~Woman kayaks 1,515-mile trail around state of Florida to earn distinction~
Jodi Eller is the eleventh person to complete the trail.
TALLAHASSEE – Jodi Eller, 31, of St. Augustine became the first woman to complete the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail that runs from Pensacola to Key West to the Georgia border. Eller paddled most of the trail in 2008 with husband Matt Keene, the first “thru paddler” of the trail, and she completed the remaining segments in late 2013.
“This trail is amazing,” Eller said. “It goes through so many different ecosystems. How the beaches change along the trail is just incredible. The trail made me a stronger paddler and it also redefined who I am in a way, bringing me back to the essence of being human. It’s a powerful experience to go through.”
Highlights of Eller’s trip included seeing a black bear cub in a tree along the Crooked River near Carrabelle, island-hopping in the Indian River Lagoon and experiencing “perfect water conditions” for her last segment from Flamingo to Everglades City through Everglades National Park.
“The Florida Park Service offers many ways for Floridians and visitors to experience the real Florida, whether by kayaking, hiking, biking or swimming on a warm summer day,” said Donald Forgione, Director of the Florida Park Service. “I applaud Jodi and others who are able to get a special glimpse of Florida through the amazing Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.”
Eller, a kayaking guide for St. Augustine EcoTours and an Environmental Science teacher at Flagler College, has this advice for paddlers interested in taking on the trail: “Do your research prior to your trip by reading everything on the trail website. Beginners paddling with friends can attempt this and build muscles and skill along the way, but it would be best to experience different types of water conditions first. Hopefully, more women will want to do it.”
Eller is the eleventh person to have completed the entire Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail since it opened in 2008. Currently, two retired police officers from Charlotte, North Carolina, Marc DeLuca and Jim Windle, are paddling the entire trail. They have completed more than half of their journey.
For more information, visit www.floridagreenwaysandtrails.com.
About Florida State Parks, Greenways and Trails
The Florida Park Service is the proud recipient of three National Gold Medals for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, making Florida America’s first three-time Gold Medal winner. The awards were received in 1999, 2005 and 2013 from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.
Florida’s 171 state parks and trails inspire residents and visitors with recreation opportunities and scenic beauty that help strengthen families, educate children, expand local economies and foster community pride. With 161 parks, 10 state trails, nearly 800,000 acres, 100 miles of beaches and more than 1,500 miles of multi-use trails, visit soon and often to enjoy Florida’s natural treasures. Download the Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger® mobile app, available on iTunes and Android Market, to plan your trip and enhance your experience while visiting. For more information, visit www.FloridaStateParks.org