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A Lesson in Mosquitoes

July is a great month to go kayak touring right? My husband and I spent a week in mid-July on the east coast finding great spots to kayak. We spent a day paddling around Shelter Island on Long Island, NY. So, we thought it would be great to kayakand backcountry camp out on Assateague Island in Maryland. We chose to paddle the bayside calmer waters and had four backcountry campsites to choose from. The park ranger who checked us in gave us a strong warning about the mosquitoes and said, "You know the mosquitoes are really bad right now..." But we figured we were hardy, adventurous, and had with us plenty of DEET. So we set on out with our kayaks, sleeping bags, and two-man tent. I'm so glad we only brought our little tent...

Within minutes of departure, we were greeted by American Oystercatchers. What a sight these cute orange-eyed birds are! There were plovers, sandpipers, herons, egrets, and plenty of ponies. The temperature was comfortable and the water was warm. We paddled for several hours in an out of the coves in search for wildlife. It was evening and the sun wasn't far from going down when we reached our destination campsite... Green Run (I think it was 9 miles from our car). It was an old house site with a falling down dock and dock outbuilding. We got out of our kayaks and onto the grassy open area and were attacked by swarms of mosquitoes! From head to foot, there wasn't an inch of my body that wasn't covered with mosquitoes. Nothing in my entire life had prepared me for this. I can't even describe it so that anyone could understand (unless you've experienced it!). The mosquitoes weren't phased at all by my skin being covered in DEET. There wasn't going to be any camping on any land. Where were we going to go? We didn't have time to paddle all the way back to our car. We couldn't cross the woods to the ocean side. We were stuck. It was either sleep in our boats, or try to set up our tent on the dock with a no camping sign. Would this dock with only a few boards left hold us?

The mosquitoes were tolerable on the dock... enough to get our tent set up and crawl in. The dock seemed willing to hold us. We spent 10 minutes killing all the mosquitoes in our tent. It worked out, OK. We were the only ones out there camping in the backcountry. Now we know why. We were lucky there was even an old dock to sleep on. I'm sure next big storm it won't be there anymore. I can't imagine what it would have been like to sleep in my kayak. I hope I never have to find out...

Submitted by Jennifer Petosa - Bryson City, NC

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