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Hiker Foreplay: The Tick Check

The Tick Check Position

It’s widely known that day hikers have the best sex lives in the hiking community, followed by section hikers, and lastly thru-hikers who smell so bad and are so exhausted after hiking 20-25 miles per day, week in and week out, that their idea of foreplay is an unlimited salad bar.

For the rest of us with un-suppressed libidos, I thought I share a little sex advice with you, especially for those of you with a partner who still wants to get “dirty” but doesn’t like to go tromping through the woods, wading through peat bogs and mud holes, and being bitten to death by black flies or midges.

Yes, it’s a Tick Check, especially important this year because of the prevalence of potentially Lyme-disease carrying ticks this year. The lack of snow this past winter didn’t kill off the tick population as in previous years, resulting in a much higher chance that you can contract Lyme if you don’t cover up and take appropriate precautions, such as those recommended for hikers by the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Use insect repellent that contains 20 – 30% DEET.
  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin.
  • Take a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors.
  • Look for ticks on your body. Ticks can hide under the armpits, behind the knees, in the hair, and in the groin.
  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.

If you’ve flown on an airplane in the USA recently, you’re probably already familiar with the initial Tick Check position, brought to us by our friends at the TSA, with your hands crossed over your head and your legs spread apart. The only difference is that you do this naked with your partner, who doesn’t need to use an expensive X-ray machine to see past your clothing.

Next, have him or her, check your skin carefully for ticks, paying particular attention to the hairy patches, tattoos, and your head where they like to latch on. Giggles enhance the mood as does proximity to the shower!!

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  1. That pic is super creepy. That being said i’ve found 3 ticks on myself this year so far and 3 on my dog.

  2. The really, really good news is that if you can remove a tick within 24-36 hours, your chances to catch Lyme are almost nill. Early detection and removal are key to preventing Lyme.

  3. I met a NOBO AT hiker in 2010, he used his digital camera to photo the body parts he couldn’t see. He said this was how he checked for ticks before going to bed. He also said he had to be sure to delete ALL these photos before sending the memory card home to his mom. “Son that’s some really ugly mountains you’re seeing.”

    I thought this was a very clever idea and a good way for a solo hiker to do a self tick check.

    Ticks are really bad down here in the south this year too.

    • Clever and a great line. I thought my thru-hiker salad bar joke was pretty funny – guess all the thru-hikers are off thru-hiking and can’t appreciate it.

    • I did that when I wanted to check out some heat rash on the small of my back. Took a few tries to get the positioning right, but it was reassuring to see it for myself. The zoom capability is also handy for viewing splinters, bug bites, etc.

  4. Not a thru-hiker, but took a long enough section hike to think the “salad bar” comment was hilarious.

    Just wish I had muted my conference call before I read it!

  5. Flowers of sulphur, in the socks and waistband. Smells horrible. (“Cut the nose off my goat.” “How’d he smell?” “Terrible!”) Wipe down with rubbing alcohol, (doubles as stove fuel with the right stove, also the used cotton balls are good fire starters) This is more of a chigger preventative but helps a lot and it is low tech. Wear a hat, many ticks drop from overhanging limbs.

  6. I found 3 ticks on my legs and arms this past weekend, so its bad in this area as well, much worse than usual. Long clothing certainly helps but I was wearing shorts as it was close to 90 degrees. A trade off I guess.

  7. I’m thru hiking the AT now and I agree that the ticks are horrid
    Right now. I found 4 on me yesterday! And the deer ticks
    Are the real killers and much more difficult
    To find. Everyone be careful out there.

  8. I found a dead one attached this year; I guess the permethrin was a little slow. I sometimes take my shirt off and towel my back to knock them off before they get attached too well. Otherwise a machete and mirror is required.

  9. Phil – this is the kind of stuff that sets your website apart from the rest. Trying to make sure my family doesn’t have tick issues, so I googled “tick section hiker” and here we are.

    Unrelated – commented on your Pemi page (one of them) about coming up this past early March to do a winter Pemi. It did not go as planned, never got above treeline(wind chills of -50, gusts above 90 mph). Tried to do a below-treeline Pemi (around Owl’s Head) and that wasn’t even possible lol. Our biggest accomplishment was camping out 1 night in the weather. We only know this because the the few locals we ran into said, “you slept out here last night? In this?” If it qualifies for NH residents we’ll take it, haha…

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