PCT Journal Entry: Enemy Number One (The Mosquito)
The following is a direct excerpt from the journal I kept during my 2018 PCT thru-hike attempt. I wrote this the morning after crossing Silver Pass, the last high pass in the section from Kennedy Meadows to Reds Meadow.
June 20, 2018
I’ve learned my number-one enemy in the Sierra is not the snow or the creeks or the bears or the high altitude or even, more philosophically, myself.
My number-one enemy in the Sierra is the mosquito. They inhabit every corner of every wood and meadow, and nothing repels them.
I don’t think mosquitoes really fly. That’s too active a verb to assign to what they do, but they seem to have no real capacity for conscious action. They float, drawn way beyond their control to their one true destiny and purpose. Which is to suck all of my blood and drive me insane.
This morning (currently 9:22 AM), the mosquitoes seem to have coerced the ants into joining their cause. I’m sure they tempted them with promises that the ants could have all the tasty crumbs I leave behind, should I fall.
They’ve banded together, surrounding my tent from inside the vestibule walls, crawling and buzzing around the rain fly, ready to swarm should I be so foolish as to unzip the door and leave the safety of the so far very reliable bug netting.
But battle draws near. I can’t hide in here forever. It would become very hot, and also I have to walk like 11 miles today and you just can’t do that while you’re still in your tent (yet).
My tent floor is littered with the dead bodies of enemies who have infiltrated as I first got in the tent. Unfortunately, they must die. But their friends and comrades in battle don’t even see them. So hungry are they for my sweet sweet blood they charge fearlessly through any circumstance, totally ignorant of even the concept of death.
Today, I try to outsmart their instincts. I pack my entire bag inside the tent, leaving only the tent itself to be packed last since it goes on the outside of my bag.
Then, I prepare for battle. Long sleeves, long pants, sun gloves, hoodie (hood engaged). I rub some Sawyer brand picaridin lotion on whatever skin is still exposed. They say not to put too much around your ears which is mildly concerning but like what am I just gonna let them have open access to my ears? Fuck that!
Last, and perhaps most importantly, I pull on my Ben’s Invisinet head net, like a knight pulling on his helmet.
Once I unzip this door, throw my pack out and follow it, it’s on. I may be no match for these evil beasts, but I will fight the good fight and walk on, in victory or defeat, to Canada.
A note on mosquito protection for long-distance hiking:
I do not like DEET. Picaridin didn’t work for me. I ended up opting for coverage over chemicals for my mosquito protection. I always wore pants and long sleeves while hiking, so those buggies just couldn’t get to my skin. Muahaha! And, when they were really really bad, I threw on my Ben’s Invisinet to cover my face and neck and put in my earbuds to drown out their incessant whining.