Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mountain Hiking

What is High Altitude?

  • High Altitude is from 8,000 to 13,000 feet. This is common hiking elevation in western U.S.
  • Very High Altitude is 13,000 to 18,000 feet. Some hiking, mostly in high Rocky Mountains.
  • Extremely High Altitude is over 18,000 feet. Special breathing gear required.
Air is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon with traces of other stuff in it. Nitrogen is about 78%, oxygen is 21%, and argon is 1% - those percentages stay constant no matter what the elevation.
Air pressure becomes less as you climb up a mountain, and less air pressure means less oxygen to breath. High altitude hiking is when you trek at an elevation that may affect your body. Some people are affected as low as 7000 feet. Let's take a minute to explain a bit about air pressure and available oxygen.
If you put your arms out and turn around, you've made a circle that is about 5 feet wide. Imagine that circle being a column of air going from the ground up, up, up to the edge of the atmosphere. From where you're standing, there are thousands and thousands of feet of air above you in your column. All the nitrogen, oxygen, and argon above you is pushing down on the air around you. The height of that column of air determines the air pressure where you are and that air pressure determines how densely the gas particles are packed together.

The higher you climb, the less air there is above you in the column, so the lower the air pressure and the less dense the gas. Every 1000 feet you climb, you lose about 3% of the available oxygen because there is less gas packed into your column of air. At 12,000 feet, every breath you take brings in only 2/3 the amount of oxygen that you would suck in at sea level.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that air temperature drops about 3.5 degrees for every 1000 feet of elevation gain. A nice 75 degree day at 5,000 feet will be more like 60 degrees at 10,000 feet.

Hiking at High Altitudes

As you expand your hiking adventures, you'll probably be driven to hike up higher and higher mountains. At some point, it becomes mountaineering, but there are many peaks over 14,000 feet that have trails all the way to the top. Colorado has many 14,000+ peaks that people make a goal of summiting. As you climb ever higher, you need to understand the added risks and problems with higher altitudes. You will find yourself needing to breathe deeper and more often to keep enough oxygen circulating to your muscles. Every breath has less oxygen, so you need more breaths. There are more special preparations for higher altitude hiking:
  • Slower Pace - If you are not expecting the lack of oxygen, you will find yourself needing frequent rest stops to recover. But, by slowing your pace as you gain elevation, you will keep your body working without overexerting.
  • Even Rhythm - Maintaining a breathing/stepping rhythm is even more important at higher elevations than lower down. It will help keep you from overexerting yourself.
  • Deep Breathing - when you first notice any breathlessness, start thinking about your breathing. Take deeper breaths and smaller steps until you have a sustainable pace again. On steeper sections, deliberately placing each foot and taking a breath may be the way to go.
  • Sunscreen is critical because the sun is more powerful higher up. Snow, light-colored rocks, cool temperature, and no shade above treeline also contribute to easy sun burns.
  • Sunglasses will help prevent squinting and headaches. Snowblindness and sunburned eyelids are real problems. Use side guards on your glasses for more protection.
  • Extra Clothes - long sleeves, long pants, hats, and gloves to protect from the sun, wind, and cold. Weather can change in a heartbeat, easily dropping more than 30 degrees in 1/2 hour or less.
Ignoring the risks of hiking at higher elevations will ruin your day. If you're lucky, you'll just be wiped out, but there's a good chance you can get yourself in deep trouble.

Altitude Sickness

Everyone needs to breathe more when they are at altitude. But, some people become sick when they hike too high. It just happens.
The biggest problem with hikers is that they want to reach their goal and may not accept that they need to stop when problems occur. Being honest enough to stop and possibly turn back can be a very difficult step to take.
There are many factors that come into play when altitude sickness hits, but taking some steps will help minimize your risk:
  • Acclimatize - The biggest contributor to altitude sickness is climbing too fast. That means the person in good shape has a good chance of getting sick since he tends to push harder and hike faster. People that reside at lower elevations will experience a greater change at lower heights. To acclimatize:
    • Rest and relax for 2 hours for every 1000 feet the trailhead is above your normal elevation. For example, if you live in Iowa at 1,000 feet and plan to hike in Wyoming at 9,000 feet, you should arrive in the afternoon and start your hike in the morning after sleeping a night to acclimatize.
    • Climb slowly and steadily.
    • Check how you are feeling every hour. Nausea, lack of hunger or thirst, headache, dizziness, difficult breathing, lack of coordination are all warning signs.
    • On multi-day hikes, sleep no more than 1500 feet higher than the previous night. You can climb higher during the day, but come down to sleep.
  • Expect It - just because you went to 14,000 feet last summer does not mean your hike to 12,000 feet will not affect you next weekend. Any height over 8,000 feet should make you be on the alert. Every hike is a new experience and by being on the lookout for symptoms, you will catch problems early on.
  • Hydrate - drinking more water helps reduce the symptoms. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Reduce Exertion - the harder you push your body, the greater your risk of getting symptoms.
  • Eat Well - eat a high carbohydrate menu, and don't forget to drink water.

AMS - Acute Mountain Sickness

About 75% of people that hike over 10,000 feet will experience some mild AMS symptoms. Hikers can continue on with mild symptoms, but if they do not subside or they get worse, then corrective action is required. The problem with AMS is that its symptoms are similar to other common hiking problems such as dehydration, fatigue, and eating bad food.
Ignoring these symptoms can result in extreme situations, possibly death. Ordered from most severe to least:
  • Disorientation - confusion, hallucinations, irrational behavior can all be caused by edema, which is swelling of tissue and can be caused by higher elevation.
  • Loss of Coordination - someone stumbling or dropping their water bottle should be signals. If you suspect someone may be experiencing this, test them:
    • Have him walk heel-to-toe in a straight line.
    • Have him stand straight with feet together and arms at sides and then close his eyes. He should be able to balance for at least 15 seconds.
  • Lassitude - similar to exhaustion, just being tired out. After eating and drinking water and resting, exhaustion should go away. If it does not get better, do not go on and keep resting. There will be no energy to eat, talk, or do anything as the situation worsens.
  • Headache - there are many causes for a headache, from bright sun to altitude sickness. If a headache does not go away after food, water, and rest, then suspect altitude sickness.
  • Nausea - upset stomach and loss of appetite.

HAPE - High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema is excess fluid in the lungs which further reduces oxygen exchange from air to your body. The level of oxygen diminishes which can lead to impaired thinking and ultimately death. HAPE symptoms include shortness of breath while at rest, feeling of tightness in the chest, weakness, feeling of suffocating, persistent cough, and fatigue. The person may also cough up watery fluid.

HACE - High Altitude Cerebral Edema

High Altitude Cerebral Edema is excess fluid in the brain which puts pressure on the brain. This usually develops over a few days but is a life-threatening situation. Disorientation and weird behavior will lead to unconsciousness most likely followed by death if nothing is done.

Treating Altitude Sickness

The important thing to do is stay alert and catch early symptoms fast. The longer symptoms develop, the more drastic the response will need to be. Assuming you catch the symptoms early, follow these steps - but if the symptoms are advanced, decide between the last couple steps:
  • Rest - take a break and take in some fluids and food. Take aspirin for headache. Do not be in a hurry and plan to break for an hour to give the symptoms a chance to recede.
  • Medicate - Diamox is an altitude medication that may help.
  • Descend - Drop at least 1,500 feet down the mountain and rest.
  • Halt - Stop the hike and descend completely off the mountain.
  • 9-1-1 - Call for medical services. If the victim can hike, start descending immediately, not in the morning or after supper, now! Otherwise, wait for evacuation.

Love snowboarders?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hiking Dangerous Trails

When you hike out of the woods and there are no longer rooted trees and plants, it is because you are on ground that can not support life - either sand or rock. And, since sand is just rock that has been pulverized, its all rock and hiking on it safely requires special concerns to keep in mind.

Sand Hiking

If you've ever walked on the beach, you've felt the sand give way with every step you take. When you walk on wet sand that is packed, the going is much easier than on dry, soft sand. When the sand is piled and you are hiking up or across it, every step sinks or slips back making the going slow and more dangerous. Risks of stumbling, twisting your ankle, or causing a sandslide increase as the slope gets steeper and you get more tired. So, go slow, carefully place each step, and look for more stable ground.

Scree Hiking

Scree is bits of broken rock piled up at the base of a cliff. In the mountains, daily heating and freezing of moisture on the solid rock causes it to slowly break the rock apart and tumble down. A scree slope will pile up to its steepest possible angle. Depending on the size and shape of the rock chunks, that angle may be shallow or steep. Any additional rock that falls on the slope will roll down until it finds a resting place or hits the bottom. The same is true for your foot! When you step onto a slope of loose rock, just like sand, it will give way under the weight until the material under it settles with the new weight. This may be 1/32 of an inch or it may be a few inches. In some cases, you may be sliding down the slope along with a couple tons of rock, all looking for stable places to rest.
Established trails across scree tend to be packed indentations where many people have helped push the rock down a bit until there is a slightly wider path across the face of the slope. Scree trails can't have very steep inclines so they typically run straight across or a slight rise. It is very important to remain on the trail and watch your step. I'm not kidding when I say that you can find yourself 100 yards downhill with 1 to 5 pound rocks bouncing all around you from just one mis-step.
Screeing is a fun, very dangerous tactic of quickly descending a scree slope. If the scree is small enough and deep enough, you can kind of ski down it in your boots. You are actually creating a mini-rockslide and riding it down. Make sure there are no larger rocks to trip you up and no one below you. And, there's a good chance you will take a tumble, so doing it only on grape or orange sized scree rather than cantelope and watermelon sized scree is a good idea.

Talus Hiking

 Talus is really what scree is. People just tend to call smaller bits of rock Scree and bigger stuff Talus. Really big Talus is called Boulders. It's all the stuff that has broken off of mountains and piled up. Depending on the composition of the original rock, the pieces of talus will be tiny, huge, or somewhere in between. Don't tell anyone, but this is really my very favorite kind of hiking. It can be very dangerous and takes a lot of effort, but when things are just right, you feel just like a wild mountain goat scampering wherever you want to go. Boulder hopping is when you step or hop from one boulder to the next in a large field of talus. In good hiking boots with grippy rubber soles, on dry rocks this is fun. Instead of working your way between big rocks, you are stepping on the tops of them. Besides, I get scared when I'm standing between two big rocks - I feel like an ant between the finger and thumb of my son. :-()
After practice and you are sure of your strength, balance, and ability, you can practically dance down a boulder field. Know where you are landing and have the next couple of steps already planned ahead. I usually hop back and forth when descending a steeper field because the change in direction helps slow me down - its kind of like turning on skis to slow down.

Cautions on Rock of All Sizes

  • It's easy to miss a step. Twisted ankles, scraped shins, broken bones are all things to consider. If you are going to boulder hop, think ahead about how you will get out with a broken leg. If you don't think you can, then you should find a different trail or go slowly and carefully.
  • Don't even try rock hopping if it is raining, or your boots are wet, or its cold enough for ice. Any slippery surface will be disastrous.
  • It will take a long, long time to cover a mile. Reduce your distance expectations if part of your trail is on loose scree or talus.
  • Chances of slips and failing rock are greater on the descent than the ascent. You are hitting with much more force coming downhill.
  • Don't hike up a slope at a steep angle. Go across in a switchback style. This gives the rock a better chance to accept your extra weight and keeps the person behind you out of your 'rock schadow' - that danger area where you will kick loose rocks.
  • If you kick loose some rocks, yell "Rock!". If you hear someone above you yell "Rock!", crouch down and cover your head. It's not cool to yell "Rock!" as a joke - kind of like yelling "Fire!" in a theatre.
  • Stay completely focused on where you are putting your feet. Checking out the scenery should only be done when you stop to rest.
  • Use hiking poles for more support on loose rock. If yours have metal tips, they may be more dangerous if you are stepping from rock to rock.

Runner’s Knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is among the most common causes of knee pain. The injury impacts top runners and amateurs alike. In fact, there is evidence to suggest it may account for as much as 50 percent of lower extremity injuries in runners. PFPS is generally characterized by pain and discomfort behind or around the patella. It is often called runner’s knee because pain results from activities that require the knee to flex while bearing weight on the patellofemoral joint, such as running. If you’ve encountered this injury, you know how nagging it can be. Fortunately, there are a number of research-backed measures you can take to treat or prevent PFPS.

Symptoms of Runner’s Knee

  • Tenderness around or behind your knee cap
  • Pain that is aggravated by downhill running
  • Dull pain when running on uneven terrain
  • Pain when you push on the patella

Causes of Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee occurs as a result of improper tracking of the knee cap in the femoral groove. When the patella doesn’t track correctly, the result is pain while flexing the leg and bending the knee. Poor strength and flexibility in areas like the hips, hamstrings and quadriceps have all been shown to contribute to this problem.
Training errors are another potential culprit. This can include an accelerated build-up of mileage, as well as too much high-intensity running or hill work. Worn out or inappropriate footwear is also cited as a possible cause.

Runner’s Knee Treatment

The first line of treatment for runner’s knee is rest, along with the use of ice and NSAIDs. This may help diminish pain and swelling in the short term.
Take a day or two to rest. Do not run on a knee that is painful, as you will only make things worse. If you are unable to bear weight on the injured leg or if you have swelling of the joint, these are signs that you may have more important structural damage to the ligaments or cartilage. In these cases, evaluation by a physician is strongly recommended.
For long term care, research suggests strengthening the top of your leg if you’re struggling with runner’s knee. Poor hip strength and stability have been repeatedly shown to create knee problems. For instance, when researchers focused on a group of runners with PFPS, they found that their biomechanics were hampered by hip instability as a result of weak hip abductor muscles. Other research identifies the importance of hamstring and quadriceps strength in addressing runner’s knee.
Research published in the Journal of Athletic Training demonstrates that six weeks of hip strengthening exercises can help improve the symptoms associated with runner’s knee. Squats, balance exercises and movements that incorporate the hip abductors and hip flexors are paramount.
What’s more, when physical therapy researchers from the University of Pittsburgh compared patients with and without PFPS, they discovered that those with runner’s knee tended to have less flexibility in their quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Some runners will find relief by foam rolling. Rolling out the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles can help stretch those areas and take strain off the knee.
There is also new research out of the University of Calgary that suggests orthotic insoles may help runner’s ailing from PFPS. They discovered that orthotics could change biomechanics by reducing knee loading and thereby alleviating pain. The researchers suggest that custom-made insoles, which can be tailored to a runner’s individual gait pattern, are optimal.
Remember that cutting back on mileage—or even taking a complete break from running—remains important. If pain has subsided after a few days of rest, begin a strengthening program for your legs. Replace your shoes if necessary with new ones that are suited to your running style. After a week or so, continue the strengthening exercises and resume running on a soft surface but at a much reduced volume and intensity. If the pain does not return, slowly increase the frequency, duration and finally intensity of the runs over a period of at least a month. If at any time the pain returns, evaluation by a physician is probably a good idea.

Preventing Runner’s Knee

It is important to be proactive with prevention measures, especially if you’ve suffered from runner’s knee in the past. Implementing a regular strength and flexibility routine should be a main focus. Strengthening the hips, quads, hamstrings and every muscle in between improves overall stability and helps the kinetic chain function by design. In addition to improving patellar tracking, these exercises will reduce undue pressure and load on the knees.
Working to improve mobility also remains necessary. Leg swings before or after workouts are a great way to improve hip mobility in particular. Simply stand next to something that you can hold onto for balance and swing one leg at a time forward and backward. Then swing each leg sideways, sweeping it across the front of your body. Foam rolling the iliotibial band, hamstrings, calves and quads can also assist in keeping your biomechanics in good working order.
Listen to your body and respond at the first sign of discomfort. Runner’s knee is an injury that worsens if you continue to run on it. Building mileage slowly will help ensure you remain healthy. Do not increase your mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to the next. Avoiding excessive downhill running and stairs are also good measures to take if you’re hoping to skirt injury.
New research has found that addressing running form can help to prevent runner’s knee. Converting from a rear-foot to a forefoot or mid-foot strike pattern has been promoted as a means to reduce patellofemoral stress. Adopting a forward trunk posture, meaning a mild lean, while you run, while simultaneously engaging lower abdominals subtly, can also help.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

 7 best ski resort restaurants

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Headwind and Cycling Through

Nothing is a bigger slap in the face to a cyclist than cycling through a headwind. A sudden gust will quickly zap your energy, motivation and speed. But you don’t have to let a stiff breeze get the best of you. You just have to know how to fight back.

Dress the part

Cycling in baggy clothing will quickly turn you into a giant parachute. Wind loves excess fabric, so dress in a form fitting jersey or jacket with lycra shorts or tight-fitting pants. If you remove the jacket, stash it tightly in the rear pocket of a jersey instead of tying it around your waist where the loose sleeves could dangle and get caught in your spokes. Also, pay attention to the aerodynamics of your bike opting for panniers or a single wheel touring bike trailer, over backpacks and messenger bags. Remove any excess zip ties, mounts or lights that you aren’t using.

Hide out 

You may not have a fancy carbon bike with a low stem and drop bars, but you can still learn a few tricks to get into a lower position and hide out from the wind. Regardless of the bike you’re riding, when a headwind hits, you want to get as flat-backed as possible. Grab the tops of your bars, bend your elbows, slide back on your saddle and ride in a flatter, more crouched position. If you have drop bars, use them.  Keep your elbows loose and relaxed and watch for cross winds that could suddenly blow you into another direction. If you can, ride in an area sheltered by buildings or trees.

Don’t be a slave to speed

Face it: your speed will always suffer when cycling through a headwind. You can either fight it and burn out your engine early or anticipate a lower speed and roll with it. This usually means shifting into a lower, easier gear. Don’t soft pedal. Keep some tension on the pedals and spin a nice smooth gear that you can maintain.

Begin by cycling into the headwind

If you don’t have a set bike route, try to begin your bike ride by cycling into the headwind and finish with a tailwind when you’re low on energy. Riding home with a tailwind is also a mental boost after you’re tired from fighting a headwind. Wind can be mentally defeating, so it’s important to realize this early on and see it as a challenging way to boost your fitness or burn a few extra calories.

Bothersome Bugs

Depending on the season, time of day, and weather, your hike may be spectacular or burdened with thousands of obnoxious insects bothering you the entire time. From late fall to early spring, insects are less of a concern, and that is when I really enjoy hiking more. As the summer progresses, I head to higher and higher country to stay away from the droves of blood-sucking little critters. Then, when cool weather returns, I head back down.

General Insect Protection

I've gathered some tips for dealing with hiking pests in general:
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Very light-weight, light-colored clothes can be very cool and they keep most of your skin protected. I have a Buzz-Off shirt and pants that I've been using for two summers. I haven't gotten ticks or mosquito bites while wearing them, so I am very happy with the product.
  • Wear light-colored clothes. Lighter colors make it easier to see insects while they are still on the outside of your clothes.
  • Tuck pants into socks. This keeps ticks and other crawlies from getting inside your pants legs.
  • Wear a hat for both sun protection and keeping insects out of your hair.
  • Wear an insect screen hat, jacket, or full body suit. These look kinda dorky, but they really keep the mosquitos and everything else away from your body.
  • After your hike, take a shower and check all over your body for ticks.


Ticks seam to appear magically while hiking. They can't really fly, but sometimes I wonder how one could have gotten on me without some means of air travel. I hate ticks. I think they are about the most disgusting looking insect around, especially when they're puffed up with blood. Yuch!
Ticks are mostly just a nuisance. They silently and painlessly bite their way into your skin where they suck up your blood. Usually, you find them before they start eating because it takes them awhile to find a good spot and then work their fangs into you.

Preventing Ticks

- The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid ticks. Stay indoors and watch TV. But, if you're serious about being a hiking dude, that just won't cut it. So, follow these tips to make your hikes a bit less tick-ful:
  • Avoid brushy areas and tall grass. Try to walk in the middle of the trail and avoid hanging branches.
  • Sunny, dry areas can still have ticks, but fewer than shady, damp areas.
  • Wear Permethrin treated clothes or spray it on your clothes. It kills the ticks rather than repelling them and lasts through many washings of your clothes.
  • Use DEET-based insect repellents on exposed skin. A 25%-30% solution works super from my experience. I mix 2 ounces of 100% DEET with 6 ounces of 4.7% DEET "OFF! Skintastic" pump spray repellent for a 28% solution that works great.
  • Check each other for ticks when you stop for breaks.

Removing Ticks

- There are many home-grown ways to remove ticks, from burning to covering in fingernail polish - all of them are bad ideas. The best way to remove a tick is:
  • Wipe the wound area with an alcohol wipe.
  • Grasp the tick with a sharp pointed tweezers right down where it is entering your skin.
  • Pull it straight away from your skin with a slow, steady pressure. Don't yank it; don't twist it; don't rock it back and forth.
  • Even removing the tick as efficiently as possible may leave some of its mouthparts in your skin. If this happens, pinch up a fold of skin that contains the bite area and carefully scrape the skin containing the mouth parts with a scalpel or razor blade. Or, use a sterilized needle to break the skin and remove the mouth.
  • It's very important to thoroughly clean the wound with antiseptic.
  • If you're concerned with the possibility of Lyme Disease, keep the tick in a film canister or between a piece of folded tape and take it to a public health lab for inspection.


  The big deal at the time of creating this page is West Nile Virus. It has spread across the country from the southeast and there are now cases reported in virtually all states. It is still a very tiny risk, but that may change as it progresses. Even without the West Nile virus, mosquitos suck! They buzz around your face, constantly bothering you. Then, when they do bite, it itches like the dickens.

Preventing Mosquitos

- Fortunately, it is possible to practically eliminate mosquito bites with a few preventive measures:
  • Use DEET-based insect repellent in a 20% solution. Spray it on exposed skin to stop mosquitos from landing. Be sure to wash it off in the shower as soon as you get home.
  • Wear Permethrin treated clothes. Either buy pre-treated shirts and pants like "Buzz Off" or treat yourself with permethrin sprays.
  • Hike during the morning and early afternoon. Be off the trail before sunset to avoid the peak mosquito hours.
  • Hike on open, sunny trails rather than in shady, protected forest. The views are better, the wind will blow mosquitos away, and the drier air is harder on bugs.
  • Burning citronella candles can help keep mosquitos away from an area, but wind will blow the smell away easily.

Treating Mosquito Bites

- There's not much to do after you've been bitten. The first indication is an intense itching feeling, so here's what you do when you notice a bite:
  • Don't itch it! That just causes more damage and possible infection.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Apply an anti-itch medicine such as Calamine lotion. There are anti-itch sticks that you daub on the bite and they work good for me.


  You may not know it, but all spiders are poisonous. Cool, huh? It's just that there are very few that have poison powerful enough to bother humans. But, those that are dangerous are bad - black widows, brown recluse, tarantula, sac spider, and funnel-web spider. Spider bites are actually very rare and a victim may not realize he's been bitten for hours afterwards.

Preventing Spider Problems

- Spiders are not highly mobile like flying insects and are not laying in wait to attack you like ticks. With some common sense and keeping your eyes open, you should never be bitten by a spider:
  • Never reach someplace that you can not see - under rocks, into holes, around branches.
  • Shake out clothes, gloves, boots before putting them on.
  • When hiking through trees, being tall, I often get spider webs in my face that shorter people have walked under. In those places, I hike slower, point the end of my hiking stick out ahead of me and move it in a circle to catch the webs 4 or 5 feet before I reach them.
  • Look before you sit down or lean against a tree to rest.
  • Wear gloves when doing any outdoor work.

Treating Spider Bites

- Spider bites usually have one or two puncture spots, but are often so tiny they can not be seen. Different spiders cause different reactions, but in general spider bites should be treated by:
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Place ice pack or cold water towel on bite area.
  • Elevate and rest the wounded spot to reduce swelling.
  • Watch for symptoms and record them.
  • Call or visit a doctor as soon as you can.
  • Try to identify the spider. If it is available, take the spider's live or dead body with you to the doctor.

Bees and Such

  Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, ... they are everywhere and they are beneficial to our environment, but they can sure be a pain. As a kid, I used to put honey on my finger and let bumblebees climb on and lick it up - never got stung. My mom said I was stupid and lucky. Stings from these critters hurt a lot and, for about 1% of humans, they can be deadly. If you've been stung and you know its not a big deal, don't take stings lightly when they happen to someone else.
Honey bees have a barbed stinger and it gets stuck in your skin so they can only sting once. But, yellow jackets and hornets have no barbs and can sting repeatedly.

Preventing Stinging Problems

- Since bees fly around looking for flowers, it's very difficult to avoid them while you're outdoors. Their stinger is a defensive device and you get stung when you become a threat. So, the best guidelines are to stay clear of the insects as much as possible:
  • Avoid wearing bright or flowery patterned clothes. You may attract a bee looking for flowers. Wearing light-colored clothes, like tan or white, is good.
  • Avoid perfume and scented lotions.
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry.
  • Avoid strongly odored food that may be attractive.
  • Don't drink from cans - a bug may have gotten inside trying to get to the sweet liquid. Look in your cup before you drink from it.
  • Keep your food and garbage sealed in plastic bags.
  • If a bee or wasp is bothering you, slowly move away down the trail. Swatting at it or rapid movement can provoke an attack.

Treating Stings

- Most stings are just painful but do no real damage. If you are attacked by a large number of insects or are allergic to stings then there is danger. If you are stung:
  • Stay Calm. Getting excited will just speed up the blood flow and spread of venom.
  • If the insect is still attacking you, brush it off and leave the area quickly.
  • If the stinger is still stuck in you, remove it by scraping it off with a credit card or pulling it off with a tweezer. It has been recommended that using a tweezer can force more venom into the wound, but more recent studies say that removing the stinger as quickly as possible is more important. So, use what you can to get it out.
  • Apply ice or cold water to the sting area.
  • Control itching and swelling with over-the-counter antihistamines.
  • Don't itch or rub the sting spot.
  • If allergic reaction symptoms appear or the victim is known to be allergic, get medical help immediately. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, swelling of tongue, mouth, or throat, and hives.
There are other bugs that can bother you while hiking. Chiggers, flies, and other crawling, creeping, swarming things that are all just part of the wild. Be aware of the kinds of insects to be found in the areas you hike and be ready in case of an encounter with them. Having a wilderness first aid booklet along is always a good idea, too.