Homage to the Mosquito: SOBO Days 12 – 16

It’s always funny to introduce myself to fellow hikers as a Canadian. Because, despite having foreign citizenship, I feel anything but foreign to New England. Having grown up in a Canadian city that is just 4 hours from Millinocket, I actually live a lot closer to the SOBO start of the Appalachian Trail than most of my fellow hikers.

This means that I’m well-accustomed to the rural landscapes, the rolling green hills, maple and blueberry flavoured everything, and mosquitoes.

Ah yes, am I EVER well-accustomed to those flying vampire kamikazes.

The Mosquito Mystery

In childhood, and well into adulthood, I have forever been trying to find an answer to the simple question: Why do mosquitoes bite me so much?

I’ve come across many answers in my years of seeking, including: blood type, using fragrant shampoo, not using shampoo, wearing dark colours, the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, and hiking with any exposed skin. I have no confirmation as to the validity of any of these answers and remain ignorant to the real reason. Any mosquito scientists out there? Please advise.

Anyway, after spending a glorious near-o and zero day in Monson to recover after the 100-mile wilderness, I picked back up on the trail towards Caratunk, Maine. Fuelled by salad, sandwiches, coffee, and blueberry pancakes, and donning my new pink thru-hiker tag, I was feeling ready for the next section.

Mhm, that was, until I met my mortal enemy once again. Opening FarOut, my least favourite icon has quickly become one with a wave and grass, indicating a “bog”. Having recently adopted the trail name “Ducky”, this is kind of ironic, but let me tell you why.

The Encounter with the Mosquito

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is out. The trail is smooth. It’s a rare break from the relentless (albeit interesting) up’s and down’s of the Appalachian Trail. You’re starting to get hungry and you know there is supposed to be a water source nearby. Perfect. A snack break with ample water to hydrate. A dream come true. As your mind wanders to whether or not you’re going to crack open a chocolate chip or peanut butter flavoured protein bar, you start to hear a trickle. Just one trickle. And then your feet start to slow down, despite the smooth terrain. It’s almost like someone is pulling at your feet. Small tiny forest creatures of a sort maybe. Oup. No. That’s just mud. And then…and then you realize.

It’s a bog. Bog = mosquitoes.

Pulled back into the present moment, away from sweet thoughts of chocolate, peanuts, and gooey goodness, your senses start to come alive with the life around you. You’re certainly seeing bog. If you take a whiff, it’ll be a mix of pine and damp earth. You’re feeling the mud suction around your feet. You’re unfortunately not tasting a protein bar, but you are HEARING distant buzzing. Well, it starts as distant until it quickly becomes not dissimilar to the roar of a kamikaze plane zooming for your ears.

But it stops, just short of your ears, as you try to swat the little scoundrel away. Alas, not for long, as you see movement in your peripheral vision, the mosquito is heading straight for your eye. Closing your peepers quickly and raising your poles into the air in defense, it’s too late, for you can feel it now. The eyeball attack was a decoy for the mosquito’s actual plan, to divert at the last minute, head South, and land just behind your knee cap and take a greedy bite.

And now, even worse, you are left with a battle wound that will mildly irritate you for the rest of the hour. Maybe the rest of the day or week until it scabs over, if you’re unlucky. Those damn ‘squeeters.

Back to Reality

So, anyway, after a NOBO hiker reassured me that the mosquitoes are less intense in the mountains of Southern Maine and New Hampshire, I was able to withstand the mosquito attacks from Monson to Caratunk, uplifted by the surprisingly flat terrain. And the summit of Moxie Bald provided a break from the mosquitoes, too. And that’s not to mention that mosquitoes can’t swim either, so a big thank you to Pleasant Pond for the dip on a warm day. And of course, mosquitoes also don’t visit the interior of the Northern Outdoors, so my blueberry beer was enjoyed in peace. And finally, pelting rain and the high speed canoe ferry across the Kennebec River also kept the mosquitoes away. So not all was lost, and I still have room left on my body for more mosquito bites in the next section. Wish me and my 25% DEET good luck.

*some sections of this post may or may not have been dramatized.

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Jul 27th

    I feel your pain. Ironically, in another week or so almost all the Mosquitos will be gone from northern Maine. I have hiked in the 100 Mile Wilderness many times in August. Mosquitos were not an issue. Ever.

    I think it is your blood type that really attracts them other than you are food. Your blood type just makes you more appealing than others.

    The only solutions that I have found to work is coverage by clothing, move faster than they do, and DEET. Lots of DEET.

    Luckily, NJ, where I live has no mosquitos. LOL

    Good luck!

    Cheers.

    Reply

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