I’m committed to this hiking thing now. After I told my mother I joined a hiking club she whisked me away to REI to get outfitted. New socks, new shoes, new water bottle and new Deuter Kid Comfort II later I was ready to go. I’m hoping I can keep going with this new hobby and get in better shape.
V does pretty well in the backpack and usually falls asleep halfway through the hike, though I need to buy a rearview mirror of sorts so that I can keep a better eye on her.
Today we hiked a total of 3.7 miles. Along the way I took some shots of poison oak for my husband. There’s a saying “Leaves of three let it be” to help people identify the plants, but I find this leads to a lot of misidentifications. The last time we visited the woods with my husband’s family they kept pointing out every single three leafed plant as “poison oak.” I didn’t see a single plant that day.
I’m very good at spotting the stuff thanks to my sister. She has had so many exposures that she’s become hyper sensitive and is not supposed to go within 50 feet of poison oak/ivy for fear the air itself might contain some oil droplets. Reactions tend to get worse each time you are exposed. Her last exposure was so bad her cheeks became swollen and we had to take her to the ER. I’ve never gotten a rash from touching poison oak/ivy and when we were kids I actually used to poke poison ivy while taunting my sister. I’ve always been the family spotter for the plants.
There are a couple of other characteristics you can look for. The leaves are generally somewhat oily, but not always (newer growths seem to have less oil). In fall the leaves turn a beautiful reddish color. Poison oak leaves are also somewhat rounded- that is, they don’t have jagged edges and don’t come to a sharp point (this is not the case with poison ivy). They don’t have thorns. A lot of wild berry plants get mistaken for poison oak. The plants also prefer semi-shade. I’ve rarely seen plants in open areas with all sun and no trees for shade. I do want to clarify that I’m talking about poison OAK here, which only lives on the West Coast. If you want poison ivy you have to go east of the Rockies.