Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ice Age Trail - Kettle Moraine

I had the chance a few weeks ago to run a portion of the Ice Age Trail in Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit. The weather was cool and partially cloudy when I started. Perfect, I thought, for a nice trail run.

Knowing tick season was in full swing, I layered on the precautionary DEET, wore long sleeves and hat, and headed out. The first mile and a half was smooth and really enjoyable. Unfortunately, the humidity rose, the sun appeared bringing on a lot of heat, and a huge infestation of bugs decided to feast on my face and neck. I know it's a forest and am no stranger to bugs, but this was crazy insane! It got bad enough that I was constantly blinking my eyes, behind full sunglasses, to keep them from entering my eyeballs. Moving faster didn't deter the suckers as they found a way to repeatedly feast on the back of my neck when swatted away from my eyes and the front! Luckily, speed was on my side and I was able to break into open fields and enjoy not only the sun but some nice flowers along the way.

As I was doing an out and back route, I had to once again return to bugtown at my 10 mile turnaround. Seems as though sweat only encourages the bugs more! This time I was prepared - I put my hat on backwards so the bill (lowered) protected the back of my neck, put my head down, and made an all-out assault. Yeah...well...that was fun. The bugs found that my forehead was equally as tasty as the parts they previously sampled. The result was my neck and head looking as lumpy as the Toxic Avenger.

So, what have I learned? To run this trail in the early morning! Somehow the noon day sun just brought them out in mass quantities! Also, I think running it in spring or late fall might be a better option.

Am I disappointed with Kettle Moraine? Hell no! It was my own decision to be there and it IS a forest after all. The trail was absolutely awesome and I'd love to run a marathon or ultra up there in the future. I just need to plan better.