Vampires

The other day I was out walking close-by the old Iditarod Trail, with the goal of getting this new bionic hip of mine operational enough by fall to be able to pack into my backcountry haunts in quest of a freezer full of moose and caribou. Along the way I was paid an introductory social call. The visitor was my first mosquito of the season. This year they have showed up late. Following our all-time record winter snowfall, the slow-to-melt ground cover has been sealing off the pest’s emergence. Then the almost rainless spring has dried up the finally-snow-free surface, delivering a one-two kibosh.

The lone representative, no doubt sent out as an advance scout, was, as always, one of the big, slow oafs of spring, the dumbest and most hapless of Alaska’s twenty-something species. These approach singly and tentatively, so are easy to cope with. Later will arrive the little, fast, mean ones, issuing in their hordes straight from the pits of hell. They will come in voracious clouds that have ever been the bane of Alaskan outdoorsmen.

From my book TRAILBREAKERS Pioneering Alaska’s Iditarod, Volume I, we here break in on the conversation about this common enemy between gnarly sourdough, Old Ben Atwater, and former Nome miner, Al Preston, a friend of my family in my childhood years.

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