Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Definitions: Bog Hole

(1) A bog hole is, of course, a typical bureaucratically-determined sleep feasibility site. Look for the telltale sign that says "Designated Camping Area". Prepare your bug defense perimeter. Accept the damp. Keep your official permit at the ready in case of a snap inspection.

(2) A bog hole is the preferred habitat of the plant known as bog myrtle, named after the famous and rugged (though some say mythical) female backpacker, Bog "BM" Myrtle, "The Honkin', Stompin', Stoopin', Poopin' Princess of the Backcountry", who had a soft spot for soft spots and also left liberally fertilized pocks scattered throughout each of the moist landscapes she traversed.

"BM" was the granddaughter of, and possibly gained some of her energy from, Josephene Myrtle Corbin, the Four-Legged Woman and noted dipygus dibrachius tetrapus, who was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee in 1868, and had two of everything from the waist down, including pairs of legs, but was otherwise pretty forgettable, though an intimidating square dancer in her day.

Not so for "BM". No. She was different in a different way.

"BM" had only the one pair of legs but she used them like nobody's business, though only outdoors. (She wasn't a great dancer.)

But she was big. And she was strong. She ate like a lumberjack, and possessed a fearsome speedy digestive system that kept her hopping at all hours.

Because of this physiological quirk she was unable ever to remain still and so managed to cover huge sections of trail in short order, setting several land speed records for foot travel during her short lifetime.

It could be that her unnatural hiking cadence did her in, or the toxic effects of the excess vitamins and minerals contained in her enormous lunches, or that, as is sometimes said, she was pursued one day too far into the wet, peaty, acidic reaches of a forb-infested quivering bog by pestilential clouds of savage biting midges, and was ultimately sucked deep down into the soft damp darkness, to expire there and at last find some peace.

No one knows, but to this day such landscapes are favored by bog myrtle ("sweetgale" or "myrica gale") a pleasantly-scented traditional enemy of midges and horseflies of all descriptions. Does that sound believable? (Say yes!)

(3) And finally, a bog hole is Town (any town), where zero days happen, where zero days form, collect, pile up, and spontaneously glomerate one to another, tending to mire and restrain you, the thru-hiker, from ever getting back on the trail and finishing anything, at all, ever, especially if there is ice cream. To go with your beer.