When I get on the water, the mosquitos back off, and the deer flies take over. They love landing on my hands, and biting me through my gloves. My first knuckles are covered in tiny bruised bites. When they bite me there, I have to set my paddle down before I can swat at them. It eats precious time, and can be maddening. I started imagining creating a mosquito net cover for my kayak. It would use tent-pole like support, and I’d wear it like a spray skirt, but it would have to be wider than my kayak to allow full range of motion of my arms. The paddle (which breaks down into 2 pieces) could be put through holes fitted with gaskets to keep the bugs out. The more I think about it, the more I desperately want this invention.
A thunderstorm popped up, and I pulled over to the weeds as it passed. Thirty minutes, sitting like a drowned rat as thunder and lightning passed overhead, the raindrops getting bigger and bigger until they seemed like hail. As soon as it passed, I left, only to have another storm with more intense lightning pass overhead not 5 minutes later. This time, I pulled over under some trees, which provided a bit more cover, but also harbored a swarm of mosquitos that were eating me alive. Crazily maddened with the mosquitos and a little bit scared with the lightning, not really knowing if I was in fact safer on the side of the river than just continuing on, I had a moment where I thought, “This is terrible. Why am I doing this?” The moment I got back on the river, my podcast shared the inner thoughts of Hermione, just as she’s realizing she can be a hero (paraphrased): “I wonder how many people become heroes just because they’re embarrassed to turn back? It’s not like we read in the history books, ‘and then they thought “the sensible thing to do would be to stop now,” but then they realized that would be embarrassing, so they continued to save the day.” I laughed out loud.
Folly + determination + embarrassed to quit = heroism?
The river reminded me of Bert's chalk drawings from Mary Poppins. I had this song stuck in my head all day.
I paddled 22 miles today, a long day, but it didn't seem all that long to my muscles, even though they’re definitely sore. My hands ache before anything else now.
While Jim had been waiting for me, he collected some firewood for my campsite and as I changed into dry clothes, he got the fire started. So great to have a campfire! I’m usually so tired and annoyed by mosquitos that I just hop straight into my tent and don’t bother with a fire. But the fire’s smoke kept the bugs at bay (oh yeah, duh), and it was really nice to have a blazing fire. I might do that more often :) Jim told me all sorts of great stories about some of his adventures, about other paddlers he’s helped over the years. He said, “a lot of people aren’t as prepared as you.” I asked what sorts of things people tend to forget, and he told me the worst example—a story of a man who, by the time he was only a few days beyond where I am now had exchanged boats FOUR TIMES. That made me feel like forgetting to bring enough contacts was really not that big of a deal. I really enjoyed Jim’s company, and look forward to more stories! I am super grateful that I am one of the few paddlers he decided to help as I make my way through his vicinity!