On Sunday, my wife and I headed up Cascade Lakes Highway for the first time this summer, our destination one of those lakes.
After years of going to the ones you can drive right up to, — places like Elk and Cultus lakes — we began hoofing it to lakes you need to hike to.
This time around, we went to one of our favorite spots, Doris Lake, and we were heartened to find the Six Lakes Trailhead a little less packed than some summer days.
Before long, we understood why, each of the hikers coming down the trail toward us warning of mosquitoes ahead. No worries! We had an old can of some repellant. Then we passed an older couple wearing full mosquito netting as though they were on safari.
That’s when I remembered, oh yeah, mosquitoes tend to be bad up here till late July. (In my defense, it’s been a weird weather year. In my prosecution, it was a very wet spring, so that should have been clue one. The prosecution rests).
And just as a few people had warned us, the mini-vampires began feasting on us around Blow Lake, about a mile from the trailhead.
For reasons of grim determination, we continued on two more miles to Doris, arriving far faster than usual, all thanks to our fears of standing still and enabling the bloodletting.
We found our favorite spot, and most of the lakeshore, empty. Well, empty save for the bloodthirsty insects, of which there were approximately 7.3 million.
My wife is not normally one for cold-water plunges, despite the touted health benefits. Saturday, she made an exception, and we had a lovely swim in the lake’s crystal-clear water, getting as submerged as our need for oxygen would allow in order to avoid providing the bloodthirsty creatures a perch.
You can only endure numb limbs for so long, and eventually we had to get out. Upon exiting, we dried off as quickly as our numb limbs allowed, then booted back up for the hike back down to the parking lot. The three-mile descent turned into a jog at times, and we would have set another personal record, hampered by our stopping to take in Blow Lake and provide lunch for dozens of hungry mosquitoes.
Learn from our mistake and wait a couple of weeks before you go to these or any of the mountain lakes — or get yourself some of that fashionable mosquito netting.
Getting there: From west Bend, take the Cascade Lakes Highway about 33 miles to Six Lakes Trailhead. Keep an eye out for the sign on the right side of the highway, just past Elk Lake. Free, self-issued Wilderness Permit required (available at the trailhead).