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Just back from 5 days on the Main; a lovely trip with great people. Finished with a bad hang up on a pointy little number in Vinegar but aside from loss of face for the party involved no damage and we all learned a lot from the rescue.
Yellowjackets were bad in our early camp - Upper Devil's Teeth - with multiple stings but better after that where we avoided heavily used camps. We were wondering if the "dispose of dishwater above high water mark" philosophy is part of the issue. Drier areas insist on water going into the middle of the stream, dilution is the solution etc etc. Salmon R drainage saying above high water line. It just seems that in these highly used camps with groups every night through the season that there is a lot of strained but smelly dishwater going above the camps at a time when there may be little rainfall. I had never questioned this until going to other watersheds with the dump in the stream policy. Thoughts?
Also seems there was a group with a norovirus issue a few days before we put on; hope this won't stay in camps like it did last year on the MF. We were a little paranoid about hands etc.
 

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I've been running the MS for many years (I think this was trip #15 this year?) and have never experienced yellowjackets of biblical proportions. I did not go last summer due to injury, but my friends went in late June/early July and reported no problems. We went during the same time this year, and had no problems. There have always been yellowjackets around on my past trips, but never the swarms that were reported last year. Since the "dishwater above the high water line" policy has always been in place on the MS, I doubt that it's the cause of the sudden increase in the yellowjackets. Folks who don't take their dishwater far enough away from camp like they should.....now that's a possibility though? Or maybe too many people peeing in camp, and not in the river like they're supposed to? I'm sure there are other factors at play, like climate, fires, or other changes in their environment. I'm really just guessing here, but I'm glad we didn't have any problems on our trip.

Oh, and Vinegar.....that rapid always tries to eat my lunch, so don't feel too bad. I will say that this year, at somewhere between 2.5-3 ft. it was the easiest I've ever run it. Right down the middle.....nothing but net!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah Cataraftgirl we missed the yellowjackets when we went in August last year not really sure of their "season" but were quite nasty the first day then not really an issue, weird. They were bad at Corn Ck too.
For the record it was not me stuck on the rock in Vinegar - I did spend some quality time spinning about in a couple of holes first in Elkhorn and then in Vinegar but did not require rescue ;) Could still be bobbing about in Elkhorn if not bumped by another boat in my party. First full solo down the Main in my little red cat. After the Rogue, Yampa, Hells Canyon and Main this season I feel like I have really gained in confidence (and hopefully skills too!).
 

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We had an exciting time on MS with yellowjackets 2 years ago. A friend who gets very strong reactions to yellow jacket stings was stung on the tongue that created an emergency and air evacuation to the hospital. Learned the benefits of having multiple Epipens among the group they don't last long and take loads of benadryl. Good to know if someone in your group reacts to stings. I carry 2 Epipens in my first aid kit. hope I never have to use them again. :roll:
 

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Yeah Cataraftgirl we missed the yellowjackets when we went in August last year not really sure of their "season" but were quite nasty the first day then not really an issue, weird. They were bad at Corn Ck too.
For the record it was not me stuck on the rock in Vinegar - I did spend some quality time spinning about in a couple of holes first in Elkhorn and then in Vinegar but did not require rescue ;) Could still be bobbing about in Elkhorn if not bumped by another boat in my party. First full solo down the Main in my little red cat. After the Rogue, Yampa, Hells Canyon and Main this season I feel like I have really gained in confidence (and hopefully skills too!).
Wow, what a great summer you've had in your red kitty cat. Fun!!!!!

We tend to not use reserve camps, so I wonder if less traffic in those camps decreases the yellow jacket populations. Something major must have changed in their environment in the past two years. They have always been present on the MS in summer, but never swarms, and rarely ever a sting.
 

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The Russian
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We had an exciting time on MS with yellowjackets 2 years ago. A friend who gets very strong reactions to yellow jacket stings was stung on the tongue that created an emergency and air evacuation to the hospital. Learned the benefits of having multiple Epipens among the group they don't last long and take loads of benadryl. Good to know if someone in your group reacts to stings. I carry 2 Epipens in my first aid kit. hope I never have to use them again. :roll:
How do you get your pens? They only last a year and very expensive to replace, unless a doctor prescription and insurance.
 

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How do you get your pens? They only last a year and very expensive to replace, unless a doctor prescription and insurance.
I'm curious about this as well. I'm not susceptible to bee stings but would carry an Epi pen just for the peace of mind. That and not have to drink a whole bottle of Children's Benadryl.
 

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Don't waste your money or dry box space. They did not work on our Main Salmon trip this week. See the other Yellow jacket post.
 

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Thanks for the comment duct tape. We were thinking of bringing traps on our trip in a couple of weeks. Neither of us are super reactive to stings, but I guess we'll bring a bunch of benadryl.
 

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Epi-Pens - require a prescription, come in set of 2 with a trainer pen. Not cheap, and usually not covered by most health plans. You may be able to get insurance to pay if you have documented anaphylaxis to yellow jackets. Wasn't able to get them paid for by my health plan, even though I'm an MD and told them I was the trip leader for 15 folks.

Problem is if you are truly allergic you may need several Epi-Pens. Sometimes more than 1 for each sting if the symptoms persist. Benadryl may help for the burning/itching etc. but will do very little for a true anaphylactic reaction.

Antibiotics are not needed for yellow jacket stings - unless the bite gets infected, which usually would happen only several days later.
 

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We were wondering if the "dispose of dishwater above high water mark" philosophy is part of the issue. Drier areas insist on water going into the middle of the stream, dilution is the solution etc etc. Salmon R drainage saying above high water line. It just seems that in these highly used camps with groups every night through the season that there is a lot of strained but smelly dishwater going above the camps at a time when there may be little rainfall. I had never questioned this until going to other watersheds with the dump in the stream policy. Thoughts?
It's been a few years since I did the main but my last trip (2007) they were pretty bad, bad enough to leave a lasting memory, but not part of the reason I haven't been back... alas, kids, work and money lead that rationale.

wshutt, I like your line of thought, lots of great points. It would be interesting to study. Maybe all the old fruit groves contribute as well, keep the population up... with afternoon breezes and freshly decaying foodstuffs acting to move them around the canyon. I wonder if the Forest Circus has thought of doing a survey, rate the sites for a summer to see if there is a definable correlation between camp usage and YJ numbers...

I don't recall their logic for spreading dishwater above HWM and pee in the river, but do think it's a curious route to have taken given the solution to pollution concept...
 

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Thanks for the comment duct tape. We were thinking of bringing traps on our trip in a couple of weeks. Neither of us are super reactive to stings, but I guess we'll bring a bunch of benadryl.
tmacc,

See most recent post about rescue bags on the other YJ thread.

After reviewing some older YJ threads (linked in the other post),it's possible we didn't set them up correctly.
 

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The Russian
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Epi-Pens - require a prescription, come in set of 2 with a trainer pen. Not cheap, and usually not covered by most health plans. You may be able to get insurance to pay if you have documented anaphylaxis to yellow jackets. Wasn't able to get them paid for by my health plan, even though I'm an MD and told them I was the trip leader for 15 folks.

Problem is if you are truly allergic you may need several Epi-Pens. Sometimes more than 1 for each sting if the symptoms persist. Benadryl may help for the burning/itching etc. but will do very little for a true anaphylactic reaction.

Antibiotics are not needed for yellow jacket stings - unless the bite gets infected, which usually would happen only several days later.
I took Wilderness First Responder class and what I took from it is that unless you yourself have YJ allergies, having a pen in your first aid kit is a bit pointless. First of all, unless you are allergic, most insurances won't cover it. Second, they expire in a year and as you said, most stings to an allergy prone person would require multiple pens. Most pens give only 20-30 minutes relief to the reaction. Not much time for a real air-lift rescue.

I think a better approach would be is to know the medical history of all the people on the trip and have an open discussion about allergies and Epi-Pens.
 

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we experienced different levels of Yellowjacket squadrons this summer in different camps. Seemed like the more popular camps had more while the less used had fewer.

A tip about mitigating the sting.....carry some fresh tobacco and when you have been stung take a small wad of it, soak it in saliva, and apply as a poltice....it's amazing how quickly the pain disperses and the venom is drawn out.

Best use for tobacco I've ever seen....

Rando
 

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Agree very much with group discussion about medical requirements and expectations.

I would say that most stings are adequately covered by a single Epi-Pen injection, and I would definitely have at least two on the major med kit boat (which should only be a short run away from the campsite). For a person with known allergy, they should also carry their own supply, including on side hikes etc. The problem is when the reaction requires more than one injection (which is not common but can happen) or if you're the med provider for a group with more than one reactive person. Then you'd better have a bunch of them just in case.

Even an expired Pen is better than nothing, especially if stored correctly, and I would definitely use it if no other option.
 

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July 2013 was AWFUL!

I was on a trip last July 2013 and the yellowjackets were TERRIBLE! I personally got stung twice and others in the group got stung. We had one person in our group bite down on one at the take out ~ it had crawled in his sandwich. His mouth swelled really bad but luckily went down without needing medical help. We had a paramedic (and I am a basic EMT) with us who had a few epipens just in case and although we did not need them I am sure glad we had them.

Of course people with known allergies should carry their own epipens but what about people who are allergic but have no idea.... Good to prepare for the worst IMHO. Why not add it to trip expenses have everyone split the cost if no one can get them cheaper? Or some people like to have them in their med kit anyway.

All of us talked about the issue and also felt it was the dishwater above highwater mark attracting them. Reasoning that the times the yellowjackets swarmed us was during meal times so thinking the smell of food now brings them in and dishwater has those smells and oils in it and in high use camps this dishwater is not being diluted for many weeks at times when there is no rain etc... We just could not understand this policy.

I would love to do the Main again but will not come back without a screened in tent for the kitchen area.

Just my 2 cents.;)

Jennifer
 

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I've had anaphylaxis reactions to wasps almost ten years ago. It happened twice in succession within 3 months and then it hasn't happened again. I went to an allergy clinic and had no measurable reaction to any of the 6 commercially available test samples of different venom. I've since been stung by honey bees, and bumble bees with no reactions.

I still take major precautions because (according to my research spurred by self-preservation instinct) about 70% of the proteins are homologous across the venom of pit vipers, scorpion species and hymenoptera (bees & wasps). So the specific protein you'll have a reaction to could be very widespread or more narrow to a specific sub-species of wasp like mine appears to be. I was unable to capture and specifically identify which species of wasp it was, and I moved from that house soon after.

So I have actually had the experience of anaphylaxis without a Epi-pen, and then again having it and injecting myself with an Epi-pen. The first time I nearly died, and the second time was much less severe but I was still hospitalized. I didn't use benadryl either time (at least before transport), and that would probably have made a big difference. I now carry it on all of my trips, along with minimum two Epi-pens. I have never had any issue getting Epi-pens covered by insurance, nor have my doctors ever given me a hard time about prescribing multiples so I have always kept a pair that are up to date. I keep the expired ones too, at least until the visible liquid turns cloudy, then I've discarded them. Not in all cases, but mostly, medications remain efficacious past their expiration date and slowly lose effectiveness after that date. In some rare occasions, medication can turn toxic after it expires, so do your research, but Epi-pens are not one of those items.

I'm one of those "crazy" preparedness types, so I almost always have a "get home bag" of some kind with me in the vehicle or under my desk at work, so I generally have a first aid kit stashed within arm's length any place I go on a regular basis. I own a military surplus & firearms shop in Vancouver WA, and we teach classes on safety and preparedness.

I was the "medic" on my last group trip down the Lower Deschutes with about a dozen people. My medical training consists of USAF First Aid and Buddy Care over several years of annual refreshers and recent certification as a CPR/1st Aid instructor under the Emergency First Response (EFR) program (associated with PADI, the Professional Association of Dive Instructors). I made sure to query everyone for food and other allergies and stocked our emergency kit with benadryl and Epi-pens appropriately.
 
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