Earlier this summer, our intrepid hike leader, Guy The Guide, selected a relatively easy trail along the West Palisades of the Chattahoochee River. But as anyone who hikes with Guy knows, the app version on AllTrails is merely a suggestion.
Our trek started with five Trailheads––George, Brad, Roy, Guy, and me. We invited guest hiker, photographer Joel Gilmore. When the hike was over, the poor guy probably swore off ever venturing on a trail with our crew again.
About halfway through our hike, Guy became bored and decided to freelance, going off-trail through overgrown underbrush. He then continued, taking his pack to stumble around steep rock faces above the river. Mr. Tucker was obviously out to kill us. We could see the Cobb County water rescue unit practicing on the river (waiting for idiots like us), and we were hopeful they would medevac us to nearby Northside Hospital, should our guide succeed in his evil plan.
Here are some highlights from that morning’s hiking ordeal:
Roy performed an impromptu stunt demonstration throwing himself over a log by simply following the arc of his shoulder without touching the ground. He somehow stuck the landing, earning unanimous 10s from the judges.
While standing watch during a break, Guy suddenly started slipping down a rock face. At the last second, he turned his face before slamming the back of his head into a boulder. Like Roy’s stunt demo, it was performed by pure instinct or was it luck? None of us thought fast enough to help break his fall. Instead, we simply admired the beauty of his slow-motion head-plant.
Elvis needed to cool off, so being a Labrador retriever-mix, he jumped into the fast-moving river. But he couldn’t manage to crawl out over some tall rocks. His “dad” (Brad) leaped to the rescue, stepping into the fast-moving water and hauling his furry son to safety. It wasn’t long before damp Elvis saw a deer and took off in hot pursuit, howling with excitement. I’ve never seen that boy move so fast. The deer darted through the woods, and in seconds disappeared into the trees. Elvis returned, sporting a whiskered smile.
And finally, we came to The Massacre at Chigger Holler.
It was a sweltering and humid morning, so we took breaks resting on rock faces, then plunged through tall grasses, following Guy on his shortcuts hiking for miles next to the river. Following our adventures on-trail and off, we adjourned to our default barbecue joint in that area, Heirloom Market. After a hearty lunch, I went home, showered, and crashed for a two-hour coma-nap induced by smoked meats and sides. When I awoke, I felt fine. I was alive after following Guy’s march of death.
The next day, my wife and I drove two hours to the mountains. When we reached Watson Gap, I started itching uncontrollably. I self-medicated that night and fell asleep immediately after sunset. When I awoke the following day, I was blossoming chigger bites, mostly around my torso and arms, with a few behind my knees. I stopped counting after finding 27 distinct bites.
Saturday morning, I went to a pharmacist in Blue Ridge, and she recommended Cortizone cream. It did not provide nearly enough relief. On Monday, I checked with another pharmacist in Atlanta, and she recommended Benadryl topical cream combined with an oral dose of Benadryl. I applied this combo two to three times a day for two weeks, and it took almost three weeks for most of the bites to go away.
Although I was the first Trailhead to report chigger bites, within two days, other Members, including our guest hiker, said they had multiple bites, typically around their torsos. Those chiggers had a field day with us tenderfoots that fateful morning. All told, our gang incurred well over 120 distinct bites. Some Trailheads believe Guy is in the pocket of Big Chigger––receiving bounties for leading fresh meat to the chigger and skeeter buffet.
However, we are determined not to be intimidated by these deplorable parasitic red mites, so we are now taking precautions.
Please read my post on avoiding pests, and always be careful following Guy Tucker.