NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mecan Segment Part 2 - Tick Tales and Rural Roads

When I crossed County Road GG I was almost at the halfway point for the Mecan segment of the IAT on Saturday, and I got a glimpse of something I don't usually see along the trail.

Of course I got glimpses of things along the trail that were plentiful as well.

When I saw a footpath going down to the Mecan River I took the risk of ticks to climb down the hill and have a quick look but all there was to see was mosquitoes.

Well, there were some dragonflies too.

Can you see me?  Look in the center of the photo.

Just ahead was a spur trail that led to an "overlook" for the river so I investigated that too.

There wasn't really a view of the river on top of the hill, but there was a bench that I sat down on to have a snack and let my sweaty shirt air dry.  I saw a geocache under the bench but didn't want to stick my hands down there to get it because it looked like a great place for ticks to hang out.

Moments later I noticed a tick crawling around on my hat that was on top of my pack.  Did I pick it up in the woods?  From the bench?

Lunch without a view, just a steep drop to the treeline beside the river.

As always seems to be the case lately I was glad to get clear of the woods and the tick habitat, and happy to see more open land where the grass wasn't tall and thick and the soil was sandy.  This is the kind of place ticks will be less prevalent as they prefer a moist shady environment.

Many people think ticks are only present in the woods. However, ticks can be found:

Where woods/fields meet lawn
Wooded areas
Tall brush/grass
Under leaves
Very small numbers on cut/raked lawns or sports fields
Under ground cover (plants) in yard
Around stone walls and woodpiles where mice & other small mammals live

Out of curiosity I googled tick populations and discovered that my obsession with the devils isn't as paranoid as I thought.  I took one look at this Lyme Disease risk map and about had a stroke!  Research shows that about 35% of ticks will be infected with the bacteria, regardless of where the ticks are located so the higher the "risk" the more dense the tick population is.  Apparently ticks think Wisconsin is a happening place to live.

The next section of the trail is where the ticks were the worst.  The field was scattered with previously felled trees and a few piles of cut wood, but it just goes to show that trees are not the only component when it comes to watching out for the little monsters.

I looked down minutes after entering the area and a half dozen were greedily making their way up my pants legs.

Let's take a moment to look at the lovely flowers again, shall we?  I mean, how much more tick drama can we take?

Once I made it as far as 9th Avenue I decided I'd had enough of the tick wars and would skip the last mile and make my way back to the car on the roads.  There were things to see and it was a shorter distance at 4.5 miles and easy walking for my tired feet.  Besides, even skipping the last mile I put in over 10 miles that day, a new record!

Only 6 vehicles passed me in 2 hours

I walked past farms on the outskirts of Richford, most buildings looking pretty rundown, but some were older but still charming.

One property had a neat iron fence, unusual for a farm area.

 A neighbor gentleman stopped to talk to me after he pulled into his driveway.  He had just come from a funeral and was dressed in his American Legion clothing.  He asked if I had been on the Ice Age Trail and we chatted about the tick population and whether or not rain was coming soon.

A few horses were spotted, and even some chickens.  I bet they were fighting the tick wars too.

I walked on the shoulder for awhile without incident but then started picking up ticks in the mown grass on the side of the road so had to get back out on the pavement.  Luckily there were other things to distract me until I made it back to the car.

Never had I been so happy to see my little red Vibe!  At the car I stood in the parking lot and removed my clothes as carefully as possible in case there were ticks hiding.  Let the neighbors gawk at me in my panties and sports bra, no way was I bringing ticks into my car.  Wouldn't you know it, one had gotten under my shirt and attached itself, making me angry at myself for not tucking my shirt back in after every potty break.  When I pulled off my socks I got a nasty surprise when I discovered welts and a rash on both legs where the socks that were still damp from the morning rain had been on my skin.  My only guess is that the last time I wore them was in Door County and perhaps some poison ivy got on them and didn't get out completely in the wash.  The socks went in the garbage, and luckily the rash didn't get worse but the next day when the hives had subsided the area looked bruised and the discoloration lasted a few more days.

Think the horror story ends there?  While driving to the store to find a tweezers I felt something on my forehead and found a tick had wandered there, I assume from my hair.  I screamed, I swerved, I flung it on the floor and then had to pull over to find it and get it out.  About fifteen minutes later I scratched my neck and found another one, repeating the screaming and swerving and hunting all over again.  What do you think the other drivers thought when I was standing on the side of the road screaming "You f*#*kers!" while bent over brushing my hair viciously?

I'm seriously considering going with a super-short pixie cut like Jamie Lee Curtis.  It'd be a lot easier to keep a hat on, and easier to keep the critters off my head too!  Wayne swears he'd change the locks on the doors but I'm pretty confident he'll love me no matter what I do to my hair....especially after he pulled ANOTHER tick off my scalp on Monday night.  Now how am I supposed to keep an eye out for a Lyme related rash underneath all this hair?  Maybe I should become a beach bum instead of hiking the Ice Age Trail?


  1. My wife had a hard time clearing them out of the dog, found three when were got back to the caravan and another three when we got home the next day. We steer clear of areas where ticks hide now.

  2. Ugh! Your post made me itch all over! We get ticks in the eastern Gorge and east of the Cascades, but thankfully I've only had two encounters in all the years I've been hiking. That said, I'm told our warmer than average spring has produced a bumper crop around the PNW this year.

  3. I've got short hair, and still had a gazillion ticks the last two summers in Minnesota. ;(

  4. Wow, how horrific. If we had run into all those ticks last year, I would have been running for home. We were a couple weeks later.

  5. Wow, how horrific. If we had run into all those ticks last year, I would have been running for home. We were a couple weeks later.

  6. You are more brave than I would have been. I just couldn't/wouldn't vacation/live where there are that many ticks. A friend from Wisconsin picked up Lyme's Disease from a tick bite and it affected him for years. We have a brief tick season around here in Ouray, Colorado, may and june for the most part. Although we hiked almost every day we only found a tick twice.

  7. OMG, I'm sorry, I just couldn't do it. Just NOT. Poison oak and ivy are bad. Skeeters are nasty, but ticks crawling all over me and in my hair. Uh-uh. I'll stick to my western habitat. I do, however, like your response while standing on the side of the road and screaming at the nasty suckers!!

    10 miles? You go, girl!

  8. UGG Ticks. Having lived in the woods and fields of a Virginia farm for 30+ years I'm very familiar. I do find short hair makes it easier to find them. As I understand it, they have to be "attached" for over 24 hours to infect you with anything so you should be fine if you take them all off after any hike. I always pull my socks up over my pant legs and tuck in every shirt. But that doesn't stop them from getting in your hair although a hat helps. Your pictures are great despite your peril.