I visited scenic Big Sur last week; along with weathering the storm and Highway 1 falling into the ocean, we battled midnight bandits and poison oak.
Apparently bear country isn’t the only place you want to secure your food – ice chest included. I woke to find food wrappers strewn about camp from dare devil squirrels that ripped into our hanging trash bag. Then there was the unpleasant discovery that they also managed to open my ice chest and contaminate my food with plague and/or rabies cooties. I’ll take the blame for the trash, but my ice chest?! Crafty little buggers… Let our mistake be your lesson, even when you think your food is safe from bears, another critter is lurking behind a bush waiting for you to let your guard down, so store it in your car or if there are storage boxes provided even better.
Then there was the relentless poison oak – bordering campsites and encroaching on trails with its urushiol oil just begging to reach out and give you an itchy rash. I have a few tips based on my week of experience with this itchy-oilfest of a plant. 1) Long pants! I’d much rather deal with getting the poison oak oil off my pants than off my legs. 2)The leaves aren’t the only part of the plant that is poisonous – bare stems have oil as well. 3) If you come in contact with poison oak wash ASAP with COLD water; warm water opens your pours and allows the oils in. I’ve heard dish soap works well to break down the oil, but when I touched the plant with my hand I was happy to have Tecnu. Tecnu attaches to the oils and rinses off with cold water, to be on the safe side I treated my hand twice. 4) Another helpful hint that is relevant in all outdoor ethic situations - stay on the trail. You help protect nature and stay out of poison oak – win win! If you don’t have poison oak in your area, a lot of these tips are valid for other rash-inducing plants
Even though we dealt with midnight bandits and poison oak I promise we did have fun. We had great views (when the clouds and fog lifted), rehydrated (pruney from the mass amounts of rain), crowd free (not many folks are as crazy as us), and tick free (I think…)!