The Bee Zone (Days 61-63)

I arrived at a rather decrepit shelter in the middle of a yet another thunderstorm and plunked myself down. It was the end of a long, wet day of hiking so I was very glad to finally be somewhere dry.

All of the shelters are not created equal, but as long as it was dry I figured it was good enough for me for one night. Unfortunately within minutes of sitting down dozens of bees started buzzing around me. I sighed and periodically brushed away the bees that deigned to land on me. They didn’t seem interested in stinging me, but were definitely annoying.

A few minutes later my friend Chuckwagon arrived, and half of the bees devoted their attention to him. He swatted at them and grumbled. I wondered aloud if the Deet in my bag would deter the bees, but Chuckwagon suggested that smoke was what we really needed. Everything was sopping wet, so we didn’t feel like fighting to try to get a campfire started. Instead, we decided to wait for Colonel Patches to show up so that we could encourage him to smoke one of his cigars and rid us of our bee problem.

A few minutes later Co. Patches arrived and with some encouragement lit his cigar. Unfortunately, the bees did not peacefully disperse as we had hoped, they just found a third target to harass.

Whereas Chuckwagon and I had been sort of idly swatting at the bees, Co. Patches was out for the kill. Armed with his cigar and a map he started targeting the bees and picking them off one by one. He’d take a puff of his cigar, idly blow it at a bee and then swat it out of the air with the map. One bee down… Two bees down… Three bees down.

Suddenly it seemed like a live action bee killing video game… “The Bee Zone”.

For some reason the bees were really attracted to the grips on my hiking poles… There were about a dozen of them peacefully congregating there at any given time, so we declared the poles to be the evil villains home base. The bees clearly always regrouped there between their flights of targeted annoyance and irritation. We decided that he couldn’t kill any of the bees while they were actually at their home base.

4 bees down… Five bees down… Six bees down.

Co. Patches had finished the first easy level of killing the bees, which was conducted while sitting on the floor of the shelter, but there were at least a dozen bees still flitting about. It was time to proceed to the next level of the game, which involved him standing up and actively chasing the bees.

Seven bees… Eight bees… Nine bees down.

We envisioned the running tally of bees killed and bees remaining in the upper corner of the video game screen.

10 bees… 11 bees… 12 bees… Co. Patches was really getting into the swing of it now. There were only four bees left on base (the hiking poles).

One took flight and Co. patches chased it down and killed it…13 bees… Then another… 14 bees… Then another… 15 bees.

With only one bee left on base I jiggled the pole and it flew out into the danger zone. Co. Patches chased it into the rain (almost gleefully) and before long he called out, “16, hah! Got them all”.

He returned to the shelter and sat down to bask in the glory of a mission accomplished. The shelter was definitely a more comfortable place without all of those pesky bees flying around.

Suddenly another bee appeared… Chuckwagon and I laughed as Co. Patches chased in down… “17 bees… Or is that 18?” Without the tally running at the top of the screen we were started to lose count.

Eventually Co. Patches rid the shelter of all of the pesky bees and we settled in to make dinner and to contemplate what the next level of the thru-hiker live action video game would be… We decided that the most obvious next level of the game would involve using a slingshot to go after the mice that skitter around the shelter and get into people’s food at night…

(Bonus points to anyone that puts together the phone app for level one, “the bee zone” of the thru-hiker video game and sends it to me).