Editor’s Note: Today the four of us were scheduled for a ranger-led swamp walk in Big Cypress National Preserve. We all went in with different expectations, and we all left with different experiences. Following is the first of our He Said/She Said: Swamp Walk Edition.
That went better than expected.
Originally, the thought of wandering through muddy knee-deep water, not knowing where I was going or what roots/holes/alligators lurked below while wearing regular sneakers wasn’t especially appealing - especially when said sneakers were of the Goodwill variety, therefore without much traction and lots of extra space inside.
The beginning was exactly as I expected. Walking through deep mud in a grassy area with the sun beating down was not much fun. We lost Boyink to not feeling well in this section, and I was close to following him back to the truck. However, I pressed on, not sure how it would turn out.
The mud got deeper the farther we went, and turned from the consistency and look (but not the smell) of regular chocolate frosting to the consistency and look of aerated chocolate frosting. Eventually, the mixture turned watery, which, being at the back of the pack, was a mixed blessing. While it was better than ankle-deep mud, the rest of the group stirred up the bottom so much, I had to go on feel alone to guess where the afore-mentioned roots/holes/alligators were. At some point, though - somewhere around shin-deep, I think, and also about the time my legs got used to being wet - my mind turned to what we were doing and where we were.
We were wandering through the same swamplands that have been there since the creation of the Everglades area.
The water progressed deeper and deeper, eventually getting, in one hole, as far up as the bottom of my pockets. We continued to the Gator Hole - which had a surprising lack of alligators - and just stood for a bit to listen to the sounds of Big Cypress. Which also included a big jetliner headed for Miami. Thank you, Air Traffic Control. Perfect timing.
The way out was much easier than the way in. We took the second-shortest route from point A to point B. A little walking/wading/pulling-shoes-out-of-the-mud, and we were back. The cleanup was a bit of a pain. Swamp mud, like your average human, doesn’t like to let go of what it was attached to - although a hard spray of water eventually convinced it otherwise.
So. Lessoned learned. Never completely shoot something down before trying it. It may fall and hit you in the back. Which is especially not good if you’re on slippery mud like in Big Cypress.