Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Okefenokee paddle, GA


“ What a GREAT place to paddle,
and REALLY GREAT PEOPLE to paddle with!!!!!!!
Can we go back NOW! ”


“ What an amazing place..even in the rain!!
THANK YOU Craig for organizing this,
and thanks to all my paddling buddies for great company,
lots of laughter, wonderful food, and inspiration.
I want to go back! ”

“ Fantastic trip! The scenery was great and the company excellent.
We had a wonderful time and lots of fun besides.
I have not laughed so hard in years. ”


“ It was a great and wonderful place.
This is a place that you have to see first hand,
because the pictures don't show it justice.
You have to put this on your must paddle list.
A great group of people went on this trip which just made it that more enjoyable. ”


“ Unbelievably Awesome!! Words cannot describe it. ”

“ i saw my cats, and i took a nice bath .......
i am ready to go back ....
right now !!!!! ”

Thanks to all of you
and especially Craig for such a wonderful paddle trip.
I think we had a great group and enjoyed myself tremendously.
I've been on lots of outdoor adventure trips
and this was definitely one of the best.
Craig, you had a great idea in scoping this one out
and doing all the planning.
You were all lots of fun and good company!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Okefenokee Swamp , GA

The Okefenokee Swamp is a shallow, 438,000 acre (1,770 km²), peat-filled wetland straddling the GeorgiaFlorida border in the United States. A majority of the swamp is protected by the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness. The Okefenokee Swamp is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. The Okefenokee is one of the largest swamps in all of North America.

The name comes from the Hitchiti okifanô:ki, meaning "bubbling water",[1] or alternatively "trembling earth" [2], a reference to its spongy bogs. The swamp was formed over the past 6,500 years by the accumulation of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary.

THE TRIP ......

Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 trip. This is Thanksgiving weekend. We would drive down Thanksgiving day and come back Monday Dec. 1st. This will have to be flexible till we get a permit. Trying to get a permit for three nights of platform camping in the swamp, on a loop to and from the same place.
We are limited to eight people to stay on the platforms. Having read some trip reports from other groups that had ten or more people and had trouble getting all the tents up.

Hey Everyone,
Have been talking with the people at the swamp a lot the past week about trails and how hard they are. The water is up so the trails are easy to paddle. With that they have a trail open when we want it. Two nights in the swamp on platforms.
I have 10 days to get the info to them,
Number of people. Number of boats. Number of cars. Money!
With that I need to know what boats you are taking.
and I need $40 from each of you.
Craig Smith

What we have so far;
Canoe- Camille, Leslie
Canoe- Eva, Thomas
Canoe- Sophie, Craig
Kayak- Sara
Kayak- Robin

Speed Queen
Sounds good to me. That is exactly what I will get. I kinda like Eva's suggestion that Thomas will swim to Burger King...LOL Hey Eva and Thomas, I have heard alot of good things about you two. I think I met you 'kinda' once waaaay back in the spring. Sara, I have heard about you too...all good of course. I can't wait to have fun with you all in the swamp. Yippie-I-O


Ok, for breakfast one morning, I was going to do pancakes with syrup or I can do english muffins with cheese and ham, which would everyone perfer. On a side note, I was thinking about the tents on the platform. Because there is no way to stake, I have come up way to secure a tent. There are weights for coastal fishing that are small, but are heavy enough to hold the rain fly of my REI tent in place, on my concrete patio. I just thought I would share this info.

Assistant Organizer
Sara, I thought you were going to catch fish for dinner one night. You only need to do one meal.

Camille Marie

Swiss Army Kayaker
Useful information to have in the swamp :)) According to this WildFlorida EcoTravel Guide, the muscles that open an alligator's jaws are so weak they can be held closed with a thick rubber band. (Look near the end of the 4th paragraph.) make sure you always have that rubber band handy ;)))

Posted Nov 10, 2008 10:19 PM
Speed Queen
Snakes, I was reading that you need some kind of thing to grab them with should they drop into your canoe. They also stated you should practice grabbing a piece of rubber hose and throwing it out of your boat. Craig...have you been practicing? OMG I don't want to flip that canoe over and get eaten by a gator or worse yet, have you get eaten by a gator. LOL

Posted Nov 11, 2008 7:26 AM
Assistant Organizer
SNAKES!!! their are no snakes in a swamp, they get eaten by the gators

Posted Nov 11, 2008 10:04 PM
Assistant Organizer
This link ibelow is a nice guide to all the fauna/flora we'll be seeing. And thank you Craig for the assurance that the gators eat all the snakes-I feel soooo much better!

Posted Nov 13, 2008 9:35 PM
Assistant Organizer
Okay, Since we'll be spending a few days together I may as well get personal from the get go. I'm feeling a bit anxious about the bathroom aspect of this trip. I've conferred with Dawn and peeing in a kayak is a pretty tricky feat to do successfully. I've emailed Sara as she's the other kayaker, but haven't heard back. Does anyone have another email address for her as I've tried twice. With the alligators and snakes I'm assuming getting out on land to pee in a container is a no no.

Posted Nov 15, 2008 2:30 PM
just eva
Built In GPS Girl
Paddle float outriggers work for both. When padding with a group, have someone you trust (very important!) hold your boat while you stand, kneel, squat or whatever. In his North Sea Crossing presentation, Derek Hutchinson talks about laying several paddles across the aft deck of two boats and sitting on them. He also mentioned the frigid "bidet" effect of cold, rough North Sea water, but when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Posted Nov 21, 2008 12:18 PM
I'd like to bring a chocolate pecan pie for our Thanksgiving dinner Thursday. How about whipped cream too? Is anyone allergic to nuts? Brandy or rum? I WILL be bringing my own tent. I have to confess, I am someone who usually needs a fair amount of 'alone' time. So..I will be on my best behaviour, but if I ever seem crabby please don't take it personally! (Just feed me to the gators if I get out of line!)

Posted Nov 21, 2008 10:11 PM
Speed Queen
Well, I would share a tent but I don't think we have many takers. I grit my teeth, toss and turn, I might snore if you all exhaust me and fart if I have beans to eat but other than that...I am okay to sleep with. LOL I would be willing to share with someone if we need the space. I guess if we ride in the canoe together and have to go to the bathroom in front of each other...I could maybe share a tent with you Craig on those nights so we don't have to pay more. Really, I don't care.

Posted Nov 22, 2008 6:21 PM
Assistant Organizer
Dark from 5pm till 7am, that just gives me more time to grit my teeth, toss and turn, and fart. Let's have beans every night! Farts get your sleeping bag warm.

Posted Nov 26, 2008 7:07 AM
Assistant Organizer
Why do I feel like I am going down there to Freeze my @$$ off! Does anyone else feel the same way?

Posted Nov 26, 2008 3:48 PM
Camille Marie
Swiss Army Kayaker
I'm preparing to be cold, but hoping not to be. According to, for Folkston, GA the night time lows are Thurs - 48 deg, Fri - 55 deg, Sat - 48 deg, and Sun 43 deg, with daytime highs of Fri - 71 deg, Sat - 65 deg and Sun - 65 deg. Doesn't sound too bad. However, Fri has a 60% chance of afternoon showers, 30% chance on Saturday and 40% chance on Sunday. If we can stay dry we should be okay.

The Okefenokee's version of Big Foot.

Okefenokee Pastimes Information

Halloween 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

just before halloween

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (Irish pronunciation: [ˈsˠaunʲ]; from the Old Irish samain).[1] The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes [2] regarded as the "Celtic New Year".[3] Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them.[4][5]
The carved pumpkin, lit by a candle inside, is one of Halloween's most prominent symbols in America, and is commonly called a jack-o'-lantern. Originating in Europe, these lanterns were first carved from a turnip or rutabaga. Believing that the head was the most powerful part of the body containing the spirit and the knowledge, the Celts used the "head" of the vegetable to frighten off any superstitions.[7] The name jack-o'-lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, [8] a greedy, gambling, hard-drinking old farmer. He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk. In revenge, the devil placed a curse on Jack, condemning him to forever wander the earth at night with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America,[9] where pumpkins were readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips. Many families that celebrate Halloween carve a pumpkin into a frightening or comical face and place it on their home's doorstep after dark. In America the tradition of carving pumpkins is known to have preceded the Great Famine period of Irish immigration. The carved pumpkin was originally associated with harvest time in general in America and did not become specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Moab , UT ..know and care about natural habitat.....

There is a saying, "Take only pictures. Leave only footprints." Please amend this worn out phrase for Moab terrain: "Take pictures. Leave absolutely nothing.." Stay on the trail and stay off of the cryptobiotic soil crust (the hardened, crusty soils on the surface of the desert) and all other fragile desert plants. "Crypto" is based on an organism called cyanobacteria, which is barely visible to the eye as tiny root systems that act like a microscopic net, effectively stabilizing dreaded drift sand that lies under every plant or rock in the Moab area. You can see it by breaking off a tiny piece of hardened soil and looking closely at the edges. You will be able to see tiny fragments of dirt held to the main clump by tiny fibers. Cyanobacteria's vine-like structure grows, reaching out, actually grabbing each grain of sand on the surface. Over the first fifty years of its development this crust is practically invisible, but once the sands have been stabilized and moisture builds up below the surface, colonies of algae, moss and lichen set up home and produce the mostly black, but at times very colorful, mounds, tiny spires and pits that are "crypto." The resulting blackened crust is the base for all life in the Moab area, so respect it, even if others do not. If you think the cattle and motorheads are bad, remember that because of our numbers mountain bikes are huge players in the destruction of flora and fauna around Moab. Cattle do horrible damage, but their pock marks (seen in the photo on the left) are far more natural than a bike's linear track that turns into a canyon over time by funneling water down its path. Erosion is why this place is the way it is, but let's not accelerate the process. A frightening fact about accelerated erosion is that the drift sand caused by exposed sands and rock smothers crytobiotic soils. More crypto dies, exposing more sand that drifts further and kills more crypto. So your track not only kills the living soils you ride across, it kills surrounding vegetation as well. WE HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE SLOWLY LOOSING ACCESS TO MANY TRAILS AND SLICKROCK IN THE MOAB AREA BECAUSE OF A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THIS VERY ISSUE. IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE.

Lichens and mosses growing on the slickrock are just as important as cryptobiotic soil crusts in the stabilization of the environment and the minimalization of erosion. Organisms growing on the rock surface stabilize the rock in much the same way as the crypto stabilizes drift sand. Mosses on the rock not only stabilize the surface of the rock, but collect sand drifting across the rock. As the sand is captured in the filaments of moss, the moss grows over it, incorporating it in its structure. This creates pockets of soil that in biological time soon become harbors for larger plant life that in turn supports small animals. If you are freeforming on slickrock, please practice riding techniques that guarantee that you do not destroy the beautiful lichens and mosses that turn bare rock into colorful mosaics of color and texture. There are many many varieties of moss and lichen on the rock in canyon country. Their color is a display of minerals that each variety processes and digests. Without lichens and mosses, the rock begins to deteriorate and erode more rapidly. For a graphic example simply ride the Moab Slickrock Trail and notice the actual trail surface as opposed to the surrounding rock. In the case of Slickrock Bike Trail you will notice that the trail surface is beginning to wear away where there is repeated traffic. The BLM has already adapted policies and regulations aimed at preserving the fragile soil crusts. Look for further regulations regarding rock surfaces in the future. This will certainly mean further restrictions for mountain biking. In the meantime, mountain bikers should do their best to leave as little evidence of their presence as possible. Dreamride's tour policies guarantee minimal impact by including an evaluation and environmental skills lesson on the first day of any vacation package.

Lizard or chipmunk kills along a trail are disturbing. Speed is fun, but be reasonable. Racing is for the race course. Bikes can be very car-like in this regard and we do not need any more reminders that we are on a "vehicle". You will certainly feel guilty if you run over a horned toad. These cute little creatures are found at higher altitudes in areas around the Abajo Mountains. For some reason we have never seen them in the La Sals or around Moab. Maybe it is the noise. Noise is a serious problem for wildlife. Speed is noisy. Hooting is for Hooters. "Yahoos" are fine for the ramps in City Park, but anywhere else this runs wildlife out of the area. Co-exist, please! Silence is a common courtesy to every living creature present in the area. If you want to really understand the noise problem, hide along a canyon wall and listen to people pass by. Boy, are we noisy! It's bad enough that we are ugly? Why do we have to sound like a crowded pen full of pigs when we are out on a bike in nature?

DO NOT RIDE OR BATHE IN DESERT STANDING WATER POOLS! Small water pockets on the rock leave dry blackened pits that should also be avoided. There are fragile and extremely rare life forms in those blackened pits and water pockets. Most importantly, don't let your dog run or wallow in these tiny ecosystems. Leave Fido at home if you are riding into fragile areas. All desert rides around Moab can be considered fragile! Some are hammered already, but previous impact has not lessened the need for concern. When it comes to pronghorn antelope, desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, coyotes, rabbits, and the local insect population, dogs make the struggle for survival in the desert even harder than it already is. Rover gets fed well at home, but wild creatures must fend for themselves in an environment with sparse food choices. Please do not create unfair competition for food and water and remember that domestic animals carry diseases that can be spread to wildlife. One the side of your pet, remember that if you leave Rover out there in the desert it would be a miracle if he lasts more than one or two nights. Coyotes and mountain lions love dog meat. If you insist on dragging your dog onto the trails around Moab, then stick to the dirt roads like Hurrah Pass, Gemini Bridges Trail, or the La Sal mountains. These areas are already impacted heavily and large wildlife is scarce, though not gone altogether.

YOUR POO IS A BIOLOGICAL HAZARD AND CAMPING MAY BE THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO TO A REMOTE AREA! Toilet paper does not degrade in the desert and it eventually finds it way into the digestive tracts of small animals sometimes causing their demise. Noise drives animals from habitat. Garbage creates all kinds of hazards for small animals. Walking out into the desert to find a place to crap in the middle of the night damages the crypto. If you are not sensative to these issues, then poo in your livingroom, cover it with the carpet and see if it goes away. In the desert, poo mummifies and is there for a very long time. Human and pet feces spread disease to wildlife. Click on ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS for more information on poo issues.

As for dangerous creatures, you should know that rattlesnakes usually bite the second rider and often "dry bite", which means they don't wish to waste their venom on something they can't digest. In the land around Moab we have a particularly beautiful species of Pygmy Rattler and another variety sometimes referred to as the Coral Rattler. It is difficult to find documentation on these snakes due to the extreme variety of rattlersnakes throughout the west. The Pygmy, sometimes referred to as the Hopi rattler, is a small and very shy creature, but with a bite that is extremely deadly. The Coral, which resembles the Grand Canyon rattler, is also a smaller snake, but not quite as tiny as the Pygmy and with much more subtle markings that are almost so faint as not to be visible. Smaller Pgymy Rattlers, like the one pictured here, have very detailed markings. Pygmy Rattlers' rattles are very unusual, producing a sound that is not the cliche rattle sound that you have heard in the movies. Frankly, it sounds like a bee if it can be heard at all. If you hear something that sounds like a buzzing bee, it could be a Pygmy Rattler in a bush just off of the trail. As for bites, young rattlers do not know how to control their venon and panic bite, so they can be a real problem, but usually you must get an appointment to be bitten by any snake, especially the shy Pygmy. Thirty to forty percent of all bites are dry bites, and fifteen percent of all envemonations are from "dead" snakes. If you are bitten by a rattler, the best thing to do is bring your heart rate down--fast. If you're alone, pray it was a dry bite, because if it is not, you are in deep do do. You will know soon enough. If you are with others get help as quickly as possible. The only real remedy is antivenin. A cell phone and a call to 911 is in order. Snake bite kits are no longer advised because they may do more harm than good. If you ARE alone and have no cell phone or it does not work where you are, go downhill if you can. Try not to exert yourself. It may best, if you are on a popular trail, to just lie in the shade and wait for help. Don't panic, it just elevates your heart rate. This is just one of the situations where a solo ride is can be fatal. Ride with a buddy, or be prepared to face the consequences. If you are with someone who is bitten, here is the best procedure: FOR SNAKE BIKES--The Pygmy Rattler (pictured here), our most prolific native species of poisonous snake, uses a hemotoxic venon. Most sources show only hemotoxic snakes in the Canyonlands area. All the variations of rattlesnakes are pit vipers, Family Crotalidae. They are hemotoxic only. For hemotoxin the best treatment in a remote location is a Sawyer Extractor, a fifteen dollar gadget that essentially sucks the wound without cutting. It is not a cure, but it may help. Do not rap the wound or cut it. Cutting just creates another avenue for the venon to get even deeper into your bloodstream. If you are alone and close to the trailhead, walk slowly to get help. Keep your heart rate down. It will take about an hour and a half for the venon to really take hold if you stay calm and still. If you are with the victim, use the Sawyer Extractor IMMEDIATELY and save the venon in the extractor for the hospital to verify for antivenin. The Sawyer Extractor can remove up to thirty five percent of the venom from the wound if applied right away. NEVER CLEAN A SNAKE BIKE WOUND WITHOUT SAVING THE RESIDUE. Venom on the surface can help identify the snake and the needed antivenin. Have the bite victim lie still. Get help as quickly as possible. Never suck venom from the wound!! Putting venon in your mouth is a very bad idea. You could be in more trouble than your friend who was bitten. For neurotoxic snakes (NOT the Pygmy Rattler), wrap a compression bandage around the bitten limb--wrap it tight and wrap it away from the body. It is imperative that you do this as quickly as possible. If you do not have gauze or a bandage, use a shirt or any available clothing (don't be modest), but do it fast. Once you have the bite area stabilized, splint the limb with a stick to keep the victim from moving the limb and pumping venom toward the heart. Write down the current time and the name of the victim on a piece of paper and leave it on the bandage. This is so that any medical technician that arrives will know when the wound was stabilized. Once the victim has been stabilized and the note written, go for help. Leave the most medically trained person with the victim. NEVER USE THE COMPRESSION BANDAGE TECHNIQUE ON A PYGMY RATTLER BITE! COMPRESSION BANDAGING OF A HEMOTOXIN BITE WILL RESULT IN LOSS OF THE LIMB!! The Mojave Green Sidewinder is the exception to the neurotoxic snake case. Some Sidewinders have been found to carry hemo and neuro toxins, in which case, frankly, you may be screwed, if you try to provide ANY treatment on your own. Mojave greens are indeed both hemotoxic and neurotoxic, but are quite rare even in California and Nevada. GET TO THE HOSPITAL VERY FAST. RIDE WITH A CELL PHONE AND HAVE SEARCH AND RESCUE GET TO YOU ASAP. Administration of inaccurate antivenin can be as deadly as the original snake bite, and since antivenin is made with horse serum, most people have a strong allergic reaction to the correct treatment. The bite of a large rattlesnake can require up to ten amps of antivenin at $200.00 to $400.00 per amp, so have that health insurance card with you at the hospital. All this taken into consideration, one source attributes sixty four deaths in Arizona and Utah from 1924 to 1954 to bark scorpion (see below), while in the same period only nineteen deaths occurred from all snake bites. I hope this puts snakebites into correct perspective. Above all, do not harm our snakes out of irrational fear (or revenge). They are a vital part of the ecosystem. They do not strike without good cause. They are not like us.
Bears are found in the mountains around Moab and can be dangerous if you appear to be a threat. The best thing about the bears around here is that they are not used to people. Mostly they ignore you if you ignore them. If you panic, make a sudden move, or yell, you could be asking for trouble. You are basically telling the bear that you are a prey item. Suddenly climbing a tree may be just the thing to piss a bear off. A mother with cubs usually will not attack, if you remain calm and do not get between her and the cubs. It is best to remain calm and slowly move away. The bear's first move is usually to get away from that stinky thing on the noisemaker. I hate to even mention it, but because we are so crazy, bears can be unpredictable, and if you meet one that happens to be offended by your presence, your best bet is run or ride very fast DOWNHILL. Bears don't do the downhill thing very well--their front legs are shorter than their hind legs. As the VERY last resort, lay down and play dead. Climbing a tree may work if you can climb that first ten feet faster than the bear, but that is unlikely. The bear may just assume that you are prey. A bear can run and climb unbelievably fast. You've got to be faster and a much better climber. When the bear catches you it will be much more violent if it smells fear or senses that you are fleeing, which you are. Frankly, bears deserve immmense respect. If you can telepathically transmit that respect, you will be fine in every situation. Try to remember that these creatures are beautiful, big, and powerful. That alone should cause awe to take over. Fear and awe are too different emotions and emit different odors. A pagan nature will keep you out of harm's way. See them as equals, as beings that deserve respect. Talk softly to them. Thank them for allowing you to be with them. I once had a mother brown bear walk away, leaving me with her cubs. Frankly, the cubs looked pretty tough without mom--a bit too curious, but cute as hell. Think about it; bears spend more time in the dreamtime than they do in waking. Did you know that reality means "What the King says is true"? The root of the word "real" is "royal". Because a bear dreams for more than six months of the year, it knows what exists in the dreamtime and in the waking world, not what is "real." A bear deserves respect for this knowledge. and if you think of this when you see a bear, rather than thinking of the creature as a mean old "bear", you may feel a connection that the bear will feel, also. Maybe this is too weird for you. If so, just remain calm. Let the bear do it for you. I think you will be surprised at how quiet it can be while it runs from you.

Mountain lions exist in great numbers, especially in the Abajo Mountains. If you encounter a lion, making eye contact could get you into real trouble, but generally mountain lions are not interested in humans as food or for companionship. If they hear you or see you, they will be gone. If you are confronted with a lion, try not to look like prey. Do not flee or look afraid, especially if you ARE afraid. Try to look bigger than you are. Hold your bike over your head and yell, . . . and thank your lucky stars for the chance to have seen a lion in the wild.

Special conservationist note: Hundreds of lions and bears are being hunted and killed each year in Utah. If you are interested in saving a lion or bear from the hunt, you can visit a National Forest Service Office in Utah and, for a fee, sign up to reserve a bear and/or lion to kill (the same goes for Elk and Antelope). There are supposed to be a limited amount of permits, so if you exercise this right and do not kill the animal, you will be saving a life, as well as the creature's offspring. Just don't tell the Forest Service you are doing this to save a bear or lion, or else they will just take your money and sell another permit. Talk instead about the joy of killing with a gun or bow, so they can relate. On the other hand, if you are a hunter, you have the right to kill anything legally set aside as prey, so knock yourself out, just make sure the thing you are firing at is not wearing a helmet and riding a bike. It must be said that hunters are one notch above the apathetic. Hunters at least have an interest in maintaining stock to kill.

We do see a lot of scorpions and centipedes
around Moab and they can inflict a painful bite, but usually not while you are on your bike. The big nasty looking scorpions can hurt you. The little yellow to fully translucent ones, Bark Scorpions, which hide in the bark of Juniper or Pinon trees, can kill you. Of all the creatures mentioned here, aside from rednecks with guns, the Bark Scorpion is the most dangerous statistically. You can find them by pulling up bushes and collecting Juniper bark in the desert (a routine practice for those of who get stuck out in the desert at night and need to make a fire). They also love the warmth of a fire and your body. Remember, if you put your helmet down on the ground for a while be sure to knock on it and shake it out before you put it back on. Those little scorpions would love to crawl in your ear. Did you know that the reason Poison Spider Mesa is called Poison Spider? Well, it's because of the scorpions, not the spiders. Speaking of spiders, the Brown Recluse and Black Widow live around here. I was personally bitten by a Brown Recluse on a camping trip in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It was a particularly unpleasant experience, though painless. A big chunk of my leg turned necrotic (dead, blackened tissue) and fell off with only a slight itch. The Black Widow's bite is quite different. It causes severe cramping and can clamp your lungs down like a huge vise. The effect lasts quite some time. A brown or a widow can really screw up your life up for a while, causing all kinds of unpleasant symptoms, depending on your metabolism and sensitivity.

Of all the desert creatures the most god-awful pests for mountain bikers are the mosquito and the cow fly. Mosquitos in the La Sals, Abajos, and along the river can be a problem, but are hardly present on most rides around Moab. Camping along the wetlands in the commercial campgrounds is the easiest way to meet the mosquito that gave Moab its name, which is a variation of the word for mosquito in the Navajo language, Moapa. Carry insect repellent during the warm months if you are riding in the mountains or near standing water, but only put the repellent on clothing, not on bare skin (especially Deet, which is really awful for your skin), unless of course you don't mind what it is doing to your flesh as opposed to the bites. The best advice I can give folks coming to Moab is not to camp in the tourist trap campgrounds next to the Moab wetlands at the north end of town. Skeeters happen there. Cow flies, on the other hand, are a hell of a nuisance. They usually don't mind the repellent, unless you are drenched in it. Avon Skin So Soft helps keep them off without the toxins, but is only minimal in its effect. There are some "health food store" repelents that work quite well, such as Penny Royal oil, but it takes a huge amount to discourage a cow fly. The best thing about cow flies is that they are easy to take revenge upon. They are used to biting cows. I've noticed that if I drink milk or frozen yogurt or ice cream before a ride, they love me, so ride with a buddy that likes to drink milk. The worst time of year for cow flies is early to mid June to mid to late July, but seasonal changes can effect just when the little suckers are reproducing. The female is the one who bites, and the life cycle is the reason. Sometimes we have clients that insist on riding Entrada Sandstone during peak fly season. Bartlett Wash is the most hellish place for cow flies. We now have a method. Get there before sunrise, before the flies come out and when you come down off of the slickrock, use a full can of high powered Off for every three people. Then go home and wash the stuff off before you die. Go to LORD OF THE FLIES for a story about how bad it can get.
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