When was the last time you got poison oak? | High Sierra Topix  

When was the last time you got poison oak?

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When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:51 am

On our hike up to the top of Stag’s Leap last week, we had a bit of a misadventure. The problem was, we didn’t know how much of a misadventure until more recently.

We followed the use trail, and it climbed straight up to the top of the ridge, then clambered over every single rock and hummock on the top of the ridge. That made for great view of the scenery, but we got a little tired of the constant up and down.

So on the return trip I suggested that we parallel the trail below the top of the ridge.
Now the West side of the ridge is sheer cliffs in many places, so we stayed on the East side. And the plan worked perfectly for quite a while. And then we came to a hillside covered with brush that lay between us and the final descent into the valley.

We poked away at game trails for a while, but like most game trails, they didn’t go where we wanted to go. And so I finally decided to break through the brush for about fifty feet, and did so. On the other side, the trail waited for us calmly.

Yeah, I thought about poison oak when I did it. And I knew that poison oak can affect you even in the winter, when it has no leaves. But this didn’t look like poison oak to me—at least most of it. And I also seemed to remember that poison oak was a bit uncomfortable, but nothing to really worry about. And besides, we were close to home, and ready to hop into a shower to soap up immediately after we got home.

So what have we learned?

I was right. Most of what we hiked through wasn’t poison oak. Thank God. Because a week later a few of those scratches on me were bad enough that I had to go see a doctor about getting some kind of help. The heavy use of Benadryl and Cortisone cream was making no headway.

And all the rest of that stuff I remembered about poison oak? Forget it. A quick and intensive session with soap and water did not prevent the poison oak reaction. And poison oak is a lot more than a little uncomfortable.

And yeah, yeah. I know. You told me so.

You can thank me now for NOT posting photos

But you can read about the hike on our blog...
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby The Other Tom » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:08 am

My worst case ever of poison oak was in the winter of '75. Yeah, I'm that old :nod: Your post had me looking at my arms again to see if I could still see the scars.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:24 pm

A friend and I went to Rockville park (near Cordelia) when we were teens. slept overnight (illegally). Poison oak everywhere.

When we got home, he decided on steeping in a bath instead of a shower. The next morning, he was in the ER as the steam carried the poison oak soup into his lungs.

Me, I never got anything.. Haven't ever, even though being knee-deep in the stuff on occasion. Guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I do hate allergy season though.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Tom » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:03 pm

I occassionally get a mild case. Especially when I am bushwacking and looking for rock art sites in the local range. 4 or 5 days and it clears up.

However, justice was served one trip...I was packing out of one of the local trails and I spotted a mountain biker tearing down the trail. He sees me and starts screaming for me to get out of the way. Starts waving his arms and yelling to let him get by. I step off the trail and watch him go shooting past me. The trail had a canopy of poison oak and his face and shoulders were at a height that allowed the poison oak to slap him occassionally. I didn't say a word and wondered how miserable the SOB was later.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Timberline » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:29 pm

Okay - - the LAST time was in the summer of 1963. I was working on a road building project in the hills east of Berkeley, setting grade controls for road construction. But it was a doozie, and unavoidable because we were in contact with the stuff every day for a while. Fortunately for me, it was never more than a mild irritation, but I thought it would never end. I can sympathize with anyone who has had to deal with the full effects, tho; what a pain! I guess I've been lucky in that respect!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Ikan Mas » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:30 pm

I am fortunate to have some immunity, although I have got a light dose on a couple occasions in my life. Being raised in a family of Oregon backwoods foragers, I was taught early on to identify and avoid it. I'm not sure if its the avoidance or the immunity which really works and would prefer not to test it.

An incident from my childhood to this day reminds me of how fickle people's reaction to the stuff can be. I was on the school's playground and told a couple of girls that bush there was poison oak. As could be expected of 7 year old boy-hating girls, they denied the supposition, and after some verbal sparring decided to prove their point that the bush "was not" poison oak. They did this by picking several leaves and rubbing them thoroughly into their faces. I was horrified. I was even more horrified when the blonde came to school next day seemingly unaffected. I thought how could I have been so wrong? The brunette didn't show back at school for a few days, but when she did I was vindicated. Her face was a miserable mess, although not miserable enough for a 7-year old boy to fee sorry for her. It took me a while longer, but I eventually learned what may be useful information to some, is just plain dangerous to others. :)
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby freestone » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:18 pm

I am highly allergic and have had this affliction multiple times since childhood. I got it just last year. I pulled up some poison oak saplings in my own back yard that I did not recognize at the time and became infected on my face and hands. But that was not my worst case. I waded waist high flood waters in Montecito to help out a friend and got it from the waist down, even on the tops of my feet. That was over the top misery for two weeks. On the top of my feet was the worst.
The itching sensation that poison oak exposure causes deserves a place on the banks of the Styx in Dante's hell.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby BillyBobBurro » Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:35 pm

Every time I fish the Pit river I get a bit of it. It is all over the place there.

Anyways, Poison Oak soap is a must have addition to any mid elevation hiking kit. Use it after exposure and you will be safe. If I bushwack through some I will even wash my exposed clothes with it. I use the Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap. If you use another brand make sure it has kaolin clay in it since the clay will actually neutralize the irritant, not just wash it off.

I swear by this stuff. I use to have rashes that would persist for weeks.

-Bill
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:37 pm

When I was 19 I was exceptionally stupid. I was at a swimming hole on the Kaweah River just inside Sequoia NP. I found a vine and proceeded to use it to make a grass skirt and ran around acting like a cave man wearing nothing but the skirt. I used the vine for various other things over the course of the afternoon. A few days later it started and over the next few days I developed patches everywhere...and I mean everywhere. It was excruciating. I don't think any other illness has ever been as miserable as that. My friends still like to tell the story to anyone who hasn't heard it---my penance for my stupidity.

Since then I've never broken out despite many times I thought I'd get it for sure. (I don't know how I avoided it last year at Point Reyes.) I know what it looks like in any form any time of year. I've made more than one stupid mistake in my life, but never the same mistake twice. :smirk:
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby mokelumnekid » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:07 pm

Like many here, I have had monumental cases of poison oak, most all of which resulted from Sierra foothill escapades involving river or creek swimming. I am now to the point where I can spot it in any season, leaves or no leaves, etc. In fact just thinking about it make me itch- yikes!
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby will_jrob » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:30 pm

In the Bay Area,I manage to usually to get a rash each year. The leaf that needs to be moved for a macro shot is a frequent perpetrator. I have expanded my awareness to beyond the displays of knee high plants to low ground-cover, climbing vines well up Redwoods, and thick hedges, as well bare shrubs in winter. My worst case probably was the result of retreiving a kite from well within a big bush for a girlfriend, not paying attention. Next day got a cortisone shot to reduce the swelling, blistering. Lately, I have retreated from some grown-over trails, sidled with arms up past others, and always long pants below ~ 6000 ft when not on major trails. The mention of Pt. Reyes, reminds me of the spur trail to Almanore Falls that was faced with the stuff. I cringe at the memory of folks in shorts and short sleeves brushing by the stuff.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:30 pm

So far I have been lucky. No reaction, even when bushwhaking through it on the North Fork of the American River last spring. I still take precautions- always wear knee-high gaiters and leave them outside the tent, never wear my hiking clothes inside my sleepin bag and washing up in cold water. I have heard that warm water is bad- you need to wash in really cold water (cold shower vs warm bath). If I have to bushwhack I wear garden gloves.
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