Yellow Jackets ... and Some Mushrooms

Yesterday morning, as I went to rock-hop a small, flowing stream, I suddenly felt tiny needles sticking into my skin. Bees! I thought. I began running and yelling as the stings continued to come. My husband remained on the other side of the creek, and by the time I stopped a quarter of a mile later (I'd tried to stop a few times but was still surrounded by bees), I started to think the worst. Did he fall into the creek? Perhaps he got stung and had an allergic reaction?

I slowly began to walk back toward the stream. He finally came around the bend, sting free, but worried about me. The bees were still following us, so we didn't stop to talk but waited instead until we got to a campsite another half-mile down the trail.

We were next to a cold stream, so I grabbed a bandanna, wet it, and put it on my stings. It felt heavenly. But then Dan started yelling and waving his arms. More bees! We raced out of the campsite and back down the trail. Finally, a mile and a half after we first encountered the bees, we were able to stop. One of the evil insects was on my shoe, and Dan identified it as a yellow jacket--not a bee at all, but something much more sinister.

We eventually counted my stings: twelve. Eight on my legs, two on my right hand, one on my stomach, and one on my back.

Yellow jacket sting on my back
A sting to my thigh, approximately 24 hours later.
This one is about the size of a golf ball, but others
are more like baseballs.

We still had five miles to hike, and I wasn't about to go back the way we came, so we kept hiking. It turned out to be a nice hike (despite the severe pain of the twelve stings I got). We didn't get many pictures because we didn't have a lot of time--I had to be at a meeting at 2:00 that afternoon. But we did get a couple.

Mushrooms - I think these are boletes.
Whatever they were, they were BIG!
Here is a view of Pilot Rock. (The bump on the left)

Another view of the rock.
The yellow jacket attack qualifies as being one of my worst hiking experiences ever. It's now a day later and the stings are hot, red, swollen, and itchy. I'm taking lots of Benadryl and also putting ammonia on the stings, which seems to help with the itching (even if it does make me smell like a nursing home).

According to Seattle Children's Hospital (and many other sources), "Severe pain or burning at the site lasts 1 to 2 hours. Normal swelling from venom can increase for 24 hours following the sting. The redness can last 3 days and the swelling 7 days."

So it's not over yet. The swelling has definitely increased over the past 24 hours, so I'm hoping it will level out soon (and it will, if it's normal). I'm very thankful that I didn't my daughter with me, and that I'm not severely allergic. I'm aware that people can die from yellow jacket stings, and I'm grateful to still be here!


Crawdaddy79 said…
Blogging again? The whole world just got turned upside down - again!

So sorry you got attacked by that evil swarm, and it's amazing that Dan wasn't touched (I assume he's thanked you for distracting them).

At least you have some good pictures to show for it. Going by the timeline, your swelling should be gone by now. :)
Waterfall said…
My first comment since I started blogging again! I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging, but I'm mainly planning to write about hiking. Thanks for not giving up on me!

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