Leaving Holy Mosquito Wilderness

July 3, 2020

Destination: Mount Massive Wilderness Today's Miles: 15.10

Start Location: Porcupine Lake Trip Miles: 165.60

Despite our rising before the sun the mosquitoes were just as thick when we got up today as they were last night when we went to bed.

The sunrise cast a warm glow on Galena Mountain providing a mirror image on the lake, making for one of the best photographs of the trip. All of the other hikers camped at the lake missed it. Not one was up and about as we wound our way through the tents to the main trail. It has become our habit to get up and on the trail early, we can have everything packed up and having had (breakfast) in about an hour.

At first we dropped down into a steep drainage then climbing up the other side even higher out of the basin. There were a couple of sizable snow drifts that we had no difficulty negotiating.

The mosquitoes would not slack up and I thought how torturous it was to have to stop while going uphill only to be swarmed by these tiny blood suckers. It can be very frustrating breathing hard when they fly in your mouth and up your nose and buzz your ears. It was that kind of a morning.

Spellbinding views held our attention coming down from Holy Cross (we nicknamed the ‘Holy Mosquito’) Wilderness the hills are steep and the views are long. Gradually we descended while passing several small high mountain lakes that were clear as a bell. At one point we met a marmot who was exceptionally friendly and photogenic.

Hitting the bottom we were at the Timberline Lake trail head and I did a quick count of 16 cars. Incredible. There's lots of people out enjoying the trails this holiday weekend. We must be approaching Glacier Creek, we could hear it before we could see it and it sounds strong. As with most trail heads we encountered a few people – a couple backpacking, two runners, a man with his young son and a couple of mountain bikers.

For a while the terrain was undulating but before long it became decidedly uphill and we found ourselves climbing more than I had expected to. Up and up we went towards the Mount Massive Wilderness. It was a long, drawn out climb and some sections had switchbacks but some stretches were just up.

It was beautiful and when we finally reached the top we had gained a commanding view of the distant mountains and the valley below. Here at the top we met up with Candacy and Ann. Candacy asked us if we were the ones she saw in section 7 slack packing from Gold Hill to Copper.

We did remember seeing her, she had asked us how the snow was as we encountered her while she was going up and we were coming down. We had told her she would have no problems, it was a brief but pleasant exchange.

Continuing on the afternoon rain announced it self with a 30 minute shower once again proving the value of my solar umbrella. It let up as we dropped into Rock Creek where a couple of interesting things happen.

First, passing by a little bench with a nice flat camp spot we commented to each other about what a sweet little camp spot it was. Then we noticed somebody had scraped the word BEAR in the dirt - it was an obvious and ominous message.

The second interesting thing was encountering a CDT thru hiker. He was a nice gentleman who reported that there was nothing crazy dangerous waiting for us on the western Collegiate route. He made a point to say that we should definitely do it and that Lake Ann Pass was so beautiful the scenery brought tears to his eyes.

We would have one more long pull out of Rock Creek before we could make camp. It seemed to go on forever but the beautiful side drainages with little waterfalls we crossed kept our attention off our misery.

After gaining about 1100 vertical feet we topped out on the ridge and set out to find a camp spot. We had carried 6 L plus 4 smart water bottles full as it would be a dry camp.

It turned out to be an excellent camp. Of particular note was the decrease in mosquitoes. While they were still around, they were but a speck of the torture we dealt with the previous evening.

We were ahead of schedule and did not have accommodations arranged until Sunday, the fifth, but we would be arriving in Twin Lakes on Saturday the fourth. Fortunately we were on a high ridge and had cell service. I contacted the Best Western in Buena Vista and was able to reserve a room for the Fourth.

Not long after I made the reservation brother Mike called to inform us he would be in the area as well. It was perfect timing and we arranged to meet him in Twin Lakes at the store the next day about noon. Everything was falling right into place and we were looking forward to celebrating the holiday with Mike - not to mention a shower, a bed and a good meal!