Creature Dis-Comforts. . .Or Why You Should ALWAYS Read the Entire Hike Description

Monday was supposed to be a “You Can Do this Post” but I’ve been on vacay and my Parents came to visit and I got thorough that without my head effing exploding so that should be enough already.  Instead, I’m going to tell you a little story about yet another one of my idiotic ideas.

Saturday Chris went to his niece’s lacrosse game while Mac was sleeping so I was left to my own devices for a couple of hours.  Do you really think I did anything productive? NCIS bitches.

When Chris got home, I convinced him we should go to a place called Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area. It’s an hour away from our house. So basically, it was an hour away from my housekeeping, my showering, and my attending mass. BUT our book called 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles – Baltimore 2nd Ed mentioned in the first sentence of the trail description: “the first thing you’ll notice at Morgan Run is the birds. . . .” CHA-CHING!!

Mac got awake. We sucked down a late lunch. We packed up the back pack. I packed food for a modest snacking picnic. I had visions of a walk through meadows and mixed forests until dusk. . .when we might just see an owl.

I think it’s safe to say when I have idealyic visions, it’s going to hell in a hurry.

We arrive at Morgan Run.  The parking lot overlooks an amazingly beautiful open meadow. Bird paradise. Warbler paradise. I’m giddy with possibility. We check out the trail-heads. We check out the book. The book suggests we start at the lower trail off the parking lot.

This is the path that is basically un-mowed tramped down 4-inch brush.

We descend down the hill from the parking lot. Chris is sporting his outdoor gear plus the back-pack. I had heretofore had worn my outdoor pants so many times in the past few days, I opted for regular shorts. I’m pushing Mac in the stroller. Mac is wearing his insanely expensive miniature version of Chris’ outdoor gear.

I’m scared senseless.

What could be causing such unease and discomfort in such a beautiful place on such a lovely day, you ask?  I am not concerned about snakes. I’m so unconcerned about snakes I nearly popped a squat on a rattlesnake while birding nearly 20 years ago. I’m not concerned about spiders. I’m not worried about foxes or coyotes.

I’m not concerned about anything but ticks.

I’m scared to death of ticks.

I think ticks are possibly the most revolting thing on earth.  I actually put roaches and rats below them on my all time gross out list.

I try to keep my yap shut and not complain or whine about how miserable the path is and how difficult it is to push the stroller or that I’m approaching full-blown panic over the possibility of finding a tick on my smooth as silk, pale as porcelain skinned son.    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m keeping mute solely because this stupid hike was all my idea.

We get to the bottom of the meadow and Chris suggest we head towards the woods.  I pause briefly to inspect my bare legs for the 400th time in 15 minutes.  There, on my right shin, is a TICK!!!

For the love of all that is Holy. TICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I brushed it off and alerted Chris in my irrational, squeaky panic voice.

Here’s where it gets bizarre: Something snapped in the reptilian recesses of my brain. FLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Get the kid out now! My kid isn’t going to have a tick stuck on his adorable little ass at 11 months!

It was a steep incline back to the parking lot. Over rough grass. With a small cooler.

I like moderate physical activity, things like walking very slowly on flat surfaces and lifting the TV remote just enough to get it to function with the cable box.  I’m relatively muscular but that’s just genetics.  I am by no means physically fit.  But that didn’t stop me. . .

I turned that stroller towards the top of the hill, held the cooler and sprinted. My kid ain’t gonna’ have a bulls-eye rash for his first birthday.

In that moment, I understood something so primitive and so fundamental it was irrational but instinctive: I would rather die from some kind of crazy cardiac arrest or worse by pushing this stroller and cooler up a steep, overgrown hill at a break-neck pace, than put my son in the path of a tick.

It was so irrational scary the hair on my arms stood up. In that moment, all I wanted to accomplish was to get that kid to a parking lot where there was a reduced risk of ticks.

We obviously made it to the parking lot alive since I’m here admitting my stupidity and insanity.  However, I was so winded when I got to the top of the incline I thought perhaps for a brief moment I was going to pass out and face plant in the gravel parking lot.  As I stood there, hunched over the stroller, trying to conceal just how badly I was gasping for air so my Husband, who was still wandering around in the thick, tick infested brush, couldn’t hear my sucking from 100 yards away, I realized something else:

There might have been some pee.   

I guess all that running and pushing, caused my completely compromised 3 hours of pushing out a kid bladder to leak a little (again).  Insult to injury.

While we waited for Chris to get his non-tick fearing, stupid ass out of the meadow, I inspected us for ticks.  We looked “clean.”  Then we wandered around the parking lot, me a little bow-legged due to the soggy knickers.  I finally resumed normal breathing and now that the fear of fatal cardiac event or tick bite was behind me, I was very anxious to get the heck out of there.

Chris however, suggested that we take the other path.  The path that was better maintained because “he drove all the way out here.”

Sorry, honey, game over.  Even if you told me there was a stash of Tiffany’s diamonds, Louis Vuitton luggage, and red velvet cupcakes somewhere in that meadow/woods, I wouldn’t go back.  I started packing up our gear.  Chris was a little surly.  I’ve ruined other outings with my slight neuroses (the panic attack in Crisfield, the claustrophobic freak out in Hoover Dam), so he should be used to my insanity by now, but he always seems shocked by it.

We get back in the car very disenchanted.  Mac seems happy though.  I open the book and start reading the second page of the trial description:  “Also, be alert for ticks, which lurk in the tall grasses in the tree-line buffer, and take extra time looking for and removing ticks from your clothing and body at the end of the hike.  I hiked Morgan Run in the summer and picked off no fewer than two dozen ticks.”

Two dozen ticks?!  

Later that evening, as I stood in the glaring over-head lighting of our bedroom inspecting every inch of my husband’s fully unclothed body at incredibly close range – which, I might add, is not an appealing way to see your husband naked – I vowed I would NEVER again read only the first page of a trail description.

As for my non-tick fearing husband?  He walked out of that meadow with at least 6 ticks. That was pretty revolting even for him.  I’m happy to report he’s starting to come around to my way of thinking. . .

*Mac had no ticks, I had no ticks.

**We did see a field sparrow, which brings the bird species we’ve spotted this year to 108.


7 thoughts on “Creature Dis-Comforts. . .Or Why You Should ALWAYS Read the Entire Hike Description

  1. Pingback: Blogger to blogger awards are like really good chain letters — with a twist « Renaissance Mom

  2. Wow! Thanks for the shout-out and recognition Renaissance Mom! I have a few awards, I need to mention and pass along and hopefully in the next few days, I get everything posted. I enjoyed reading your work yesterday. PS I think the name Renaissance Mom is great! 🙂

  3. Pingback: This -n- That | The Diary of a Reluctant Mother

  4. Evan Balkan here – author of the book that sent you out there. A friend turned me on to this post. I am somewhat overcome with guilt for your terrible experience. Of course, I do feel good about at least getting the tick thing right. Sorry for the bad time, but hope next one is better!

    • Oh my goodness! Hi! Thank you for taking the time to read the post and comment!

      We love your book (60 Hikes Within 60 Miles – Baltimore 2nd Ed.) and refer to it quite often. It’s so user-friendly and accurate. I especially love the difficulty rankings and elevation details as I tend to be a little on the lazy side 🙂 Please no worries about the ticks. You were spot on, I just didn’t read carefully enough.

      Kind regards!

      • My pleasure – take care of yourself. Glad to hear you and your family enjoy the book. These things get so outdated so quickly that usually the comments I hear are about how things are wrong.


        Evan Balkan

        Coordinator of English

        CCBC – Catonsville Campus


      • The grumpy commentary is unfortunate. People are silly. We think it’s a wonderful resource and we’ve recommended it to others.

        Who knows? Maybe for 2013 instead of seeing as many bird species as possible, we’ll try taking the kid on every hike in the book?

        Best wishes to you too. And thanks for not judging my terribly sloppy writing technique. 🙂

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