Sunday, July 25, 2010

Of Bugs and Water

Our Mountaineers group started on the PCT going north from Stevens Pass via the Smithbrook Rd trailhead. There were some bugs in the parking lot, as there often is, and I accepted some bug spray from my carpool mate, a rare event for me. We reached Union Gap at 4700' without much pain or suffering, though I noticed a few mosquito bites on my elbows where I had forgotten to spray. After a short break, we headed down to Lake Janus, passing many flowers which were identified by our hike leader: Blue and Pink Bluebells (together on one stem), Star Solomon Seal, Paintbrush, Lupine, Valerian, Tiger Lily, Marsh Marigold, Queen's Cup and Pink Heather. It was nothing too spectacular since they were sparse in numbers, but made for good reasons to stop, identify and take pictures.
looking toward Scorpion Mt
Star Solomon Seal
It was 3.2 miles to Lake Janus and we were given a big welcome... by the mosquitos. They zipped around in a frenzy, so overjoyed to see a bunch of healthy, hot hikers; we were fresh meat. Soon, I could take it no longer and tore my clothes off, throwing myself into the lake, where I realized I had become bait for the fishermen bobbing around on the serene water waiting for a bite. I managed not to be lured in by their lines and had a really nice swim in perfect-temperature water while watching my fellow hikers get bogged down in the mud on the lake's perimeter trail. 

We finished lunch and bid farewell to our blood-sucking friends, making our way the 600 feet back up to Union Gap. It was mostly in the shade so it wasn't a problem, though the day had grown warm and my cool-down swim was long gone. At the Gap, we saw some horse packers and their beasts seemed happy to have someone to scratch their heads and help them swat the bugs away. I wondered how many mosquitos one horse can feed.
Back at the trailhead, the mosquitos were taking their last dips into human blood and when we departed for the city, one of them endured the cool of the air conditioning until nearly Index, when my carpool mate clapped her hands in excitement and squished the little bugger.

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