(Note: this is part six of a multi-part series on the summer 2017 attempt at the 100 Mile Wilderness by dad, 40, and daughter, 11)
On Day 6, July 5, 2017, we got a nice early start, and descended White Cap into the flatlands. Today was our first real day battling mosquitoes, deer flies, and horse flies, and we quickly realized that we should have each brought a can of Deep Woods Off, instead of sharing one can. Daughter’s stomach issues intensified, and she had a headache for most of the day. The heat and bugs did not help.
As per our usual routine, we planned to stop and take a snack break at the East Branch Lean-To, but when we approached, there were two women sunbathing topless right next to the lean-to. When daughter asked why we had turned around, dad told her there were “boobies” there, and we continued on to the East Branch of the Pleasant River, with daughter wondering aloud why the women would do that, knowing everyone stopped at those places.
The river was a perfect place to stop, sunny with cool water flowing, and hundreds of butterflies. We stopped for lunch a little later at Mountain View Pond, a similarly beautiful spot.
Due to daughter’s pepperoni boycott, we had done some trading, and dad gave her some of his energy bars in exchange. On Little Boardman Mountain, we saw two groundhogs, which seemed smaller than the ones we are used to. One ran across the trail right in front of us, and then the other one just stared at us from a few feet away. We had a brief verbal battle over daughter’s water consumption, which dad did not think was enough. This was a hot day, by far the warmest yet.
Our day turned for the better when we reached Crawford Pond. We hiked to a sand beach, and used the opportunity to swim and take our first bath in days. We took some pictures, and then looked at the beaver construction at the outlet of Crawford Pond, where we pumped and filtered some water before moving on towards the Cooper Brook Falls Lean-To.
It was here, together, that we made a big tactical error. It was already late in the day, but neither of us was tired, and we had quickly covered the flat 2.3 mile distance from Crawford to Cooper Brook. We decided to try and push to either Cooper Pond (5.2 more miles) or the Antlers Campsite (7.9 more miles). As the bugs had intensified, we put on long sleeve shirts, pants, hats, and mosquito nets, got our headlamps ready, and began. We were almost instantly swarmed by the most mosquitoes we have ever seen in our lives. They began biting us through our clothing, and on any exposed flesh- in this case, our hands. No matter how fast we walked, or how hard we swung our arms, they kept attacking, and we looked for a place to get inside our tent.
Shortly before the Jo-Mary Road, about 3.6 miles on, we found a level campsite next to Cooper Brook, and set a speed record for setting up the tent. Daughter got inside and killed off the mosquitoes who had made it in. Dad suspended the bear bag, and while he was pulling one end of the line to raise it up, caught a glimpse of his right hand, which was almost black with swarming mosquitoes.
We cooked our meals under the rain cover, and watched the swarms move around between the tent and the rain cover. Despite our thirst, neither of us wanted to get out of the tent to pump more water, so we shared the last couple ounces in dad’s Nalgene bottle, then went to sleep. We totaled 15.2 miles today.
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