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617 Trail Sense
Mosquito Moments

My hooded friend avoiding mosquitoes

Buzz .... Slap.

Buzz .... Slap.

Buzz .... Slap.

Buzz .... Ahhhhhhhhh.

Mosquitoes! I once had a friend who claimed to be an atheist. He used mosquitoes to help support his God-less theory. Postulating, he would say, 'if there is a God, why would he allow mosquitoes in the world!?!'

At times I have thought he might be right! The mosquito seems to have no purpose other than possibly to help control population growth by spreading disease (not necessarily a good thing!) Even if the pest did not spread disease, the annoying bugs still buzz, bite, and take the fun out of being outdoors.

We live in an old neighborhood. Mosquitoes appear in the late spring and stay through the summer. When the unwelcome guests arrive, we move our activities from outside back indoors. Safe inside the screened doors and windows, we are protected from the pest and no longer have to to swat, spray, or risk the chance of disease.

In the backcountry the situation is worse. If you are in an area during the peak of mosquito activity you are at their mercy. Here are a few memorable mosquito moments ...

On a trip to the Wind River Range of Wyoming with two of my friends, the mosquitoes were overwhelming. When we woke in the morning they chased us all day. On the trail, while we belayed (the slap of slip-slap-slide took on a new meaning - oh, that is a little mnemonic for moving the rope through the belay devise) and even as we climbed to the summits of the near by peaks - the mosquitoes buzzed and bit. They continued to pester us as we repelled and on the hike back to camp. In camp the ones who had been with us all day were still following us and more welcomed us to our temporary home.
Morning, noon, and night the mosquitoes were active. We ate snacks inside the tent instead of cooking to avoid exposure to the pests. Restless, I was ready to climb, but my friends refused to leave the tent.
During the trip, my friends changed their relationship status from friends to a dating. They were soon married, and are still happily married thirty years later!

On a trip with our daughter to the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado we were returning to the trailhead at Molas Pass, but first had to climb a long steep grade from the Animas River. At the river crossing, the mosquitoes attacked. They bit and buzzed all the way up the gazillion switchbacks of the steep trail. Amy and Rose finally said they had to put on repellents. I didn't want them to be bitten or carried away by mosquitoes as was the case with little Rose, I just didn't want to stop. When I am hiking repellents do not do any good because I sweat so much. I use my bandana to swat the pests and walk as quickly as possible trying to limit my time exposed to the mosquitoes. Soon we were hiking and swatting again.
Near the top of the climb, we met a group of hikers starting to descend. They asked about the trail, we told them about the mosquitoes!

In 2009 we were climbing the 14ers of Colorado. When we arrived at Half Moon Trailhead on Mount Holy Cross, our friends Jon, Laura, and Nick were already there. Jon was walking around wearing a jacket with the hood up, but it was quite warm. After a bit of chit chat I asked if he was cold or sick. No, he was just trying to minimize his exposure to the mosquitoes. A cloud was following him.
For some reason mosquitoes like Jon. His attractive qualities to mosquitoes did not bother us though, as long as he sat on the other side of the campsite. : - )

Next week - Mosquito Control Techniques!

Happy Mosquito Moment trails


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