Location: Unknown Shelter
Never again will I suspect that a day will be easy. Yesterday I thought the ten miles planned for today would be a cinch. Little did I know that I was setting myself up for disappointment. There are no easy miles in Maine, I’ll say every day. Though the trail today was mostly flat, it was also mostly flooded.
The first six miles weren’t too bad. I completed them before eating lunch by a spectacular river. Everyday thus far I’ve had lunch by the water. Today I sat on the rocks but I prefer a bridge. After a good lunch the trail turned sour. Sadists must have had a hand in building this trail because it weaves through hellish bogs with vicious bugs. Whoever decided to build a trail through the swamp should be left in it for a day in June. Certainly he’d recognized his insanity and move the trail. I walked at least a quarter of mile on logs today.
Placed by volunteers, the foot bridges, aligned end to end, span hundreds of yards at a time. Their purpose is to help cross the swamp. However many were underwater. Others had rotted through and broken. Fortunately I did not suffer the humiliation of breaking a log, but I pity the person that breaks a log and plunges into that muddy water. In some places, the log foot bridges had busted loose from their anchors and they floated on the water. Though appearing innocent because they were exposed and dry, one step on the end and the log would toll you into the water. Each log had to be quickly checked to make sure of its stability. While I’m sure that they help, they are tedious in bad weather, and they slowed me down enough that the mosquitoes could match my pace.
Often I walk just fast enough to keep the swarm of mosquitoes behind me. The bugs only become truly annoying when they can bite me while I walk, that is when everything is moving. I had no DEET today so more surrounded me than usual. 100 mosquitoes, no less, swarmed around my face and hands. The bug net helped my head from getting bitten often, but my hands are knotted and swollen with red bumps. I put an extra pair of Smartwool socks on my hands, but the socks were sweaty. They attracted the bugs and the bugs could bite through them. I watched as the mosquitoes landed and leaned forward, burying their bloodsucking beaks through the weaves of the fabric and into my flesh. Most of the mosquitoes followed me to the lean-to, where I patiently killed fifty, fulfilling my sworn vendetta against their species, made while they harassed me in the swamp.
The trail through the swamp presented other challenges. I fell twice onto my knees and hands. The misery made me wonder if it would ever end. For 100 yards or more, I waded through knee deep mud and waist deep water. I began to sink into the soft mud as soon as I entered the long pool. I twisted my right knee badly when I jerked it out of the mud with all of my strength, but I had to keep moving because I didn’t know how far I might sink if I paused for too long. The pain I could stand, being stuck in the mud with the swarms of mosquitoes around me I would not survive. It took most of my strength to pull my legs out of the mud and place them down again, all without falling to the water and all with a 40 pound pack on my back. Many have complained in the shelter register about the trail conditions, I think that I will also.
Mark Kelley says
And don’t miss this checklist as well: http://adventurepossible.com/maine-hiking/backpacking-gear-checklist-for-the-100-mile-wilderness/