Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Poison Ivy and Your Pet!

So, you've taken the doggie ashore on the mainland or an island for a little exercise. "Hey, you look so cute in the bush."

The final flowers of fall are still standing. You've got to get a shot of the beautiful field of six-foot tall yellow wildflowers before they're gone.
Suddenly, your early warning system clicks on and you remember to look down instead of up to see what you're tromping through on that barely there trail to the flowers.
Poison ivy starting to turn red in the fall along the Ottawa River, Quebec, Canada.
 Ah, ha! Of course. There are a few strands of poison ivy creeping out under the tall stuff! And you manage to avoid it.

But where's the doggie?

She's romping right through all that poison ivy you've just avoided and now her fur, paws and collar may be full of the oil, called urushiol, from the poison ivy plants - the oil that can cause a nasty rash if it gets on your skin, especially if you're one of the many who are allergic to the toxin from the plants.

But you're not quite sure. Did the oil from the poison ivy rub off on the dog just because she ran through it?

Next up, the doggie finds another, even bigger patch of poison ivy turning a luxurious fall red and decides it's time for a long and joyful, "I'm so happy!" roll in the middle of it! And you watch in horror. Now, you're absolutely sure the doggie is covered in oil from the poison ivy patch. Absolutely sure!
Poison ivy patch turning red in the fall
 Some dogs just love to roll. Riley is one of them. She loves to roll in rocks, dirt, mud, sand, leaves, grass, small bushes, and whatever else is on the ground, including poison ivy.
Our pets, dogs and cats, don't seem to be affected by the toxins from poisonous plants, like poison ivy, that make most of us break out in a nasty red and blistering rash that can last from 10 to 14 days of pure misery. It amazes me how Riley can roll in poison ivy and not be affected by it. If I did that, I'd be in trouble.

Once the oil from poison ivy or other poisonous plants like poison oak or poison sumac get on to your pet, it can rub off on to you and things they sit or lay on, like your car seat, furniture, or bed! Making it easy or inevitable that your skin comes in contact with the potent rash-causing oil.

The oil from poisonous plants can also get onto other things that come into contact with the plants, like your gear, tools, clothing, shoes, or bicycle, and remains active for a long time.


Recently, I saw a picture of poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy pasted on the wall of a doctor's office in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, so I asked him a few questions about poisonous plants:

Question: "We've only got to worry about poison ivy around here right?"

Doctor's Answer: Smiling with a wide grin and pointing to the picture of the poisonous plants on the wall, "No, we got lucky in the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec), we've got all three! Poison oak, poison sumac, and poison ivy! Recently a grandmother brought in her three-year old granddaughter with a bad poison sumac rash. She didn't know that "pretty little plant" in her garden was poison sumac!"

Question: "What should you do if your dog or cat gets into it?"

Doctor's Answer: "It's the oil from the plants that can cause the allergic reaction and rash when it gets on your skin. The oil from poisonous plants has to be washed off with something that will remove the oil, like soap and water. Rinsing with water is not enough. Water alone won't remove the oil. Shampoo the dog or cat thoroughly, then rinse well."
 
Question: "Is everyone allergic to the oil from poison ivy? If you already know you're allergic to contact with poison ivy, does that mean you're also allergic to other poisonous plants?

Doctor's Answer: "No, not everyone is allergic to the oil from poison ivy. Some people can rub their faces with the leaves and not have an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to poison ivy, it is very likely that you are also allergic to other poisonous plants like poison oak and poison sumac."

Question: "When my skin comes in contact with poison ivy or the oil from poison ivy on my dog or other objects, how much time do I have to wash it off?"

Doctor's Answer: "The sooner the better. The toxin from the plants penetrates quickly into the skin. You have maybe 15 to 20 minutes. You don't have time to wait until you get home from a hike and take a shower."
Poison ivy warning sign in the 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada
"Warning! Don't touch the dog. She just rolled in a big patch of poison ivy! What do we do now!?"

Good luck. Maybe keep her on a leash next time . . . you can't shampoo the dog at the beach!

If I drive to a location to run the dog (Riley does not walk - she runs!), I bring a big towel along to rub down the dog if she's run through or rolled in poison ivy to try and remove some of the plant oils, and place another big clean towel on the car seat for the dog to sit on until we get home and I can wash her properly. Then I put the towel I rubbed the dog down with into a plastic bag, and quickly and thoroughly wash my hands.

When I get home, I thoroughly shampoo the dog, rinse well, and towel her dry. All the towels that came in contact with the dog, or anything else that may have come in contact with the dog like her leash or collar, or my clothing, gets washed with soap and water, or goes into the wash with laundry soap, and I select hot water, not cold or warm.

If you take your dog boating with you and let the dog run loose on the mainland or along those charming wooded trails on islands, you may want to have a plan for what to do if your dog runs into poison ivy or other poisonous plants. 
Island trail, 1000 Islands Region, St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada
Talk to your vet and ask for advice on what to do or what products may be available to you if you are on a boat or on a camping trip with your dog and don't have access to a safe place to wash the oils from the poisonous plants off your dog. You can't wash the dog in or near a lake, river, stream, or the ocean with soap. This is harmful to the environment and the creatures that live in it.

Dogs are so much work! :) But worth all your efforts . . . right!?
Be prepared. Don't wait until you or family members break out with a nasty rash from poisonous plants before you learn about them.
  • Find out where poisonous plants are found where you live and other places you travel. 
  • Learn how to identify and avoid contact with poisonous plants.
  • Never burn poison ivy leaves or plants. Inhaling the smoke from burning any part of poison ivy plants and other poisonous plants is extremely toxic.
  • Learn what to do if you do come in contact with poisonous plants or break out in an allergic rash.
Poison ivy has three leaves. It is green in the summer, turns red in the fall, then the leaves fall off.  Poison ivy can look different depending on where it grows and the time of year. This image shows poison ivy in August in the 1000 Islands Region, Ontario, Canada. All parts of the plant can cause an allergic reaction from mild to severe. 
Get More Information About Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Poisonous Plants, Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac provides information, advice, photos, and general maps of where these poisonous plants are found in the U.S. and Canada. 

Now, what is your horse walking through and rolling in on those trails and fields?!
Trail riding in the southern California mountains. Watch out for poison oak in the woods. Even after the leaves have fallen off the plants in the fall, coming in contact with the plants or leaves can cause a rash. Also look out for mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and big, hairy black widow spiders.
Happy trails without mishaps with poisonous plants or things that bite!
The BaffinPaddler
http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com

Coming Soon: 
Adirondack Turtle Tails . . . 50 Baby Snapping Turtles!

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http://baffinpaddler.blogspot.com

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Peaks in Gatineau Park, Quebec: Colours and Cold Water!

Fall peaked during the Thanksgiving weekend in the National Capital Region of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario/Gatineau, Quebec). The air was warm, in the high 70's (27 C), but the water in Gatineau Park lakes has already become too cold to swim in without a wet or dry suit.

Even in a wet suit, it is not a comfortable five minute dip to test paddle gear or practice cowboy scrambles - not shocking, but not enjoyable either. It's a big change from water temps in July, August, and September - which were still cool at best. Next paddle, I'll bring a thermometer and plunge it a few feet down to see how cold the water is.
Gatineau Park set a record this year for the most beautiful fall colours I've ever seen along with record crowds and traffic jams in the Park to match!

No matter what the season, I find Maelstrom Kayaks beautiful both on and off the water. And so does everyone else. People keep coming up to me with the same comment: "What a beautiful kayak!" From the shoreline, the water, or a gas station as I fill up.
Maelstrom Vital 166
I never tire of looking at a Maelstrom Sea Kayak on the water . . . moving or not, especially in the fall. It is my favorite season to paddle in Canada.
Maelstrom Vaag 174
I love the feel of my Maelstrom Vital 166 in both flat and bumpy moving water. It is sleek, fast, and manoeuverable in flat water, so I don't get bored. When the water starts to move and get bumpy, the boat instantly picks up and gets playful. It reminds me it's time to get going. It's ready to play.
But I always marvel more at the design of my Maelstrom Vital 166 when it's strappped up on the car.
Why?

It's such a skinny, low volume boat. Every time I look at its narrow girth, I wonder how I can feel so stable and comfortable in something that sits with so little in the water. Although, in gusty wind and confused chop, I do sometimes feel waves sweep over the back of my boat and roll over the cockpit from behind or from the side. When I reach for the skeg slider on the left, it is sometimes completely submerged with waves rushing past it.
 
The September and October highs will soon be followed by the November lows in the National Capital Region of Canada.

Low temps and grey colours. November around here is when I park my Boreal Baffin and Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayaks, unless the weather convinces me otherwise (it never does), and it's time to cook! Yes, eat and cook up some ideas for trips elsewhere!

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of October's best!
Can you see the deer in the centre of the image peeking out from the forest and blending in with an old stump?

Loon
This is what your Greenland Paddle (GP) looks like underwater in the afternoon October sun.
You can pick out deer from the water when they flick their ears or show their white tails. Otherwise, they look like tree stumps.
Coming Soon: Poison Ivy and Your Pet.
Yep, we have to think about this stuff in more ways than one, and year round, especially if you travel.

The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paddle and Hike to Yoga: Whitefish Lake, Morton Bay, Rock Dunder

A few more days remain for the best of Paddle to Yoga and Paddle and Hike to Yoga in the National Capital Region of Canada and nearby regions within a two-hour-drive.

Some spots are worth the extra drive and effort to get there. But I'm not so sure any more about the extra cost of gas! I made the exception again this fall for the 275 foot summit of Rock Dunder, paddling from Whitefish Lake, to Morton Bay, part of the Rideau Waterway, to get to the Rock Dunder trailhead with a group of independent paddlers. We assemble ad hoc.
It's like a pilgrimage. So many people do it every year. But this year, with the record Thanksgiving air temperatures in the high 70's (27 C) let's say that there were a lot more pilgrims making the trip!

Nevertheless, there is still plenty of space and rock up there to find your place and a spot or two to strike a yoga pose if you wish.
You'll be well warmed up after a paddle from Whitefish Lake to Morton Bay where you'll see Rock Dunder's Mate as you enter Morton's Bay, and soon after, Rock Dunder (see map link).
Dunder's Mate, Morton Bay, Whitefish Lake, Ontario, Canada
And the crowds don't mind if you practice a little yoga up there. If you bring your cameraman, they'll just think it's a photo shoot for something important. Your paddle buddies should be getting used to it by now. Maybe one day they'll even join you.
Stay well away from the edge of Rock Dunder. This is no rock to mess with. It's a 275 foot drop. Not a place to let dogs and little kids run loose. And there is always a wind up there, no matter how calm the day.
When you paddle and hike to Rock Dunder, rather than drive and park in the lot, the trick is to find a place to land your kayak somewhere along Morton Bay - do this on the same side of the bay where the Rock lives - you don't want to swim across the Bay at this time of year.

Take off your paddle booties and put on your awesome hiking boots without stepping on a bee or sinking into deep silty mud, secure your boat where it won't seal launch by itself off the steep shore while you're away, and find one of the well-marked trails with the arrows nailed on trees pointing the way up the steep path that will take you up to the Rock Dunder summit, and hope no one twists an ankle. Trust me, this really is fun!
The views of the fall colours from Rock Dunder are awesome.
Rock Dunder is part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, a 2,700 square kilometer region that runs along the St. Lawrence River and valley and includes forests, islands, rivers, streams, lakes, and a wealth of fauna and flora. Along with a human population around 50,000 and many popular tourist destinations.

The Frontenac Arch is a 50 kilometer long ridge of exposed precambrian granite rock that runs through southeastern Ontario to upstate New York and links the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains.

The Frontenac Arch has been recognized by UNESCO since 2002 as a Biosphere Reserve . . . just in case you're wondering where you are and the significance of the location.
There are also numerous opportunities for needing to use your well-equipped first aid kit if you hurry the path to or from Rock Dunder, or just get unlucky with a little moss, mud, and slippery loose fall leaves on rock and exposed roots.

After seven years of hauling my first aid kit around mostly unused, I finally got to pull it out for Tylenol or Advil for pain, gauze, and yes . . . Duct Tape as temporary wrap for the sprained ankle of a paddle mate with a swell almost the size of a tennis ball from a nasty twist on a slippery rock along the trail.  How many of you prefer "Duck Tape?"

I do review what's in my first aid kit each year to make sure things that need updating are up-to-date.

Morton Bay provided a free and easy supply of cold water to ice the swelling.

And the trip provided another reason not to paddle or hike alone. Stuff happens. Not usually, just sometimes!
Awesome paddle and hike buddies are not only good company and good navigators, they also lend a hand whether you need it or not.
The bee sting on the toe was mine.

After the hike to Rock Dunder, slipping off the hiking shoes to get back into the paddle booties for the paddle back to where we launched from on Whitefish Lake, the foot hit the ground for one second.

Another one of those, "Oh CRAP!" kayaking moments. A furry bumble bee was underfoot. What are the chances? Bees and Yellowjackets (wasps) are attracted to colourful kayaks and sometimes our lunch.

This provided the motivation to hop into the cold water to ice the toe and test what I wore for the paddle on a hot sunny fall day. It was a mere long-sleeve Rash Guard top, long nylon pants, ankle-high neo paddle booties and a well-fitting PFD. The extra warm gear was in a hatch: wetsuit, fleece, dry pants, and paddle jacket.

I walked into the water and went for a swim without submerging my head in Morton Bay close to shore on Thanksgiving Day in Canada (Americans celebrate in November). Within one minute, I turned around and headed back. I could already feel a light squeeze and pressure in my chest. It was my heart and lungs telling my brain that they weren't going to put up with this for long. "OK, I get it. We're getting out." But the toe was happy. "What bee sting?"

We live with the "Paddler's Never-Ending What-to-Wear-Dilemma" when the day is way too hot for warm gear, and the water is too cold to swim in. We know we're supposed to dress for submersion in the water. But if we do on a hot day, we're too hot to paddle. And if you can't roll to cool off . . . you can overheat.

Finding year-round water temperature information for local lakes and rivers isn't always easy. It's easier to find this information for oceans and the Great Lakes.

I test the waters I paddle close to shore once in a while to give me a real "wake-up call". It makes me think! Sometimes shiver. And reconsider my gear, or if I should paddle.

Next up, I'll go for a swim in my neo wetsuit and PFD close to shore in a local lake with similar water temperatures to Whitefish Lake, and see if it's really enough for fall paddling around here. Don't place any bets. Unless you bet on the side of failure for more than about 5 minutes in the water and total failure if I'm on a cool windy shore afterwards in a "wet" wetsuit.

Happy fall paddles and dry suit shopping!
The BaffinPaddler
Paddle to Yoga in the 1000 Islands Gananoque

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Paddle to Yoga on both sides of the Ottawa River. Awesome!

Maelstrom Vital 166
As promised, fall in the National Capital Region of Canada and other nearby regions I've visited has been perfect for Paddle to Yoga in the outdoors.

I'm discovering new places for Paddle to Yoga, and rediscovering places I used to think were just slabs of concrete, hunks of granite rock, or mere picnic shelters.
Waterfront gazebo on the Ottawa River
Paddle to Yoga has reopened my eyes and given them a new lens. It beats just paddling around. It transforms some places that had become a redundant place to paddle, into a place with a renewed and useful purpose. 
I'm a fan of standing poses. They are challenging. If you can stand on one leg, just think of what you can do on two!
The Ontario side and the Quebec side of the Ottawa River have some nice spots for Paddle to Yoga. I'm on the lookout for good Paddle to Yoga spots everywhere I go.
But on the trip back yesterday, the big 20-25 km winds and following whitecapped waves sent my speedy Maelstrom Vital 166 sea kayak onto a big shallow patch of rocks sitting under just one inch of water. These rock patches are impossible to see in the middle of big water with lots of windy chop and whitecaps. Especially when you are moving at speed with the waves. But you feel it! I wanted to surf, not STOP!

The boat suddenly comes to a grinding halt. It's one of those "Oh CRAP!" kayaking moments. I used another four-letter-word but we'll go with "Oh CRAP!" here.

Me: "I'm stuck!"

No one can really come and help you either. You are surrounded by rocks. But they can sit in the deep water and monitor your situation and progress to get yourself out of it.

Paddle Buddy: "Are you free yet?"

Me: "NO!"

Paddle Buddy: "How about now?"

Me: "NOPE!"

Paddle Buddy: "Any better?"

Me: "NOT YET!"

It's time to pop the spray skirt, stick the right leg over the right side of the boat and feel for something solid to stand on, and ditto with the left. Stand up and get the weight out of the boat, lift the cockpit from the inside at the thigh braces, and waddle walk it over the rocks carefully to free water and hope it works.

Me: "I'm FREE!"

It's a good feeling. You never know how it's going to go when you're stuck on a rock or in a patch of rocks, especally out in the middle of a large stretch of lake in big wind and whitecapped waves.

This elated moment doesn't last long. Next up you wonder how much damage you've got under you, especially when you're paddling a fibreglass boat! 

It's a bit hard to wander back into the plain hallways and walls of the indoor yoga studios as the best of fall and Paddle to Yoga around here is almost over.

I've been enjoying doing yoga while looking at lake, river, and ocean, clear blue skies, or fast moving clouds. Even stars and all phases of the moon. And listening to the sounds of the outdoors: singing birds, trees waving in the wind, bickering baby chipmunks, and water lapping or pounding on shorelines. Sometimes the outdoors also includes the sound of motor boats and jet skis, a lawn mower or a chain saw! The sounds of human over-development are just about everywhere you go.

People at the yoga studios ask, "Where have you been all summer!? We haven't seen you."

Me: "I've been Paddling to Yoga and doing yoga in the outdoors. It's awesome! It's more powerful."
And I'll need a little extra yoga this week.

I just looked at the bottom of my boat.

The rocks removed a big chuck of gelcoat and some fibreglass around the skeg box . . . again! But no leaks.

The first time this happened to my Maelstrom Vital 166, it felt like the end of the world.

But now, I just shake my head and it's just another one of those "Oh CRAP!" kayaking moments. "I know how much this is gonna cost!"

I almost made it through an entire paddling season without wrecking my boat! Will I ever . . .?

Happy paddling to yoga wherever you find it.
Strike a pose.
When the snow flies, I'll be cross-country skiing to yoga. 
The BaffinPaddler
Paddle to Yoga in the 1000 Islands Gananoque