Monday, 17 August 2015

Trying to climb while being eaten alive


Midges. Just thinking about writing this blog post is making me itch. The little blighters get everywhere. They have no sense of self preservation - only a desire for blood. Swarming in numbers, their chance of survival increases, but their insatiable lust for the red stuff overwhelms any instinct to prolong their tiny lives. They land in their dozens in places easily swiped with a sleeve. Their bite is a suicide call for the great hand to sweep down and wipe them away.

We had plans for the weekend just gone. We wanted to climb outside. We really did. But those damned little midges were out in force on Sunday. We went to Burbage with the intention of climbing lots of easier problems - doing a circuit. We were excited to climb as much as we could. 

Wading through overgrown ferns, our legs were getting drenched. The leaves held a layer of water recently dumped by the sky. How recently we didn't know - maybe in the wee hours of the morning. Combined with the warmth and zero wind, it was as if entering midge nirvana. Great clouds of the buggers suddenly rose from the ground as we pushed off the main path, to the start of our circuit. 

We applied repellent liberally, sloshing it on, showering under the bottle, coating uncovered skin. I smelled like lemon detergent when I pulled onto my first boulder problem, a nice and easy warm up. Not only did I stink of chemical spray, I was blinking sporadically and incessantly as the midge squadron dive bombed my eyeballs, the only vestige from the repugnant smell. Then they found my inner ear, causing me to flick and scratch my lobes. I resembled a deranged resident of Bedlam for all the eccentric ticks and twitches on display.

After the second problem, Leigh-Anne had given up hope and was quickly packing her things. I tried to muster some staying power and attempted my third warm up problem. Their numbers were growing and they had whipped themselves into an even greater feeding frenzy than when we first arrived. They didn't care about the supposed repellent anymore. We may as well have slaughtered the nearest sheep and lathered ourselves in slabs of mutton for all the good it was doing. A free, all you can eat buffet open for business. I was just missing the neon lights and a giant arrow proclaiming "FREE FOOD HERE" in the language of the midge.

My arms provided the dining table for hundreds by the time I stepped off the boulder. My hairy legs had caught hundreds more, like a great net cast into the giant shoal of fish, I was landing them by the dozens every time I took a step. Oblivious to their fate, I brushed off as many as I could before packing up.

We made a hasty retreat back across the moor, to the van, defeated by sheer numbers. Damn you, midges. Damn you.

If you have any tips, tricks or advice for keeping midges away, please do share! Leave a comment.