Monday, June 19, 2006

Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettles and Fun???

Yesterday, myself and 5 other Trail Nerds ran the Psycho WyCo loop at Wyandotte County Lake Park. We normally train on this loop all Winter long, but plant growth usually prohibits us from running certain sections of the loop, during the growing seasons. This doesn't prevent us from attempting to run these sections a couple of times during the Spring or Summer. We trail runners are a stubborn lot; we usually have to be bonked over the head repeatedly to learn anything.

The run started at an early 6 a.m. It was Father's Day, and some of us had to get home to our waiting families after the run. The temp was in the high 70s, and the humidity was just north of a steamy 80%. Perfect conditions for a typical trail run. The flora in this area tends to get very lush and "jungle-y" with foliage, ground cover, vines, etcetera, here in the Spring and Summer. The humidity from the Gulf, constant sunny weather, and frequent rain showers has a lot to do with that. (We had 62 inches of precip last year, compared with Seattle's 38").

The first part of the run has a lot of wide bridle trail, so you never have to touch anything green. We got to the "WyCo Triangle" section, about 3 miles into the run. This is a 1-mile section of single-track trail that we recently spent a day cleaning up the overgrowth, and we've made it very runnable, again. After the Triangle, we continued on the hilly bridle trail and started to get into some tighter, flora-intense sections. Nothing much here, just green seed pods that stick to your socks. I did take a nice two-feet-out-from-under-me spill, though, and ended up with mud on me from head to toe on my aft side. (It was fun and rather comical).

We got to the top of the ridge past the dam after a short paved session, and saw a portent of things to come: an archway at the woods' entrance that was completely composed of poison ivy vines. We entered the woods and basically ran our way through the poison ivy and whatever else we found. It cleared up when we got to the top of the ridge, but by the time we descended the 260' elevation to the bottom trail, it had gotten very lush, again. This section threw some new plant-based torture at us...stinging nettles 4-feet high. We got through this with our legs screaming in pain, but (mostly) in tact.

We started the climb to the top of the other ridge, and in a section that plateaus-out prior to a final steep climb, there was a patch of impossibly-high (7') stinging nettles in our way. In fact, we were about a third of the way into the patch already. We were committed (or should have been), and needed to get through it. At this point, Shane decided to take the lead to get through it quickly, and said "follow me, let's go." He bounded off, got two steps into it, tripped on one of two logs, and ended up face-first in the stuff! He later said, "if you think this stuff hurts on your legs, try having it on your face, arms, and neck!" We all had a pretty good laugh, but we were all in intense pain for a while. (The effects of nettles are basically harmless, and the pain/itching goes away in about 30 minutes or so, if you leave the affected skin alone).

We got through about another 1-1/2 miles of thick overgrowth, and everything else on the 10.35-mile run seemed easy, (despite the hills). We finished up, and got cleaned up enough to drive home. I sat on a huge trash bag so as not to get any of the poison ivy oils onto my car's interior. Most of us had to go home to Father's Day stuff, but Paul and Shane decided to do an additional 7-mile out and back on the non-overgrown section. More power to them!

When I got home, I did my "strategic showering method" that I use to keep from having poison ivy issues. It involves undressing in the shower, 5 wash cloths, Dawn dishwashing soap, and concentration for what I'm washing and when. (It works well, most of the time). I only found one large tick that had tried to attach itself to me.

When I was through cleaning up, I went to brunch with my extended family, and had a "normal" Father's Day, from that point on. I took it easy and did nothing. Just nothing, (and it was everything that I thought it could be).

Happy trails!


Donald said...

Sounds like a great day. I'll have to remember that poison oak remedy.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

As long as you can get the oils off of your body within a short timespan, you won't have a horrendous reaction to it.

jimjimminy said...

if you have a good poison ivy to share, share it @ They are giving some poison ivy prevention for the best story

angie's pink fuzzy said...

happy father's day!

what a blast.

i encountered stinging nettles at S&S (I forgot to post about them!). They were wicked and really confused me at first. I couldn't figure out why my quads were itching so horribly!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Whatever you do, don't scratch the itch and the symptons will go away within about 20-30 minutes (unless you have an allergic reaction to them).

Ben aka "Good Ben" said...

I just saw the most bizarre news story. Somewhere in the UK, they have a Nettles EATING contest! They actually EAT that stuff. The winner said that it's awful and it hurts to eat it. I'm sure to some people, running through it voluntarily sounds crazy, but that just proves that it's all about perspective! By the way, how IS the "aft side" feeling Dr. Indiana Jones?

Josh said...

That is a very interesting cleaning method ... and only one tick. Sounds like a great run!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

My aft side is fine, other than a few spots on my upper back that I must have missed (during my fastidious cleaning process)...I had a small poison ivy reaction in 3 dime-sized areas. Just a small penance to the Trail Gods.

Kim said...

Ah, poison ivy, stinging nettles, high humidity-sounds like a perfect day running!!
Happy Father's Day!