Local man hikes to raise $12,000 for charity

Savannah Vasquez
Jerry Ogle at the start of the Florida National Trail in Fort Pickens.

Jerry Ogle has made it back to Destin from the charity hike that he and a friend embarked on in September. The goal of the 1,100 mile hike along the Florida National Trail was to raise $25,000 to replace four air-conditioning units at Hosanna House. The 501-3c charity house is a shelter that helps women coming out of desperate living situations to get care, counseling, and work so they can transition back into the community.

“I got about half of the monetary goal, at $12,000 and that’s enough to make a commitment on two A/C units and get them up and running before the summer, and that’s huge for me,” said Ogle.

The three-month journey began Sept. 28 from Fort Pickens and followed the Florida National Trail south to Big Cypress National Preserve.

When asked what the highlight of the trip was, Ogle said the scenic views and natural wildlife were what took his breath away.

“The prettiest part of the hike was the northern part from Fort Pickens to Ocala. It was just remarkable, just absolutely gorgeous,” he said. “I saw every conceivable animal; alligators, snakes, coyotes, a bear, lots of deer and turkey; just a lot more wildlife than I saw on the Appalachian Trail.”

Ogle said although he was well prepared for the hike he still ran into many unexpected adventures along the way.

“I didn’t get too many surprises, but there was quite a lot more water on the trail than I expected in South Florida,” he said. “From Orlando south, there was just mud and water, and so much of the trail was torn up by wild hogs. In some spots we were literally up to our waist wading through water. I could see why there are not a lot of through hikers in Florida. By the time you get to the Everglades and Cypress Swamp, that was the most difficult 39 miles I’ve ever hiked in my life. It was brutal…with every step, if you hesitated at all you would start sinking.”

But even with the tough terrain, Ogle said the trip was worth the hard work he put in.

“It’s very satisfying, soul satisfying to say you’ve hiked the entire state of Florida,” he said. “Now I can say I’ve hiked all the way from Maine to Florida if you add my Appalachian trail hike.”

As for the overall takeaway, Ogle said it was great to be able to share his passion for helping others with those along his journey.

“I couldn’t have met nicer people along the hike,” he said. “I was able to tell a lot of people why I was doing this and people just wanted to be a part of it.”

For more information or to donate to Hosanna House visit