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Trailheads Tips: How To Protect Yourself In The Woods

Following the Massacre at Chigger Holler, I consulted with numerous websites as well as the mosquito/insect repellent expert at REI and compiled this summary of recommendations:

• Use a combination of Natrapel or Sawyer on any exposed skin, especially wrists, forearms, neck, and ankles. These products use all-natural ingredients, so you can feel confident that Mother Nature is protecting you from herself.

• Wear long sleeves and long pants when hiking on overgrown trails.

• Although wearing shorts is cooler, they also provide a target-rich area for insects, especially around streams, decaying logs, rock faces, or plants that crowd many trails in the summer months.

•Wear light earth-tone clothing– no dark colors –especially black or red. Dark colors attract insects. They think it’s slimming.

• Treat clothing with Sawyer spray repellent a day before the hike.

Apply the spray to hanging clothing around the openings (cuffs, collars, waistbands, etc.).

• Only spray in the open air and be careful not to breathe the spray. If applied correctly, it will be effective through several washings.

• Several sites recommend using mineral oils or garlic extract to protect exposed skin.

Although Patrick was in Texas during the massacre and missed out on the “fun,” he insists on using Cutter spray, which has 25% DEET. I’ve been trying to avoid DEET, but it is a very effective poison for preventing insects from feasting on flesh. Although this pesticide may have several health-related issues, the EPA approves it for consumer use.

So if your life insurance is current, and you enjoy whacking through overgrown underbrush (loaded with ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, spiders, etc.), I highly recommend following Guy through his short cuts off-trail. Your journey will test your protection.

Even if you don’t venture off the trail, protect yourself against pests. Barbecue is much more enjoyable when you’re not scratching between bites.



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