Worst Mosquitoes Ever?

posted Jul 20, 2016, 12:18 AM by Paul Wagner
After our recent trip to the Emigrant Wilderness, we got a few questions about mosquitoes.  Mainly, people wanted to know how bad were the mosquitoes...and were they the worst mosquitoes we had ever seen?

Answer to the second question?  Yes they were. 
Yep--it was a buggy trip~! Here we are modelling the latest in designer headwear on the North Fork of the Kings River. But the flowers were stunning, the place was amazing...and thanks to the bugs, we saw a total of 14 people in five days.©http://backpackthesierra.com

We'd have previous experiences that remained powerful images in our brains.  Hiking the Mitchell Peak trail through a cloud of mosquitoes (and we had no bug dope!) that kept us constantly wiping our hands on our arms and legs to get the bugs off.  No fun at all, unless you had a video camera to capture the dance we did as we hiked. 

And about eight years ago we did a trip up into the Red Mountain Basin that not only encouraged us to put on our headnets for the first time, but we even ate inside our tent.  And later on that trip, we wore our headnets while we were hiking, to keep from inhaling some of the mosquitoes that were hanging in clouds around us as we hiked.  That's the glamor shot, above. 

Those were bad. 

But at the West end of Emigrant Lake this year, we ran into dense clouds of mosquitoes that were waiting in every little corner of the trail.  Yes, we had on our headnets.  Yes, we were wearing 100% DEET.  And still they came after us, clouds of them pinging against our arms and legs as we hiked through them.   And the whining of their tiny little engines is still ringing in our ears...as is the image of those clouds, dark against the sky. 
The next morning we did a quick mosquito survey on M's back.  Count the mosquitoes!    ©http://backpackthesierra.com

Luckily, we found that they were not quite so bad at the East end of the lake, and we camped there.  And yeah, they came out in the evening and still made our lives...interesting.   See M's back in the photo at right. 

But two nights later, we camped on a granite ridge above Upper Bucks Lake and didn't see twenty mosquitoes all night.  Go figure. 

The one thing all of these trips had in common?  They were early in the summer, right after the snow melt.  That's when the bugs come out to play, and attach anything in sight. 

And we remember one trip in the Hoover Wilderness where we were hammered by mosquitoes the first night at Fremont Lake.  It was miserable.  The next night, 800 feet higher, we had zero bugs at Cinko Lake.  And the following night, we hiked up Long Canyon until we got up to roughly the same elevation, so that we could escape the bugs again. 

Moral to the story?  Avoid hiking right after snowmelt--often around the 4th of July weekend.  Or hike up high where the bugs are still frozen.  And take DEET and headnets. 

And embrace it all as part of the experience.