Thanks To The Rain, Oklahoma Is Flush With Poison Ivy
Just three months ago, Oklahoma was categorized as experiencing a D3 Extreme Drought. We didn't get much rain in the fall and even though the snow came every two weeks like clockwork through winter, it wasn't enough moisture to save the state from the dryness. That all changed over sping.
As our so-called Fifth-Season - AKA - Tornado Season came and went, it left plenty of big rains across most of the state. Medicine Park recorded just over 11 inches in April and May combined. Even more rain fell across the bulk of the state ending the drought for most of Oklahoma, but with the heavy rains comes a flush of new growth.
For the last six weeks, the mountains have been a sight to see while cruising down Rogers Lane. Everything is emerald in color, covered with green growth and grass. It's beautiful to see but not so fun to be out in due to nature's cruelest plant... Poison Ivy.
I spent the weekend up in Northern Oklahoma, my youngest nephew had his eleventh birthday. When we get together, they love hauling the motorcycles and four-wheelers up to their local Oklahoma State Off-Road Park for a little high-octane fun.
The place we frequent the most is relatively small area-wise, but it's a great place to spend a few hours. It has tons of trails cut through a heavily wooded area offering fast, sandy routes all the way to really technical rock-crawling type trails. The swimming beach on the shores of Kaw Lake is a bonus on those hot days, but all that rain has allowed the trails to get choked up with Poison Ivy.
While there is a fair amount of Creeping Virginia, if it's green up to head height in that part of Oklahoma, it's Mother Nature's classic, annoying, irritating three-leaved Poison Ivy. I'm deathly allergic to it so I've learned to steer clear of it as best as I can. I still rode the trails for a bit being careful not to brush up against anything, but my nephew turned it up to eleven.
Since it's the only safe way to ride motorcycles in a group, we always play follow the leader when we're out for a ride. Since my oldest nephew is about to be sixteen and just now finding his man card, I let him lead the way. He's faster on a motorcycle than I am on a four-wheeler, so I usually lost him only to join back up later down the trails.
The last time I hopped into the woods behind him, he took off through a patch of Poison Ivy that was about 18-inches wide and at least seven-foot tall. I could just see it brushing against him the full length of that fifty-foot section of trail. He's also allergic, but he was head-to-toe in motocross gear... boots, pants, sleeves, helmet, gloves, goggles, etc... Neither of us came home with that annoying rash this time, but everywhere we went, Poison Ivy.
It's not like the poisonous plant hasn't always been there, it exists naturally anywhere there's enough water and shade creating the ideal conditions... it's just never been so thick before.
After talking it about all weekend, I saw the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge page posted about it too. I'd imagine the insane flush of these - gulp - beneficial plants - is happening here too.
Since gas and inflation is so expensive right now, most people flock closer to home for good times. Our Wichita Mountains are insanely awesome regardless of the activity you opt for. If you're not sure if you're allergic to Poison Ivy, it's best to weigh on the safe side and avoid it at all costs. If you don't know what it looks like, click here to learn how to identify it, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac as well... All relatively common in our neck of the woods.