My first (semi) lightweight trip!

8:34 a.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I just finished a 24 mile section of the Lakeshore Trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. What a difference from last year! Last year I hiked 32 miles out and back in October and even though I was training for a half marathon I was tired and sore at the end of the trip.

I couldn't tell you what my pack weight is yet because that would require using the scale at work but there was no grunting while shouldering my pack this year and everything fit easily into my Kelty Redwing. The pack was bought in 1994 and has been used only for day hiking till now. With a Henry Shires Contrail, a Montbell U.L. SS bag and Versalight jacket and pants all of my gear fit easily into the bag and there was enough left over space for close to a weeks worth of food.

The two downsides to the trip? I got blisters on my right foot because you spend so much time walking in sand that you can't help but get some into your boots. Overall my Merrell boots were very comfortable. The bugs were also out in FULL FORCE! I don't understand how anybody survived here before the advent of DEET. Eating meals was a pain because it meant constantly raising and lowering my head net to gulp a quick mouthful. At several points I stopped on the trail and watched as hundreds of mosquitos formed a cloud around me. Luckily I brought the head net and two different types of bug repellant. I'm also going to experiment with these little wrist band thingies that I bought after the trip to see if they work, and try to find a small sonic repellant. My one regret is not bringing mosquito coils for use in camp.

If you haven't hiked along Lake Superior be prepared for a different kind of hiking than you may be used to. The trail is very flat but sandy sections do give you an extra bit of a work out. The scenery is also different from the rocks and ice of a lot of our National Parks. One of the most beautiful sections of the trail was through a mile or two long stretch of birch trees. I have never seen anything as vividly green as that part of the trail, especially when contrasted against the blue sky. On the last day the fog had rolled in and you could not tell where the lake ended and the sky began. The fog was also in amongst the tree tops, mostly cedar, pine and white birch. After 8 years in La Push, WA and Fort Bragg, CA I never thought I would consider a foggy day "pretty".

Several of the things I am going to try in my war against mosquitos!

Well, it looks like the same link for two different products. One was for the little wristband sonic repeller and the other for the wrist band that uses some chemical besides DEET.

I would love input from any of you on these products especially if you live in Canada, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota.

11:51 a.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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hey dm1333, I do not live in your area, I live in coastal South Carolina. We have more and bigger insects than I had ever seen before moving here!!
This is the link to Web MD they have reliable information!
Don't be fooled by all the marketing hype (lies) out there, wristbands DO NOT work. Sonic devices DO NOT work.
What works is protective clothing, and a Quality repellent.
Smokey campfires tend to keep them at bay if you plan to set up camp. I have found the coils to be moderately effective.
You can also pre-treat your clothes with repellent(100% deet for mosquitos /permethrin for ticks), let them dry, and head out!
I have personally found Sawyer brand to work the best and it also repels black flies. Mosquitos fly at about 7 miles per hr. and sometimes you can "loose them " long enough to get your net on by running a bit.
I would recommend getting your info from reliable sources like the one above, and not from people marketing a product!
I too have hiked in sand, once down the coast, and once around Lake Moultrie. You are right about the sand dm1333, if it is loose sand it can really work against you!
Sounds like overall you had a good time and thats what it's all about. I too have a Kelty pack, I have the Coyote.
It is their smaller pack, and my motto is: If it doesn't fit in the pack, it doesn't go! It sounds like you have that part figured out,
Best of luck to you

P.s. If wearing shorts, try gaiters to keep sand out of your boots.

12:50 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks for the link! One of the types of repellant that I brought was from Sawyer and it was the more effective of the two. I'm considering getting some of the permethrin wash that you soak your clothes in but need to do a little research to make sure it has no effect on the breathability or durability of the fabric.

Another option would be to buy one of the mesh bug jacket and pant sets and give that a try. Have you used one of them? The OR head net that I bought worked really well so it might be worth trying. Coghlans now makes mosquito "coils" that are actually straight sticks that seem to be more durable than the older coiled style. I used those back in the Cascades and Sierra when doing some car camping. The coils worked pretty well to keep mosquitos away in a few of the areas I fished in.

As far as wearing gaiters while hiking in shorts? You'll catch me wearing knit leg warmers about the same time I start wearing my gaiters while hiking! Seriously, that was good advice but I think the problem was that I wore a pair of cotton socks the first day and started the blisters then. My heavier, softer wool hiking socks would have been a better choice but I was too lazy to change out of those cotton socks before I started hiking.

Any other advice you have about bug repellants is more than welcome! I mentioned some of the states around where I live because they are extremely buggy, but forgot areas like the Carolinas and Louisiana, etc. This spring has really sucked, it was pretty much 50 degrees and cloudy since April and now that spring (yeah, I know, in the rest of the country June is summer) has started the bugs have been bad.

2:25 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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In both Alaska and Africa, we found Ultrathon better than the Sawyers. While neither lasted the claimed 8 hours, they did seem to last around 4-5 hours. In Alaska, the main thing was just to keep the mosquitoes at bay. There they are huge, although a bit slow (legend has it that during WWII, they cross-bred with B-29s). Mosquitoes in most places I have been seem to be active mostly from a little before sunrise to 10AM, then from 2 hours before sunset to 2-3 hours after sunset (Alaska, Africa, Sierra from April through August, New England from snow melt to snow fall in combination with black flies and noseeums, Mississippi and other parts of the Deep South all year around, parts of Mexico). Plus there are certain areas they seem to hang out in 24 hours a day. Windy areas seem to stay pretty much free of mosquitoes (and black flies and noseeums).

But in Africa, the main thing was that the local mosquitoes carry malaria, yellow fever, and other tropical diseases, so effective protection is literally a matter of life and death. There, we also used a combination of BugOff shirts and permethrin-soaked clothes, with the Ultrathon on any exposed skin (you can see the shirts in one of the photos in my Africa/Kilimanjaro report over on the News section of Trailspace). The shirts are so expensive (even on supersale at REI plus using our dividend check) that we didn't feel like getting the full bug suits. At night in Africa, we used net draping over the beds the 4 nights in the hotels and over the sleeping bags inside the netted tents while camping (2 an a half weeks). This combination worked very well - no signs of any of the tropical diseases and no more than 1 or 2 bites for the whole trip.

I use the ankle gaiters anytime I am on dusty or especially when there is deep sand. It really makes a big difference. Of course, when I wear trail running shoes with the mesh uppers, sand and dust gets through anyway.

2:44 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill S,

I'll do a little reading on Ultrathon. My one complaint about either of the bug repellants was the need to keep applying them. The mosquitos here aren't especially big but they are active all day long. I think that one of those areas they hang out 24 hours a day must be Michigan's Upper Peninsula :) You can also tell when you are near a moister area by the number of bugs you attract. I wonder if it would be possible to soak one of the mesh bug suits in permethrin? I also picked up a tick on the second day, hiking in long pants with no bug spray on my legs. Luckily the little bugger hadn't settled in for chow yet.

My other complaint is that I am still not used to the humidity after living on the west coast for 13 years.

4:13 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I have a friend who swears by ultrathon. Did not know about the mosquito sticks. My headnet is also from OR, I don't leave home without it in warmer months. I have not used the full suits, Bill S may have some info on that.
Cotton socks are good for loaning to a friend if you need to slow him down on a trek (ha), or rocks in his pack work good too!
I know it's not a cool look, but tucking your pants legs in your socks helps keep ticks and redbugs from crawling up your legs where they are out of sight, and maybe not in contact with the repellent.
Some of my military friends swear by spraying Raid on their boots to ward off ticks but I have no idea about the risks to you or your boots.
I have not been to your area, but it is on my list(my kids are almost grown)and I plan to visit someday.
I don't know of any tricks to beat the humidity other than
quick drying, ventilated clothing and perseverance. I like to go to places where I can take a dip.

5:59 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I have never tried Raid but spraying around your ankles and boot tops will keep ticks from crawling up your legs. The problem is that if you are wearing shorts and brush against one above the spray you still have a tick on you.

The cotton sock thing was totally my fault so I can't complain about a few blisters.

You've seen the mosquito coils that you burn to keep bugs away from your patio or campsite, right? The coils were too flimsy to survive a trip in my pack. The sticks are the same stuff but it looks like a green corn dog and appears to be a lot sturdier. I think the sticks will be just as effective as the coils for keeping a camp site clear of bugs.

I highly recommend a visit to Michigans lower peninsula along the Lake Michigan shore and then a trip across the upper peninsula. The Lake Superior shore is gorgeous and gets better the further west you go.

6:35 p.m. on June 7, 2008 (EDT)
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It is quite hard to be tick free in heavily infested areas, you are right about that! I have done the cotton sock thing too. Yes the coils are flimsy for backpacking, did you buy the sticks locally or order them? I have a friend from Michigan, he has showed me some pictures, looks cool!

1:50 p.m. on June 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I forgot to mention one thing about the mosquitoes - your diet (and maybe genetic makeup) makes a difference. Soft fruits (peaches, pears, bananas, especially bananas) apparently have esters that come out through your skin, which attracts the mosquitoes (they apparently depend on such things when not blood-sucking). Garlic and onions seem to keep them away. In my case, the garlic works fairly well, but since my regular diet is mostly fruits and vegetables, the garlic is rendered less effective. (maybe garlic is a general repellent for blood-suckers - it always keeps the vampires away in the movies ;D)

Some people seem to have a strong attraction for mosquitoes and other insects, while others don't seem to have as much attraction - this is even when eating the same diet over a long period.

I haven't used the mesh bug suits (too expensive, plus single purpose). I believe they come already soaked in permethrin. Of course, you do have to renew permethrin from time to time, including in the BugOff shirts.

Yes you have to reapply any repellent. When I have used the "natural" repellents, the mosquitoes seem to stay away for about 30 seconds to a minute. DEET in the traditional lotions seem to vary according to the percentage of DEET - the 100% version only seems to last a half-hour for me (must be the bananas). Ultrathon and the Sawyers are both encapsulated and time-release. As I mentioned above, the Ultrathon seems to last about 5 hours for me. This means that in most high-density bug places, I apply it first thing in the morning, then about mid-afternoon, shortly before the evening re-invasion.

As for ticks - permethrin-soaked clothes help, as does the mentioned tucking the socks in and gaiters. But in tick country (like the hills around here) you have to do an every-evening thorough inspection - best done by stripping completely and having your significant other look in all the places you can't see yourself, even with a mirror (ticks and chiggers love hidden places and hairy places - at least we don't have chiggers in California, though we do have Lyme-ticks, especially in Marin County).

4:08 p.m. on June 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Oddly enough I eat a lot of bananas because it is one of the few fruits you can get here in the winter that is fairly fresh. I also eat a lot of canned peaches, pineapple, etc. I guess attracting mosquitos is better than the high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer that runs rampant in the rest of my family.

5:46 p.m. on June 9, 2008 (EDT)
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Good trip report. The eastern end of the Lakeshore trail, from Au Sable light to log slide, has some hills. But once you leave the beach you're in cedar swamps and the bugs are voracious; best time is October. I'm afraid of heights, so I try to avoid the Pictured Rocks sections, except from my kayak.

5:11 p.m. on June 10, 2008 (EDT)
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that is the next section of trail I am hiking. In July I am going to run a race and do some mountain biking near Houghton so it will probably be in August.

7:26 p.m. on June 18, 2008 (EDT)
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This is what you use for mosquitoes. Nothing else comes close.
3M ultrathon insect repellent.

May 28, 2018
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