Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hike at Howland Island

I was determined to go hiking on Friday (we've been furloughed Fridays through the summer, so I have them off. At first the idea of a lower paycheck upset me, but I am *so so so* loving the 3-day weekends!)... so bright and early at 8 AM, Cliff and I headed over to Howland Island, part of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I love Howland but it's dangerous to visit because during the year it is either hunting season, or mosquito-horsefly season. So either way you are in danger of dying. Mom and Dad had kayaked by the island last weekend and didn't think it was as mosquito-ey as usual, so Friday I packed Cliff up in the Scion and headed west to try our luck.

We started out our walk meeting a rabbit on the dirt service road, which hopped ahead of us for aways (see above... he is the little black spot in the distance!). Cliff was curious but not that interested. Other cool thing we saw: Three Belted Kingfishers!!!!!

And it was wild flower season, so the fields were colored in whites, yellows and pinks. So prettty.

We mostly walked several different stretches: Cornfields (planted for the deer); forests (where the bugs ate us alive) and then open wet/brackish areas (where we baked in the sun). I hadn't eaten breakfast, a rarity for me, so by hour 2 I was weak, whiney, famished, and of course had hopelessly lost on the trails. The book I had (which had a trail map) was no help. The heat and muggyness hit like a ton of bricks. Even Cliff began to fade. We eventually had to turn around and re-trace our steps back to the car, because I couldn't make out the trails (I had INTENDED to take us in a loop). The bugs were awful. The heat was awful. I was sweating which I hate to do. I was so hungry I could've gnawed my hand off. There were a few times where I think we ran into fawns (there was huge crashing in the brush on the side of the trail) but I was so hungry, hot and tired at that point, that unless it was a 30 lb. Twinkie then I wasn't interested.

We ran into a few ponds which Cliff gratefully climbed into to cool off. And when we got back to the car, he rested in the river for a bit before getting in the car. I had been a bit worried about him. It was only 11 AM in the morning, but it was soooo muggy. I'm glad he took every opportunity to cool himself.

And the final treat: We stopped at the closest gas station for ice cream and Hostess cupcakes. Cliff got a little bowl of whipped vanilla. I got a Nutty buddy and the cupcakes. Nice breakfast, huh?

Well, we survived. Covered in mosquito bites, but we lived!!

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