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Monday, April 2, 2018

Bears, Critters, and Ticks...

A few years ago. I was walking through the woods in search of Priceless Point, and the guide I had wasn't helping me. This was because the new book I had was already aged, and the trail was no longer maintained because the pathway was relegated to private property.

At the time I had no idea of this, so I pushed up the former trail. Along the top of the ridge, I had to cross a downed tree, which was supported end to end on rocks. The tree was a little taller than my inseam, so I shimmied over it, and when I did, I heard this "belchy reverberation." When I did, I paused and looked, and figured, "OK" as I heard nothing.

A minute or so later, I heard another one. 

It wasn't a growl, but it sounded loud and close. I thought, "Hmmm... a loud sickly bird." I'm not sure if I heard one or 2 more of these sounds, but I looked up in front of me as I heard movement, and 2 bear cubs were coming down a tree like it was the Bat Pole! The first little guy was down in a woosh! The second one gave me a solid back view to which I froze in amazement and fear knowing that it was cool to see him go down in slow motion, but the "belchy reverberation" was actually mom calling for them. 

Immediately, I retreated back to behind the tree and got my bear mace out and held still waiting to see what would transpire. Nothing happened for a few minutes, so I started to move again and then I heard rustling in the leaves. 

Mom was still out there!

With this, I turned around, post haste! 

Looking back on it now, it was definitely an awesome moment, but it was definitely scary, too (even though black bears are supposed to be more afraid of us than we are of them)! Since that time, I've seen 2 bears in the woods (one while driving and another huge one I almost stepped on while hiking on the Appalachian Trail at Lehigh Gap)! Prior to that, I saw 2 others while driving. As a kid, I remember seeing some, too, but now, they're the elusive prize and my favorite animal.

I love those furry things. I also love seeing deer, turkey, foxes, and other furry critters in the woods. My non-bear biggest prize was seeing a coyote walk across my path with a bird in his mouth heading up to the top of Flat Rock at Colonel Denning State Park. Now that was cool.

I can't seem to buy a snake sighting, let alone a rattler. I guess that's OK for my wife, but I want to accumulate some cool photos of 'em!

This is the only one I've ever seen, which was at the Pinnacle on the AT.

In the woods, we're more likely to come across another set of friends, and all things considered, they're more dangerous than some other critters.

These bastids are ticks, and they carry Lyme disease, which is the Great Imitator.

At the same time I was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I also found out I had Lyme. Let me tell you; you don't need to see a bullseye for these insects to have gotten you.

I'm living proof.

If you're unsure of the symptoms or what the Great Imitator means, check HERE.

If you would like to read my detailed article on LYME, click HERE.

If you would like to read about what my SPINAL TAP felt like, click HERE.

         In the end, you're responsible for your safety. I hope you take this seriously. Remember, the sights and sounds are beautiful, but it's your job to come back safe so you can get out there again!

So what can you or I do to keep ticks off of us? Number one, we can wear repellant (DEET, which is considered safe now or DEET free if you want to stay on the safe side) or permethrins. 

We can check ourselves for these critters (since we aren’t going to be avoiding the woods when the weather is nice again – we like nature too much to listen to that kind of hooey), and we can wear clothing that is long-sleeved and light colored as well as a hat. As for our pants, they should be tucked into our socks. There’s no point giving these alien invaders a chance to hit any flesh that they don’t need to be on.
          If worse comes to worse, and you get a tick on you, and you probably will despite your best intentions (as I will despite my own), use a forceps or tweezers to remove it. Then clean the bite off well and use antibiotic cream on the site. If signs of Lyme disease appear, be sure you're well-read on how to treat this onsite, at home, and at the doctor's office, when you go for your horse pills.

         Also, remember when asking people to perform a full body scan on the parts of you that you can’t see, please make sure that they are friendly people that you know. Random trail hikers might find this to go beyond acceptable levels of stranger danger... unless it's Naked Hiking Day (and yes that's a thing). That said, participating, in light of tick danger, not smart.

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