Algonquin Provincial Park = Beautiful with a touch of poison ivy

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September 28, 2012 by lucychlin

I have been in the country for over a month now, and I count my lucky stars that I had come in at the right time. I had experienced the glorious 30 degree summers and lounged by the beach at Toronto Island, to now what I’m really excited about – the famous autumn colours of Canada.

Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to come to the land of the maple leaves and see the various reds, yellows, oranges, greens and all the other colours in between. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a weekend away with my friend’s outdoors group, and the weekend begins with a 5am wake-up call on Saturday morning and 6am pick-up. With hot tea and bagel in tow (very North American), we drove 4 hours to Algonquin Provincial Park, north of Toronto. The park is big, very big. It is 7,653 square kilometres, which is a quarter size of Belgium.

The drive in and around the park was lovely. All the magical colours that I had always wanted to see and more. We went hiking on both days, and witnessed the colours up front. We did the Centennial Ridges trail, Booth’s Rock trail and the Peck Lake trail which snaked around the lake with gorgeous views of the water and the changing coloured trees.  Accommodation that night was in a log cabin. It came equipped with fireplace in the main area with friendly, open spaces for groups to sit around, drink and talk about absolutely everything and absolutely nothing.

Another Canadian experience was the itchiness that I was feeling when I got back to the city on Sunday night. Being of “sweet blood”, mosquitoes adore me. I am usually the victim of all bites whilst others are completely ignored (I envy those people). I started to get red welts, around 20 of them all over my body, bigger than normal size, but as a newcomer to the country and of its bugs, I played it down. On Monday morning, I scratched myself awake by a bite on my right hand. It has just started to bleed. Monday afternoon, I noticed that the left cheek on my face had a blister. I went to the pharmacy who told me to buy allergy tablets and hydrocortisone. On Tuesday, another big blister appeared on my right hand. Officially worried, I went back to the pharmacy who told me that it looked like I have poison ivy. Whaaaat?!? I had been in the country for just over one month, went to the woods for the first time, and already get poison ivy? Just my luck. In addition, the state of Ontario had experienced a cold snap that it dropped about 10 degrees from one day to the next. As a result I also had a cold. This country is kicking my butt at the moment.

However, it could be much worse. A friend told me yesterday that his sister got poison ivy a few years ago. She needed the bathroom and went au naturel in the woods and got it all over her backside behind. OUCH! In the meantime, I am going to go back counting my lucky stars and resist scratching my right hand and left face cheek until recovery.

My methods so far to combat poison ivy:

  • MINIMAL SCRATCHING (!)
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Allergy/antihistamine tablets
  • Oatmeal body wash
  • Ice pack to cold compress the affected areas
  • Bath with baking soda
  • Calamine lotion – oceans of it as per The Coaster’s song! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRfRITVdz4k)

If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear it. Desperate measures for desperate times!

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