I love spring time and I love hiking in the eastern, drier, sunnier reaches of the Northwest, but I hate ticks! Throughout my younger years hiking in New England I only had one tick encounter. In my Explore America years during the 1980s I pulled a record 16 ticks off of me while out hiking one March day on South Carolina's Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. This weekend while out hiking the Columbia Gorge's Klickitat Trail I shook off eight of the disgusting and vile, but fascinating critters.
I had just parted ways with hiking partners Kim and Susan and was on my way to Lyle-a good eight miles of rainy hiking ahead of me. Stopped to get some water and a granola bar and then I spotted him-a lone tick inching up my sock. This immediately triggered my tick defense system. Snapped the sock lines-check! Scan the calves-ick-two more marching up. Scan the hairline on back of neck-shake the cap-clear! Check socks once more-this time in and about shoe tongue-oops-missed those two-
Check the armpits, sleeve lines-and waist band-whew-safe-then finally-check the shorts-tug them down a bit-and shake them-yep- as I suspected -a tick marching up my thigh still on my shorts liner-phew that could have been close! Thwarted six!
Continued hiking doing random stops and checks-caught two more-
On the drive home-defense system went up every time I felt a tingle-usually just a hair or lint-but can't be too safe-
In the shower that night-a thorough cleansing-and more checking that would make an over-zealot airline security guard proud. I'm almost sure I saw one of those little suckers spin down the drain-that could have been close-Yep, hiking in the spring in the Northwest's drier locales has its downside. If you see me on the trail acting weird and paranoid-just chalk it up to my nervous tick! Happy spring everyone!
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)