For my birthday in late July I decided to visit some of the beautiful praries we have in Florida. We started our first hike fairly early in the morning. We hadn’t walked for long when we came across this beautiful deer eating breakfast. She didn’t mind in the least that we were walking down the trail. It was a great wildlife encounter and a great start to my birthday adventure!
We started the second hike of the day later than intended. It was incredibly hot out with zero relief from the sun out on the prairie. While nearing the halfway point we spotted this HUGE gator. I mean, seriously! Check out the head on this animal. I’ve grown accustomed to being around gators — even large ones. However, this one was a beast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large alligator in the wild before. Florida impressed me once again. The brutal sun and the over-100-degree-F temperature weren’t so impressive, though. A little after the halfway point, I started to feel a sense of impending doom as my stomach started cramping and nausea set in. We had a minimal amount of water left and still a good deal of the trail in front of us. With nowhere to cool off and no shade in sight, I pressed on. Nearing the trailhead, I remembered we had some PB&Js packed in one of the backpacks we were carrying, and keeping the PB&Js delicious and cool was a glorious, cold ice pack. The boyfriend grabbed me the freezer pack, and I immediately began to apply it to my neck and wrists.
We finally made it back to the trailhead where I sat in the shade until I thought I could make it to the car — I was sick. Like, really sick. I’m no stranger to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, but I really wasn’t very well prepared to deal with being sick that day. Thankfully, I was able to quickly recover once I got back to the car and could spoil myself with AC and cold water. I was even able to end my birthday evening with my favorite deep dish pizza. All in all, it was a great day full of wildlife sightings and adventure!
I can’t wait to go back to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park during another season when it’s not so hot out! It truly is a beautiful place with an abundance of wildlife.
Have you ever been to Paynes Prairie? If so, what season did you go and did you get to see any wildlife? Comment below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.