A couple of weekends ago, we decided to explore a new ATV trail, one that is closer to us than the rail trails we usually ride on. It's in West Bath, and is maintained by the Over the Hill ATV Club.

Well, sort of maintained. But more about that later.

We found the trail head, which begins at the town fire station, with no problem, got the machine off the trailer and headed into the woods. And this was a very woodsy trail, complete with roots, large rocks, etc., so we were going very slowly a lot of the time. This type of riding is more of a workout for both driver and passenger than the relatively smooth, well-kept rail trails. The advantage of moving so slowly is that you see things, like the pileated woodpecker I noticed just off the trail at one point.

The trail is well-marked, with arrows and signs indicated which part of the trail is in what direction. Some parts were closed off when we were there, but they were clearly marked, as well.

After half an hour or so, we found ourselves on a little outcropping of rock overlooking a view and decided to have lunch there. It was a pleasant spot, although a little buggy. After a while, here came a guy walking with a bit of a limp up the trail in the opposite direction from the way we'd come.

We said hello. "Why are you riding here," he asked, in a not-unfriendly tone. We took him to be inquiring about what had brought us out that day.

"We wanted to explore a new trail," we replied.

"This trail is closed," the man said.

We explained that the trail had not been closed where we had joined it, and learned that it was closed at the other end, and that fence was to be erected at both ends within the week.

The landowner, for that was who he turned out to be, went on to say that he other property owners had had problems with people using drugs on their land, making noise at night and so on, and had terminated their agreement with the ATV club. He did not seem upset about our unwitting violation, and we agreed it was too bad that a few had spoiled the opportunity for everyone else.

We went on found the gate at the end of the trail, had a short chat with another landowner there, and then had a brief, but somewhat hair-raising ride up a public road (where ATVs are not supposed to be) to the fire station.

We capped the adventure off with a stop at Witch Spring Hill Ice Cream stand, which dishes a fine maple walnut. I believe all their ice cream is made by Round Top.

And that would've made a lovely, if never-to-be-repeated, outing (given the number of rescinded rights-of-way the Over the Hill club has suffered lately). But when we got home, I seemed to have acquired an annoying number of black fly bites — as I imagined, from riding slowly through the woods with the face shield on my helmet partway up to get some air.

Over the next day or two, the itchy bumps multiplied, and pretty soon I was consulting a pharmacist about what to treat them with. "That looks like browntail moth rash," she said, and affirmed that once contracted, it does, indeed, spread.

She sold me several ingredients that she said I should combine and then apply to the affected areas three to five times daily. Let me say that I felt a little funny going into the handicapped stall in the bathroom at work to remove clothing so I could put the mixture on my growing number of itchy welts.

However, that, combined with numerous showers, a bath or two, and a lot of endurance, has finally got me to the point that the rash is starting to calm down. I still have itchy spots, but the itch isn't as intense, even in the new ones, as before. I think I may survive.

And while I sincerely hope I won't have a second bout of the rash, if I do, I'm armed with the right stuff to make it (almost) bearable.