I share many hobbies with my sister CJ. We especially love hiking in our local mountains on mild, winter days. After many years of endless trails and seemingly endless views we've brought home plenty of photos, memories, tired dogs and sore legs. This time I came home with an itchy rash from poison oak, too.

Living in Ramona as a teen meant summer days sliding down steep boulders to pools of cool water at Black Canyon or lazy afternoons swimming in Ramona Lake, picking and eating pomegranites on the way. Sunset hikes up Mt. Woodson on full moon nights, lighting the steep path down. At Inaja we would scramble down boulders and across rushing water, avoiding the plentiful bushes of shiny, red poison oak leaves. That place was a favorite for my old dog Duke. After a long day at Inaja we would discover plenty of hitchhiking ticks but never the torturous itch from that poisonous shrub.

Last January we tried Oaks Oasis at the suggestion of a Lakeside local. The view of San Vicente Reservior is breathtaking and with recent work being done to extend the dam the water level is at an all time low. The absence of boats and a prominent water line staining the rocky sides of the lake make an eerie and unique scene. The biggest surprise was a field of yellow daffodils. We agreed to revisit Oaks Oasis this year, hoping to see those bright, yellow, blooming bulbs again.

After confering with CJ we headed to Ramona to enjoy a familiar hike, saving Oaks Oasis for next week. We peeled off layers of long sleeves under the warm sun before noon. We ate sandwiches under shady oaks and leafless cottonwood trees. I saw some green leaves of three and plenty of bare, dry stems of poison oak plants. The ice cold, rushing water provided a cool treat for my dog Rusty. Another perfect day of hiking in San Diego County. Until a few days later when I discovered tiny, itchy bubbles appearing on the insides of my arms.

Then a large, bumpy, burning, itching, spreading rash swelled on the back of my left thigh. After two days and nights of scratchy denial I needed a remedy. I bought a tube of "poison oak/ivy cream" while shopping at Sprouts grocery store. The small tube of white lotion gave me some relief, but the rash on my leg is spreading and the itching and burning is torture. The back of my leg looks and feels like raw, tenderized meat. This country fried steak needs some calamine lotion.

The calamine works much better than the hippy cream. After applying and reapplying with wet cotton balls I'm less miserable. The steak like skin is starting to resemble dry, crusty, pink elephant hide. Unfortunately the rash is still spreading like a slow moving wild fire and I'm going to miss hiking Oaks Oasis with CJ.

I'm laying on the couch looking like the loser in a paint ball battle with pepto bismol when she calls."So are we going to that place with all the flowers today?" she asked. "I can't, the oak is too bad." I'm so disappointed, I hate missing a day out in nature.
"That's alright, we can go next week." CJ responded, barely able to disguise her laughter. "Yeah and I'll be A LOT more careful."

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