Friday, August 31, 2018

Day 26: The mosquitoes are coming! The mosquitoes are coming!

June 25: Even before the sun rose above the horizon, the mosquitoes had come out, and I quickly packed up camp and headed out to escape the onslaught. I wanted nothing more than to get through this bad section and escape the bugs. I didn't know how far I had to go to get away from them all, but anything would be better than this location!

I was expecting them, but I never saw any!

Or so I thought.... The trail next passed by Carlson Pond, a wonderfully scenic lake (calling it a pond didn't give justice to its size), but it too was plagued with mosquitoes so I barely stopped long enough to take a few photos before pushing on.

The trail followed a dirt road for awhile--Tom Lake Road according to my guidebook--when it ran into a section where the road had been flooded by beaver ponds. My guidebook warned this was often the case and to look for a blue-blazed side trail that lead around the flooded area near the edge of the meadow which I found easily enough and started to follow.

Except, as it turned out, the side trail hadn't seemed to have seen any maintenance in the past 20 years. It was badly overgrown and rundown, and at one point, I lost the trail completely. I scrambled over fallen trees, tore through brush, and generally cursed the people who hadn't maintained this trail. After losing the trail, I went up a steep slope but then headed back down it again when I figured it was getting too far away from the meadow. It was supposed to go around the edge of the meadow--not up deeper into the forest. I scratched at the cobwebs that kept hitting my face and my progress slowed dramatically through this section--making it all the easier for the swarms of mosquitoes to attack.

It was a rather dispiriting experience and I found myself wishing I just walked through the flooded section of trail instead. Sure, my feet would have gotten wet, but that was a small price to pay compared to the horrors I currently suffered from.

Oh, how I later wished I just walked right through the water. It would have been so much easier and faster.... The spur trail around the edge of the meadow took me maybe a half hour to complete and returns to the trail at the base of at hill at the far end of the road. It was a tough half hour!

But eventually I found my way to the other side, reconnected back to Tom Lake Road for a short while before the trail headed back off the road and into the woods.

I took my first break an hour later where the trail crossed the gravel road known as Arrowhead Trail. The bugs were still out, but they didn't seem as bad along the road where a slight breeze could blow through and didn't have so much vegetation to hide in. For the time being, it seemed like the best option to escape the bugs--temporarily, at least. I also had plenty of room to spread out my groundsheet and stretch out.

There were only about 10 miles that Blueberry and I planned to cover today, so this was going to be a long hour-plus break. I didn't want to get into camp before noon--which was what would happen at the pace I was currently covering! I pulled out my Kindle and started reading.

Four or five vehicles drove by in the next hour or so, so the road wasn't so busy that it was annoying--although it had a big downside too. Arrowhead Trail was the road I needed to hitch out on from the end of the trail... tomorrow! It was not a busy road, though. Hitching out might be difficult.... But there was nothing I could do about that and I put the thought out of my head.

After an hour or so, Blueberry caught up with me and he took a break as well, also thankful escaping temporarily from the mosquito onslaught.

Blueberry gave me a funny look. "Did you take that side trail around the flooded section of trail?" he asked me.

I laughed. I had a pretty idea where he was going. "Yes...."

Blueberry cursed the trail, and I nodded in agreement. "It's like they're trying to torture us!"

After an hour sitting out on Arrowhead Trail, I felt like continuing onward. And hopefully find a quiet, backcountry location away from the bugs.

We stopped again a couple of hours later at the Woodland Caribou Pond campsite for another break. The bugs were still bad, though, so we didn't stop long. There seemed to be no end to the bugs. That was originally our goal for the day, but both Blueberry and I were anxious just to finish this trail and we decided to push on to the next campsite five miles ahead.

Along the way, the trail climbed to the Hellacious Overlook, a stunning view overlooking Lake Superior. And, being well away from any water sources and with a slight breeze blowing through the exposed overlook, the bugs weren't bad. Weren't bad at all. If I had thought about it earlier, I'd have brought tons of water and just camped up there.

We didn't have tons of water, but we could certainly stop and enjoy the location for awhile, which I did by watching a few Netflix shows that I had downloaded to my phone and read my Kindle. I probably spent over two hours at this location, not anxious to re-enter the forest and contend with the bugs again.

Blueberry left the overlook an hour before I did, anxious to get to camp and get a fire going. But eventually it was time to get to camp myself and I picked up my pack and headed off.

The view from Hellacious Overlook was wonderful!

Almost immediately, the mosquitoes were back. Bastards.

About 10 minutes before reaching the campsite, I slipped on a boardwalk and face-planted into the boggy area right next to it, banging my shin hard against the wooden supports for the boardwalk. I cussed and punched at some mosquitoes in frustration. I didn't know how badly I  hurt my shin, but I figured it probably drew some blood. I didn't want to deal with it just yet, however, and as long as I could still walk, that's what I did. Just finish with this rotten day.

When I arrived in camp, Blueberry already had a fire going and--somewhat surprising--the mosquitoes weren't overwhelming. Will miracles never cease?!

By now, Blueberry wasn't sounding very good. He was sniffling and reported feeling like crap--beyond the mosquito issue--and was ready to be done with the trail.

I set up camp and settled in for the night, where Blueberry and I filmed our last episode of the Campfire Chronicles.

And that was it for our day. Overall, a pretty rotten day on the trail....

Carlson Pond

Blueberry takes a break at the Woodland Caribou Pond campsite.

Blueberry takes a break at Hellacious Overlook. He looks exhausted!

Our camp for the night at the Jackson Creek campsite.
And it's our last episode of... the Campfire Chronicles!


GG said...

Okay, so maybe Nula didn't want her blisters memorialize, but no pictures of your shin?

Karolina said...

OMG! When reading this post I totally confused ‚shin’ with ‚chin’!! I imagined you falling down face-first in the mud and hitting your chin against a wooden bord! I only realized my mistake when I was watching the campfire chronicles - you were talking about your injury and you showed Blueberry your shin, not chin! Ah, foreign languages! Speaking of which - na zdrowie, Jagoda!