens, Boca Raton FL
Karl “Bat”, Portland OR
Howard “Bo” Callaway, Bristol VA
Jonah “Dudetrek” Boyer, Bozeman MT
Ricky Cardona (Warrior Hike), Lake Mary FL
Melton “Grits” Cockrell, Quitman GA
Corey “Pointman” Emerson, Edison NJ
Ed “Sunny D” Gram, Charlotte NC (SOBO)
Ron “Lucky” Farrier, Ann Arbor MI
Allen “Ancient Sinner” Force, New Port Richey FL
Matt “Softwalker” Halfar, Mahomet IL
John “Sycamore” Hildebrandt, OR (SOBO)
Tom “Doinit” Kennedy, Friendswood TX
Karri “Dos” Konga, Lighthouse Point FL
Al Learned, Port Hadlock WA (OLDEST FT thru-hiker at age 71)
Mary “Denali” McKinley, Niceville FL (SOBO)
George “5:30” Mudge, Crystal River FL
Jerry “T-Bone” Ogle, Destin FL (SB)
Daniel Parkison (Warrior Hike), St. Petersburg FL
Tom “TR” Richardson, Bradenton FL
Dave “Elusive” Roberts, Adelphi MD
Mike “Serge” Ruso, Brandon FL
Tess “Sweet T” Ippolito, Brandon FL
Marc “Skywatcher” Greenwald, Loveland OH
Glen “Captain Glen” Stanford, Naples FL
Chris Stefanovich, Anchorage AK (SOBO)
Leslie “Divine” Thompson, Bradenton FL
Mary Urban, Wisconsin Rapids WI
Nancy “Singing Sister” Wilson, Kingsport TN
Kent “Mister Blister” Wilson, Kingsport TN
“Sid the Sloth”

Southbound hikers experienced the best conditions along their journey, although the Suwannee region was still flooded for many of them. The peninsula had finally dried out when they reached Central Florida. In 2015, Denali became the first woman to complete a southbound hike – especially notable as she is an active volunteer with the Florida Trail Association both on work crews and on the board of the Choctawhatchee Chapter, which oversees trail maintenance in Eglin. 2015 was the year of the first successful Warrior Hike launch in Florida, with Ricky Cardona and Daniel Parkison immersing in the outdoors to walk off their time in the armed services.