An adult mosquito is shown in the laboratory at the Middlesex-London Health Unit kicked off in Strathroy, Ont., Thursday May 10, 2007. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

An adult mosquito is shown in the laboratory at the Middlesex-London Health Unit kicked off in Strathroy, Ont., Thursday May 10, 2007. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley)

Ben’s Blog: Don’t forget the bug spray

Being prepared is important for safety and enjoyment

Residents of northwest B.C. are blessed with the many world class outdoor recreational opportunities.

People can get their outdoor fix within minutes of downtown Terrace, whether it be hiking, fishing, biking, boating, swimming, or camping or almost anything else you can imagine.

One of the perks I have come to appreciate about the area is that it is relatively easy to get away from other people. One factor could be a lack of tourists due to the pandemic, but in general there are just fewer humans living in the northwest compared to Victoria, or recreational areas near cities like Calgary.

I find going on hikes is so much better when you aren’t running into people, golfing is more enjoyable when there isn’t a backlog on every tee box, and camping is better when you can relax away from others.

But to fully enjoy any outdoor activity, it is absolutely critical to be prepared, for a couple of reasons. One, obviously, is for safety. As any member of Terrace Search and Rescue would attest to, being prepared is key to avoid getting into sticky — and dangerous — situations.

Being prepared also keeps you out of less serious, but uncomfortable predicaments.

Last summer I forgot sunscreen while kayaking on Lakelse lake. Before I knew it, my entire body was the colour of a tomato and it took weeks of pain and peeling to recover. After the worst sunburn of my life, I vowed to change. Never again would I go outside unprepared.

Flash forward to a couple of weekends ago, and I did it again. This time, I was enjoying a round of golf. As the temperature started to gradually cool on the back nine, I noticed spots on my legs and arms that were bleeding. Bug bites, no big deal. I reached into my bag for some bug spray.

Nothing.

As far as I can recall, I had never been bitten by black flies before, so although I knew I had dropped the ball I assumed that it couldn’t be that bad. Besides, I hardly felt the flies biting me.

Later that night, I came to realize the mistake I had made. My elbows and backs of my knees were the worst, but both of my legs were covered in festering, itchy, painful bites. Each of the bites swole up, looking terrible and feeling worse.

Just last weekend, I went on a hike to John Little Falls with a friend and my partner. I was ready with water, bug spray, good shoes, and a positive attitude which lasted until the final stretch of the hike: An overgrown, muddy, mosquito infested slog.

Stinging nettles burned my arms and legs, mosquitos and flies swarmed around me and my feet were soaked in muddy water.

Luckily there we didn’t see any bears, because all three of us forgot bear spray.

Did I bring any cream or benadryl for stings and bites? Nope.

Did I bring any other clothes or a change of socks? Nope.

Did I run out of bug spray? Yep.

Being prepared will make your time outside safer, and believe me, it will make it more fun too.