Breaking In Boots

Blackwater River State Park - Juniper Trail

Pre-AT Hike

This past Sunday I went for a decent sized day hike in the Blackwater River State Park in Florida. I was joined by my father-in-law, my son and another young boy. We hiked approximately 8.5 to 9.0 miles down Juniper Creek Trail taking somewhere around 3 hours and 15 minutes.

The terrain was flat and winding overall and mostly in the shade. Mosquitos were a bit of a problem when we stopped to break, but that was if you stood in the shade; they weren’t as bad in the sun. For the first part of the hike Juniper Creek was fairly close to the West of us providing some pretty scenery. The trail is well kept and there weren’t any highly technical challenges. If you are looking for a hike around this distance I would heartily endorse this trail. Though, you may want to check the recent weather. There are parts of the trail to the South that were low-lying and would most likely be marshy with much rainfall.

The purpose of our hike was to do a little practice/preparation for an upcoming hike on the Appalachian Trail. Me and somewhere between 5 to 8 other guys will be hiking for 3 days in North Georgia. I’m really looking forward to getting up in the mountains, experiencing nature and challenging myself.


So what’s with the title? What boots? Well, I recently purchased a new pair of Merrell Phoenix Mid Hiking Boots. They were extremely comfortable on my feet and provided just the right amount of support in the ankles. I don’t like feeling like I’m walking around in a cast, but I do want a little support and these shoes struck just the right balance for me. I had to tighten the laces after about an hour of walking, but I think that’s because it’s the first real wear they’ve seen since I bought them. I guess they loosened up a bit.


I also took my new backpack out. It’s a Camelbak 2012 Vantage FT – 33L capacity with a built-in 3L hydration system. The pack road very nice and I have no complaints about the adjustments on it. I didn’t have it fully loaded, so we’ll see if that holds true on later expeditions. As for the hydration system, you could definitely tell it was a Camelbak. Easy to fill, easy to drop into place, easy to drink… and easy maintenance. I’m glad a spent a little extra and went with the brand.

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