Interview with David

Tell us about your outdoors experience. How much do you like participating in outdoor activities?

I enjoy hiking the most, and mostly long day hikes. I will ride a mountain bike on the wooded flat trails of Florida. I use to kayak quite a bit, but gave it up, as it was hard finding people to kayak with.

During Florida's rainy season I will hike up in the Appalachians of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. And, in the dry season I will hike the Florida National Scenic Trail. I get outside quite a bit when not on a hiking trip. I run, and really enjoy trail running, and I will pay a weekly visit to a remote beach. 

If you knew someone who was thinking of starting to hike, what advice would you give them?

I would tell someone new to outdoor activities to join a group. And stay with the group for a while and learn from leaders about safety and proper preparations for the activity. They should also be in touch with any merchants that are specialist in the activity that they want to pursue, like an outfitter. 

What was your first GO excursion? How did it turn out?

My first excursion with GO was a 3 day canoe trip through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. This was a one way canoe led by a gentleman from Atlanta. We used a local outfitter to drop us off at the start and pick us up on the other side of the Refuge. The leader was very knowledgeable of the plant and animal life in the Refuge. I did this event two more times, bringing friends with me.

What do you like about GayOutdoors?

One of the things that I like about GO is the diversity of activities offered by its members. Also, events are posted year round.

Describe Florida to our outdoorzy members who’ve never been there? Is there a lot to do if you are an outdoor enthusiast?

Florida is an amazing place for outdoor activities. We should start with the beaches. We have shell beaches, sand beaches and powdery white sand beaches. Many remote, undeveloped beaches too.

Hiking offers a great deal of diversity. There are prairie lands, pine forests, oak forests, wetlands, palm forests and occasional hills. Many local trails throughout the state as well as the Florida National Scenic Trail (which runs from the Big Cypress Swamp, in the south, to Pensacola in the northwest). Local Florida Trail Association groups maintain the trails.

Rivers and lakes are numerous. My favorites are the rivers for kayaking. The rivers that have their beginnings in a swamp will be dark brown, such as the Suwannee, and the spring fed rivers are crystal clear, such as the Wacissa. The bright green cypress trees along the Suwannee River, in the springtime, are breathtaking. There are many coastal salt marshes which offer an entirely different experience.

Biking is also readily available in Florida. Great mountain biking trails throughout the state, such as those near Santos, and many paved road bike trails through the wilds of Florida, on old rail lines. Florida is also a hunting and fishing paradise.

What changes have you made to better our environment?

I have not made many changes to help the environment. Though I am always picking up trash form the beach at Guana Preserve beach. Mostly plastic. 

What outdoor skill you wished you had?

Reading the night sky. Does that count? Being able to recognize the constellations.

What is a memorable mountain moment?

A memorable mountain moment took place on my second trip to the Canadian Rockies near Banff. Our second trip took us to remote hikes (no crowds). And we hiked to a place called Arnica Summit, which gave us views of lakes in two directions. While hiking up the trail we ran into a couple coming down. They suggested getting off of the trail at Arnica summit to get great views. They instructed us to just follow their footsteps in the snow to the views. Wonderful view in both directions. We got some great au natural photos that day at 32 degrees, but sunny.

What is your favorite day hike?

My favorite day hike is on the Florida National Scenic Trail in the Ocala National Forest. From the Farles Prairie Recreation Area north to Juniper Springs Recreation Area. Varied Florida habitat. But the hike north out of Juniper Springs is rather dismal Florida scrub.

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Hiking, backpacking, camping or vacation adventures, GayOutdoors [GO] has been the LGBTQ outdoorzy community leader for the last 22 years. We are an informal group of diverse hiking enthusiasts in the United States with a shared love of the mountains who prefer hiking with friends. We invite you to join us on our hikes, to post hikes for other members to join you and to share your hiking photos, stories and advice.

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