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So my last post about my bug bandana was supposed to be kind of funny and mainly stupid. I was in a lighthearted mood that night after hiking and wasn’t thinking about anything too deep. Then, what I thought was simply a light skirmish with bugs escalated into an all out war that has me currently in a hotel bed and almost knocking Julie off the trail for good. So the bugs won the last battle, but the war rages on.
It rained for almost two weeks and all we could think about was getting dry and out of the rain. We whined and complained about the rain and the rocks of PA, and then we got our wish, warm sunny weather. This of course was prime for all sorts of wildlife. We’ve encountered many more snakes, totally destroying my snake theories. We’ve seen orange newt type creatures in abundance along with more deer and chipmunks.
But oh the bugs, more than I could imagine or remember from any of my previous hikes. Julie’s legs are all bit up and swollen from bugs and poison ivy; the entirety of her legs look like one big bug bite based on how swollen they look. I have a little extra protection with my leg hair than her, but my legs are chewed up and scratched more than I can remember in my life.
We tried to use ingenuity and fight a war that we should have been prepared. The fact is we were not prepared and our weapons were futile against the sheer number and persistence of the bugs. We put on most our clothes to cover our skin. Mind you, it was mid to upper 80’s most of the time and now we’re sweating our rears off. Whenever we would stop hiking they’d swarm so we never wanted to stop, even though of course we wanted breaks to rest. The only rest was when we stopped for the day and got in the tent. We’d throw everything in the tent and hurry in. We’d then lay there and hunt all the bugs that had made it into the tent before truly resting for the night.
So after navigating the swamps of New Jersey, we’re now in Greenwood Lake, NY in a hotel resting up. We purchased anti-itch cream for all our current wounds and more importantly, we have armed ourselves with new weapons; we are going chemical. We have 100% Deet and we’re not afraid to use it. We each have our own bottle and we’re ready to cover ourselves with the deadly stuff. I’m going back to my shorts and t-shirt simply daring the bugs to attack knowing the power of the Deet. We’ve also lighten our packs in an effort to be able to move quicker and to get out of this buggy section. We don’t know if we ever get out of buggy parts of the trail, but figure it can’t hurt to hope that it’ll get better.
So while the bugs have won the battle so far, we’re ready to get back into the fight and push on. It’s summer time with sunny weather and everything that comes with it. We simply hope we’re now well prepared and equipped so we can focus on more than bugs and enjoy everything that comes with summer on the trail.