Friday, April 1, 2022

Day 74: The attack of the bugs!

July 3: I took my time hitting the trail this morning. I only planned a relatively short 20-mile day, more-or-less, so no rush. It was Saturday, and the day before Independence Day. I expected the trail would be particularly crowded with hikers and deliberately wanted to be in the woods rather than trail towns for the weekend which I figured would be overflowing with tourists.

So I was where I wanted to be--in the woods, away from people. Well, besides the day hikers which were in abundance, but it was still probably less crowded on the trails than in the towns! So taking my time waking up in the morning, I didn't hit the trail until just before 7:00am.

Even that early, however, I passed numerous people on the trail leading up to Mount Elbert. The Colorado mountains often suffer from afternoon thunderstorms so people tend to start early and (try) to finish early, and today was no exception. Even though I expected it, I was still astonished at the number of people heading up the mountain in the other direction as I approached the trailhead. (A different Mount Elbert TH than the one I passed yesterday, keep in mind.) I joked with some of them that I had already gone up the mountain and returned, but there was nothing to see. Quit and save yourselves! =)

By late in the morning, the bugs had started coming out. Stupid mosquitoes were flitting around everywhere. As long as I was moving, they weren't a problem, but as soon as I stopped for a rest, they would swarm. They were definitely an annoyance today!

The trail was fairly rugged today as well. Up and down, up and down... It was exhausting. The trail passed by the Mount Elbert trailhead, then by the Mount Massive trailhead. Mount Massive, if you didn't know, is the second-highest peak in Colorado, but it's still number one in having the coolest name for a peak. =) The trail wound around the east side of Mount Massive, with occasional views of Leadville a few miles to the east (and great phone reception to boot). At the end of today's hike, my GPS had recorded about 9,000 feet of elevation gain throughout the day. Definitely no simple walk in the park!


Around 3:00 in the afternoon, it sprinkled a bit. It was ever so light and seemed fairly limited, so I found a place under a tree and pulled out my umbrella and decided to try waiting it out. The mosquitoes continued to be an annoyance, but at least the rain seemed to slow them down a little. The rain didn't eliminate the mosquitoes, though--just slowed them down a little. A half hour later, the rain had stopped and I was walking again.

I had hoped the mosquitoes would quiet down and go away by the time I was ready to set up camp, but alas, they were still feeling frisky. That was unfortunate, so I ran a few tests looking for a campsite where they would be less of a problem.

I would stop and sit for a few minutes to see if they started swarming around me and how bad the swarm was. I tested a dry campsite with no water nearby hoping they'd be less of a problem there, but no, they started to swarm. I tried sitting next to a creek hoping the chilled air from the creek would keep the pests away, but still they swarmed. I tried checking a location in the sun, but still they swarmed. And I tried a colder site in the shade, and they continued to swarm.

I had hoped to find a windy, exposed location that I could use but the exposed locations I passed never had much of a breeze. There was no escape from the pesky creatures! Argh!

I finally gave up and decided to camp near a creek, in the shade, at the bottom of a valley where I hoped cool air would settle and convince the blood-sucking creatures to go to sleep earlier. And deep in the valley, the sun would set sooner, so the air would get cooler sooner, and presumably the mosquitoes would quiet down sooner. That was my hope, at least.

In the meantime, I slipped into my sleeping bag, put on my heavy fleece jacket and a mosquito head net to battle the problem. It worked well enough to prevent them from biting me, but the constant buzzing around my head was driving me crazy.

It wasn't until about 9:30 in the evening when the bugs finally took the rest of the night off. My head net finally came off and all was well in the world again.

That's Leadville in the distance! I missed the town already! This is actually the closest approach the CDT comes to Leadville.

Mount Massive... is well-named. I think I took this photo after passing Mount Massive then looking back toward it.

Hey! What happened to that beautiful bluish-purplish color on these flowers? I think I liked the other ones better. *nodding* But these are nice! Don't get me wrong--but I liked the others better. =) These are the first white ones I saw, though!


Anonymous said...

The white and lavender Rocky Mountain Columbine was designated the official state flower of Colorado in 1899

Arlene (EverReady AT 2015 said...

I rather like the white ones too. Very refreshing! Dang mosquitoes- pesky.