Little Manatee River State Park’s hiking trailhead had been north of the main park entrance. With a left off a dirt road, you could easily had missed it on north 301. During this trek, rain had saturated portions of the ground. The pathways had still been manageable. For a hike over 6 miles, it had provided a diverse range of greenery, waterways, and life forms.
The first 2 miles of the trail had been marked by pine trees, sand and palms. About 2.5 miles in, the dry trail had given way to flooding. If you had been trying to keep your shoes clean and dry, good luck! Getting beyond 3 miles, a considerable portion of the trail had been underwater. Logs and branches had been the primary means to circumnavigate sinking further into muddy waters. Animals had been extremely active in digging up dirt everywhere. I had thought armadillos or forest rangers, until viewing a paw print, wild hogs. Grunting 30 feet away, one pig had startled me to the point of taking my breath away. In total, I had seen three wild hogs moving through the forest. The last 2 miles, the trail had run as close as 4 feet parallel to the river. With the afternoon rain, I had been extremely concerned about snakes being flushed from hiding. Combining this with the overgrown brush and a deluge, a sense of vulnerability had been present.
Close to the end, I had lowered my guard for a moment clearing the path with a walking stick. Almost immediately I had inadvertently run into a spider web. The web’s banana spider had then fallen onto my shoulder. At that point, I had thought, “I’m fraked!” Fortunately, I had instantly flung the insect back onto the ground while moving along in the rain. Some say these golden silk orb-weavers had been harmless; however, with a second major run in with a banana spider, I had queried and posted their toxicity courtesy of Wikipedia.
“The venom of the golden silk orb-weaver is potent but, not lethal to humans. It has a neurotoxic effect similar to that of the black widow spider; however, its venom is not nearly as powerful. The bite causes local pain, redness, and blisters that normally disappear within a 24-hour interval. In rare cases, it might trigger allergic reactions and result in respiratory troubles (in asthmatics) or fast-acting involuntary muscle cramps. As the genus possesses relatively strong chelicerae, the bite could leave a scar on hard tissue (such as fingers).”
For this excursion, I had suggested procuring convertible pants from Bass Pro Fishing shop ($30), a hat, a walking stick, bug repellant, and waterproof case for any electronic device. With respect to primitive camp site, it had some benches, a fire ring and a good clearing. For this portion of the Florida trail, I had recommended to any experienced hiker. It had made for a fun and challenging afternoon.