We normally soggy Valdezeans have been luxuriating in a fabulous spring. Our hot sunny days top out in the 60s with a fine breeze, so it doesn't get too hot - perfect weather for playing outside. Last weekend, I talked Rowan into going for a hike with me on Shoup Bay Trail. Our plan was to go just three miles or so back to Gold Creek to check out the status of the bridge we'd heard had gotten destroyed by avalanches the winter before last.
It was only mid-May. Despite my previous experiences out there, I was sure the trail would not be overgrown so much that I needed to wear long pants to avoid stinging nettles. I was so very wrong.
First things first. It was a beautiful day. Scout enjoyed running around, and there weren't so many other people out and about that we needed to keep her on a leash. Flowers were blooming, skies were blue - life was good.
Alas, this spring has been fabulous enough that the plants have gone crazy. The photo below doesn't really show it, but after the trail starts climbing uphill from the meadow, hiking was an exercise in wading through cow parsnip, flowering salmonberry bushes, and my personal nemesis, stinging nettles.
If you aren't familiar with it, cow parsnip can cause some serious skin irritation, especially on sunny days - it has a phytotoxin that can cause severe reactions, especially in asthmatics. Most people don't have issues with stinging nettles, however, but every encounter I've had with them since the first has resulted in horrid rashes that will devolve into pus-weeping blisters if I don't get them treated. Unfortunately, twice now treatment has been a five-day series of Prednisone (a not-nice steroid) and a prescription ointment that helps keep me from wanting to scratch my legs bloody. I knew you really wanted to see how lovely my legs were after this encounter, hence the photo below. At least this time I got to the clinic before the weeping blisters appeared.
(You're in luck. I can't find the photo I was planning to put here, so your eyes are spared.)
Why, you ask, wasn't I wearing long pants. A good question. I actually thought about wearing the light-weight hiking pants I bought just for this circumstance, but managed to convince myself that the trail would be clear enough that I wouldn't need them. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Maybe next time I'll be smarter. Maybe. Thane is pretty convinced I still won't exercise the correct brain cells.
Anyway, Rowan was whining about the stings on her legs (luckily, she doesn't develop rashes) and my legs hurt, so after a half-mile or so of bushwhacking we turned back. Instead of an exploration, we settled for a relaxing lunch on the beach in the sun. Scout found another dog to romp with while we chatted with a lovely couple from Anchorage who were enamored with Valdez on a sunny day. I tried not to burst their bubble too much with talk of the otherwise incessant gloom.