My highly anticipated thru-hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail is set to begin April 4th. There are many risks and a few real dangers involved in such an undertaking, and while bears and rattlesnakes come to mind, the biggest fear and likely the most dangerous thing on the trail is the tick (common carrier of Lyme Disease).
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR’S UPCOMING THRU-HIKE ADVENTURE BELOW ⤵︎
This fear brought back memories of my last encounter with a tick…
Years ago, my wife and I made a trip to visit her grandmother. “Ma” lived in the rural mountains of northern Arkansas. While there, she gave us a tour of her 95 acre back yard. When we returned to the house she made it a point to let us all know we should check ourselves for ticks, and if we find one that has already attached itself to us, to cover it in grease so it can’t breathe and thus, will let go to get air, making it easy to remove.
Two days later we were back in Florida when in the middle of the night, a bone-shaking itch in my groin woke me up. I went to the bathroom to examine the source of the itch and to my horror, discovered a tick fully vested in draining all the blood from the one place you don’t want to find a tick. I panicked.
I ran to the kitchen to find some grease, just like Ma had instructed. Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t subscribe to the 101 creative uses of Crisco that Ma lived by, so no real “grease” could be found. Then it hit me… we’d had Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. I opened the lower cabinet beneath the sink and ripped into the garbage looking for something greasy enough to smother a tick. When my wife walked in to see what all the ruckus was about, I was standing in the middle of the kitchen with my underwear around my ankles rubbing a discarded chicken bone on my privates.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???”
“I FOUND A TICK! I’M DOING WHAT YOUR GRANDMOTHER TOLD ME TO DO!!!”
“MY GRANDMOTHER TO YOU TO F**K A CHICKEN BONE???”
“NO DAMMIT, SHE SAID PUT GREASE ON IT AND THIS IS THE GREASIEST THING I CAN FIND!!!”
“Jesus H. Christ” she muttered as she walked to the bathroom and got a pair of tweezers. “Throw these away when you’re done with them.”
My wife won’t be joining me on the AT.