Poison Ivy, Poison Oak

October 15, 2017

For the last couple of days, Jay has been aware of a rash spreading across his right shoulder and ribs, looking suspiciously like poison ivy.  Since Jay is very allergic, and always needs medical intervention to heal, we decided to take a detour to the town of Wind Gap, PA today.

A misty drizzle caused us to don rain gear as we hiked.  To reach Wind Gap, we walked two miles on the AT from our campsite, then 1.5 miles on a road.  Road walks are never much fun, but on a rainy day, with cars splashing puddles of muddy water across our legs, I was less than enamored with the morning.  A  half mile into our road walk brought us to a convenience store, where we decided to stop for a rest and a drink.

While I was buying our refreshments, a man approached.  “Hi, are you a hiker?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “My husband and I are hiking the AT.”

“How’s it going?  Do you need money?”  he asked.

I didn’t think we looked that down and out, but perhaps the last 2,000 miles was beginning to show!  “No thank you.  Although we wouldn’t turn down a ride to the doctor’s office,”  I managed to say over my surprise.

“Oh, I’m not headed into town,” he said.  “Is it anything serious?”

“No, my husband just has a bad case of poison ivy,” I explained.  “It’s okay.  We can walk the next mile.”  (In the rain, my inner voice complained.)

The man drove off, and Jay and I began walking again.  A few minutes later, he pulled up beside us!  “I got down the road a ways, and was convicted by the Holy Spirit,” he told us.  “I knew I had to go back.”

We enjoyed the ride in dry comfort.  We learned that the man had been rescued from the World Trade Center on 9-11.  The ride was very short, so we didn’t learn much more.  We thanked him several times, and he headed off.  Once again, the AT provided another adventure!

The doctor told Jay he had poison oak.  He said he could tell the difference because poison oak made a clumpy rash instead of a spread out rash.  He gave Jay a prescription for steroids to dry it up.

Jay’s bug pants fascinated the doctor.  He said he treats sooo many people with Lyme disease, and he is going to start recommending the pants to his patients.  (See my blog titled “Fashion versus Function”, written August 25, for a description of the pants.)

From the clinic, Jay and I walked to the grocery store for resupply, picked up his medicine from a nearby pharmacy, and ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  The cook was very surprised to see us with our backpacks.  “What are you doing still out on the trail?” he asked.  “The season is over!  It’s getting cold out there!”  I was touched (and a bit amused) at his obvious concern.

The rain stopped as we were eating lunch, which made the road walk back to the AT much nicer.  Full stomachs and the memory of kind people helped also!

Our mileage total was seven miles, with four and a half hours spent in town.  We stopped near the Leroy Smith Shelter at 5:00 p.m.

We ate dinner, and I hung the food on a fabulous tree branch, perfectly placed to be easy access for me and difficult for questing critters.  While Jay set up the tent, I went in search of water.  The map indicated three springs here, all down hill from our camp site.  The first two were dry.  A half mile after setting out with empty water bottles, with dusk collecting under the trees, I was beginning to despair.  A small sign nailed to a tree said, “Spring.”  I turned off the trail, and found water gushing out of the ground!  What a relief!  Joyfully, with heavy water bottles, I headed the half mile back to our camp site.  Jay met me halfway.  He had already put up the tent AND laid out both sleeping pads, then came to find me in the evening twilight.  What a guy!  As I brushed my teeth in the dark, once again I felt so very blessed.

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Author: Sarah and Jay Bigelow

Hi! We live in the Carson Valley in Nevada near Lake Tahoe. Sarah is a retired elementary school teacher, and Jay is a retired fish biologist. We are in our 50's, and have been married for 30 years.

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