Mosquitoes, Fat Lips, and Grandeur
What can I say about the Sierra that hasn’t already been said (and probably more eloquently than me)? You spend every day climbing one or more passes and dropping down into gorgeous meadows. You wind your way from one beautiful lake to the next.
We were extremely lucky to have a low snow year in the Sierra. Many on trail were not carrying an ice ax or even traction devices. I chose to carry both for the first stretch and then ditched the ice ax in Bishop and the traction in mammoth. While I think each person should decide their gear based on experience and conditions, this worked well for me. The low snow year also resulted in easier river crossings. Though it did not make them any warmer.
It’s been a nice change from the desert to have such easy access to water. I got comfortable carrying one liter at a time and also enjoyed washing my feet every day.
However, the Sierra is not all lakes and grandeur. By Tuolumne Meadows, the mosquitoes were hatching in force. From Tuolumne meadows until about six miles from Sonora Pass, I spent all day in a head net and set up/take down for camp in rain gear. The mosquitoes were relentless. Pro tip: don’t swat at bugs while undoing tent poles or you may get smacked in the face with a tent pole.
I still would not change a thing about my time in the Sierra. (Okay maybe that is untrue, who wouldn’t wanna get rid of the mosquitoes??) If you are planning for a future Sierra hike my advice would be the following: learn about snow travel before the trip (even on a low snow year), train! (The desert spoils us), and plan for the mosquito hordes!!
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