This past week, I hiked and backpacked with a bunch of Boy Scouts and another Assistant Scout Master thru the Myakka River State Park. My younger son David, was one of the Scouts. For those who don’t know where Myakka State Park is located, it is right near Sarasota, Florida. Backpacker Magazine, named it one of the Best Trails in America. The Park consists of 28,758 acres and has one of the largest remaining tracts of Florida’s dry grass prairie. The first day we camped at the Youth area. The next day the plan was to hike from the Trail Head to Honore camp site. The campsites are primitive and include fire rings but do they not have any running water. The hike on the path is 8.7 miles. Each of us had about 40 to 50 pounds on our backs (all of our food, tents, and other camping gear). The first day on the hike we had another Assistant Scout master who has never done a Boy Scout Hike before. He was switching off with another Assistant Scout Master meeting us at Honore Camp Site who would finish the rest of the trip with us.
The newer Assistant Scout Master looked at the map which showed the 8.7 mile winding trail and said, “there must be some shortcut.” He then told us he needed to be somewhere at a reasonable time in Sarasota. He then pointed to the map and said, ‘there looks like there is a road that runs thru the trail that will take off 2 miles of our hike.” The boys looked at him and heard him say “there is a shortcut-you don’t have to do as much work to succeeded” and became very excited. I reminded them that we had a plan and a route and we should try to follow as best as possible. He said, “well let’s take a vote, who wants to cut off 2 miles of their trek?” You probably guessed correctly, that I was the only one who voted to stay the course.
This experience reminded me of two common experiences: the first is when someone asks me to beat the market to make up for lost time. There are a lot of individuals who have not saved enough for retirement and are trying to make up for their ‘bad luck’ by trying to get better returns. In this case the word luck translates to poor saving and investing habits. The second experience is when someone sees the market going up and says, I must get in quick (I don’t want to miss it) and I want to get out quick when it goes down. These market timers tend to sell when the market is low and buy when the market is high. Their returns are lower because they are following the herd.
As we went along this shortcut, we discovered the beauty of the Florida Prairie’s and the map showing roads was really a fire line and was not always accurate. We wandered around for about an extra 4 miles. We ended up using GPS coordinates (when we had cell service) to find our way. We ended up walking about 12.5 miles that day. The rest of the trip we followed the trails and averaged about 8 to 10 miles a day of hiking. It was a great time. The boys even learned how to properly filter water from streams.
Sometimes the shortcuts work if they are based on experience. For example, let’s say someone had been down this path before with others and can act as a guide. This person or team could help you determine if the extra miles are required or if there really is a short cut.