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Getting my kicks at age 66 or how I came to love 98.11 percent Deet
Dennis Wyatt

Take sport sunscreen with a 100 sun protection factor.

Add a liberal dosing of 100 Max Deet bug spray that consists of 98.11 percent Deet.
Combine it with Arrid Extra Extra Dry that is anything but that.

Mix in temperatures flirting with 90 degrees thanks to a late start on a 6.6-mile hike that goes from 7,654 feet to 10,915 feet with almost 100 percent exposure.

The result is a concoction that I assure you won’t be a scent anytime soon among the after shaves offered at Target.

If you haven’t guessed it I’ve been away for a week of rest and relaxation.

Don’t laugh.  

This is how I’ve been spending my summer vacation the second week of July for going on 12 years.

It’s my idea of a perfect vacation, not to mention fun.

And it’s a less wear and tear on the body than my idea of a week-long summer vacation in my 30s.

That entailed motel hopping while cross-crossing the Sierra on fully-loaded bicycling trips.

Take my word for it. Pedaling what was then my 190-pound self along with 65 pounds of bicycle and gear 80 to 112 miles a day going over passes that put a strain on many car engines was much harder.

It was also much scarier to head down passes traveling at 45 miles with only a small tire with 75 pounds per square inch tire pressure wearing a bicycle helmet weighing just a little over a half pound than it is to make your way along a narrow trail covered with screen with a 300-foot drop on one side.

And to be honest, I can’t think of a better way to get recharged and relaxed.

It probably sounds like I’m certifiable.

But once you’ve reached places like Kearsarge Pass at 11,709 feet and gaze down at nature’s glory that is the extreme eastern end of Kings Canyon National Park or allowed rippling water at Upper Hilton Lake at 11,046 feet whipped by winds cresting towering treeless granite mountains guarding the lake to lull you into a quick catnap you’ll think it is crazy to miss out on such experiences.

And even if I repeat previous hikes, I always manage to enjoy a new experience to savor.

Such was the case a week ago today coming back from Burro Pass at 11,120 feet.

For whatever reason I ended up coming back down with a high school teacher from Anaheim.

We were chatting as we hiked when we decided to take a detour to Summit Lake.

As we were approaching the treeless flat area we were startled by a loud crack.

A sizeable chunk of a large swath of iced over snow remaining along the western shore snapped.

We saw it break lose and slam into the water.

Neither of us could get our iPhones out fast enough to record it but rest assured it is forever embedded in the only memory card than matters — our brains.

Our camera phones did record the sight and sounds of displaced water surging across the lake.

It includes water washing across shoreline rocks that were dry seconds before.

Ultimately it reached the waterfall at the edge of Summit Lake that was the head of a small tributary that would make it into large lakes some 1,500 feet below.

The water spilling doubled in size creating an impressive swishing down the rock lined canyon.

It’s part of nature’s yearly cycle.

I’m not too sure what it is called but when a glacier does the same thing at the edge of an ocean it’s called calving.

I’m sure seeing a glacier shedding a large chunk from aboard the deck of a cruise ship is awesome.

But it’s not as rewarding as seeing iced over snow do the same thing in literally your own backyard devoid of any signs of civilization in any direction save well-worn trails.

I won’t lie.

Sipping on semi-hot water from the bladder in your backpack in the exposed upper regions of the eastern Sierra loses its charm after six hours.

It also makes you realize just how good we have it.

Even in the third year of a crippling drought most of us in California can still turn on a kitchen faucet to fill a glass with cool, clean, and safe water.

Go back 120 years or so and being able to fill a glass from a faucet in a kitchen during a drought was a rarity as most had to go into the hot sun and “work” to get water to drink from a well.

Yet many of us today are unwillingly to even sacrifice having trophy turf for the common good during a drought that is trending in the wrong direction.

The drought meant I was hiking amid high level scenery scarcely dotted with the white stuff. It was much worse that in recent drought years of the past decade.

It also meant wildflowers were blooming sooner in the higher elevations.

I soon found out it meant more mosquitoes, flies (especially the biting kind), and other insects than I’ve ever encountered before.

I was happy that I decided to dole out $10.99 for a four-ounce spray pump bottle of 100 Max Deet spray at Big 5 Sporting Goods a week prior.

Even with the 100 Max Deet there were hours during each day’s hike where I walked with mosquitoes and flies buzzing my head non-stop and trying to land on the few places on my face that were Deet free.

Altogether, I spit out a half dozen that managed to make it into my mouth during heavy breathing on steep trail sections. I’m not exactly sure about another two that likely suffered the same fate as if they had entered the mouth of a frog.

Still every breath, every sight, and every moment of simply taking in creation was more than worth it.

As for that baked concoction sunscreen, sweat, and Deet, I started out that day using only 50 percent Deet. I broke out the expensive stuff when that failed to do the trick.

To be honest, until I added the 100 Deet to the sunscreen and 50 percent Deet it wasn’t all that bad.

But the combination thereof made me appreciate a shower at day’s end as I did 100-mile views from atop mountain peaks.