The night was perfect! It was cold enough that I was snug under my down comforter. The RV has a furnace and heating a space that small does not take long, so we got up around 8am to a bright and sunny, crisp fall day. Nothing could be better for a day out in the woods. I took my time getting ready and enjoying my coffee, because Hey, I am on vacation.
At around 10, I decided to hit Trail 4 because I saw it had a trailhead in the campground. It looked interesting and met up with a lot of other trails. Freckles and Lester were ecstatic! They love to go on walks. So many new things to smell and pee on!
The leaves had not done much changing, but it was still a beautiful trail that was wide and mostly covered in pine needles. For my money, pine needles are the best walking surface. They are soft with just a little give. They are like walking on a cloud. We had the trail to ourselves. The birds that were left were singing and the air had a chill that made it comfortable to wear my hoodie the whole time. I am far and away a summer girl, but I do love wearing jeans and a hoodie. We eventually met up with Trail 5 and I decided to try it.
Now something I have decided in my years of visiting Indiana state parks is that the trail rating system is not consistent throughout the parks, but a rating of the trails in each park compared to the others. What I am saying is a trail that is rated Easy in a hilly park is easy compared to the other trails in that park while the same trail in a flatter park would get a Moderate or Rugged rating because the other trails in that park are flat. Trail 4 and 5 were rated Moderate, but they were a breeze. My guess is the rating had to do with their length only because there were only two minor hills and no rough terrain. Not even tree roots to trip over.
We reached a boat launch that was about a third of the way on Trail 5. The hike had been easy, the dogs were having a blast, and I was not feeling hungry at all for lunch, so I decided why not try to hike all the trails on this trip? If I was going to do that, then it made sense to take Trail 5 all the way to the other side of the park and hit Trail 8 now. No way I was not going to unhook the RV to drive to the other side of the park to get 8 in another day.
So we set off. It followed the Tippecanoe River and a nice, pleasant walk. Freckles and Lester ran out of the desire to pee and smell everything. Freckles stayed in front keeping a pace that if I had it in me, could have became a run, while Lester started walking behind. He is the younger of the two, but she is definitely in better shape.
I felt sorry for the guy, but I was not going to carry him. When I would try to take breaks for him, he would lay down immediately while Freckles would practically dance wanting to keep going. When we reached the end of Trail 5 there was a modern bathroom. I got the dogs some water and as I was holding the bag I had made into makeshift bowl, I noticed some burrs on poor Lester’s head. I picket the first bur off discovered it was actually a tick! Ewww, eww, ewwwwww!
I got the three off of his head and found a few more on him and Freckles, then I noticed them on my sweatshirt and jeans. These were the infamous deer ticks that I had always heard about, but never seen. They were a little bigger than the head of a pin. Their small size and my dogs’ mostly black fur made them so hard to find. The fact that I had successfully found so many just made me cringe at how many I knew I was not seeing.
I went ahead and did Trail 8 since it was short and we had come all that way before turning around to backtrack to the campground. I spent miles trying to put together a game plan: do I leave or stay, do I have anything I can use to get them off, should I give them a shower outside or is it too cold? As we walked, I kept spotting more on the dogs and me. I was completely squigged out.
After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached the boat launch were I had made the decision to keep going. Poor Lester was really dragging. I thought he was on the brink of deciding to lay down and refuse to go anymore while Freckles was still fresh as a daisy. This is why I gave Lester an old man name. I consulted the map and decided to walk on the road to get to the campground. It was shorter and maybe if we were on pavement instead of the trail we would not pick up so many new ticks. I started to calm down and think more rationally about the days I had left. I decided that I would put them on the picnic table and give them a really good go over to pick off ticks and then we would just stay at the campsite and do our walks around the campground. There were more people and trailers full of decorations arriving. I could really make a day of cooking on the fire.
When we reached the camper, we had walked over 11 miles. I decided to de-tick Lester first since he handles being in the camper by himself better than Freckles does. I put him up and there were so many! I would finish an area and then come back and still find more. At about this time I started to wonder if the ticks were also in the campsite and on the table, I felt something hit my bangs and a larger tick fell on the table right in front of me.
We are gone!
I did my best to try to get ahead of the ticks on Lester and when I thought I might have it, I put him inside and started on Freckles. I did not find as many on her but the ones I found had already attached, so I had to pull them out with my nails. Poor baby. She is mainly black, but her white fur is extra thick. I knew there was no way I was coming even close to getting many of the little buggers.
When I was done with Freckles, I carefully put a change of clothes and towel into a trash bag so that none could transfer from me onto my clean clothes while I walked to the shower house. I did a silkwood shower. I scrubbed, I loofahed, and I pulled one off my neck. Agin, I made sure there was no contact between my clean clothes and the hiking ones.
I packed up and unhooked the RV to head home two days early.
I got home at 8pm and just plugged it in to keep the fridge going since I would not be unpacking that night. I was telling Dad why I was back so soon and when I took off my jacket, there was a tick! Gah!
I then changed into the shortest shorts I own and tank top with everything I was wearing going immediately in the washer. I asked my Mom to give the once over. Is there anything more awkward than having your mom check out your under boob? I hope not and I apologize for putting that image in your head.
She found one on my back and leg. They are tiny, but they will still take a chunk of skin with them. I then gave the dogs their bath. It was a real bummer for Freckles. Her best day had ended with her least favorite thing.
All those precautions and Mom still found two on her pajamas.
It is the next day and I have washed everything possible from the RV and I still cannot shake the creepy crawly feeling.
I propose that Tippecanoe River State Park needs to change their name to Tickacanoe River.
Where is Brad Paisley when you need him?