What started as a 3 day, 2 night camping and hiking adventure at Waldo Lake was reduced to a 2 day, 1 night psychological and physical test due to one small, swarming 6-legged monster: mosquitoes. Everybody who plans on hiking Waldo Lake early knows the simple fact that it’s one of the worst squito hells in the Cascades, so I thought I was ready and prepared: bug net for head/face, long pants/shirt, new campground tent, and Permethrin soaked clothes. But that first morning within 30 seconds, I was completely unprepared for the swarming attack that was non-stop except for three times: a) atop Twins, b) atop Fuji, and c) dinner Tuesday with a strong winds.

Squitos won – simple. The campground host said that the snow melted enough to get there 2 weeks ago, this is the first hatch of the melt, and it’s worse than last year, and they lasted for 8 weeks … great planning! :). The two days, I saw no other human on the trails – some 38 miles – only campground.

General cautions about Waldo Lake area: a) no cell reception at all – 0 (VZ); b) drinking water without treatment was limited; c) mosquitos will be worse than you think; and d) it’s drop-dead gorgeous.

Most important gear: mosquito net for head (over hat), like this

Day 1 – PCT Bobby Lake Tr to Charlton Lake with Twins summit between

No surprise, but if you look at most of the pics that follow, a squito will be in the pic. The first several miles were a sprint uphill trying to outrun the beasts. Getting out of the trees on the Twins, brought relief.

Twins are around 7,000 ft and totally exposed yet this day it was a gift. This tree captured me

After a quick bite and water (first rest too), it was down into the gauntlet to Charlton Lake (i didn’t do the loop around the lake, but back to PCT given how few other hikers were out). The lake was gorgeous but without squito relief it was hard to stay and enjoy. Between Bobby Lake Trail and Charlton on PCT there were 13 blow-downs across the trail – none nasty.

Trekking back to the car and then to Waldo was uneventful – and quick. i had the tent up in 5 minutes in case the swarm returned – before dinner, I had everything ready for their return and the next day.

Waldo Lake is amazing … truly. Here are pics from the evening and then the morning … easy to discern which.(please open below gallery to get 95% quality pics)

That was the evening and morning … after falling asleep at 8pm to the relentless music of the swarm right outside my tent. I was on the trail before 06:00 am to just move …

Leaving the campground and Waldo Lake to Fuji took me through swamps, bogs and ice … with the swarm everywhere. There was 1 serious bog / swamp on the trail that required a large ’round it detour’.

Getting to Fuji was hard as the swarm did not allow for any rest … but once there, no swarm, and the views were as remembered, but the easterly direction was hazy.

I thought about taking a longer way back to the campground, and would have, except for … the swarm. Any more time walking down where they were strong would have been too much. Thankfully that was the right move as once down to car-level again, the swarm was there … i quickly loaded the car and drove a few miles down the road (Salt Creek) to wash up, clean out the car and get organized for trip home – 1 day earlier than planned.

Day 1 – PCT: Bobby Lake to Charlton Lake

Comment: This is a pretty boring section of PCT but one can cruise, some miles were <18:30 and 22.47 miles at <20:00 pace – that’s fast for me. Without the Twins between end points, I could have slept thru it (except ….). Key learning: @ TH there is parking hidden in the trees (shade) on east side of road – i parked in the heat across road – bad.

Shadow Bay Campground – Night 1

Great camp hosts and very helpful. I was in spot 090 and it was a short hop to lakeside (<100ft) so the breeze and noises were great. Tent site was near perfect (thanks to all those before) BIG BAD THING – no drinking water yet. Thankfully, I have ~5 gallons emergency in car. Cell reception is also a 0.

Day 2 – Shadow Bay to Fuji Mountain

Comment: the first section after squito season will be GREAT with lakes, bogs etc … Fuji Mountain is a great climb / walk up above 7,000 ft with great views.

All Trails Factoids
Day 1 – Distance: 22.47 miles | Elevation Gain: 3,599 ft | Avg Pace 19:54 / miles — Recording
Day 2 – Distance: 16.65 miles | Elevation Gain: 2,844 ft | Avg Pace 25:46 / miles — Recording

Gear TypeFor this Hike
PackGregory Citro 30
ShoesTopo Terraventure 2 Trailrunners – Day 1
Topo Ultraventure Trailrunners – Day 2 (REI Link)
Comment: Ultraventure have a bit more cushion but are stiffer – hard ground best use
Top LayersBaselayer LS + REI Shara LS
Comment: both layers were needed for swarm protection – they ate thru any 1 layer
Bottom LayerREI Sahara convertible pants
SocksDual layer: REI silk liners + REI lightweight Merino wool
GaiterREI ‘On the Trail Gaiters’
WaterBladder 3 L + 750ml bottle (consumed all + electrolytes)
TentREI Groundbreaker 2 (Link) – ‘car / campground tent’
Comment: Zipper design is poor – will write to REI for detailed review
Supporting toolsBlack Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking poles

1 Comment

  1. Are you itching?? When during the year are there not those nasty things? Going to give it another try? Maybe a mountain will sprout here before you come!

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