Cape Coral man, two friends to hike Everglades Trail
Although more than 11,000 miles normally separates Michael Schneider-Christians and John Loveridge, the two friends’ mutual love of hiking often brings them together to share their passion.
Schneider-Christians, who lives in Cape Coral, first met Loveridge, who hails from Perth, Australia, by a chance encounter that can only be described as fate.
“I was planning a trip to see my sister-in-law who loves in Perth,” said Schneider-Christians, “and she suggested I take a look at a hiking trail there called the Bibbulmun Track.”
Schneider-Christians said that although he was not familiar with the Internet at the time, with a little persuasion, he hopped online and decided to get some information about the trail. That is where he found an advertisement Loveridge had posted looking for a hiking companion for the Bibbulmun Track.
“I called him and met him (Loveridge), and let him know I would be visiting in 2007 and would join him on the trail,” said Schneider-Christians.
Loveridge, who had already hiked the 600-mile trek in 2006, said he could not wait another year to go, but said he would join Schneider-Christian when he came to visit Australia.
“We only completed about half of the whole track, but it was a wonderful experience,” said Loveridge. “It took us 26 days.”
Both men say their love in hiking starts from their love of nature.
“I love to see wildlife and nature that is native to wherever I am hiking,” said Loveridge.
“I love to hike because you can’t view nature better any other way,” said Schneider-Christians. “On foot you can see everything around you. It is not the same if you go by car, plane or train.”
After the first hike, the two men have since kept in touch. Loveridge is currently in the Cape visiting with Schneider-Christians, and the two will leave for a weeklong trip to hike the Everglades Trail down to the Panhandle.
“Our friend, Bill Fields, will also join us, and it should take us about six days,” said Schneider-Christians.
“This is my first time in the states and I am anxious to see panthers, deer and alligators,” said Loveridge. “We don’t have those back home.”
After the trio gets back from their trek through the Everglades, Loveridge and Fields will venture off to undertake the Appalachian Trail. Unfortunately, Schneider-Christians will only be able to join them for a week’s worth of the hike.
“Although my wife is very understanding and supportive of my dreams, I can’t leave for three months,” said Schneider-Christians.
Three months is how long it will take Loveridge and Fields to start in the middle of the trail and work their way up to the end at Mount Katahdin in Maine.
“For as long as I am healthy, I will keep hiking,” said Loveridge.