Monthly Archives: May 2013

Jewelweed: An Antidote for Poison Ivy Pain

Jewelweed is a known natural antidote to poison ivy pain. But if you’re out there on a backpacking trip, you need to know how to find this jewel of a plant because it can save you from some serious itching, burning, and oozing. If you’ve already failed to identify poison ivy, don’t mess up twice. Watch this video to learn how to identify jewelweed, and then read my article “Poison Ivy Survival and Remedies” on the Survival Skills website to learn how to avoid poison ivy in the first place and how to use items in your backpack or in your surroundings to treat yourself in case you still don’t get it quite right…

First: Jewelweed.

Second: “Poison Ivy Survival and Remedies.” (Click that link for the full article, which includes info about habitat, identification, dangers, and treatments for poison ivy problems).

Recipes for Common Edible Plants

cactus flowerI just posted an article about four common edible plants on the Survival Skills site. Yes–plants such as dandelions, clovers, cattails, and nettles can help give you energy in a survival situation, but many of these common edible plants can also be good–or even really, really good–to eat when you prepare them in your own kitchen. Wild plant recipes abound, but I wanted to share a few here that relate to the common edible plants I just wrote about.

Nettle Pizza
For a lot more information about how to harvest and prepare stinging nettles, click here to view the nettle information on the Local Foods site. One recipe I wanted to highlight: Stinging Nettle Pizza, described as having an “earthy yet nutty flavor” with bubbly cheese that’s melted on a sizzling pizza. Yum!

Dandelion Root Coffee
I recently read Rebecca Lerner’s book, Dandelion Hunter. The book contains several recipes, and Lerner also often posts recipes on her blog at Since I’m a coffee lover, I couldn’t help but get my curiosity perked by her recipe and blog post, “Dandelion Coffee: better than the ‘real’ thing!”

Red Clover Pancakes
Clover leaves and flowers can make a nice addition to any salad, but I found a website page devoted entirely to red clover recipes. The recipes range from red clover cocktail infusions to the red clover pancakes and red clover almond biscuits.

Try out one of these recipes, or leave a comment here to share some of your favorite edible plant recipes.

Want to know more about common edible plants?
Check out my article on the Survival Skills site:
“Four Common Edible Plants”

P.S. The above photo is of neither nettle, cattail, clover, or dandelion. It’s just a pink desert flower I saw once when I was thirsty after climbing in western Colorado. Even though I felt tempted to pluck it and eat it right there on the spot, it was so beautiful that I spared it and only took a photo…

Wet Snow Avalanche Destruction

During the winter in Colorado, a high mountain pass called Independence Pass remains closed for the season because the road weaves through an area with high avalanche potential. But each year in the spring, helicopter-aided avalanche control work is done on the area before it’s opened. Last Monday, May 13, as avalanche control work was being done, YouTube user “tmaspen” filmed the bombs being dropped. The footage is notable because it not only shows how helicopters can help in avalanche control but it also shows how big and destructive a wet avalanche can be:

Wet avalanches, sometimes called wet-snow or wet loose-snow avalanches, occur more frequently in the springtime as temperatures rise rapidly and saturate the winter snowpack with water.

Avalanches can be destructive at any time of the year, but when wet slides occur, they often move slower than their lighter winter counterparts; however, their increased water weight makes them have a high destructive force.

Here’s another example of a wet avalanche and its aftermath; this wet slab avalanche occurred last spring in Bridger Gully as avalanche control work was being done at Bridger Bowl Ski Area:

Want to know more about wet snow avalanches?
Read my article on the Survival Skills website:
“Recognize and Survive Wet Snow Avalanche Conditions”

Thin Ice and Spring Melt

Buckeye CreekI recently went hiking in one of my favorite spots in the San Isabel National Forest near Leadville, Colorado. I didn’t quite know what to expect since I hadn’t been there in a while, but I thought that I’d find some combination of mud, snow, and ice. And that’s exactly what I found. The lower portion of the trail was sloppy and slippery with mud. But then as I got higher, the mud turned to snow, and I needed to put on my showshoes to prevent post-holing and breaking through the unstable crust.

When I came to the Buckeye Creek crossing, the water was still entirely covered with snow and ice (see photo, above right), but I could hear the moving water gurgling underneath as I approached. I could see recent ski and snowmobile tracks going over the crossing, but I still checked the area carefully before crossing on foot.

I found open areas in the snow, and I could see water flowing underneath:

Creek melt

I also crossed a deep, clean crack through in the snow. I peered through the crack and saw the water flowing about three feet below.

snow crack

I know this area well and knew that it was safe enough to cross with that much snow and ice still on top of the water. But even if I’d never been to this area before, I had several terrain clues in my surroundings, alerting me to presence of water. First…the willows:


Buckeye Creek also flows through an obvious ravine, and I could hear the water flowing underneath the snow and ice. All of these clues, including local knowledge, helped me hike safely through the area.

Want to know more about icy water crossings?
Read my article on the Survival Skills site:
“How to Survive a Fall Through Thin Ice”

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.