Some (Hiking) Lessons Are Hard to Learn

I’ve been hiking for decades, over countless trails and paths, more than I can remember. Over that time, I’ve picked up the handful of tips and tricks that keep one safe, hydrated, cool (or warm), etc. But there’s ONE area I seem to have a mental block on learning: the art of bug deflection.

Maybe it’s because only a smaller percentage of hikes over the years have needed bug goop. Or maybe it’s because when I apply that nasty stuff, I’m always in a hurry to get that part over with. Whatever the reason, this morning’s nice hike at Camp Seven Lake Campground in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the YOOP), yet again, reminded me of my memory bane.

The thing is, the first thirty minutes of hiking after said bug goop application is a blissful experience: the bugs act as though you’re not really there.

The second thirty minutes, however, they do begin to circle and lightly swarm. They don’t alight nor bite, but they now sense your presence and the waiting game begins.

By the third thirty minutes, their patience pays off. That’s when either through evaporation or dilution via sweat, patches of your skin become… vulnerable. This is when the smarter buggies will find those small patches of unprotected skin and start their feast. This is also when smart hikers who CARRY more bug goop will STOP AND REAPPLY PROTECTION from the forest’s flying teeth.

Fortunately, for me today, the hike only lasted 90 minutes, so my solution for that last 30 minutes was to walk faster! Sort of worked.

So was THIS the time I finally learned my lesson and will start packing the juice on future, bug-season hiking? Hope so, but I’ve been in this predicament before and it didn’t stick.

We’ll see next time!