Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Poison Ivy:Reaching for the Sky!

Poison ivy climbing tree trunk
Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina

If the early warmth in the mountains of North Carolina hold any clues as to what is in store for the Midwest, Oakland County, Michigan is in for a banner year of poison ivy growth.  On sections of the Appalachian Trail near the Nantahala River some of these tree-hugging vines from this year are already ten to fifteen feet above the ground and are rapidly reaching for the sky!
Look at the photo again. 
The dried hair-like roots on the left side of the image are from last year's vine and they remain potent if bruised or brushed against. The folks in my N.C. wilderness medicine class and I have been traipsing about the woods and valleys for the past week and we know that poison ivy does not stay on the ground like a well-behaved garden plant.  This plant we all love to hate (birds love the berries)  clings to the trees and reaches for the sky. And perhaps that explains why I have a bit of an itch on the side of my face and arm; the price I paid for fast-paced night operations in search and rescue training scenarios. 
 A price worth paying.
And far less problematic then annoying a black bear or stepping on a copperhead.


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