Day 198: Mosquitoes flew up my nose

Stealthing [mile 1693.4; SOBO 675]

I saw a bunch of toads today—at least five or six. You know what else I saw? A blue heron. But more on that later.

This was a rough day. Rough, rough, rough. I got up and out early (6:15 or so), in the dark, and it was already uncomfortably humid. When dawn came, it didn’t bring any sun—just gray clouds. And at around 9:00, they opened up.

Color me startled! The last weather report I’d seen called for clear skies today, with a 0% chance of rain. I didn’t even have my rain gear handy, and the rain was falling with increasing gusto. So I threw my pack down and quickly changed into shorts (I hate having wet pants, and it was too hot for rain pants) and my rain jacket; but it was raining so hard by that point that my pants got wet, I got soaked, and the top layer of stuff in my pack got good and wet.

Irony would dictate that the rain should have stopped right then, but it didn’t. Not for a while. Whew.

The trail turned into New England again after the recent bout of Virginia—rocky scampers, boulders, some views of the distant mountains and the river valley. I couldn’t take any pics because of the rain. But trust me, it was pretty!

Then, finally, the rain stopped. It stopped and I hiked. The trail alternated all day between rocky and woody, rocky and woody. The sun even started to peek out once in a while.

After a few hours and a long descent, I crossed a bridge over the Housatonic River. I stopped to take a picture and immediately I was swarmed with mosquitoes. I had about three on each hand, they were landing on my face, my ears… horrible. I shoved the phone in my pocket and ran.

But I went no more than ten feet before I saw the blazes and realized that the trail headed down to follow the bank of that river. No way was I going down there in shorts.

So I stopped and changed. I put on my long pants (they needed to dry anyway) and my wind shirt, with the hood up. Then I headed into Mosquito Central.

Did I say it was horrible before? I didn’t know what horrible was! These bugs were relentless. They attacked in bunches. If I stopped for a second, fifteen of them were on me. They flew up my sleeves, up my nose, into my ears. They actually bit my scalp. I now have more mosquito bites than I did after the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.

After the mosquito zone, the trail meandered through some pretty farm country and wetlands. At one point there was a bridge over a swampy area with an army of cattails. When I approached, a blue heron took wing and stretched out in the air just a few feet away. They’re such magnificent birds!

Then came the torture. The sun was out, sort of, but the humidity was oppressive. And the trail started to climb. This wasn’t a gentle incline; this was a rocky upward boulder scramble for two miles. I was soaked in sweat by the time I got to the top.

But here I am! One step at a time, eh? I’m tired, though. I wonder what the weather’s doing tomorrow? A local today told me it’s supposed to be cloudy but without rain, which would be fine by me!

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