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Posted: 2/24/2020 12:58:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/8/2020 10:16:58 PM EDT by spartacus2002]
The next Florida Battle Buddies Tampa Bay Area chapter hike is planned for 14 March 2020 at 0900 at a location TBD in Hillsborough County (the Tampa side of the Bay area).  Details to follow.  Mark your calendar now.

For now, plan on meeting at 0900 for rucksack weigh-in, safety brief, and step off at 0920 for a 3-mile hike at 3mph followed within 10 minutes by another 3-mile hike at 3mph pace, after-action review afterward, we'll be done by noon.  This way, people can get Provisional-qualified on one leg and (if they wish) knock out 3 miles toward their 3rd-Class rating, or knock out a 6-miler for their 3rd-Class rating.

You do not need to march with a rucksack to attend!  Just showing up for the networking, camaraderie, and walking is awesome!  Arfcommers from anywhere are welcome, we had some from Jacksonville, Miami, and Tallahassee at our February hike.  If you're thinking about starting a BB group in your area, come attend this one (or any other FLBB hike) to see how easy it is to arrange.

Stay tuned.

ETA: if you intend to come, please post in this thread so we can get a tentative headcount going.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SITUATION:
--Interest among FL Arfcommers in Battle Buddies organization continues to grow.
--weather in Tampa in mid-March is projected to be morning low of 59oF and daytime high of 79oF, partly cloudy
--Lettuce Lake Conservation Park has a 1.71m paved hiking trail with some sections of wooden boardwalk.
--Lettuce Lake Conservation Park has a $2/vehicle entry fee.

MISSION: Florida Battle Buddies conducts a 3.42-mile hike at Lettuce Lake Conservation Park (6920 East Fletcher Avenue, Tampa, FL 33637) on Saturday, March 14 2020, at 0900 with an optional additional 3.42-mile hike immediately afterward.

EXECUTION:  
INTENT: The intent is to meet fellow Arfcommers, engage in physical fitness training through hiking, meet the hiking requirement for Provisional rating, and optionally complete a portion of the hiking requirement for 3rd Class rating.
CONCEPT OF THE OPERATION:  .  Assembly Area is the parking lot at 2 on the map here, at the extreme far end.  Look for me wearing OD green ballcap with BFL.  Arrive at the parking lot not later than 0900 so we can get rucksacks weighed, safety brief completed, and step off not later than 0920.   NOTE: Rucksacks are NOT required! If you are physically unable to carry a rucksack, or to hike, but want to meet and network with your fellow Arfcommers, SHOW UP ANYWAY!.
--We will hike the 1.71-mile loop twice at a 3mph or greater pace, return to Assembly Area, conduct a quick stop to allow people to adjust their gear, add/remove weight, get water, etc., and then do a quick after-action review (AAR) for those not doing the loop a second time.
--
COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS:  For those seeking to attain Provisional rating, bring a 35lbs. rucksack/backpack to wear for the first 3-mile hike.  For those seeking to complete the second 3 miles towards the 3rd Class rating’s cumulative 18-mile requirement, bring an additional 10lbs. to add upon completion of the first 3-mile hike.  I will provide a scale to weigh participants with and without rucksack to determine rucksack weight.  I will record participants screen names and completion of the requirements.  
NOTE 1:  Water and LBE/PC worn on body do not count towards rucksack weight.
NOTE 2:  If you aren’t currently conditioned towards hiking/ruck-marching, go easy and do NOT overdo it with the weight.

SERVICE & SUPPORT:
--Open carry of firearms is illegal in Florida except under limited circumstances that do not apply to this hike, so we shall not hike with rifles or visible firearms.  
--Wear non-cotton socks and broken-in footgear.  This is NOT the time to break in new shoes/boots!
--Bring water that is easily accessible on the hike without having to stop, drop your rucksack, and paw through it.  Sodas just make you thirstier, so I recommend leaving them at home.  NOTE: Water for consumption during the hike does not count towards the 35/45lbs. rucksack weight.
--Bring an individual first aid kid (and blister-control items if you haven’t conditioned your feet).
--Wear sunglasses and cap with brim, use sunscreen and bug spray.  Check the weather that morning and dress accordingly.  Your body will generate heat while hiking, so don’t overdress; we don’t want any heat casualties.
--Bring snacks.
--Some of us have never hiked with significant weight before, some of us haven’t ruck-marched since 15 years and/or 50 lbs. ago.  Tips on hiking available here http://westernrifleshooters.blogspot.com/2008/11/weapons-platform-major-xxxs-ruck.html
--Restrooms are available at several places along the hiking route, but not at the Assembly Area.

COMMAND & SIGNAL
--Post questions in this thread or IM me through the site.  I will monitor it up until 0900.
--If you want to help out in any capacity or have special skills (medic, etc.) let me know either via IM or in this thread.  
--For curious onlookers who ask who we are or what our purpose is, answer them honestly that we are a hiking club.
--I’m open to any suggestions.  All of us together are smarter than one of me!
Link Posted: 2/24/2020 1:33:10 PM EDT
I'll be there unless something comes up. Flatwoods Park comes to mind as they have a 7 mile paved trail, but Hillsborough River State Park offers a lot more "natural" hiking opportunities from what I've seen. Nice scenery as well, and we'd probably get less weird looks from passing joggers

Anyone have recommendations for a good pack under $100 by the way? Looking hard at this one but I'm open to any better options out there.
Link Posted: 2/24/2020 1:42:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/24/2020 1:44:33 PM EDT by spartacus2002]
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Originally Posted By CZRider:
I'll be there unless something comes up. Flatwoods Park comes to mind as they have a 7 mile paved trail, but Hillsborough River State Park offers a lot more "natural" hiking opportunities from what I've seen. Nice scenery as well, and we'd probably get less weird looks from passing joggers
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Originally Posted By CZRider:
I'll be there unless something comes up. Flatwoods Park comes to mind as they have a 7 mile paved trail, but Hillsborough River State Park offers a lot more "natural" hiking opportunities from what I've seen. Nice scenery as well, and we'd probably get less weird looks from passing joggers
Hillsborough River State Park is my primary choice, just gotta see if there is an easy "3 mile + 3 mile" route.


Anyone have recommendations for a good pack under $100 by the way? Looking hard at this one but I'm open to any better options out there.
I have never seen that pack in person.  But the first thing I looked for is "does it have a frame, either external or internal?"  because a frame helps support and stabilize the weight so it's not flopping all around, and helps distribute the weight between shoulder straps and hip belt.  A good internal frame pack will have two vertical metal bars (shaped to fit your back on each side of your spine) in it to keep the weight distributed and stabilized properly.

I read that pack's description, and all I see is "LightBeam single aluminum stay" which appears to be one vertical metal bar right along the spine.  That's not gonna work well; it's gonna irritate your spine and it's not really going stabilize the weight.   Unless someone with experience with carrying this specific pack with 45lbs. says otherwise, I'd pass.

Then there's the whole "internal frame v. external frame" debate.  I don't know enough about, or have enough experience with, internal frame packs to speak to that.
Link Posted: 2/24/2020 7:08:26 PM EDT
If you can stretch your budget by $20, I'm seeing people say good things about the USMC FILBE pack.    May be able to find it cheaper elsewhere. But only get a genuine surplus pack, not a knockoff.
Link Posted: 2/24/2020 11:19:39 PM EDT
Unless something unexpected happens I'll be there.
Link Posted: 2/26/2020 8:33:50 AM EDT
Definitely food for thought on the FILBE, thanks! I had only seen them new and figured they were all quite a bit more expensive. I'd kind of like to actually see it if I was buying used milsurp though, so I may check some local places first. We'll see!
Link Posted: 2/27/2020 2:14:20 PM EDT
Tagged.  If you keep this East of I-75, that becomes more doable for me.
Link Posted: 2/28/2020 9:08:15 AM EDT
Interested pending details...
Link Posted: 2/28/2020 9:19:49 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By GaryM:
Interested pending details...
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I'm reconning a proposed site this weekend, will issue OPORD shortly after.
Link Posted: 2/29/2020 2:27:40 AM EDT
Have to miss the Orlando hike, but me and the sammich maker will be there(unless something major comes up). Hope to see as good a turn out(if not better) than our first hike.
Link Posted: 2/29/2020 4:34:18 PM EDT
Anyone been to Lettuce Lake Conservation Park?  Per this map, they have a 1.71m hiking loop we could do twice around for each lap.

I am planning a 6-mile hike in Pinellas County in April (Possibly along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, unless a bunch of middle-aged white guys marching with rucksacks would be too high-profile there ) and a 6-mile hike in Tampa in May at Hillsborough River State Park.
Link Posted: 2/29/2020 7:44:23 PM EDT
For future reference other locations to consider would be Myakka, plenty of trails and most of them on dirt roads and paths. For a small group early AM a hike to "Deep Hole" would be great. About 3 miles in and 3 miles out and dozen of 'gators to look at (restrictions apply). IIRC Alafia river has good trails too. A serious challenge would be to simply hike the beach, any beach (Ft Desoto has some remote areas, not many eyes but no spring breakers either).  That would be murder on the quads but the scenery (once again, spring breakers) would be awesome.
Celery fields is small but has an actual genuine hill! About 60" high if anyone wants to include a bit of elevation change (not easy to do around here) A couple of laps going up and down would do it.
Anyway I will try to make whatever we do next. Hope to see everyone there.
Link Posted: 2/29/2020 8:13:44 PM EDT
A walk on a beach is an excellent option if we would be too high-profile at Campbell Causeway.
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 9:15:06 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By GaryM:
For future reference other locations to consider would be Myakka, plenty of trails and most of them on dirt roads and paths. For a small group early AM a hike to "Deep Hole" would be great. About 3 miles in and 3 miles out and dozen of 'gators to look at (restrictions apply). IIRC Alafia river has good trails too.
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Originally Posted By GaryM:
For future reference other locations to consider would be Myakka, plenty of trails and most of them on dirt roads and paths. For a small group early AM a hike to "Deep Hole" would be great. About 3 miles in and 3 miles out and dozen of 'gators to look at (restrictions apply). IIRC Alafia river has good trails too.
All sorts of locations like that will be on the table later this year. I want to get some three-milers and six-milers scheduled throughout the year.


Celery fields is small but has an actual genuine hill! About 60" high if anyone wants to include a bit of elevation change (not easy to do around here) A couple of laps going up and down would do it.
FIVE ENTIRE FEET HIGH?  I don't know if my calves would survive
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 9:46:19 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By spartacus2002:
Anyone been to Lettuce Lake Conservation Park?  Per this map, they have a 1.71m hiking loop we could do twice around for each lap.
View Quote
We've been there and done that a few times - nice place, very pretty. Moderate to high traffic on weekends so expect lots of gawkers. One option is the boardwalk trail at the back but it's not the widest in some places and we'd probably be single file a lot. I believe they have some paved or shell trails that might work better for us but I've seen a lot less of those as we're usually out on the boardwalk one. Might stop by there today for recon.
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 10:04:38 AM EDT
Came across this map of all the trails - we'd be doing laps, but it'd be doable.

Another useful find - Hillsborough County has a website that may help a lot for location and route planning. Haven't really looked it over but I think it could pretty much turn into a FLBB event calendar for this side of the bay.
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 10:08:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/1/2020 10:10:13 AM EDT by spartacus2002]
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Originally Posted By CZRider:
We've been there and done that a few times - nice place, very pretty. Moderate to high traffic on weekends so expect lots of gawkers. One option is the boardwalk trail at the back but it's not the widest in some places and we'd probably be single file a lot. I believe they have some paved or shell trails that might work better for us but I've seen a lot less of those as we're usually out on the boardwalk one. Might stop by there today for recon.
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Originally Posted By CZRider:
Originally Posted By spartacus2002:
Anyone been to Lettuce Lake Conservation Park?  Per this map, they have a 1.71m hiking loop we could do twice around for each lap.
We've been there and done that a few times - nice place, very pretty. Moderate to high traffic on weekends so expect lots of gawkers. One option is the boardwalk trail at the back but it's not the widest in some places and we'd probably be single file a lot. I believe they have some paved or shell trails that might work better for us but I've seen a lot less of those as we're usually out on the boardwalk one. Might stop by there today for recon.
your recon would be very helpful with regard to parking.  Per my map/AppleMaps/GoogleEarth recon, it looks like the first left after the entrance is a long parking lot immediately adjacent to the trail.  If you can confirm, that would be great!
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 6:18:08 PM EDT
Stopped by earlier, and yeah, the paved loop runs adjacent to that first lot on the left. There's a wood and metal pipe exercise station (looks vaguely like a jungle gym) adjacent to it that we could congregate at. The second lot in the park is also relatively near this area.

Alternatively we could meet another trail connection toward the back of the accessible park area. If you follow the entrance road back there's a T intersection with Osprey Dr and if you take a left and stay on that road it ends in a larger lot with a guide sign for a lot of the features in the park.

We took a brief walk down the paved trail  - similar to the last one, but much more tree cover. They also have natural trails crisscrossing the paved loop to add a little challenge and variation to the route.
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 6:27:18 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By spartacus2002:

FIVE ENTIRE FEET HIGH?  I don't know if my calves would survive
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Heh.... 60 feet...
Link Posted: 3/1/2020 6:28:07 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By CZRider:
Stopped by earlier, and yeah, the paved loop runs adjacent to that first lot on the left. There's a wood and metal pipe exercise station (looks vaguely like a jungle gym) adjacent to it that we could congregate at. The second lot in the park is also relatively near this area.

Alternatively we could meet another trail connection toward the back of the accessible park area. If you follow the entrance road back there's a T intersection with Osprey Dr and if you take a left and stay on that road it ends in a larger lot with a guide sign for a lot of the features in the park.

We took a brief walk down the paved trail  - similar to the last one, but much more tree cover. They also have natural trails crisscrossing the paved loop to add a little challenge and variation to the route.
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@CZRider  approximately how many parking spots are in that first parking lot to the left?  Just need a rough estimate; I don't want to make that the rally point if there are only 10 parking spots.
Link Posted: 3/2/2020 8:38:29 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/2/2020 8:39:08 AM EDT by Inimicalone]
I'll be there Spartacus!
I'm looking forward to meeting more of yall.
The Orlando hike this weekend was a blast!
On a side note practice with your ruck, I only discovered mine was set up horribly once I had started the hike.
Link Posted: 3/2/2020 9:07:32 AM EDT
Good to see I wasn't the only one getting a lesson. My takeaway was "use a pack with a waist belt or your shoulders will hate you for days"

Spartacus - definitely more than 10, probably closer to 40-50. That said, it's a popular place and that's probably the most heavily used lot since it's the first one everyone sees. I'd lean toward the back option. Might go back next weekend as well with a little more time, will try and get photos if i do. Tried getting aerials with the drone but there's way too much tree cover for them to be useful.
Link Posted: 3/4/2020 5:09:48 PM EDT
forgot to bump for OPORD posted
Link Posted: 3/4/2020 11:20:18 PM EDT
That location works for me.  Barring unknown events, I'll attend and attempt the first 3 miles loaded.  If not wrecked, I'll join the 2nd hike w/o pack.
Link Posted: 3/8/2020 9:57:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/8/2020 9:58:52 PM EDT by CZRider]
Got back out there today with time to actually do the whole loop. Couple of suggestions for the OPORD: I think you're conflating two locations with the "first lot on the left, extreme far end" bit. The first lot you encounter coming in is immediately adjacent to the trail but it only has 10 spaces. There's a second lot ("1" below) about 200' up the road that has 20-30 more spaces, which is the one I was thinking of when I mentioned it. They're close enough to effectively be one big parking area, but I don't know that I'd want to meet up there as you could have a bit of a hike if all the spots closer to the road are full. My suggestion would be "2" as it's a more compact area with plenty of parking right next to the trail. I think that's the one you meant to reference as the "extreme far end". In the course of our walk we passed another lot ("3" below) that has similar benefits.

Other observations: trail is nicely paved and has a little bit of shoulder area throughout. Plenty of tree cover. Recommend we stick exclusively to the paved loop, as the little unpaved cut-throughs have some dead ends we could wander into, and the boardwalk is a relatively narrow and high-traffic area so we'd have to spend most of it single-file. Moderate amount of foot traffic in the area, with a few bicycles and a fair number of dog walkers out and about. Backpacks weren't an uncommon sight but a guy on a ruck march would definitely look out of place and our merry band is likely going to turn a few heads.

Final note for the OPORD: The bit about hiking north then south doesn't really apply here, as it's all a big loop. Also, found a good place for a photo op if everyone's inclined

Map of locations above
Link Posted: 3/8/2020 10:17:25 PM EDT
Thanks CZRider, OPORD corrected!
Link Posted: 3/11/2020 3:50:10 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/11/2020 3:51:25 PM EDT by CrazyIvan6115]
So who is on for the hike this weekend?

Have only seen a couple speak up.  

Peoples, we should keep this going and build on it.

Attachment Attached File
Link Posted: 3/11/2020 8:29:41 PM EDT
Still planning on being there. Hopefully it takes off - if we can get a consistent group going maybe we can branch out to things like a range day or advocacy event too. Get fit, share skills, have fun, get better!
Link Posted: 3/12/2020 2:24:54 PM EDT
I'll be doing this one and the Ocala one on 4-18.
The wife and I have been scouting other sites around the Ocala area, we may try to find something near lake panasofkee that maybe you guys could drive up for.
Link Posted: 3/12/2020 5:55:05 PM EDT
Afraid I won't be making this one.  I'm stuck on call this weekend.  Good luck, and enjoy the hike.  
Link Posted: 3/12/2020 10:34:49 PM EDT
I still plan to attend.
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 7:42:45 PM EDT
I unfortunately won't be able to come to this one due to work, we are trying to crank out everything we can before the potential shutdown for Coronavirus.

Everyone have fun and I hope to see you guys at upcoming events.
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 7:46:49 PM EDT
Understood

See everyone there tomorrow
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 8:04:41 PM EDT
Fo Dog Jr and I are planning to be there.
Has anyoned Purell'd the paths yet?
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 8:48:40 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By GaryM:
Fo Dog Jr and I are planning to be there.
Has anyoned Purell'd the paths yet?
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LOL!  I think it's BYOP.

Reminder to all: there is a $2 per vehicle entry fee.

Link to park: https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/locations/lettuce-lake-conservation-park

I recommend people print a copy of the map and bring it with them.  Remember, parking area 2 on this map is where we'll meet.
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 9:01:07 PM EDT
Originally Posted By GaryM:
Fo Dog Jr and I are planning to be there.
Has anyoned Purell'd the paths yet?
View Quote
A few of these should do it...    

Attachment Attached File


Me and Mrs. CrazyIvan will be there.    
Link Posted: 3/13/2020 9:34:47 PM EDT
I have to miss this one, I had my wisdom teeth out today and  I’m barely coherent. Good luck guys, I’m gonna try and make the next one since they shutdown every thing I have time now lol.
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 7:16:52 AM EDT
On my way.
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 7:39:24 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By tcfla:
On my way.
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Ditto
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 7:50:50 AM EDT
I'm going to have to stand down on this one.
I'm feeling a little under the weather.
Have fun y'all!
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 8:38:57 AM EDT
Heading out shortly.
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 8:54:05 AM EDT
I think I am here...
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 9:18:40 AM EDT
We are at the parking area for shelters 5-7
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 12:00:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2020 7:49:34 PM EDT by CZRider]
Another one in the books! Good walk, perfect weather, good conversation and camaraderie all around. Can't wait for the next one! I took a walk out onto the boardwalk to wind down - definitely too narrow and crowded for the main walk, but great for ones and twos who want an easy and scenic stroll.
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 1:06:27 PM EDT
Yep, I enjoyed it too. Looking forward to the next one.
Thanks again to everyone who set this up and everyone who came.
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 2:36:52 PM EDT
Good hike!  I enjoyed meeting and chatting with every one.  Park is nice with improved trail and cover from the sun.  I felt good after despite how out of shape I am.  1.75 hrs in the car later and I am definitely feeling it.  Good step in getting fit again.  I'll post info on boot shopping as well as vid I took when I sit down at a real computer.

If you haven't joined an ARF-hike-athon, do it!
Link Posted: 3/14/2020 2:46:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2020 2:46:49 PM EDT by spartacus2002]
AAR:

Good hike, weather was in low 70s when we started, upper 70s/low 80s when we finished.  Lettuce Lake Conservation Park is heavily wooded and shaded, with unpaved, paved, and boardwalk trails criss-crossing it.  A total of 6 hikers showed up -- and Fo Dog Junior!

We originally conceived of two loops around a 1.71-mile loop of paved and boardwalk, but quickly ditched that once CZrider pointed out that the 6'-wide paved trail reduces to a 4'-wide trail on the boardwalk - which is not conducive to hiking with rucksacks and sharing the boardwalk with all the birdwatchers, even in single file.

So, we did a 1.24-mile paved loop several times, with one trip on an unimproved-but-level path.  After 3.5 miles we decided to keep going for 6 miles, and made it at the 3mph+ pace with 2 minutes to spare.

We got a couple of funny looks but made sure to make eye contact, smile, and say "good morning" to everyone we saw, which calmed the waters.  The park had a couple of bird-watching groups at 9am but by 10:30am traffic on the pathway really picked up.

A pic of half the group, on the march:

.
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