Miles: 18.78
Camping: PCT mile 987.79

Per usual, Blisster and I were the early birds of the group, but our worm was a longer battle with mosquitoes. They aren’t too terrible early in the day but they come out of nowhere when they decide it is time to attack. They have some kind of buzzing telekinesis that spreads far and wide, sending in air raids from miles around. It’s quite miserable standing anywhere near still. This prompted my speedy exit from camp as CrackerJack and Polar Bear were just beginning their days. I listened to an episode of “Wait…Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” which had me giggling through the forest for the beginning couple of miles, and headphones made it so I couldn’t hear that ridiculous mosquito buzz. It may not be all of the news, but it is all of the news that I need.

I began climbing a steep ridge and the heat was beginning to crank up by 9am. CrackerJack caught up with me and we sat in some shade eating snacks and having language lessons, where I learned that my trail name in German is, “Staub Häschen.” Just as we were getting back on trail we encountered a ranger guiding a Nepalese Sherpa through the Sierra. No joke! The ranger was an awesome lady who did happen to be carrying her own pack. We chatted for a long while and then we headed on up the long, steep mountain. At the top of the rise we came upon a beautiful alpine lake where CrackerJack decided we should jump in. I hesitated, but he wouldn’t allow it, and I soon found myself paddling around the lake unwilling to get out. He had to convince me at that point that we should walk on, and I obliged. It was the most refreshing swim of the trip so far, and I’m still sad that it is over.

We continued walking up, and then down…and then up, and then down. This is when CrackerJack learned the meaning of bipolar…and metaphor. It was an exhausting day, and we never saw any of our friends. When we came to the final climb the mosquitoes became inexhaustible. We were headed for a lake and decided to run in order to escape the beasts of flight. They chased us with their pointy proboscises, and we ran down the hill with our heavy packs going, “thump, thump, thump,” on our backs. We ran straight into Blisster who called us crazy, and we told him we would see him at the lake as we continued to flee.

Upon reaching Lake Wilmer we quickly tore off our sweaty clothes (because it was a HOT day) and jumped into the lake with zero hesitation. Our second swim of the day and I’m feeling spoiled (aside from being in mosquito infested lands). We paddled about a short time and then had to figure out how we would get out and set up camp without being eaten alive. This proved to be challenging, but we managed to make a hilarious show of getting our things together and making a quick camp. Blisster joined us, CrackerJack built a fire that was meant to be smoky to keep mosquitoes away, and somehow we have now lost Polar Bear…then we were three.

We cooked ourselves dinner and had to eat in our tents because every moment exposed meant being eaten alive. I have never in my life seen so many mosquitoes, there were literally hundreds on each of us at any given moment. We wore clothes on every inch of skin including gloves on a warm night. When I escaped to my tent at least 5 made it in with me, no matter how carefully I made the move. This meant for less social camp time but we hope to pull over 20 miles tomorrow in order to make a short distance to town the next day. Here’s hoping the mosquitoes chill out because this is pure hell…no matter how pretty the scenery (also, hence so few photos…)