Week of September 19-25, 1996
The Everglades in October: Ick Question: I am going to be in south Florida for two weeks in early October. The Everglades are screaming for me to hike them (there's a good 20-mile trail on dry land, believe it or not). What can I expect in terms of weather and, more importantly, bugs?
Adventure Adviser: In the words of a dyed-in-the-wool Everglades National Park ranger, "Weather-wise, October may not necessarily be the best time to visit our lovely park." And that's an understatement, Shannon, compared to what else he had to say. September is prime hurricane month, so expect to get some spill-over into October. Regardless of whether any monster gales come ripping through the 1.5-million acre park (here's hoping they don't) afternoon and evening thunderstorms are de rigeur this time of year, as are daytime temperatures in the 90s and icky, off-the-chart humidity.
And the bugs are even worse. There are teeny tiny sand gnats, voracious skeeters ... you name it. "Pesky little things," says the ranger (and he's used to these things). "The other night they were so bad, so thick, they even drove me crazy." Let that be a warning to you. The optimum time to get your feet wet--or not--in the Everglades is winter, from early January through early May, when temps are nice and cool and the bugs have gone elsewhere.
Hope this doesn't totally discourage you. If you're going to be down in south Florida anyway, there's no harm in testing the water. Slather on the bug juice and prepare to sweat. Since you'll be expecting the worst, you very well may be pleasantly surprised. For more on the Everglades, call the Key Largo Ranger Station at 305-852-5119 or park headquarters at 305-242-7700.