It’s amazing what a difference venting and sharing a common nuisance can make. Despite a lot of moaning and groaning today was actually a lot of fun, solely because I could share my woes with those who understand. When I asked the first hiker I passed on the trail how he was doing this morning, he said he was miserable and pissed off. I asked if it was from the mosquitos and he said yes. At least I’m not the only one. When my alarm went off at 5am I wasn’t sure if I should stay in the safety of my bivvy or make a run for it in hope of some respite further down the trail.
I left camp just after 6am. My food was safe but tiny ants had snuck through the small holes in my OP sack and I had to shake off my food before putting it back into my pack. I tried starting the day with a positive attitude, determined not to let mosquitos ruin one of the most beautiful sections of the trail.
The day started with a few dicey river crossings, one over a very slippery log. I hummed the song from the scene in Dirty Dancing as I crossed, and made it safely to the other side. I bumped into a few hikers I haven’t seen for a while like Filthy and his friend whose name I always forget, Twice and Katie. I also chatted with a new hiker Mehap while I rested for my coffee and oats around 10:30am.
I leapfrogged with Twice and Katie a few times and the social interactions definitely improved my mood. Everyone is struggling with the heat, climbs and horrendous mosquitos and it really makes a difference to feel like you’re not alone in this living hell. When we all arrived at one river crossing that required either serious wet feet or taking your shoes off, I decided to strip down and have a quick swim and was joined by Katie and Delaware Dave who I also met today for the first time. It was a great decision as we were just about to go up our second 1000 foot climb for the day and it was scorching hot!
The descents have been a lot more painful than the uphill because they’re so steep and it feels like my knees are going to snap. This last climb was seriously pointless, 1000 feet up with no view just to go down again on the other side. Humph.
I was given four magical deet wipes by Twice and used one at around 4:45pm. It has worked a charm, mosquitos haven’t come anywhere near me. It worked so well I just stopped to make dinner and I’m sitting here freely in a t-shirt without being bothered. Bliss!
3 hours and 7 miles later…
Oh my goodness. My intentions of walking until dark and then finding the first place to camp kept me walking until 10pm. Honestly in the 3 hours I walked 90% of the trail was either washed out or just boggy mud. I was in complete shock as there was literary nowhere to camp that wasn’t either next to a swamp or in completely mosquito infested forest.
I felt so good after my tuna casserole, and I learned my lesson this time and waited half an hour after I ate to start walking. There was a huge river crossing right off the bat which was a nuisance because there were hundreds of mosquitos and because I didn’t want to get my feet wet AGAIN, I opted to take my shoes off. Luckily I had my head net on because it was completely covered with misquitos. The trail after that just got worse and worse, and just when I was about l sleep right on the trail in the swamp I saw two tents up on the left. It was Moonshine and Leaky, two young guys just out of high school. There was a flat spot right next to them so I just got set up and zipped up before the mosquitos could feast on me. I’m terribly hungry but hope I can just fall asleep and get ready to make a huge run for it out of this marsh tomorrow morning!