Week Three: The Boiling Point

Bryan Snyder Photo

The confrontation was inevitable.

Throughout the Rockies, snowmelt had been trickling down into meadows and marshes for weeks, creating the perfect breeding ground for mosquito larvae. Now the larvae were old enough to hatch into their winged forms and start venturing forth from the waters in search of their first meals. For males, that meant nectar from flowers. For females, that meant people like me who dared to think they could walk into the wilderness without attracting the insects’ bloodthirsty attentions. I should have known better. In the month of June, the mosquitoes always win.

Granted, in Yellowstone National Park I should have had a lot of other competition as a blood donor, what with all the bison, wolves, elk and grizzles wandering about. There were very few humans, however… none in fact, after I hiked three miles down the trail towards Shoshone Lake. Back at the ranger station, I had wondered why I’d managed to acquire camping permits on such short notice, especially for a popular lakeside campsite in a park that gets over four million visitors a year. The lake even had its own geyser basin containing one of the highest geyser concentrations in the world.

Halfway down the trail, I began to understand why I’d such good luck with permits. For one, the mosquitoes were atrocious, and my “natural ingredient” bug spray only seemed to tickle their antennae for a few minutes before they regained their composure and renewed their attacks. Secondly, the trail was still encumbered by snowdrifts - guests from the long Wyoming winter who had overstayed their welcome. The snowy barriers gave Shoshone Lake a feeling of great remoteness, even if it lay only nine miles from the trailhead.

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