The bug stuff is really problematic. West Nile and Lyme are only going to get worse between now and March 2014. And I’m no spring chicken, as they say (‘they’ being people who aren’t spring chickens). I’m strong and healthy, and I’d like to stay that way. I’ll only get this chance once, to hike my own hike.

DEET is fine for an emergency—when I’m sitting still and likely to remain sitting still in a buggy place for a couple of hours. But if I get it on my hands, I’m going to ruin something—probably my million-dollar trekking poles. Plus, I don’t want to marinate in it for 6 months. That just seems…ill considered.

I use picaridin for day hikes, and that’s fine. The gear is preserved. I shower at the end of the day. But again, do I want to marinate in the stuff for a half year? I do not! Although I haven’t ruled it out yet.

The no-seeum gaiter idea still holds some water. That way I can wear shorts. But is it enough protection, really? I’m basically taking care of the ticks below the knees. That leaves a vast expanse of pasty white between the knees and the bottoms of the shorts. And even from the other day, it’s easy to see that a lot of the grabby foliage is higher than knee level. And what about black flies? The rest of the bugs are bad, but my experience with black flies is that they make me swell up hugely. Those are bad!

I’ve also thought of no-seeum chaps. I’m getting rain chaps anyway, so it’s not like I already won’t look like an idiot. And I have the no-seeum mesh already. I could try the chaps, then cut them down to gaiters if the chaps are too hot. And chaps solves the problem of a crotch vent for air movement.

But I’m going to try this first: Coghlans bug pants. I’m thinking they might be too heavy or too hot, but at least it will give me an idea of how I feel about screened-in legs. No sense in cutting up the mesh if I won’t be able to tolerate the gaiters, and the price for the bug pants isn’t high for one of these experiments (unlike, say, the $60 I just dropped on a variety of socks that may or may not help with the blisters).

They probably won’t help with the black flies, though.

I keep thinking about how dorky I’d look. Then I think of them as harem pants, and I feel slightly better. Just a big old pair of screen harem pants, yo.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Gear, Planning | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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