Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

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Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by stinkycheezman33 » Sat May 14, 2016 6:12 pm

Hi everyone, looking for some insight about these apparently notorious Wind River mosquitos. I have 2 weeks off in late July and I've been trying to get to the Winds for years now. I want to make it happen this year. Looking at a weeklong trip for backpacking and peak bagging somewhere in the neighborhood of July 22-28. We would try to do something like start at Big Sandy TH and hike to Elkhart Park TH via the high country over the course of a week.

Now what I want to know is how bad are the mosquitos, really? I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and pretty much during the month of June the mosquitos are truly unbearable in places. Like, long sleeves, pants, boots, head net, DEET and they still bite you. Swarming in the thousands at all hours of the day. Waking up every morning to the steady hum of 200 mosquitos on my bedroom window screen before my alarm goes off. So, basically I'm the type who can handle what many people would call "a lot of bugs" and pretty much think it was nothing.

So, my question is this: In a "typical" year how bad would the bugs be? Would it be an apocalyptic amount where you get 15 bites just taking your morning bathroom break? Or is it more like a few of them buzzing around you at any given time? I can handle a healthy dose of bugs, but if it's usually bad enough to drive even a seasoned mosquito veteran insane, I don't want to risk it!

Any insight is appreciated. Thanks for the help!

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by reboyles » Sat May 14, 2016 9:30 pm

It's more like 20 bites when you bare your butt but they are not always around. I read that mosquitoes are pretty much grounded when the wind blows over 16 mph which happens quite often up there. Also, it seems to be temperature related. We did not have to use full protection in the heat of the day but during the evening and morning they were as bad as, well, Michigan. But, when we there in late June with lots of snow cover we only saw one mosquito on our entire 5 day trip. In late July I would recommend you carry all of the stuff you mention above. The Winds are way too beautiful to miss because of bugs.

Bob

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by Bill Reed » Sat May 14, 2016 9:34 pm

They can be as pretty bad. Think of your worst mosquito memory and it sounds like you've had some, that's how bad they can be. Bad enough that all you can think of is getting away from them but it's not always that bad.

How bad in a particular year depends on a few things.
How wet it is, what the weather's like, what time of year and where you are.

Wet year=Bad
Cloudy, humid, little wind=Bad
July & August, depending on the above=Bad
Camping/hiking in thick forest=Bad

Earliest I've ever gone into the Winds is July 31st, latest start was August 27th. Only time they weren't an issue was in a very dry year, early in August of 2001.

I would guess that by July 22-28 they could potentially be at their peak or, you could get lucky. This year thus far looks like it's leaning toward wet. What the weather will be like in 2 months is anybodys guess. Hope for the best.
Best time to do what you aim to do is July and August of course. I try to go as late as is reasonably possible to maintain the illusion that the bugs will be gone and hope it doesn't snow too much.

Don't let that dissuade you though. Even with a few hundred thousand mosquitos, it'll still be worth it. Their bites will heal and be gone but your memories will always be there.

Be prepared! Take plenty of bug juice, I like the 30ish% Deet. Take a headnet and hope you don't need it.
Try to avoid camping in heavily forested areas. Remember-you're in the Winds and the wind is your friend!!

In truth, the Winds are not unique as far as mosquitos go. You can (and I have!) run into hordes of mosquitos anywhere in the Rockies.

Good luck!

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by WyomingSummits » Sun May 15, 2016 5:45 am

It really depends. All of the ranges up here and in montana can be brutal. The Winds are notorious, but the Bighorns are just as bad. I had a 3 day trip in the Winds and came out with barely a bite....other trips I came out scarred for life. I find that later in the year is better....mid june to late July is a skeeter hell hole in WY unless the wind is kicking. You get used to it in all honesty, but then winter drives away the memory and you get hazed all over again the next year.....

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by stinkycheezman33 » Sun May 15, 2016 10:45 pm

reboyles wrote:It's more like 20 bites when you bare your butt but they are not always around.


I didn't want to exaggerate, but I know the feeling. :)

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by spiderman » Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:20 am

The first time that I did the Winds, we had to pitch the tent and crawl in every rest break. The second hike in that area and I only had to worry about mosquitos at night. The third time back was in May and there were no bugs in the snow-covered range. That was the most enjoyable time to be in those mountains.

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by Bob Sihler » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:41 am

They were bad enough on one hot July day that faced with sweltering in the tent or being eaten despite having soaked myself in DEET, I packed up and left Big Sandy a day ahead of schedule, hiking as fast as I could despite having climbed three peaks that morning.

Even in August they can be pretty bad. Go as late in the summer as you possibly can unless other seasons are options.

ETA: Sorry, I saw you have specific dates. Go anyway. The Winds are worth it even if the bugs suck. Had the time I bailed early been my one and only time out there, I would not have bailed.
"Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off."

--Terry Lennox, The Long Goodbye (Raymond Chandler)

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by WyomingSummits » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:01 pm

Bob Sihler wrote:They were bad enough on one hot July day that faced with sweltering in the tent or being eaten despite having soaked myself in DEET, I packed up and left Big Sandy a day ahead of schedule, hiking as fast as I could despite having climbed three peaks that morning.

Even in August they can be pretty bad. Go as late in the summer as you possibly can unless other seasons are options.

ETA: Sorry, I saw you have specific dates. Go anyway. The Winds are worth it even if the bugs suck. Had the time I bailed early been my one and only time out there, I would not have bailed.


I did the same thing in the Bighorns.95 degree tent or eaten alive....I just left. But, like you, it wasn't my only time up there and I only have to drive 60 miles.

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by stinkycheezman33 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:13 am

Thanks for the brutal honesty guys! We're still planning on going for the moment and we've been practice hiking with the hordes of mosquitos and black flies currently brutalizing the western UP of Michigan. Just about ran a 20 mile hike on the North Country Trail the other weekend because I couldn't even stop for a second without getting absolutely mobbed, despite tons of DEET and head nets.

I don't know if it makes a difference, but our intended route is a high one, hopefully above treeline as much as possible. Either way, it's time to see the Winds!!!

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by WyomingSummits » Tue Jun 14, 2016 3:17 am

You'll love it regardless! Yeah, sometimes getting up above treeline in the wind can scatter them. Enjoy!

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by Bill Reed » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:53 pm

WyomingSummits wrote:You'll love it regardless! Yeah, sometimes getting up above treeline in the wind can scatter them. Enjoy!

Yeah, what he said!!

If you don't mind me asking, what is your intended route, cheezman?

Good luck and may the winds be ever on your side, especially when you're eating! :wink:

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by Bark Eater » Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:45 pm

What others have said. When the wind was blowing I never noticed them. When the wind died...watch out! I thought I was tough doing spring hikes in the Adirondacks with the black flies and skeeters. I think the Wind River bugs were hungrier! We were camped well above treeline (mid-July) and they were still horrible.

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by OwenT » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:31 pm

I'd like to hear how permethrin works against those hordes of mosquitos. It gets mentioned fairly often on NWhikers and I've used it once with success but there were not many mosquitos around anyway.

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by georgia_yankee » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:38 pm

I have had excellent results with permethrin. I spray my lightweight, baggy long pants/sleeves as well as socks. On a recent side-by-side comparison with folks not using permethrin the contrast was stark--the mosquitoes stayed off of me but furiously bit through my companions' clothes. We also wore head-nets, which, as already noted, you should never be without in the Winds.

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Re: Wind River Mosquitos: How bad are they really?

by Woodswalker » Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:56 am

I was in the Winds on Glacier Trail when I did Gannett many years ago first week of August. Virtually no skeeters the entire 5 day trip. Applied repellent maybe 4 times.

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