Backpack in the Tick Infested Duck's Head Region of the Lower Buffalo Wilderness
  It is still Spring but the woods are essentially in summer mode already. A trail would be very helpful this time of year so utilizing one makes sense for me at this particular time. Breakfast was down in the valley at the Huddle House in Clinton. The food was excellent. Since it does not open until 5:00 a.m. my lips had never entered its premises before. After eating my movement continued north on Hwy 65. Arrival was made at the parking area a few miles north of Cozahome. At 7:15 the trail was mounted with a sunny morning and a temp of 50°. The trail begins on a ridge that divides the Buffalo at the neck of the Duck's Head in the Lower Buffalo Wilderness. The trails are courtesy of horse riders that have followed old roads in this area. The usual pink and orange marker ribbons dot the trail along the way. These are promptly removed, as this is a wilderness, not a construction site. The trail bifurcates and one fork goes northwest while the other goes north. My path was northwest. The Buffalo valley was completely obscured by fog and some of it flowed into the saddle that is is Ludlow Gap as I hiked through it.
  A fire that occurred in January of this year has charred a majority of this area but has not really affected the trees in their leafy regions. Due to the fire, a heavy weed population covered much of the old road bed and provided numerous launching points for the abundance of ticks that were frequently found crawling up my legs. I wear shorts in the summer and they seemed to enjoy that. 100% DEET was used but did not seem to deter them. The low burning fire did nothing to reduce the numbers of these little bastards. One can only pull them off and carry on or just not enter the forest in the summer time.
  Eventually a way was made down the valley and the river was discovered to be filled with sediment. The flow was fairly high but should have cleared by now. Rush Landing was not too far off across the river but hardly noticeable from my vantage point. My path continued downstream with no trails in the area now walked. A mining area was encountered and fenced off due to the danger of falling rocks. This was interesting but at the same time not terribly welcome. There was a narrow spot in the river coming up that hopefully would have a rapid worth looking at. The river so far was wide and flat. Sand and gravel bars did appear but were short lived. The Big Bottom area was dense and wrought with scary creatures such as box turtles and butterflies. Soon the sound of whitewater was heard and before long a large rapid was viewed. This was a surprisingly large rapid with 4 foot waves that would easily swamp any canoe who's occupants were foolish enough to enter. Luckily there was a sneak route on river left that allowed for avoidance of the peril. Unfortunately, no canoes came by while I sat on the rocks there and rested. This would have provided much entertainment. From here on sand bars lined my side of the river and made hiking much more enjoyable.
  Silver Hollow joined the river on the outside of the next bend. It was followed up a ways before turning and heading back up to the bluff line. My goal was a lone bluff standing high above the river. Within minutes I stood upon its rocky surface and surveyed the landscape before me. This was quite a view and had quite a drop to the rocky death below. A sleeping area was prepared and as a nap was attempted there were noted to be small ticks invading my ground sheet. One by one they were crushed but others took their place. The onslaught was without end and the lack of proper hammock trees made me question whether camping here was worth the trouble. While contemplating this dilemma a large group of canoes went through the rapids 3/4 mile upstream. Soon a capsized canoe came floating towards me with one dude well ahead of the canoe, thankfully with a life jacket on, and one clinging to one end of the boat, stupidly without one on. I watched the drama as many more canoes came by, some helping to retrieve the floating gear scattered all over the river. 
  At 5:15 the decision was made to depart this tick riddled precipice. With regret I made it back up the steep and rocky slope to the other old road that would take me back to the original trail. A light rain did fall for a time and strengthened my choice to abort the mission. The ticks were even worse now with 4-6 crawling ticks pulled off my legs every couple of hundred feet of hiking. At 6:25 my vehicle was in front of me. It was now 65° and the high was near 70°. The total mileage was close to 8 miles. This is a cool place save for the fire damage, the mines and of course...the ticks from hell.

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