A different journey: Hiking during wet conditions
The winter months invite increased visitation to the island and more frequent use of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s hiking trails. In recent years the trails, such as the Erick Lindblad Preserve trails, were either dry or drying out by January. However, as a result of the active wet season, most of them are currently impassable without waterproof boots and expectations of getting muddy.
“Many people aren’t aware that hiking through shallow puddles or muddy trails during non-dry times can be quite enjoyable with the proper footwear and clothing,” SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz said. “Not only is it less crowded, but there are often different and increased opportunities to see wildlife, especially species that you may not see otherwise, such as river otters, freshwater fish, frogs and aquatic reptiles.”
Florida is known for its vast wetlands, and wet hikes are not uncommon. Some ecotour companies offer guided wet hikes in areas such as Big Cypress National Preserve.
If you are planning to embark on this type of adventurous hike, wear rubber or waterproof boots with long pants, the SCCF reported. When standing water is present, mosquitoes are not far away, so long-sleeve shirts are recommended, as well as sunscreen and insect repellent. A walking stick is recommended to help you maintain your balance and footing, and to feel the depth of puddles in front of you before you walk through them. Remember to stay on the trails at all times.