Island (also known as Christmas Tree) is not really much
of an island. It's really just a mound of dirt left
over from the old Union
Cypress Railway that once cut across the river here.
It has gone under water at times, too, but most of the
time you have some room to get out and walk around and
pitch camp. A small camp. There are so few areas of dry
ground to camp on out here - even fewer that you can
reach by kicker-boat, that we are glad to have it at
can walk quite a ways east on this track...if you don't
mind pushing your way through a lot of bushes and spider
webs and watching out for snakes in every direction.
Years ago there was a tall stand of Australian pines on
the end of Mosquito Island that made it an easily recognized
landmark for great distances
across the marsh.
North side of big Lake Sawgrass you could see the dark trees
of Mosquito Island in the distance. (The dark shape in the
water in the middle distance is a 'gator.)
East across Little Sawgrass you see that Mosquito Island
and the weather station are both standing on the old Union
and I almost burnt the island down once. Not intentionally,
of course, but we were just lucky we didn't do any damage.
stop at Mosquito Island to have lunch or just stretch our
we take meat and potatoes and have a cookout.
Once we camped out there overnight.
know how the island got it's name.
It was getting late
and rain was coming so Trader
Ron helped us carry out our camping gear - with the tent
and all the gear we had it would have taken two trips in my
boat - and he headed back to town. Judy and I got the area
cleared, the tent set up, a fire started with dinner put on
to cook, and a tarp put up over the "dining area" -
and finished everything just as it started to rain.
Looking from Mosquito Island
towards the river.
rather smug about our timing. Camp was set, dinner was
cooked and we were dry! Life was good! We enjoyed a great
meal, conversation, and a few drinks.
raining and it got dark. We couldn't do anything but huddle
under the tarp - the tent was hot and muggy and the rain
kept us from walking around. We had a few more drinks.
I mean, a few hours later we crawled into the tent and
avoided drips and cuddled tree roots all the rest of the
Finally it was morning
again, and the sound of a boat putt-putting slowly into our
area woke us. We stepped outside the tent and were immediately
black with mosquitos! They were in our face, up our noses,
fllying in our mouths, and sucking vigorously at every bit
of our flesh - even through our clothes!!
way to chase away mosquitos is by building a big, smokey
fire. So that's what we immediately set to do.
is where things started to go bad.
is very low here - I have seen it ankle-deep over the top
of the island.
been so proud of the way we had got camp set up before
the rain hit, but we had neglected to cover up any firewood
and it had rained all night. The wood was soaked and all
our efforts to start a fire with bits of paper and twigs
were unsuccessfull. And we were losing pints and pints
insane by clouds of buzzing, sucking mosquitos, we were
desperate to get a fire going.We decided we could get a
fire started with some gasoline from the boat. (I'm sticking
with the insanity plea.)
we were clever enough to only take an old beer can down
to the boat for a little gas rather than bringing the whole
big can up to the camp. I got the gas and handed the can
to Judy who immediately started pouring it on the firewood.
There must have been one single spark still going from
our earlier efforts. The whole pile kind of went "KerWhoomppp!" and
flared up in one huge burst of flame. Judy jumped back
and flung the beer can away from herself. I had been stepping
from the boat to land and had to dodge the flying Molotov
beer can while trying not to fall in the water.
we regathered our wits and took a bathroom break we were
daunted, but not quite ready to quit. The mosquitos
had barely noticed the explosion and had sent word to
all their cousins to come to breakfast. Judy said it
was my turn to pour the gas on the firewood.
all over the embers with my bare hands to make sure there
were no live sparks. I poured the gas over the wood, catlike
reflexes at the ready to leap into the river if necessary.
I got down close out of the wind and struck a match and
held it to the gas-soaked wood. The match went out. I struck
another match - fizzeled out again. Crouching ever closer
to block the wind I struck a third match and put it to
eyebrows and eyelashes grew back eventually, and we
did finally get the fire started, but Judy and I never
camped out on Mosquito Island since.
spot under the Australian Pines at the tip of the island.