Having just finished the Pamelia/Hunts Cove/Shale lake loop in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, I thought I'd give a quick report and update on bugs in the area.
Mt. Jefferson from Mudhole lake
Having reserved permits back in May, I was looking forward to finally doing this well-documented loop, but also concerned about the mosquito situation. I normally wait till mid August to do the higher elevation backpacking trips, mainly in order to miss the peak bug season. My bug scale goes from 1(what bugs?) to 10(swarming you even while hiking and showing no regard to bug spray). To summarize, we started at Pamelia lake trailhead and hiked past Pamelia lake, up the Hunts Creek trail to beautiful Hunts cove, where the mosquitoes were very present and persistent. They respected the deet, but only when freshly applied, and would mostly leave you alone while you were hiking. I'd say a 7 out of 10.
Day 2. We hiked up many switchbacks out of Hunts cove, joining the Lake of the Woods trail before tying in to the PCT. The effort was worth the reward, as this was an extremely scenic stretch of trail with the views getting better each step. We ended the day at Shale lake, where the bugs were still present, but seemed fewer, possibly due to the nice breeze that was blowing in from the west. Bugs mostly disappeared near dusk and I would put them at a 5.5 out of 10 during our stay. The wilderness ranger stopped by to check our permit, and said she had come from Jefferson park, where the bugs were "horrible". Hard for me to place on my scale but her arms were covered in bites below rolled up sleeves..
Day 3. Final day. We continued north on PCT as it loses elevation gradually but continuously to milk creek, where we snapped a picture and then headed down to Pamelia lake and out. This was a great weekend trip and the scenery throughout exceeded my expectations, especially Hunts cove and the climb out and across to join the PCT. I had previously hiked through the shale lake area on PCT, but it was great to have the permit to be able to camp and explore the area around the lakes.
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