Best Christmas Gift For Pacific Crest Trail Hikers–A Headnet!
If you had asked me in the desert what my most important piece of equipment in my backpack was, I would have told you the dorky, wide-brimmed hat I wore to protect myself from the blazing sun and stave off dehydration. However, way up in the ‘High Sierra’ portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I would have had a surprising answer–a piece of equipment that did not weigh even one ounce and cost less than $20. My mosquito head net.
I had heard the bugs were awful in the High Sierra. At first it made no sense. After all, on the Appalachian Trail, once we had entered the White Mountains, the bugs had completely disappeared. But then it began to make perfect sense once I saw the high snow levels in the High Sierra, along with the clear snow melt rushing through the streams. These mosquitoes might only live a few days; but they lived like there was no tomorrow, and seemed to live for one and only one thing–a coveted sip of a hiker’s blood.
Going into the High Sierra in late June during the peak of the snow melt without a headnet would have been suicidal. Some (including myself) even took to hiking in them; you honestly have to experience how bad these bugs are to believe it.
Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago, and Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.