Mosquito Warfare in the High Uintas

July 2019  |  High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

In late July we backpacked into the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah, to a couple high basins at the head of the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River. These lakes form the headwaters of the Bear River which flows north out of the Uintas, through Wyoming and Idaho, then back around south into Utah and the Great Salt Lake, making it the largest river in the North America that doesn't eventually reach the ocean.

We had optimistically planned a three-night outing, but the mosquitos were so abominable up there that we bailed after two nights! Though we had expected the mosquitos, we didn't quite comprehend what a struggle it would be with clouds of hundreds or thousands of the vampire drones swarming around us at all times. Despite the relentless mosquito warfare, we still managed to enjoy some amazing scenery up in the high basins with their many lakes and ponds. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trek.

Hayden Peak (12,479 ft.) reflects in Kermsuh Lake - July.

Kermsuh Reflection

Hayden Peak (12,479 ft.) reflects in Kermsuh Lake - July.

As I photographed near Kermsuh Lake, thick swarms of mosquitos hovered around me, covering my clothes and headnet and camera. Before every shot I'd shake my hands vigorously in front of the lens to hopefully clear them off for a split second. After about a minute of shooting at a time, enough skeeters had gathered that I'd have to evacuate and run around in circles for a minute or two before I could return. Meanwhile, Claudia had barricaded herself inside the tent and refused to get out at all.

A colorful sunset over Kermsuh Lake.

Kermsuh Sunset

A colorful sunset over Kermsuh Lake.

The next day hiking from the West Basin to the Middle Basin, we had to hike continuously without stopping, otherwise the trailing swarms of mosquitos would instantly pounce. Fortunately the Middle Basin is generally more broad and open, allowing for occasional breezes to keep the mozzies temporarily at bay.

Dramatic clouds over Mount Agassiz (12,428 ft.).

Mount Agassiz Reflection

Dramatic clouds over Mount Agassiz (12,428 ft.).

A fiery sunrise over Ostler Peak and Spread Eagle Peak.

Uinta Sunrise

A fiery sunrise over Ostler Peak and Spread Eagle Peak.

Hayden Peak reflects in a pond in Middle Basin above the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River.

Stillwater Reflection

Hayden Peak reflects in a pond in Middle Basin above the Stillwater Fork of the Bear River.

We've battled mosquitos before in the Sawtooths, the Wind Rivers, and Alaska, but I think this trip in the Uintas takes the crown for the ultimate mosquito hell I've ever experienced! Lesson learned... I don't think I'll ever be returning to the Uintas in July - particularly to a place that's aptly named "Stillwater".

Posted in Backpacking & Trekking and tagged Uintas, Utah.

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