Kintla, land of mosquitoes

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  • It looked to be a tough winter for deer along Kintla Lake. There were numerous old carcasses and bones.

  • 1

    A hiker looks out over Kintla Lake, with Kinnerly Peak rising in the background.

  • 2

    Paintbrush blooms in the forest.

  • It looked to be a tough winter for deer along Kintla Lake. There were numerous old carcasses and bones.

  • 1

    A hiker looks out over Kintla Lake, with Kinnerly Peak rising in the background.

  • 2

    Paintbrush blooms in the forest.

I was lying in bed and they were still landing on me: mosquitoes. Hundreds and hundreds of mosquitoes landing on my arms and my face, into my ears and even worse, biting my back in a place where I couldnít get at them.

Problem was, there wasnít actually any mosquitoes on me anymore. It just felt like there was. It was a phantom feeling. A bad memory drilled into my nerves. It wasnít so much the bites, but the feeling of hundreds of small bodies bouncing against your skin.

I got up and took a Melatonin, just to fall asleep.

The barrage of biting insects was a good six hours earlier, when we got the bright idea to do a day hike up Kintla Lake.

The snows of winter have sown hundreds of flooded areas with little potholes of water all over the North Fork of the Flathead region of Glacier National Park, and the mosquitoes this year are the worst Iíve seen in decades. Bug spray? They just laugh at it. Two good doses still had little effect.

Some areas literally have clouds of mosquitoes, particularly if thereís no breeze. And when we got to Kintla, there wasnít a breath of air. The lake was still and the shores were yellow with pollen.

We didnít have to hike the 6.4 miles to the upper campground. The mosquitoes carried us ó at least it felt like it.

Itís been years since Iíve hiked at Kintla. Most recently Iíve avoided it because of the horror stories of crowds. But on this day, the motor camp had just a few people and the trail had no one. We saw two fishermen early on and the backcountry campground was empty, well, except for the bugs.

Fortunately the breeze kicked up and the mosquitoes subsided while we ate lunch. The hike along Kintla is an easy affair, mostly through mature forest, that this time of year is rife with songbirds.

Itís a flat hike by Glacierís standards, with towering peaks rising from its south shore. Any other time weíd recommend it. But this year, you might want to wait until the bugs burn off ó usually mid July ó before heading out on this hike.

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