Friday, March 1, 2024
Home Backpacking All Smiles in Sarasota – The Trek

All Smiles in Sarasota – The Trek

by Staff

But there I was. It was 10:30 at night and I was listening to a herd of wild boar snorting and squealing their way through the darkness. My imagination ran wild as I envisioned a behemoth boar crashing through the brush and slamming into my hammock. Owls would hoot and screech back and forth for hours. In an hour a coyote would quietly sneak through our site, ten feet from my sister’s tent. Then at 1am an angry (or more likely scared) armadillo would charge directly at my hammock before quickly darting off into the bush, while dozens of mosquitoes deafeningly buzzed around me. Somewhere not far off in the distance a cow was mooing what I can only assume roughly translates to “get the hell out of there!”

The aforementioned hammock that the angry armadillo charged. Guess he doesn’t like olive green.

I’ve spent a lot of time camping and backpacking all over the US. New Jersey, North Carolina, Montana, Arizona, Michigan, and Colorado are just a few of the states where I’ve spent a night in the woods, but Florida was by far the loudest, most animal filled, and sleepless place I’ve ever backpacked.

So how did I end up at Myakka River State Park surrounded by all these strange sounds that go bump in the night? And maybe the better question is why?

Well when you start telling people you are gonna hike the whole Appalachian Trail, they want in on the action. And that was certainly true for my sister. Even though she had never backpacked a day before in her life, she is now determined to hike a section of the AT with me. She wanted an idea of what backpacking was like, and now that she lives full time in Florida, I thought it would be fun to explore new trails and new environments while I show her the ropes to backpacking.

Me and my sister in the dreaded sunbeaten prairie.

We settled on the Myakka Hiking Trail, a 33.7 mile loop that is also part of the famed Florida Trail. It certainly was fun, while being uniquely challenging.

First the challenges… Even though it was January, day time temps were well into the 80s, with 90% humidity on top of that. The trail also cuts through prairie lands of young palms and grass which left us exposed to the sun for most our hike. The trail was rife with hog divots, which one All Trails review likened to walking through a mortar field. This is indeed the most accurate description I can think of. Water was limited to what we packed in and a few shallow slow moving creeks, since the campground pumps were dry and we refused to drink out of any water hole with signs of hog activity. (I know my Platypus is rated to 99.99% effective, but that .01% is likely to get picked up in a mud pit filled with pig shit.) And then of course was the sleepless night filled with a menagerie of animals I have never encountered like pigs and armadillos that kept me from getting the sleep and recovery I wanted after a 10+mile day in the sun.

Would you drink out of this?

But the fun was great too! I rarely get to see my sister now that she is in Florida starting a family of her own while I’m in North Carolina. Exploring new plants and animals, sites, smells, and habitat was incredibly refreshing and welcomed after almost two years of exclusively backpacking the southeast states of NC, GA, and VA. And let’s be real, if I didn’t love the challenges that these trips offer me, would I still be backpacking after almost 10 years of doing it?

So overall, was Florida a good training trip for my upcoming thru hike? Probably. Sure it doesn’t have the elevation I’ll be climbing, but it taught me how to handle new challenges. Challenges like planning shade breaks via satellite view when going through exposed territory. Or how to get some sleep when everything in the forest is screaming at you. And also how to keep up the spirits of a newbie hiker when they are having a miserable time adjusting to the lunacy I like to call backpacking double digit days.

For the record my sister loved the hike and is beyond excited for our section on the AT together, but everyone knows how difficult it can be when you’ve been walking all day with 30lbs on your back. Even after putting her through the ringer, she repeatedly told me how awesome the hike was as we slammed some queso, tacos, and margaritas at Rocco’s Tacos.

One thing I know for sure is I’m excited for her to join me on part of my thru-hike. The hardest part for me now is waiting for my registered start date at Amicalola !

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek’s ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Tourism Trends