Backpacking Myakka River State Park
A few months ago, I went backpacking in Myakka State Park. Before hitting the trail, I grabbed a local (well, St. Pete) beer at the park's restaurant and checked out the canopy walk. My hiking partner and I stayed at Mossy Oak, the closest primitive campsite. No car camping or access, no running water, no toilets, no electricity. There was an older couple at the campsite across the clearing from us and we ran into a few wild pigs on the way out, but other than that, it was just the two of us walking through oak/pine forest and palmetto prairie.
Things you need to know about backpacking Myakka:
- Bring water, lots of water. There is no water on the prairie, even if you're equipped to purify it. And even in the winter, Florida is hot.
- If you're only out for a night and want to minimize your load, brings sandwiches instead of a camp stove and fuel. Sandwiches are tasty.
- Watch out for spiders. When it's dark, if you shine your flashlight on the ground, you might see lots of sparkly dots. These dots are not glitter that some careless camper spilled--they are spider eyes watching you.
Backpacking can be so odd -- you might expect it to have been a silent, tranquil trip, but even with one person it felt startlingly noisy. Two people moving through the woods and grass, talking, setting up camp together, eating food together. Human beings are loud. Bodies are loud, and they need a lot of things. You stomach gurgles, you get hungry, you open your trail mix and munch. You need to pee, and spend the whole time crashing around looking for a good spot and worrying about scaring wild pigs in the underbrush. You pitch a tent to sleep in, take it down in the morning, make a lot of noise. It's a lot of work, being a human, having a body.
I've never backpacked alone before. I wonder what the silence is like, if there is any.