Day 10 – July 13, 2014

Odometer Reading:   101.00 miles

Miles today:  13.33

Camped:  above Rosemarie Meadow – elevation 10,067

Today’s Key to Success:  Gatorade

Really?  Back to not sleeping?  It’s getting so common, it’s boring to even write about.  This time I was snoring, and I never snore.  I’d wake Aidan up with my racket, so he’d gently wake me up to try to get me to roll over.  After hours of this, I got out of the tent, took my sitting pad out into a clearing, and lay down, thinking I’d be able to sleep without all this waking up and rolling over and bugging my husband thing.  My sweet husband tried to talk me into staying in bed with him, but I wasn’t having it.  I was certain I’d do better out there in the clearing on my own.  I lay on my back and watched the Universe roll around the Earth.  It didn’t take long for me to get cold and get back in the tent.  I think I made it about seven minutes.  At least I saw the stars.  First time for everything.

Something feathery was shedding.  As I packed up the tent, feathers flew around, getting stuck in my hair and on the screen of the tent.  I laughed.

Trail rumor had it, the next section, Bear Ridge to Selden Pass had mosquitoes “as bad as I’ve ever seen”.  We prepared early.  It was already hot.  Since we actually got out of camp in one hour, fifty minutes, we stopped ten minutes down the trail to put on long sleeved clothing and DEET.  We hate DEET.  I remember on one of my bike tours, I was getting eaten alive, so I sprayed DEET all over my body and all over my bike shorts.  About half an hour later, I looked down and could see my leg through my shorts.  Confused, I got off my bike and inspected further.  My shorts were literally falling off my body in shreds.  The DEET ate right through them.  I decided that day that I would use it as little as possible, and never ever ever on my face.  There were even stickers on our bear cans warning us to keep DEET away from them so the DEET doesn’t eat the plastic, damaging the bear can.

So we used it sparingly, on our hands, our ankles, and a tiny touch on the back of the neck.  I also sprayed my hat.  If my hat was eaten by DEET, I just figured that would be a good battle story for later.  We wore long-sleeved shirts and long hiking pants.


There were fallen trees stuck on living trees, hanging over the trail.  Widow-makers.  We held our breath as we passed under them, just for good measure.  The air was perfectly still.  Stifling hot.  The heat pressed on us from all sides.  I was sweating through my long-sleeved shirt.  We hadn’t come into mosquito territory yet.  We climbed up two thousand feet to Bear Ridge.

We talked as we hiked, about stuff, about nothing, about things that felt important, about things that really were important.  Often, in deep discussion, a hiker would appear.  Often, by the time we noticed the hikers, they were close enough to hear us.  We’d announce to one another that someone was coming, and this was followed by an awkward silence as we all passed by one another.  We decided we needed a code word to crack down all these uncomfortable meetings.  We needed a word that could easily be used in a regular hiker conversation.  Something benign.  Something like…”pocket”.  Yeah, “pocket” would work just fine.  Now, how to use it?  We decided if we used it in a sentence at all, it meant a hiker was coming.  Yep, that would work.


The uphill was beautiful, and then we went down several miles to Bear Creek.  We pulled over on some good rocks and set up for lunch.  We went swimming for a little bit.  I took the water bladders to the middle of the stream for the coldest, clearest water we could gather.  We stirred up a batch of cold 7-11 chili cheese and scarfed it down with some Fritos.  Mmmmm.  Salt.  Yummy.



“Did you get the pen from your pocket?”

“What?” I asked.  I scooped some beans up on my Frito.

“You know, the pen in your POCKET?  Your POCKET?”

“What are you talking about?”  I pushed some beans around my plate.

“Hi.  How are you all doin’?”  A hiker sat down on one of our rocks.  “Mind if I eat with you?”  He pulled out some salami and cheese and started cutting it up.

Oops.  Okay, our system wasn’t working as well as planned.  Especially if I couldn’t keep on board for longer than an hour.


The flowers were the highlight of the day.  Lupine as tall as my chest, fields of Kelly’s Lilly and columbine, all shiny and happy in the sun.  The scalding ground kicked hot dust around our faces.  Clouds of dust made me cough a little.  Hot dust clung to my face.  I backed off from Aidan and walked a little behind.  That was better.  We were still wearing our long-sleeved clothing.  Still determined to be prepared for the mosquitoes we hadn’t yet found.

Kelly's Lilly - my new favorite flower

Kelly’s Lilly – my new favorite flower


The ground was an stove.  It pumped the heat up at me as we cruised along.  I was glad for my sunbrella.  At least we were only getting baked from the ground and not from above too, at that point.  How did we ever hike without sunbrellas?  What a genius invention.  Genius, I tell ya.

There were finally a few mosquitoes.  We were still hiking.  It was 6:15 pm.  I was a little in front of Aidan.  I heard him call my name.  His voice sounded funny.  I knew something was wrong.  I spun around and he was lying sideways on the trail, looking shocked.  I ran to him and tore my pack off, threw it on the ground.  I peeled his pack off of him.

“What happened?”

He said he’d looked up at a plane and then he got dizzy.  Everything started to turn black.  He dropped to the ground to keep from passing out and falling.  Good plan.  He looked a fright.  I propped him up against his pack while I made him some Gatorade with an electrolyte tablet and got a snack put together.  We sat there for a while, cooled off a bit.  I doused him with some DEET.  We sat there some more.

MBA - Mosquito Breeding Area

MBA – Mosquito Breeding Area

Once he felt good enough to keep going, we started hunting down a spot for camp.  The mosquito activity ramped up.  We booked it through Rosemarie Meadow.  The mosquitoes were vicious.  We passed some occupied camps, then decided to clear the meadow and camp in the rocks above where they may not be as bad.  We started the next climb, but Aidan was pretty well shot.  He pointed, “I bet there’s a nice camp over there.”  I looked and saw nothing, but his instincts for these things are better than mine, so we headed to the right, off the trail.

Sure enough, five minutes later we were at another beautiful horse camp.  Unused for probably thirty years.  Fire ring filled with grass and remnants of charred wood.  I set up camp and got Aidan in the tent where he was safe.  I geared up for the mosquitoes.  Head net, rain gear, gloves.  The clouds of mosquitoes were so thick I was having trouble seeing.  They were easily three feet thick, following me around.  I’d run ten feet away, then run ten feet back just to give myself a moment of relative peace so I could pull something else out of a pack.  It was insane.  I’d never seen so many mosquitoes.  I didn’t know they made so many mosquitoes.   The mosquitoes sounded more like a plane than a whine.  Aidan wasn’t doing well.

And then I had to pee.


What to do?  DEET my ass?  I danced a little jig.  Grrr.  Okay, formulate a plan.  I ran around in concentric circles, wider and wider.  I finally found a place well away from any water.  An enormous slab of rock.  I walked to the middle of it.  There was a tiny dollop of earth.  Perfect.  I dropped my drawers and peed as fast as I possibly could, frantically slapping my butt the entire time.  Only five successful mosquitoes.  That was fine.

I got back to camp and realized there was no way I could cook anything.  Too many mosquitoes, and their attacks were brutal.  I handed the bear cans to Aidan in the tent, then dove in after them.  We spent the next few minutes hunting down and killing all the little bastards who came in there with us.  Then, finally safe, we pulled items from the bear cans and stuffed them in our mouths for dinner.

I took my shoes off.  My feet were really swollen.  My skin stretched tight on all my little toes.  I chewed some food and wondered what would happen if I took a needle and just popped a foot.  I was tired of chewing so much food.  Always chewing.

Aidan wasn’t doing well.

I rubbed his legs and rotated his cooling neck cloth.  Heat Exhaustion?  He was overheated for sure.  We shouldn’t have worn long-sleeved clothing all day.  We should’ve waited for the mosquitoes to get bad, and THEN put on long-sleeved stuff.  We should’ve had more electrolytes.  We drank six liters of water each, but we hadn’t had enough electrolytes.  I felt bad.  I needed to remember that.  I wouldn’t forget again.  We were there to take care of each other.  I needed to watch him more carefully…the way he watched and took care of me.

His breathing evened out and I knew he was asleep.  I listened to the mosquitoes, finally down to a whine, and my eyes closed on their own.


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