Most people regard fall in the Blue Ridge as the premier time to hike. But for me, fall is yellow jacket season. I’m highly allergic and I carry an epi pen but still I’m on high alert during fall.
Yesterday, I went on a Carolina Mountain Club hike in Pisgah National Forest.
We started at Douglas Falls outside of Barnardsville. It’s not a well-traveled trail. We climbed up about 2,000 ft. to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Several of us got stung, including me.
Though I lathered myself with insect repellant and moved at a good click, I got stung on the elbow and on the ear. I stopped to take a Benedryl tablet, which is supposed to bring down the swelling. But it still burned.
Yellow jackets make their nests in the ground. So obscure trails are more likely to harbor yellow jackets than well-pounded trails. Horse trails or old roads are the safest from yellow jackets because they can’t dig in or the nests get pounded out of existence before the fall.
Still, it was a beautiful hike.
The gentians were in full bloom – see below.
Mountain ash were at their peak and the group was great.
And in my humble, amateur estimation, yellow jackets last a lot longer now.
The population may not be getting wiped out in the winter because our winters are not as cold.
So I do everything I can to mitigate yellow jackets but not hiking in the fall is not an option.