So you've never heard of Poodle-Dog Bush before? Neither had I. Here is my story.
I had dropped Stephanie, the kids, and my mom off at LAX on a Wednesday morning as there were flying to Florida for our Summer of '13 Disney Caribbean Cruise. My dad and I were to join them on the next Saturday. While at work that day I noticed some red dots forming on my forearms. They started to itch. I thought maybe I had hives, from stress? Not likely, but I couldn't think of any other reason why I would break out in a rash. It got progressively more itchy over the next couple of days, enough to pick up some anti-itch cream on Friday night on my way home. While at the airport on Saturday with my dad I was telling him that my arms, and now my legs, really itch, for some strange reason. He asked if I got his e-mail about some plant that has sprung up in the San Gabriels, and then it started to click.
I did a couple of quick web searches, looked at some pictures from my hike the Sunday prior and put two and two together to realize that I was walking through fields of this Poodle-Dog Bush. Thankfully I was only wearing shorts and a short sleeve t-shirt on that hike.
I sent a couple of text messages off to Ryan and Hugo who did the hike with me. Ryan was also suffering with me. Luckily for Hugo, he did not have a reaction. Apparently this plant, which only grows after a major ground disturbance, like the Station Fire a couple of years earlier, comes out of dormancy and blooms; beautiful purple flowers on tall green stalks. Turricula parryi, as it is technically known ia similar reaction as Poison Oak. I have hiked hundreds of miles in the San Gabriel Mountain and have stayed clear of the abundance of Poison Oak over the past thirty-some years. But it's hard to avoid what you don't know you should stay away from (I did later find my dad's e-mail, which I even responded to, about avoiding this plant).
It's one thing to itch yourself to death, but now I am on my way to Florida to get on our once-in-a-lifetime family cruise; us my parents and Stephanie's parents. While it never hurt, it just itched and drove me a little crazy at times. I took Benedryl pills, used about 4 different topical treatments, and just waited it out. It lasted about a week and a half or so before it started to clear up. During that time some of the red dots turned to blisters, while others just dried up and left rough patches on my skin.
Since this encounter I have warned everyone I talk to who mentions hiking in our local mountains. This hasn't or will it stop me from hiking, but now I have a new adversary I need to avoid while hiking in the burn areas. There isn't a whole lot of information on this plant, and they aren't exactly sure how long it will last before it dies and goes dormant again. And apparently there isn't much to do to treat it, except just cope.
This picture of the Poodle-Dog Bush isn't even the bad part. We hiked up a not heavily traveled use trail from Markham Saddle to Mt. Markham, and pushed our way past an abundance of this plant. After getting the reaction in such large form, I remembered when a few months earlier I had a small rash on my arm, as I have walked through this plant before. However I think on that hike I had long sleeves on, which did quite a bit to protect me. Now that I know I will be prepared and this plant shouldn't be a problem of this scale in the future.
The moral of the story is, if you receive and e-mail warning you of this (or other dangerous plant) from your father and you even reply that you will keep a look out, don't forget about it months later. It will make you sorry!
Below are some pictures of our hike to Mt. Markham. It was a nice hike, while we were there.
||"Hiking Mt. Lowe & Mt. Markham"
Sunday, June 23, 2013
For Father's Day Hugo, Ryan, and I decided to go for a hike. The first thought we had was to go golfing, but that sounded like a lot more work, and frankly not as much fun to me. So we drove up to Eaton Saddle from Red Box and hiked first up the ridge to Mt. Markham. We took a few pictures, then headed back down and then up to Mt. Lowe (Where I asked Stephanie to marry me. She said yes!).
The hike with the side peak is maybe 4 miles round trip. The weather was over cast in the valley, but quite sunny and clear a few thousand feet up.
This was the first hike where I took my new InReach 2-way satellite communicator. Not only does it allow you to send SOS messages if you run into trouble in the middle of nowhere, but it also tracks you using GPS and then sends your location back periodically.
You then can go to this website and track where I have gone.
This will be active and up to date for my John Muir Trail hike coming soon.