Fashion versus Function

August 25, 2017

On the drive from Pennsylvania to Maine in July, my mother sent along a book about Lyme disease, which I read, first dutifully, then avidly, with a touch of terror.  This book prompted further research on the internet, and I was horrified to learn that, according to the Center for Disease Control, Maine has one of the highest incidences per capita of Lyme disease.  A doctoral student who hiked the AT and collected ticks in 2014 recommended wearing permethrin treated bug-net pants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect oneself.  (“Touched by Lyme”, www.lymedisease.org)  We decided to buy the bug-net pants and shirt from REI, and wear them while at low altitudes in Maine.

The seat of the bug-net pants quickly succumbed to sharp rocks and long reaches with our legs.  So one night I took my pocket knife, ripped the net legs off the shredded pants, and hand-basted them onto our shorts.  Voila!  Durable bug-net pants!

Attached to our shorts, they were much more comfortable.  Basted with needle and thread, they didn’t come off easily.  So we continued wearing them even at higher altitudes, and enjoyed the added benefit of protection from mosquitoes.  We received many comments from other hikers.

“That’s one of the scariest sights I’ve seen,” one hiker told Jay.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” Jay responded, laughing.

“I would have paid $1,000 for a pair of those in Pennsylvania”, sighed one hiker enviously.

Another hiker, Mowgli, commented, “Hey, I like your skeeter beaters!”  (Jay thought maybe they should be dubbed Tick Licker Knickers!)

Many locals in Hanover liked the pants also.  One woman told us, “That is pure genius!  Next spring, when I start my garden, I’ll be wearing a pair of those!”

Another lady at a lodge confronted me, “I’ve been watching you walk around, and trying to decide, are you wearing those pants for fashion or function?”

I couldn’t resist, I struck a pose.  “Oh yes, fashion is my middle name, especially on the trail,” I laughed.

Although many hikers have told us of finding ticks, we have not seen any since donning this outfit.  With Lyme disease increasing across the United States, our attire may be the wave of the future!

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Author: Sarah and Jay Bigelow

Hi! We live in the Carson Valley in Nevada near Lake Tahoe. Sarah is a retired elementary school teacher, and Jay is a retired fish biologist. We are in our 50's, and have been married for 30 years.

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