Sunday, August 28, 2011

Got Mono?

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Some people describe seasons by their weather: precipitation, temperature, wind. We describe Sierra Nevada weather in terms of insects and other natural phenomena. Sure, there's snow in winter. Spring we describe in terms of which wildflowers are in bloom at various elevations. Then comes summer, the seasons of bugs. Yep, summer offers more than one insect season. We generally measure it in terms of mosquitoes and yellowjackets, our main nemeses.

Last week's adventure up Helms Meadow was clearly during the height of mosquito season. While meadows are typically rife with the bloodsuckers, the peak of the season brings mosquitoes out on sunny patches, even into breezy spots, anywhere within eyeshot of a meadow.

Yellowjacket season typically follows close on the heels of mosquito season. So as we returned to the Sierra this past week for a few more days in paradise, I expected to battle with the biters for my meats and sweets.

We lucked out.

Mono offered only a handful of mosquitoes - I came home with one bite, the girls with none, after four days in camp. And the yellowjackets steered entirely clear. BONUS!

The nieces and nephews may argue the point. They attracted all sorts of critters I'd never seen before. One was nipped by a big insect that looked strangely like a very large dragonfly, but it was well after dark and the critter seemed attracted to the camp light. Another night brought a visit from a scorpion - my first such sighting in several years camping in this area.

The river level was ideal for floating with (and sometimes without) kids. The river water was downright frigid, but the hot springs made up for it. The kids had some fantastic fishing luck. And our traditional hike to Doris Lake was lovely. It was great having so many water safe kids up there this time; made for a much more relaxing day for all involved. And my brother and I capped off the experience by jumping from Eagle Rock, my highest jump ever and certainly the highest jump I will ever make intentionally. At 55 feet, it was downright scary, but exhilarating and particularly fun when jumped side by side with him. Sadly, there is no photographic evidence of the jump, and many of the kids didn't see it (we weren't even sure we were going to do it when we hiked up there, though Bro's done it on a couple of other occasions).

Now home to rest, and wrap up loose ends, and pack.

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