During the winter, when the majority of our visitors frequent the CREW Project’s trails, our trail conditions are mainly dry with near-perfect weather each day.
But for those of us who live here year round, we see a completely different side of the trails, with pea-soup-thick humidity, daily afternoon thunderstorms and trails covered in water – the kind there is no tip-toeing around.
Taking that first step into the water can be unnerving. And asking other hikers can either be encouraging or a total nightmare when they send you links to videos of floating masses of fire ants.
(don’t go Google that. REALLY. Don’t. Just trust me.)
We reached out to some of our favorite wet-walk enthusiasts to you help get you prepared and hopefully inspired to take that first step, or dip, on the trails.
Why do you love wet walks?
I love the connection with the energy and life around me. It feels so much different and so much stranger when the water is swirling around my legs. I am in an intimate connection with the swamp. – Brenda Thomas, FGCU and former CREW Trust education coordinator
On a hot and humid summer day, the water is cool and refreshing. – Dick Brewer, CREW Trust volunteer naturalist
Summers are so hot and walking into the water is instantly refreshing. It’s much cooler than you think it will be. -Anne Reed, CREW Trust communications strategist
We might not have mountains in Florida to make you feel humble but a swamp walk sure can! -Jessi Drummond, CREW Trust education coordinator
I love wet walk because you get to see things you don’t see in the dry season and from a totally different perspective. -Janet Bunch, CREW Trust volunteer naturalist
What is one must-have item for wet walks/wet hikes?
A walking stick for balance and for estimating the depth of the water ahead. -Dick Brewer
I recommend long pants. If you are anxious about being in the water, something covering your legs can ease the anxiety. If the water is deep you will likely feel vegetation brushing against your legs and you won’t be able to see what it is. You’ll feel a bit more protected with a layer on your legs. -Brenda Thomas
The must-haves are a bottle of water and a change of clothing (underwear included) or a giant trash bag for the way home! -Janet Bunch
A walking stick. Pro tip – have a way to measure the depth of the water on your walking stick. -Jessi Drummond
Lightweight hiking pants. They don’t soak up the water and then dry relatively quickly. Oh, and make sure you can tuck them into your socks – I have had way too many pine needles creep up my pants during wet walks. -Anne Reed
What is one piece of advice or one tip you have for folks going on their first wet walk?
One important thing to remember about wet walks is to stand up straight. If you are leaning forward and you slip, you’ll go right down. A corollary to this is that you feel with your leading foot and don’t transfer your body weight until you are sure of your footing. Long pants and long sleeves will sae you from a lot of bug misery. -Janet Bunch
The water really isn’t as dirty as it looks, so don’t let the color intimidate you. It’s just brown because of the tannins in the leaves. -Jessi Drummond
Take turns being in front if you go with a group of people. It’s a lot like cycling – you can draft off the lead hiker so pushing the water with your legs doesn’t take as much energy. But if you are drafting, it’s only fair to take your time at the front too because pushing all of that water is hard work! -Anne Reed
Have a towel and a dry set of shoes, and possibly clothes, waiting in the car. -Dick Brewer
Take your time! You need to enjoy every moment you are in the water. Experience the connection and the enrgy and the emotion. Plus, the greatest risk in the water isn’t the things swimming in it – it is you tripping and falling, especially if there are cypress knees hiding under the surface.