While researching the first edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Cincinnati, I hiked at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beginning of spring. I had on the hiking gear and had used a DEET bug spray.
The trail was the East River Trail which is no longer maintained. I meandered back a long lane and then took the trail into a young woods. The trail exited the cool woods and I found myself walking through a field of tall grasses warmed by the sun. Redbuds were just at the point of considering the possibility of flowering.
It had rained for several days prior to my journey and the ground squished and burbled with every step.
At one point, I recall looking down at my pant leg and thinking, “Wow! I got a lot of mud on me.”
If I’m near mud, I typically find a way of getting on my pants, shirt, face, hands, arms, etc. without really trying. Then, I realized with great horror that the mud was shiny and worse still – it was moving.
Thousands and thousands of ticks. Ticks that apparently didn’t give a damn about DEET.
I screamed and took off running.
I ran screaming before finally reluctantly realizing that I wouldn’t be able to outrun the ticks that were still making their slow and methodical journey up my pant legs.
I fumbled out a credit card out of my wallet and hurriedly scrapped swathes and mounds of ticks off my legs as I was run hiking and cursing.
The trail reentered the woods and there was a small square bench and in the middle of the bench was a 4 x 4 wood pole with hooks.
I debated for all of a second:
- Trail literally in the middle of nowhere
- Trail was not officially open because of the earlier rain
- Ticks still crawling up my legs
A decision was made!
I stripped. I shed my clothes and began picking ticks off of my pants, shirt, boots, socks, bra….you get the idea. I figured if anyone else was hiking, they would be doing the exact same thing I was doing and we would swear each other to eternal secrecy.
About 30 minutes later, I felt confident that the majority of the ticks were not on me or my clothing. I redressed and continued the hike continually freaking out whenever I felt anything touch my skin. I checked my navel, head, inside and outside of my ears just shy of a million times.
When I got back to the car, I changed all my clothes and put the hiking clothes and boots into a black trash bag and gave serious consideration to setting it on fire but then decided maybe that was a bit extreme.
Heading to our hotel (and quietly thanking God we had opted for a hotel), I was constantly checking for ticks. The kids made fun of me but were also grossed out. Hubby just sighed.
After taking a LONG HOT shower, I dumped the bag of clothing into the tub. I was grossed out and surprised to see ticks heading for the warm walls of the bathtub.
I’m happy to report, I killed all of the ticks – a bit zealously.
Here is some more scientific info on ticks: