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A term of Cree origin, maskek (ᒪᐢᑫᐠ) meaning low lying marsh.
November 18, 2013 3:27 AM   Subscribe

Muskeg is a cold swamp. Or bog if you prefer. You might find an 80 foot 50 year old tree near to an 8 foot 200 year old tree. Insects will find you.

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posted by vapidave (17 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, the swamps of home.


Stepping in the wrong place is a great way to have cold smelly feet all day.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:36 AM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bugs, urgh. When I was a scout me and another kid went into a copse with little hatchets to find dead branches and stuff for fires. Because it is Scotland, midges ensue, and pretty soon we are running in circles past each other at top speed screaming and brandishing the axes in futile gestures of rage, defiance and annoyance at finding oneself a prey animal. We may have exaggerated a little for effect at the time, but it remains my key memory of that particular expedition.
"Oh, the midges, the midges/Ah'm no gonnae kid yez/the midges is really the limit./Wi' teeth like piranhas/ they'll drive ye bananas/ if ye let them get under yer simmet."
posted by aesop at 4:01 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The blackflies, the little blackflies, always the blackfly no matter where you go...
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:19 AM on November 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


These are good places, at their edges. Even better when you learn your way through and around.
posted by Goofyy at 4:20 AM on November 18, 2013


Hmmm. I thought swamps and bogs were different things. Although swamp seems to have more to do with flora (it has trees) and bogs have to do with soil (acidic). Maybe they can be both.

More importantly, are these rare bogs? rattlin' bogs? Can they be found down in the valley(s)-o?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:22 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


More importantly, are these rare bogs?

Nah, they're bog-standard.
posted by pipeski at 5:34 AM on November 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Enjoyed the blackfly song. Particularly like the bit where they emerge as the hapless victim cracks open a boiled egg, proceeding to strip him to the bone.
posted by aesop at 6:14 AM on November 18, 2013


See also: Muskegon, Michigan, which is a beautiful place to spend a summer.
posted by JohnFromGR at 6:39 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I spent a single summer planting trees and muskeg was the holy grail. There were all kinds of lots you could be assigned to, but you always got paid 8 cents per tree. In rocky soil you could plant MAYBE 1000 trees a day, but in sand or muskeg you could plant 2000 easy.
posted by 256 at 6:47 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


See also: Muskegon, Michigan,

my parents had a summer place near there, on a lake. parts of the lake contained bogs like these and i'd fight my way through them with a canoe a couple of times a summer looking for fish or frogs or whatever i hadn't seen before. the lake drained into a shallow valley that had been maintained by generations of beavers and went on for at least a mile before finally becoming a slow creek--it was too thick for my canoe but i'd hike around it in the summer and drive a snowmobile over it in the winter.

one winter it got cold but there was no snow. it was cold enough that the water was totally frozen and i could hike across it as if walking on a sidewalk.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:06 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shameless plug: See also, but not quite as relevant, the Muskogee Creek.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:38 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, is this a tie-in with the current Mark Trail story line?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:42 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


RolandOfEld: file that one under "nifty coincidence." For all "Cree" sounds a lot like "Creek" (and the Cree word "muskeg" sounds a lot like "Muscogee"), the two languages are totally unrelated.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:21 AM on November 18, 2013


Spent some time in Gates of the Arctic NP a few years back. Flying in it looked like a hiker's paradise, just miles of untracked wilderness to explore on foot (we had canoes). The reality on the ground is that muskeg is a nightmare of ankle turning tussock and cold water, bugs and sucking muck. Beautiful country, but best seen by boat or plane.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:55 AM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


the two languages are totally unrelated.

Oh, I know. Hence the shameless preface.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am Poarch Creek after all.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:34 AM on November 18, 2013


In Ojibwe, close to Cree, mashkiig is one of the words for swamp. A very similar word, mashkiki, means medicine. Those old peat swamps were a rich resource many things.
posted by Twang at 3:31 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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