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

Postby markskor » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:27 pm

Visitin’ Big Sur more than a few years back, exploring that visible-from-the-roadside cave above Salmon Creek Falls (nice BTW) and subsequently heading farther upriver to camp overnight at the second falls …sometime in the late fall. I was taking this gorgeous red-head (UCLA coed) on her first camping trip…
Little did I realize that when Poison Oak oils dry up and turn to dust, somehow the dry urushiol oil coats all firewood. Enjoying the fire later, (BTW, why does the smoke always find me?), we had one fine Grand Mariner evening.

Next morning sadly, my face was swollen 2 inches…same with another more private member too…most of my body in fact. Talk about a trip-kill.

Took me 6 months to finally clear up the crotch area…FYI, I never saw her again.

After a bit of research on Poison Oak, I vowed never again to camp below 4000 feet.
Mountainman who swims with trout

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

Postby FeetFirst » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:39 pm

will_jrob wrote:The mention of Pt. Reyes, reminds me of the spur trail to Almanore [sic] Falls that was faced with the stuff. I cringe at the memory of folks in shorts and short sleeves brushing by the stuff.

So true. I always recommend the beach walk from Wildcat rather than the spur trail to Alamere Falls. A couple of years ago, a friend and I saw a group of young women emerging from that trail wearing skimpy bathing suits. We cautioned them to watch out for poison oak and they thought we were joking. I assured them that we were not joking and the tunnel of overgrowth they just walked through is choked with the stuff. Needless to say, they were freaking out.

I'm still rather convinced that you can achieve more than you've ever dreamed of if you just lower your standards.
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:30 pm

Last spring was my last poison oak case (from leading a field geology class at Sunol Regional Wilderness, eastern SF Bay Area--note, lot's of off trail hiking), I believe, although I am always dodging and shimmying my way through it, given that my prime research and field teaching spots for geology are in the Coast Ranges and there are some places that have some serious poison oak. In spite of dealing with it on a regular basis in geologic field work, my last really bad case of it was probably about 1990 or 1991. Until 1981 I was totally insensitive to poison oak, something that I exploited hugely as a geology undergrad--and being a street basketball player I did plenty of trash talking about this at the time. I would go places where none of my classmates dared. In 1981 my invincibility was shattered while doing some professional work for a firm in SF--I had oozing welts everywhere, including my face. My worst season came in 1990-1991 when I put in an exceptionally difficult year of commercial field work in poison oak country (eastern SF Bay Area, San Leandro Reservoir drainage). This included having poison oak root drip in paleoseismic trenches (the roots make the other parts seem like child's play), and the single most horrific poison oak moment of my life. I was on a drilling team on a spur high above Upper San Leandro Reservoir. This was a spot that the helicopter had dropped everything--the rig, the core boxes, etc, but forgot the water line. On my rig we had a "democratic" system--it wasn't the geologist and drillers, it was simply "the team" on my watch. The deal was that we would use the wireline to winch the water line up from the reservoir (where it was delivered by boat). The problem was someone would have to "ride" the rig to keep it from getting tangled in the brush. We drew straws. I lost. I was dragged by the wireline through the brush from the reservoir to the rig that was situated >300' higher than the water. About 30 percent of the brush was poison oak. My hands were black with poison oak resin by the time I reached the rig. I was exposed so regularly to poison oak during the 1990-1991 season I think I actually performed an unintentional desensitization program. For the last 20 years I have rarely had so much as a single itchy bump, even though I spend so much time in poison oak country off trail. This is a good thing. It is very inconvenient for a field geologist to be sensitive to poison oak. My spring 2011 outbreak was but a single itchy welt.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:38 pm

I actually get it pretty bad, but have learned to cope with it over the years. I got it pretty bad a few times as a kid in the Santa Rosa area just out playing. Typical kid stuff. Me and my buddys made a fort in the bushes which happended to be about 25% poisin oak. We all welted up about three days later, but mine wsnt so bad and only used over the counter creams. Worst case as a kid came when we backed up a drainge ditch to form a swimming hole not realizing the flooded areas were poisin oak in bloom in the spring. I wnt to the doc for that one and got shots and cream.

My early years as a geologist involved mostly field work and I learned to avoid it better. Long sleeve shirts (and gloves), long pants, with both taped. We would have to hike through the stuff to mark drill sites and I did pretty well. At the end of the shift at the truck, I would take off the clothing, store it in a trash bag, then wash hands face and arms with detergent annd cold water to remove any oils that got on my skin. I worked pretty well with only a few welts and . As an adult my worst case was in 1990. I was sent to log test pits in the Benedict Canyon area of So Cal. I arrived to find this wonderfully manicured hillside rady for me to log 6 test pits. I should have taken a better look at the surrounding vegetation, as our site was compltely brushed with all these little roots and stems poking up. I didnt put the clues together and wrked unprotected. I ended up with the second worst case in my life (again with shots and cream). You could see finger marks where I wiped my neck with my hand, and lets not mention the privates. Lets jaust say I can EMPATHIZE with Marksor. It sucked!!!!
Once in a while you can get shown the light
In the strangest places if you look at it right.

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

Postby gcj » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:52 pm

The last time was when my brother and I hiked up Mt. Umunhum (south of San Jose) in 1970. It was a horrible case- my entire body seemed to be infected. (My brother didn't fair too well, either!)

Even a poison oak rash couldn't keep me out of my beloved local hills, though. I went up with my high school buddies many times subsequently. They would get rashes, but not me. I began to suspect that I had developed an immunity. My friends would carefully try to avoid the stuff, but I, being kind of a 'show-off', would deliberately walk right through the worst of it- rubbing it on my arms, my legs... With all their caution, they would still get rashes. I didn't even get a minor itch.

My botany prof at Cal told me that there was no such thing as immunity to poison oak. But, she couldn't explain why I didn't seem to get an infection. I started to wonder if believing I was immune somehow made me immune...

Fast-forward a few decades to the present. For the last 15 years or so, marriage and home-ownership have greatly diminished the amount of time spent hiking in the local hills . Recently, I went with my son (then 9 years old) on a cub scout nature hike with a naturalist at a local park. She explained that the more exposure to poison oak you have, the less immunity you have. I didn't want to argue with her or relate my own experiences regarding poison oak with her. (I certainly wouldn't deliberately encourage a child to touch the stuff.) I'm afraid, though, that my 'immunity' is probably gone and that if I ever touch it again, I'll end up reliving that horrible time after my Mt. Umunhum trip 40+ years ago. That would suck!
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby rlown » Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:01 pm

Found this little "gem" that proposes a method for gaining immunity to poison oak:


Not sure I trust it or 78% of what i read on the internet for that matter, but..
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Re: When was the last time you got poison oak?

Postby oldranger » Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:06 pm

I can't remember where I got it but sometime in the 50s when I was a little kid I remember lying on my back in front of our old b&w TV, stark naked, covered in calamine lotion, watching Bozo the Clown.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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