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Big Cypress Preserve: Never Hike Alone!


Photo by: Fahad Asmat


Hiking the Big Cypress Preserve:

One thing I have learned from friends and those who know the glades to a far greater level than I ever will. Never ever hike alone, always have a partner, a plan, and emergency supplies. If you have a Conceal Weapon carry it, you can never be too safe. I do not encourage people to go out there and start shooting at anything unless you have a valid reason such as if your life was in danger, or during hunting season and that is providing you have a hunting license.  Shooting at anything for mere fun and pleasure may lead to hefty fines from Florida Fish & Wildlife.


I will be honest, on all my travels I have yet to shoot at anything. I found it is far easier to use my walking stick to push away any venomous snakes that are too close. I also have come to terms with leaving wildlife along and never pester a gator. Just go in there and enjoy your experience, your journey and trip and leave only with your memories and photos.  Make sure if you are hiking the glades to buy a good knee high set of anti venom snake boots. They will come in handy and it is far better to have a pair than to be caught by surprise, snake bites are not fun and some can be extremely painful and life threatening.


When I travel out there, I sure as heck do not hike the swamps alone. Now some people will state that it is okay to do so, and I will not argue their debate. If that is what you want to do then go for it. However if something happens, I am certain you will rethink that thought real fast, especially when there is no one there to assist or help you. Bear in mind I do not claim to be an expert at this, I am just passing along some common sense. In my opinion, I have no time for macho bravado in the glades or miscalculated moves, I have no time for ego thrill seekers or people who want to harass wildlife. All it takes is one stupid move, one move to make things go from good to bad real fast, and that is an outcome I cannot afford to take.


Stay safe, and Hike on!

The awakening

The awakening

There is an awakening process that one goes through every time they escape into nature. It makes you come to terms with the things you need, and that which you do not truly need but want. I used to be a selfish city slicker who never cared about wildlife, about nature nor about these beautiful places that few dare travel to.  Honestly when I look back in time, I can say that I was lost, I was ignorant and dumbfounded like many who never leave the concrete jungle.  I recall how I used to yearn for meaningless material gains, for big homes, fast cars and expensive toys.  I foolishly believed that those things had some form of value in my life, and by owning them it would define me. As I stated prior, I was truly foolish, blinded, confused and led astray by this facade of social conditioning, it made me believe that financial gains exceeded spiritual ones.
As time trickled by I found myself exploring the vast wilderness which Florida has to offer. With each experience gained in the wild, I came to terms that the simplicity of nature yielded far greater rewards than the complexity of civilization, spiritual lessons were learned. I came to terms that nature needed someone to fight for it.  Because if people did not fight for it, it would surely cease to exist. Our lands would be stripped clean of nature resources and laid waste by huge corporations, lobbyist and greedy politicians.
Am I Conservationist?
Now let it be known that I am not in any way a so-called tree-hugging, environmental warrior, nor do I wish to be. I will not stand with a picket sign protesting, nor will I preach that hunting should be abolish, or that people should not live in rural areas. We all teach awareness in our own manner, I cannot and will not dedicate my life to conservationism. If I did I would be homeless and broke, just another voice on a podium with no foundation to stand on. I refuse to do that and it is not because I do not love nature. On the contrary, it is because my first priority is to provide for my family. The wild lands have been here way before we were born and shall remain long after we are gone.
Let’s be real for a second.
I find that many conservationists preach a good preach, but do not back what they state. They wish to scream about big oil while using oil products and driving gas consuming vehicles. You cannot have it both ways, if you are going to preach about something, back it up and practice what you preach. Cut off those products that are created by that which you are fighting against, and if you cannot do that. Then merely just sit down and spare us the hypocrisy.

I do bot sugar coat things.

I try to do my part to teach awareness, to stand up, to arise and to help the fight against corporations that exploit and destroy our lands. Corporations that state they are for the preservation of the wild lands, yet deal with lobbyists on matters that interest them financially.  It seems nowadays all is not what it appears to be on that subject. Many companies talking about the preservation of the glades and nature, while doing so only for government grants. The same applies to conservationists who will tell you what is good for nature, yet never leave the concrete jungle to experience nature. Alas, the wild lands need preservation and that is a fact.  Developers need to stop seizing and destroying wild habitats to build new communities in. Agencies need to stop giving third party and foreign interest groups licenses/permits to steal natural resources that exists within preserves.
However to me, the greatest danger of all is people who move here from northern states. They do so to escape the policies of those states they resided in, only to come here and try to make this state a copy of the state they left. Florida is unique, it is different, we believe in God, guns and glory. We believe in the American way taught unto us by our forefathers, not preached unto us by politicians wanting to destroy our history.

Now I may receive some slack for writing this blog and I honestly do not care. I did not do so to appease anyone, for no one is worth appeasing more than God. I did so to get my thoughts off my chest, to state my feelings and to call out the hypocrisy that others will not.





Nature is Priceless

Nature is Priceless

Nature is Priceless

I’ve come to understand that monetary gains are worthless compared to spiritual gains. I have come to realize that nature offers us so much more than civilization ever could and therefore is why I explore, I discover, I venture forth into the unknown, into the realm of God’s nature. I always state that no matter what the issues you may have, or the trouble that rides upon your brow. A trip in nature heals your sorrows, clears your mind and bring a sense of calm into a troubled soul. It is as if a great weight was lifted off your shoulders, as if mother nature held you close and took away your anguish.

I believe that mere words cannot simply define that feeling one possesses when they leave the boundaries of nature.  All I know is that you feel good inside, spiritually healed and rejuvenated in an intuitive manner. Maybe it is just me, but I feel recharged, alive, and motivated to do more after such an excursion. My body may feel tired after a long hike, but my mind is not for it feels accomplished. Each hike, each trip, each adventure leaves me yearning for more, leaves me wanting to return. I cannot get enough of it, the trills, the experiences, the putting you body through challenges where you come forth victorious. This is something that cannot be experienced on a couch, or watching a video, or reading a story. It is best experienced outdoors in the bosom of nature where wild things roam. 

Maybe I am just getting old, maybe it is the fact that monetary gains do not appease me anymore. Maybe I have grown tired of tourist traps, and being surrounded by so many people.  Perhaps it is the fact that I have found refuse in nature, I have found calm being one with it, and have found that life doesn’t have to be complex.  For with complexity comes more problems, with complexity comes more distractions, with complexity comes more headaches than the simplicity of nature.

“Life was never meant to be complex, but rather simple. It is we who complicate it further by reinventing the wheel of existence, that has long been invented.” – George Mercado


Why Swamp Hike?

Why Swamp Hike?

Why do we swamp hike?

I hear the question from many whom have asked me this on various occasions and my response is always the same. You will not truly comprehend the reason why we venture forth unless you travel out there. You will never really grasp the feeling by my pictures nor my videos, it is something you must experience first hand. You must breathe the fresh air, you must hear the winds coming from miles away, you must experience God and nature up close and personal to fully appreciate it. It is an experience that opens your eyes, your heart and your mind, that truly makes you come to terms with how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

You see my friends, the world is a vast and beautiful place which we become blind to as we perceive the false narratives that everything in life we need is around us. Sadly to that I must state what is around us is nothing more than distractions, false impressions and human conditioning. It steals away the feelings that burns in our chest to be free to explore, to discover, to venture off into the wild, to escape to that promise land that God has always provided for us.

So why the everglades?

Because to me that is a slice of heaven that civilization cannot duplicate, or master. It is a place I call home, a place where I will never be judged, slandered, looked down upon, or labelled. Truly it is one of the first places I have ever hiked in Florida,  and where I know many people with same minded interests.

But isn’t the everglades dangerous?

My answer to that is what in life is not?  Yes sometimes the paths may be full of perils, predators and dangers, but the same can be stated walking down a city street.  You see alligators, snakes and all else are far less dangerous that the common thug or crazed, drug influenced psychos that surround us on a daily basis. At least in the wild what you see is what you get, in civilization everything hides behind a facade, a false image and barely anything is what it is. At least in nature a pig is a pig, no matter how much lipstick you put on it.

Now some friends of mine may think I am literally insane for venturing forth in this manner. With that being stated, I believe what is insane is going through a lifetime not experiencing true nature.  Not witnesses first hand the beauty that exists out there, or not venturing forth to become one with God’s creations. I believe that if more people did, they may discover a part of themselves that they never realize existed. They may come to realize that in the process, they may in fact find themselves becoming closer to God.

So am I insane? I think not, for more insane is to be a puppet of society, sealed away in a cage, rather than being free.

~ George Mercado




Snake Boots

Snake Boots

Snake Boots Yes or No?

For me there is no other option if I am going to hike the tall grass or swamps of the glades, its all about safety above all else. Now I know some people will say they don’t use boots or do not need them. Well to me it depends on what path you are planning to hike. If you are doing dirt roads or large buggy trails with little surprise vegetation then regular boots are fine.

However for me when it comes to overgrown paths and risky conditions, I will not take the chance.  I need to be safe especially in conditions or terrains where rescue is not an option.  I know some people will say they are uncomfortable, ugly or get heavy when wet. To me being uncomfortable is a small price to pay when you think of the risks involved. I would rather pay for a good pair of boots than pay for an expensive trip to the hospital any day.

Why do I use anti-venom snake boots?

Because a bite from a venomous snake can be painful, costly, and above all deadly. Some hiking trails and areas have no ambulance, police, or fire rescue, let alone phone service. Sometimes the only emergency rescue you are afforded is from the Coast Guard air rescue. Let me state that this a very costly rescue service. Second: one vial of anti snake venom can cost upwards of $15k-20k. yes that is thousands of dollars per vial. Someone bit may expect needing upwards of 10 injections. If you have no insurance, consider yourself forced to deal with a very expensive doctor bill.

So in my opinion, an $80-$150 anti-venom boot investment can go along way toward protecting one self against venomous snakes. It is also far cheaper than an air rescue evac and emergency treatment costs. When you are looking at a bill which can exceed $150k-$200k for a snake bite, snake boots are a win win for sure!.   Snake boots come in many different brands, sizes, heights and features. However, I prefer boots which are laced and zippered for easy removal.  I also suggest that you save your receipt and box, most snake boots are warrantied for a year, and will give you a new pair if they have a manufacture defect, and fail to keep water out.

Water Issues?

I have found that NO SNAKE BOOTS are 100% waterproof as they claim, expect your feet to get wet pending on how deep you get into the water. Also knee high boots serve better protection as some snakes will strike from the knee cap down. I would also highly suggest buying some knee high, snake boot socks to go with them. A good pair of snake boot socks are comfortable and keep your feet feeling good on long hikes, plus they are anti scent so no foul odor.  In regards to them getting wet in the swamps, that is just a fun part of the adventure. As I always say a hike is not a hike unless you get wet.

After you use your boots and they get wet:

1: Rinse them out inside and out with fresh water when you return from your hike
2: Hang them to dry upside down
3: Do not leave them in the garage for too long, I had a pair that simply rotted out.
4: Do not leave wet boots or socks from a hike in your vehicle, they will smell badly.
5: Take care of your boot as they are a life line.