Monday, January 29, 2018

Here's a glimpse at how challenging the swamp hike is.

The underwater trail is muddy, slippery, uneven, and full of tripping hazards (such as cypress knobs, broken-off water logged tree branches, limestone potholes, and more). Once the mud is stirred up it's impossible to see beneath the water's surface so each step is a blind step of unknown adventures! The cypress trees thrive in this environment and oftentimes are the only thing that prevents a hiker from falling every few steps. It's easy to feel like you are a human pinball or attempting to learn a funky new swamp dance as you shift to the left then slide to the right only to see time and time again your natural reactions quickly moving your legs, feet, and arms to keep you staying upright. It's absolutely amazing that many hikers never completely fall and most don't fall more than 2 or 3 times during the entire 7 mile roundtrip journey. Swamp hiking is very slow. We average about 1 mph compared to 2-3 miles per hour on a typical hiking trail. Swamp hiking is also very physically and psychologically demanding because your feet sink into the mud and it taxes your hip flexors, leg muscles, stabilizers, ligaments, and tendons. This can easily result in fatigue, frustration, and the temptation to give up. But these are also the reasons why the hike is so rewarding and satisfying. It's a 2 day lesson and test on overcoming. There's no better reward than experiencing the exhilaration of overcoming... of beating a challenge from a worthy opponent. And that's what the swamp is - a hauntingly beautiful worthy opponent that's always trying to knock you down. These kind of adventures give immense value to your life as you learn to overcome difficult circumstances, adversity, trials, strongholds, and even spiritual warfare. These types of adventure equip you with the tools needed to become a victor instead of seeing yourself as a victim. And it helps to have optimistic, fun-loving, "challenge-accepted" type of people to share your journey with. From my experience, the type of people willing to go on a swamp hike are a very rare breed... I'd guess it's less than 1% of the American population. But I love hiking with that 1% who often meet difficulties with laughter. This was a great group of swamp hikers!!

We hiked 7 miles roundtrip on the southern most portion of the Florida Trail. The Florida Trail stretches 1300 miles from the southern swamps to the northwestern panhandle of Florida. The Everglades portion that we hiked in is considered the most difficult section, but I would wish this adventure upon everyone!