Tropical Trekkers Chapter: Trail Maintainer & Activity Leader
FTA Awards: Special Service 2005
Fare Thee Well, Jack…
by Lori Burris
Jack P. Hailman is a man who will be well remembered. Indeed, he’d be hard to forget. A principled man with little fear of expressing himself. He and Liz lived life to it’s fullest, seeing much of the world and sharing their adventures with us. We knew Jack mostly through his efforts as an FTA volunteer and avid hiker, so his other many and varied endeavors will be left for others to chronicle. Jack saw the Florida Trail through the eyes of a backpacker and was a great advocate for the thru hikers, few as they were. While others were focused on day hikers and membershipnumbers, Jack maintained his purpose of making the trial hospitable to thru hikers. When theS65 D was closed to hikers after 9/11, Jack started scouting the route through Chandler South and Chandler North, removing a great deal of road walk. We take those sections as given today, but it was Jack that made it happen – for the thru hikers. The move to the East side of the Kissimmee River was also put in place by Jack. Bluff Hammock and Boney Marsh could be avoided by day hikers at times of high water, but not thru hikers. The East side , while mighty wet this season, is much drier. In addition to the high water problem, there was a great deal of maiden cane grass that created a maintenance problem. Perhaps most significant, there were 30 bridges and boardwalks in various stages of disrepair and no means to obtain permits to replace them (FTA had already removed two bridges with no plan for replacement, leaving hikers to ford river sloughs) Jack was passionate about moving the trail and his enthusiasm was infectious. Jack and Liz lead many work hikes from No Name slough to US 98 at Micco, get-ting many Trekkers on board with the plan. Prior to the actual move, there were blue blazes across about half of the East side trail.
Jack’s hiking was certainly not limited to the Florida Trail, or even the US. Jack and Liz hiked in more countries that I can begin to remember. Many of us had the good fortune to hike on the Appalachian Trail with Jack and Liz. Between them they could identify most of the birds and most of the plants. I still have a booklet Jack put together arranging the flowers we were like to see by color to make it easy for us (novices) to ID them. Jack was like that, thorough in his research and presentation. An excellent photographer, Jack put together many Power Point pro-grams that he shared with us. Machu Picchu and Australia come to mind as my favorites. We may not be able to hear him speak now, but we’ll remember what he had to say for years to come.