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In this paper, we model the behavior of packet forwarding via a multihop path in mobile ad hoc networks. In our analysis, we consider a densely populated network and assume a flooding protocol for packet forwarding. We find that the behavior of packet forwarding in such an environment can be regarded as dropping a stone into a lake, and then counting the number of ripples moving out from the source (i.e., the center) to the destination. What makes the problem complicated is the node mobility during the packet forwarding. As a result, we cannot solely count the number of ripples in between as the number of hops in the path on which the packet traverses. We then derive the probability distribution function of hop counts for packet forwarding, accounting for node movements. Based on the analytical model, we then evaluate several different types of flooding mechanisms commonly adopted for target searching in ad hoc networks. Compared with existing work, which assumes a snapshot of the network and all nodes are static in the analysis, our analytical framework provides more insights for the study of efficient flooding in mobile ad hoc networks.