Recently, I got it into my head that what I needed to do was hike out to Great Point from the Wauwinet gatehouse out here on Nantucket. Great Point is the northernmost tip of the island and I’ve never been there. The closest I’ve gotten to the lighthouse is seeing it from the boat on winter days when the seas are particularly choppy and the HyLine captain travels in close, sheltered by the curve of sand.
I spent the last week getting ready for my walk out to Great Point, thinking how lovely it would be to escape the summer crowds and find some peace and solitude. On Sunday, I set off early around 7:00 AM, after waiting a few hours for the fog to burn off. It didn’t.
Armed with water, sunscreen, a notebook, and good shoes, I was feeling great. Everyone else in the world was still sleeping, and I was going to hike the 8-mile round trip trek. No phone, no music, just me and the waves.
Well, that was the plan. But you know what they say about plans.
After about thirty minutes of walking, almost out to the last house, I could not ignore the fact that I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. I turned my head to look back and see just how many were biting me. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. What had to be thirty mosquitoes were feasting on my legs, arms, back…they were probably in my hair, too. I ran down the path to the harborside, where there were very few bugs.
I had bug spray in the car. I could do this. All I needed to do was get back to the car, get the spray, and I could set out on my walk again. By the time I did all this, an hour had passed. The fog had not burned off yet. Did I mention it rained for the last three days?
Completely saturated in DEET, I figured I would be fine. But the mosquitoes did not subside. I got up as far as where the Jeep trail begins in the soft sand, and still the bugs came after me. I started running, and ran to the oceanside, thinking that there must not be any bugs near the ocean. If I could make it to the eastern coast, I could walk up along to Great Point.
But the bugs, dear reader, were worse on the ocean side. I felt like i was riding a motorcycle headlong into a cloud of mosquitoes. I swallowed at least two. I ran from the ocean side to the bay side, up the face of a dune, with a towel over my head in an attempt to keep the bugs away like some crazed Lawrence of Arabia.
I learned I cannot outrun a mosquito, let alone a whole swarm of them. Maybe I was asking too much of nature, to provide me with quiet and solace on such a busy August day, when I had nothing to give in return.
At least now I have given quite a bit of blood to the Wauwinet mosquitoes.