Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hiking with Mosquitoes

This year is a particularly bad year for bugs due to the wet, cool spring.  But don't let that keep you inside. 

I just got back from a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my folks where the mosquitoes were the worst we'd ever seen.  We followed some simple guidelines so we could still enjoy some gorgeous hikes in the Trap Hills and the Sylvania Wilderness (stay tuned for more trip reports...).

Here is what worked:

-Covering up with long pants and long-sleeved shirts.  Headnets or bug shirts were essential for keeping the bugs from flying into eyes, nose, and ears.  Tucking long pants into socks or wearing gaiters also provided protection against ticks.
Mosquitoes can't bite through these long pants.
 -Frequently applied DEET to all exposed skin.
My parents spraying on the DEET.
-Jumping into a lake.  It got hot wearing long pants and shirts, plus headnet, in the summer.  Thankfully, skeeters weren't as plentiful at some of the lakes so we jumped in to cool off.  They were bad at other lakes, so we poured water on our clothes which was like having a natural air conditioner.

-Escaping to a sunny, rocky overlook.  For some reason, there were fewer bugs out there than in the forest.
At this overlook in the Trap Hills, there were so few skeeters that I could zip open my bug shirt.
-Switching to another area.  Mosquito density was patchy and some areas were much worse than others.  For example, the mosquitoes were so bad at one trailhead that the moment we opened the car doors they flooded in and filled the car.  They were like water rushing in to a submerged car.  I'm not kidding-- it was insane!  We went hiking anyway, but they weren't as bad one trailhead over.

-Relaxing and living with them.  Eventually, the constant buzzing doesn't get on your nerves so much and you give up trying to fight them.  Change your mindset and accept that getting a few bites is a small price to pay for being able to enjoy some time outdoors.

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