Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tick Toc, Tick Toc

A true story

It was a crisp, cool early March morning in Northern Colorado. I decide to hike up the Cache La Poudre River canyon, about a 40-minute drive from my house. I was going to hike a side canyon that I had not been in before. The snow had melted, even at that altitude. The sky was cobalt blue, and air very still.

Pulling well off the road, I enjoyed the quiet, before starting out with my daypack. The side canyon, called Pinion Gulch, angled fairly steeply from the road, rising about 500 feet in elevation after about a mile in. Chickadees, and Jays tweeted in the scrub brush; the red rocks, glowing in the early morning sun. A small herd of Big Horn Sheep skittered rocks on a far slope. The ravine had no trail, but was mostly small bushes, a few cacti, and dried grass.

After hiking North about 2 miles and about 1000 feet in vertical elevation, I spied a waist high boulder and decided to rest, eat a sandwich and drink some cool water from my canteen. As I sat there admiring the beauty of that spring morning, I felt something crawling on my leg, beneath my jeans. I pulled up my pant leg and was shocked to see about a dozen deer ticks scooting about. In Colorado these pests carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease a friend in college managed to catch from just one tick in his bed.

In loathing and disgust, I undid my belt and pulled down my jeans , horrified to see dozens of these foul creatures all over my legs. I pulled up my shirt, they were also on my chest…feeling no shame alone in the canyon, I took off all my clothes piling them on the rock. I lost count at over one hundred ticks. I picked and shook them from my clothing, put on my pack and literally ran downhill to my truck.

Once back, I was not surprised to find dozens more all over me. Heedless to traffic, but on the side of the truck, I disrobed again, de-ticked, and drove home. All the way down the canyon, I picked the little demons from my arms. March is tick month…never again did I hike off trail in the spring, and never again in that canyon. I truly hate ticks.

No comments: