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Grab your pack and gather your camping essentials for Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s (LMC) annual Hike2O. The three-day, 2-night backcountry benefit will be held Friday, March 3rd, 2023 - Sunday, March 5th, 2023, where participants will join trail experts from the Florida Trail Association – Loxahatchee Chapter and Loggerhead Marinelife Center staff biologists as they are guided through some of the most iconic ecosystems of South Florida.
Registered participants will meet at the Everglades Youth Conservation Camp (EYCC) before boarding a complimentary shuttle to the trail heads and begin the challenge. Two groups of participants will hike approximately 30 miles from the ocean and lake trailheads of the Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail, connecting back at camp to symbolize the interconnectedness of Florida's natural waterways, enjoy a celebratory cook-out, awards ceremony, and complete the Hike2O challenge. Proceeds and funds raised from the Hike2O event will support Loggerhead Marinelife Center's marine conservation and education outreach to non-coastal schools across South Florida and promote environmental stewardship of Florida’s fresh and saltwater systems.
Each Hike2O registrant is REQUIRED to attend the *Virtual* Hike2O Mandatory Orientation Meeting on February 16, 2023 from 6:00pm - 7:30pm. All participants will be responsible for packing and hiking with their own equipment and provisions. Please read the Hike2O Trail Conditions & Event Details section before committing to this event. Following registration, each participant will be provided with a detailed Hike2O Participant Packet with detailed information on safety protocols, communications, event preparation tips and Q&A with LMC staff. The full Hike2O event is limited to adults ages 18+.
Not able to attend or under 18? Supporters of all ages can still make an impact by registering as a Hike2O 1-Day Challenger. Upon registration, 1-Day Challengers are encouraged to hike a distance of their comfort on any trail of their choice over the event weekend to help raise awareness involving our environmental assets of Florida’s important waterways. Each 1-Day Challenger will receive a participation packet, recognition on the participant roster, complimentary swag, and a Hike2O Hiker completion pin.
Don’t fall behind the pack! Capacity is limited to 40 thru-hikers, virtual registration is unlimited. Previous hiking and camping experience are strongly suggested for thru-hikers as there will be minimal trail provision. Attendees are required to bring proper equipment as well. Registration is $165 for full event hikers and 1-Day Challenger registration starts at $45. Participants must be 18 years or older to register for full 3-Day Challenge. *All proceeds will directly support marine conservation and education outreach across South Florida and promote environmental stewardship of Florida’s fresh and saltwater systems.
Our goal is to never exclude a hiker who can offer their passion for environmental stewardship on the trail. That's why we've teamed up with incredible sponsors that underwrite the registration costs of select thru-hikers who can help us fundraise by sharing their story and experience from the trail. If you are a resident of Okeechobee, Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade counties, are willing to share your experience as a member of a traditionally underrepresented group in the outdoors, and are interested in thru-hiking with us, please contact the Hike2O team at email@example.com.
Interested in learning more before registering? Sign up for a 30-minute information session and Q&A with our trail guides:
Register here: https://forms.gle/hVmY8jbEJMZHgfBp6
While beautiful, the Hike2O is not an easy undertaking. Campsites are primitive and trail conditions and weather can make the hike challenging. Prior backpacking experience especially in Florida is strongly recommended before attempting Hike2O. Those without prior backpacking experience are encouraged to participate in a Hike2O 1-Day Challenge anytime over the main event weekend. This is an excellent option for individuals to still support Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s marine educational outreach efforts and still receive the Hike2O event participation t-shirt, certificate of completion and virtual finishers award. See main event description for more information.
For the Hike2O full backcountry event, participants are responsible for their own water, meals and snacks on the trail. You should not rely on LMC or FTA to provide your water, food or any provisions on the trail. For each hikers’ safety, and for the safety of the group, all participants must provide their own tent/shelter and water filtration system. These items will be checked on the morning of Day One and hikers will not be permitted to board the bus to the trailhead without having these items checked off by an event guide. Hike2O Virtual Hikers are responsible for their own gear and safety wherever they choose to hike.
The Hike2O event takes participants through some of the best managed natural areas in south Florida and weaves through no less than five iconic ecosystems of Florida. However, hiking in south Florida presents unique challenges and hazards that should be taken seriously. The ecosystems on this beautiful trail change approximately every mile, from ancient sand dunes with scrub oak and sand pine to pine flat woods, palmetto and oak hammocks, cypress swamp and wet prairies.
Much of the trail weaves through cypress sloughs and wet prairie, inundating large segments of the trail with ankle – shin-deep water depending on the amount of rainfall leading up to the event. At one point along the trail, hikers may cross a waterway up to waist-deep depth. Moving from wet to dry conditions along the trail is one of the most challenging elements of this hike. It is critical that participants have appropriate footwear and clothing to complete the hike successfully.
Uneven Terrain & Sugarsand
As a ‘backcountry’ trail, there are no paved sections of the trail during the Ocean & Lake Hike2O event. Large tracts of the trail include hiking in fine sand, known as ‘sugarsand,’ through cypress roots, or ‘knees,’ and slippery mud. Please consider any injuries or sensitivities to uneven terrain before committing to this event. Hiking poles are recommended for hikers that have experience with Florida hiking but prefer extra support.
Wildlife & Prickly Plants
Backpacking and tent camping in south Florida means sharing the trail with Florida wildlife including, but not limited to: snakes, pigs, birds, and alligators in addition to many plants that can easily scratch skin. Participants should come prepared with basic first aid in the event of minor cuts, scratches, blisters, etc., however each hiking group will be staffed with one Certified Wilderness First Responder in the event of emergencies.
Historic overnight lows have been recorded in the low 30’s while day time highs have been in the mid 80’s. Rain is always possible. This event is rain or shine, so please ensure you pack rain gear accordingly.
Food & Water
Hikers are responsible for providing all of their own meals, water and equipment for the Hike2O event. There will be no water drops during the event and no potable water stops along the trail. A water filtration system is required for participation in the Ocean & Lake Hike2O event for this reason. Hikers are welcome to pack in as much water as they like so long as their pack does not exceed 40lbs. The suggested weight for an individual pack is approximately 20% of the hiker’s body weight.
Camp sites are primitive, meaning there will be no access to bathroom facilities, potable water, or any other typical amenity at a more formal campground. Hikers can expect possible uneven terrain at each campsite depending on conditions. We encourage each hiker to bring a ground tarp for their tent in the event of muddy or wet conditions.
Thank you to our generous Partners and Sponsors:
If you have any questions about this Hike, click the button below.
Water is the lifeblood of our planet and it can be found in every one of us. From alpine lakes to the ocean, we are all connected and dependent on healthy waters for our own health, well-being and future. Hands on experiences in water such as swimming, snorkeling, paddling and fishing are some of the most powerful ways through which children learn about their connection to water and its importance in their lives.
Research also shows that time spent in nature provides us with physical and psychological benefits as well as dramatically increases the likelihood of future conservation action. If you ask an outdoor enthusiast what inspired them to fall in love with nature, chances are you’ll hear something about an experience in the outdoors and not about an excerpt from a textbook.
However, there are many children and families to which nature – particularly getting in and on the water – is not easily accessible due to geographic location, socioeconomic impacts and dispositional barriers.
So, we set out on a mission to challenge individuals to help hike it forward.
The Hike2O Challenge supports our Oceans of Opportunity initiative, a multifaceted program that brings aquatic education and experiences with water to underserved communities and underrepresented groups in the outdoors. From scholarships to critical support services such as transportation and equipment, Oceans of Opportunity offers equitable opportunities for children and their families to learn and explore alongside marine scientists, naturalists and environmental educators in, on and around the water.
Since its inception in 2019, the Hike2O Challenge has connected 6,000 students to their local waterways and aquatic education. Organizations and groups supported by Oceans of Opportunity include Title I schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, centers for Autism, LGBTQ+ community centers, and the Deaf & Hard of Hearing community.
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