Despite what Crimson Lake Provincial Park administrators say about the source of its name – they actually don’t mention it – the lake was named after the blood sucking mosquito horde that infests its shore.
Crimson Lake is located 14 kilometres west of Rocky Mountain House. I like to go there because of the Amerada Trail, which is a 10-kilometre forest path that circles the lake, and because the lake is especially peaceful once the beachgoers head home. At dusk, the lake is particularly beautiful and I am often blessed with the call of the resident loon. I also really like the park library, which is about the smallest one I have ever seen.
Late this afternoon, I walked around the lake and there was nary a mosquito to be seen. It was a delightful 90+ minutes spent on the trail, walking in a meditative state, living in the moment, saying hello to other walkers with that breezy tone that comes from knowing that all is well in the world simply because we are encircled by the beauty of nature. I was so happy by the end of that 10-kilometre walk that I decided to walk around the lake again.
On the second loop, I didn’t see any other hikers, which should have been a clue. I guess I shouldn’t have been out on the trail. Because at precisely 6:00 pm, somebody let out the mosquitoes. I’m sure I would have noticed a sign that read “Mosquito Feeding Daily at 6 PM” had there been one. Damn park administrators!
I was at the 4-kilometre mark when the little menaces found me (the mosquitoes, not the administrators). They came at me in formation, with wave after wave of attacks. It was impossible to keep them off me. They bit every square inch (6.4516 square centimetres) of my body, even that sensitive fleshy part right behind the knee. Ouch!
I was squashing those pesky critters left, right, and centre. I even squashed one in my ear and had to use a Q-tip to remove it later. But I couldn’t keep up. At the 5-kilometre post, I knew I was in trouble. There was no shortcut back to the parking lot. Running didn’t help. At nine minutes per kilometre, I was 45 minutes away from my car. My sanctuary.
I was miserable. At the 6-kilometre post, I thought still bloody 36 minutes of this assault. At the 7-kilometre post, 27 freaking minutes still! At the 8-kilometre post, I could sense that I would make it out alive, only 18 minutes to go! And with one kilometre to go, Mother Nature opened her heart and sent a breeze my way. A breeze that was strong enough to send the mosquito horde heading for safety. A breeze that, unfortunately, only lasted about 20 seconds. When the breeze subsided, the swarm returned. I could see them coming at me from both sides of the trail.
I cried for my mama.
When I finally crawled into my car, I looked over my exposed skin. There were squashed mosquitoes clinging all over me. I was unsure who had won the battle. I had killed over a hundred of them, but at least a hundred of them had pierced my skin and many of them had escaped with my blood. Whether I like it or not, I am now genetically attached to the lake known as Crimson. May as well have called it Blood Lake.
I left the park and headed to the grocery store to buy some mosquito repellent. No longer would I let my frugal tendencies prevent me from taking adequate protection against the Crimson Lake Mosquito Scourge. I bought my groceries and as I was leaving the store, a mosquito popped down in front of my face. The darned thing had been in my hair. Probably even laid her eggs in there. Bugger!
When I got home, I unloaded my groceries. I had forgotten to buy the mosquito repellent.