Observation Peak - 7/4/09

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justpeachy
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Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by justpeachy » July 5th, 2009, 6:53 pm

I had no hiking companion available yesterday, but I was determined not to waste such a gorgeous 4th of July. I wanted a hike with views so I could take advantage of the clear skies, but I also wanted to see wildflowers. So I settled on Observation Peak, in the Trapper Creek Wilderness. I was not disappointed: I got my fill of both wildflowers and views!

The first bit of trail had quite a bit of bunchberry blooming along it.

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That quickly disappeared and the next section of trail had hundreds and hundreds of glacier lilies. Beautiful!

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After 1.1 miles, across from the trail to Sister Rocks, I checked out the boulder viewpoint, which has great views of Mt. Rainier....

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...and Mt. Adams.

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After this point, the trail descends, which means you have to climb back up it on the way out! Oh well. It was also at this point that I encountered swarms of mosquitoes. This I was not expecting! I put on my headnet, and put on bug spray, which seemed barely to deter them. So I just kept moving and swatting, moving and swatting.

At the junction with the Big Hollow trail is a little campsite with a sign that says Berry Camp. Cute! I can only assume this name comes from the fact that there are lots of huckleberries along this trail. But not now, of course. Give it six weeks. Yum!

Just before the summit I could see the bear grass blooming in abundance on the slope above me. Hooray! I love bear grass! There was quite a lot of it blooming up there and it is at its peak.

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As if that weren't enough, the views are tremendous! Good ol' familiar Mt. Hood to the south. To the east and north Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens. A huge swath of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and of course the Trapper Creek Wilderness, lay before me. Green trees and blue skies and white snowy mountains. Glorious!

Mt. St. Helens...
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Mt. Rainier...
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Mt. Adams...
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Mt. Hood...
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Lots of bear grass!
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Unfortunately, the bug situation was so bad that I couldn't linger at the summit to enjoy the views. After 10 minutes of view enjoyment and pictures, I had to start heading down, eating my lunch as I hiked. I hate doing this, but I was hungry, and standing still for even a few moments to eat meant being swarmed by bugs.

On the way down I explored the side trail to the "secondary summit" that Sullivan describes in his book. It climbs up a little ridge and has views of the three Washington volcanoes, pretty much the same view as the summit had.

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I had encountered no one along the trail on the way up. On the way back down I encountered a group of about half a dozen people, a couple who looked woefully under-prepared for the sunny buggy day, two backpackers, and a lone man. Every one of them told me they envied my mosquito headnet. I was once in the position of envier and after some particularly bad mosquito hikes a few years ago I went out and spent $5 of the net at Joe's and it was the best $5 I ever spent!

The hike out was uneventful. I sped down the mountain, glad for the shade of the forest on such a hot day. My car was sitting in direct sun and it was hotter than hades inside. I stopped at Government Mineral Springs on the way home, just because I had never been there before. I took a quick sip of the water. Blech! Has anyone who's tasted it actually liked it?

And lastly, see the price I paid for my lovely hike. I think I have about 100 bites on my arms and legs. It's like having chicken pox again. If anyone has any anti-itch remedies, I'm all ears. It was a long sleepless itchy night last night.
mosquitobites.jpg
Last edited by justpeachy on July 6th, 2009, 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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drm
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by drm » July 5th, 2009, 7:26 pm

Goodness, Cheryl, those bites look terrible. Your bug repellent didn't work?

This time of the year, I get reminded of why September is such a good time to hike in the mountains. And not just in Indian Heaven.

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anna in boots
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by anna in boots » July 5th, 2009, 7:37 pm

Cheryl, I feel ya, girl, and I have just the thing: Epsom Salts. They are incredible! They draw out the toxins, neutralize the itch, and soften your skin all in one fell swoop. http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/health_usage_tips.htm

This was the only--the ONLY--thing that alleviated the insane itching of what was either spider or chigger attacks last month. I tried high potency hydrocortisone, natural remedies, everything. Only Epsom Salts worked. I had close to 600 bites, and I am not exaggerating. One area on my leg was so decimated, it's only now beginning to return to normal flesh texture and color. I was seriously worried about gangrene and scarring; I had rotting pits of open flesh down through several layers of dermis. Anyone hungry for pizza? Ha ha! I dallied with the idea of taking pictures but then thought, "When will I ever enjoy seeing this again?"

However, sitting in an Epsom Salt bath 24/7 is hardly practical, so here's what I did.

I poured about 1/4 C. Epsom Salts into a few cups of water. It takes a while to dissolve completely but you can stir it up and use it right away even with some still on the bottom. (By morning, it'll all be dissolved and you can add some more water and salts to keep the batch going.) Then, I soaked a clean, white athletic sock completely and wrung it out so that it was wet but wouldn't drip. Then, I wrapped it around the cootie-infested areas and over-wrapped it with some Ace bandages (the kind that are stretchy fabric) and secured it with safety pins. In just a few minutes, I felt like I was in heaven.

A clean washcloth or other piece of white fabric would be good, too. I liked using the socks because they covered the bracelets of bites I had around my arms and legs so well and the fabric is finely woven so that it provides optimum contact with the skin. Mind you, I didn't actually wear the sock, I only wrapped it around the outside like a bandage. A washcloth is more nubby and doesn't feel as soft. I used white because it allowed me to monitor any of the wounds for weeping pus or blood. My case was pretty bad.

I went to sleep like that several nights. The salts have no odor and won't stain anything but they will get things crunchy with salt when they dry, so I recommend putting down a plastic bag on your bed and a towel over that so you don't have to wash your linens every day. You can wrap the Ace medium-tight and wear it around the house during the day, too. I used the bag/towel/sock combo in my easy chair as well when I needed to soak places on my back.

Best part: Epsom Salts are only a couple bucks for a box and available just about everywhere. At Freddie's, they were in the foot care section. Other places, they'll be by the lotion. Sometimes, they have them in with the antacids because, believe it or not, you can eat this stuff. (Don't do it. Tastes gross.)

Anyway, good luck. If anything gets infected, I recommend triple antibiotic cream like Neosporin and then Vitamin E capsule contents when it starts to heal to offset scarring. Oh, and one more thing: don't put lotion on the areas you want the salts to treat. They have a problem permeating layers of waxes and/or oils, natural or otherwise.

anna in boots
Last edited by anna in boots on July 6th, 2009, 6:58 am, edited 4 times in total.
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justpeachy
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by justpeachy » July 5th, 2009, 8:28 pm

Your bug repellent didn't work?
I don't use Deet, so my bug repellent is probably pretty wimpy. The mosquitoes sure seemed to think so.

Epsom Salts. They are incredible!
Anna, thanks so much for the advice! I will definitely try this! (BTW, where were you last month that you got such bad bug bites?)

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fettster
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by fettster » July 5th, 2009, 8:44 pm

I was a bit overwhelmed by all the lilies as well when we backpacked to Soda Peaks Lake about a week ago. I'm not sure if we were just early enough, but the mosquitoes were not bad for us.

Love the all the bear grass. In this instance I'm happy to be enjoying them behind the window screen of my computer room. :)

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anna in boots
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by anna in boots » July 5th, 2009, 8:55 pm

justpeachy wrote:(BTW, where were you last month that you got such bad bug bites?)
It didn't seem to matter: multiple trails, city parks, my own backyard. I was simply a tasty match for something specific out there that was biting. Every day, I had dozens more welts in a new area. It started abruptly and ended abruptly (and thankfully.) I seem to recall something similar happening a few years back but not last year. I attribute it more to my own receptivity to being bitten at this point in time than any sort of cycle in the insect world. My immune system was stressed in June for other reasons and I think it made me a ripe target. Yee-haw.

Just another reason to stay as healthy as possible at all times.

Anna
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ElphabaNorthWest
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by ElphabaNorthWest » July 5th, 2009, 9:21 pm

After a hellish trip to Indian Heaven one year (my sons still call the place Mosquito Heaven) during July in which the mosquitoes were so thick that we were breathing them in, I did a bit of research on what is effective. As you probably already know DEET is best, but...


From the CDC:
It appears, however, that picaridin and DEET have similar effectiveness at comparable concentrations. Estimated protection time varies by study and type of mosquito being tested, but the range for both has been between 3 and 7 hours in most studies. Some studies have required DEET concentrations of 25% to meet the longer protection time. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is close behind DEET and picaridin, followed by 2% soybean oil; all other substances are less effective than these.

Annoyingly even though you need about 25% picaridin concentration to be effective it is only sold in concentrations of 10%. I've tried Oil of lemon eucalyptus (had to mail order it, since it is hard to find) and it was very effective, but only when still drying. (Maybe an hour or 2 at most.) If you couldn't smell it, it no longer worked. Also, it (and all the others) only worked where directly applied. I didn't get all the way up to the hairline on my son's forehead and he ended up with a nice row of bites all along the area I missed.

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anna in boots
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by anna in boots » July 5th, 2009, 9:28 pm

Good to know, Elphaba, especially on the Picaridin. I purchased some but have been putting off using it, feeling that it is not quite right for some reason. Now I know why.

Meanwhile, I have the perfect cure for skeeters: October! Ha!

Anna
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BaileyBoy
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by BaileyBoy » July 6th, 2009, 9:25 am

Gee Cheryl, you really got eaten up on that trip. Hopefully Anna's potion will work for you.
I was planning on doing the Trapper Creek-Observation Peak-Observation Trail later this week or early next and thanks to you will bring my Deet along with my Lemon Eucalyptus repellent plus my face netting. I think I'll even spray my clothes before heading out since I hate those little buggers.
Even with the bug attacks you got some really nice shots, I just love that area and enjoy seeing the Wind River valley. And I agree that the water at Mineral Springs is terrible, just terrible! I've also eaten on the run while hiking Indian Heaven, not a fun thing to do but the only real choice besides not even eating.
Good luck on your recovery and maybe you might check out some other repellents or get some overall netting.

Skip

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drm
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Re: Observation Peak - 7/4/09

Post by drm » July 6th, 2009, 10:23 am

Trapper Creek area is not known for being bad with bugs, and the area really is a classic example of a short-term plague soon after the snow melts. I wouldn't be surprised if they are mostly gone in two weeks, especially up high on Observation Peak, where there is no standing water, once the flat rim area to the southeast dries out.

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