Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crater Lake National Partk Highway 62

In the middle of the night I woke up to pure darkness and silence. No whining. I switched on my headlamp to check. All the mosquitoes were gone. The coast was clear. I put on my long-sleeved desert shirt just to be sure and dashed out to pee. They mobbed me in 10 seconds. I leapt back in and killed the 10 or so that followed me. I now had quite a pile of little corpses by my feet. I'd need to devise a way to pee inside my tent from now on, I feared.

In the morning, the horrible whine started up before dawn. I did everything I could do inside the tent before venturing out. With headnet and DEET in place, I left my sanctuary and folded it up and put it away. As I bent over folding and stuffing, clouds flew up my untucked shirt and stung me all over my chest. I quickly tucked in my shirt.

I set off as quickly as I could, hoping to find a less buggy place further on. I walked as far as I could. I traversed a big, long ridge and saw 3 frogs, one of which was enormous. Get to work frogs! Eat those bugs!

Eventually, nature was calling me. AT least it was less buggy on the ridge. I decided to try Gary's strategy from last year. I set my pack down as a decoy. The mosquitoes seem to mistake it for me. Then I went over to dig my hole. I went back to my pack which apparently wasn't fooling anybody, and while the mosquitoes followed me, I pulled down my pants and applied DEET to my thighs and cheeks. Then I ran to my hole and did my business as fast as I could. Mission Accomplished and the DEET worked.

I hiked up and over Devil's Peak and into a valley with creeks and a little snow on the trail. I met a group of backpackers with fishing poles. We spoke briefly but I could see the mosquitoes getting to them so I hurried on. I was fully enclosed in my headnet while they had tank tops and shorts. I could not understand how people could wear so little out here.

I saw no other people all day as I hiked the PCT. The trail eventually climbed into a burn area. Sweat was pouring down my face. I realized there might be no bugs in the burn zone so I took off my headnet, sat down and rested. I ate in peace. Suddenly I loved burned forest.

I made the detour to Jack Spring. I needed water. It was a long way down and the trail was very faint. I found the spring, a seep really, and rested and washed my feet. I felt so much better with clean feet and socks.

I climbed back up to the PCT feeling perky and hiked on as it went levelly and eventually climbed up to a high point with good views. I ate the last of my cookies and played my pennywhistle. I hoped I could find such a nice place to sleep later.

Into the late afternoon I went, mostly down but sometimes up, through trail strewn with fallen trees. Around 3 or 4 I passed into Crater Lake NP. It was 7.5 more miles to Mazama Campground. Today was only Saturday. I was going to have to camp in the park, maybe at Mazama, on Sunday and wait for the Post Office.

As I progressed, the mosquitoes returned. Now I could only pray I'd find a decent spot to sleep. I vowed to hike all the way to Mazama if I had to. I was very tired, my feet very sore, but any slowing of my pace showed me just how many mosquitoes laid in wait for me.

Finally, as my stomach was growing and the shadows lengthening, I felt a breeze. I stopped. Fewer mosquitoes. It would do. As dinner cooked I set up my tent and then everything, including me, went inside safe and comfortable.

The mosquitoes here in Oregon were like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. They were mean and crazy. I put DEET on the backs of my hands so they bit my palms. They crawled under the back vent panel of my shirt and stung my back so I sewed it shut. With a hideous EEEEEEEYYYYY!!!! they would crash into my head with such force I felt like the Twin Towers being crashed into by tiny planes. They stung me through my pants, they flew up my shirt and stung my chest. I looked forward to getting my skirt out of my bounce bucket to wear over my pants.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, the mosquitos were that bad when we hiked teh PCT through Salvation springs west of Mt Hood. YOu couldnt poo in peace, they stung you as you fanned your bare ass, stung your crotch as you sat down, stung if the head net got too close to your face. I love my trip, but had bugs bunny style cartoon lumps on my face & head from some bites. thank goodness it stopped as we got north of there.Mo