I could title this “The Saga of the Bees” but then you might start taking me seriously and this story doesn’t need that; just your pity.
Also, I renamed my blog so I hope that’s not too confusing for some people. Disclaimer: This may happen a lot. Settling on a name is an unsettling business.
So I’ve found myself living in Salem at the moment with two other upstanding women: my sister, Lauri, and Molly (don’t worry, they said it was okay to use their real names). If you are a close friend or family member of mine you know the reason why I have not moved to Utah, as I led everyone to believe. For everyone else, it is a complicated business but know that I currently have a wonderfully welcome place to live and work from, even if it isn’t in Portland. I wrote this post last month (when the following events actually took place) but have been in a gray/darker gray place since then and couldn’t bring myself to actually publish anything here. I am not ready to share more about my uprooted life at the moment, so for now here is something funny.
Lauri, Molly, and I decided to go on a hike on the Little North Santiam Trail that goes through Three Pools. The location may not seem important, but I’m letting you know just in case you want to try and avoid it in the future after you read more.
Life was just great at this point. We had the right amount of water, the right hiking shoes; I even remembered to cover my shoulder tattoo with the right sunscreen and had the right headband in my hair that keeps it in the right place for not poking my right eye (it really is only the right eye, my left eye is usually left well enough alone). The only concern at the trailhead was that there wasn’t a bathroom around, after which I bragged about my many exploits using leaves, rocks, and even pinecones for the swiping of my downstairs.
It was around 11:30am at this point so the sun was shining along with a gentle breeze as we set off on the trail.
I really enjoy hiking out in the middle of nowhere. There are trees all around, no other people making noise but you and your company, which makes for a very serene and relaxing environment (I guess that does depend on the company you choose). I happened to have great company so we, with our perfect water and perfect headbands, tramped with glee through the forest like Peter’s Lost Boys, all relaxed and happy, for about five whole minutes before we came upon the terrified, sobbing little girl.
Got your attention now, huh?
She was with her mom, so we weren’t too worried, but then the mom started talking about bees, particularly the one that just stung her child. They had apparently started a hive (the bees, not the mom and little girl) right in the middle of the trail in or underneath some tree roots. The pair had a few more family members with them (unstung, mind you) that were turning back to abandon the hike so they could take care of the girl’s sting. They warned us where we might find the hive and said that if we “stay high and keep moving, we should be fine.” I now know that “should be fine” really means “will PROBABLY NOT be fine.”
The hive was about 50 yards away so we three made eye contact and decided to just push through it. None of us were allergic to bee stings and we were still all happy-go-lucky from the perfect five minutes of hiking we just experienced so the thought of anything going wrong seemed impossible. We were going to hike and enjoy it, dammit!
We came up to where they said the tree roots were and saw that there was a way to leave the trail (yes, I know, we are horrible, horrible human beings) and walk a few yards away from where we thought the hive was and thus avoid the problem altogether. It was slow going since we were walking through underbrush and over a fallen tree, but eventually we made our way around in a crescent shape and returned to the trail. We didn’t see or hear any bees, even though we saw tree roots, so we made the hugest mistake we could have ever made at that moment: we paused to discuss our surroundings.
“Is this where they were talking about?”
“I don’t see any bees, do you hear any?”
“I think the hive might be further down, should we walk back to the right?”
“I don’t know, maybe we should…OW! OH, OW! (this was me)”
An instant before this moment some sun peeked down through the branches of the tree under which we were standing and I saw them. I saw several bees flying right and left in an unfriendly manner (not sure how one would swarm in a friendly manner) so in my mind I said some nasty words and then I felt the pain.
Oh, the PAIN! I felt a sharp prick on the back of my right thigh, as well as another on the front. I also felt the start of one on my left wrist. My instant reaction was to slap the front of my thigh, yell some of the nasty words I was thinking, slap my wrist, and then sprint down the trail screaming “AHHHHHH!”
Behind me my sister asked, “Oh, did you get stung?” right before she also yelled some of same words I did and sprinted after me. Molly followed straight after.
We were about 50 yards away from the hive and paused for a second, bewildered and confused, gasping from the sudden unwanted exercise and sheer terror of being unwillingly harpooned by insect behinds. We realized later that all three of us hadn’t been stung by any bees since childhood, hence the terror and low tolerance of such pain. Besides my three stings, Lauri got one on her forearm and Molly, her finger (the worst!). After this pause (didn’t we learn our lesson the first time?) of maybe five seconds Molly shouts again! “OW!” so we all turn and start running yet again, longer and further this time, maybe for about two minutes, sheer sprinting and sheer terror. Molly got stung on her back as well as on her freaking head. These mo-fos meant business! There was no way in hell we were turning back and stepping a toe into their turf!
So our emotions were awry at this point. We started off at an emotional 10, maybe 9 and a half, and were now at a low 2, or even 1 (10 being super happy, and 1 being “I want to murder some bees and then go home and sleep all day”). The back of my thigh was aching and smarting some fierce, but luckily me slapping my wrist and front of my thigh kept those bees from finishing their business and only hurt a little. Actually, let me take that back, I actually bruised my thigh pretty bad from the slap – there was a hand print there for the rest of the day, but hey! No sting! But seriously, my leg hurt and swelled up pretty much instantly. Molly had it really bad on her head and finger, and then Lauri started developing a Popeye arm. We instantly wanted to go home.
That whole “we can’t go back there!” mentality (a smart one, I should think!) put us in quite a pickle. The hike we were going to take was about 2 miles to Three Pools, and then we were just going to hike back the way we came, you know, back through where we got stung by a hundred bees. We had some family that were camping in the area that could maybe pick us up at Three Pools, but I had the only cell phone and didn’t have service! Oh no! Just like in the movies. I was waiting for the human sacrificing cultists or Bigfoot to appear and turn this into an episode of Grimm (I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately).
We tried walking a bit to see if the hike could be managed and if I could get a signal on my phone, but it was slow going. Every time I had to climb something steep, or just walk in general, searing pain shot up my leg like venom seething through my veins and I started feeling ill. I tried the whole “just don’t think about it” but that’s extremely difficult when you are amongst others in pain and despair. We needed to find a way back to the car and NOW!
This is getting pretty long, so stay tuned for the next part of the story to find out if we made it out of the forest alive! Okay, obviously we did but just go with it because this story is far from being over or uninteresting. And so just because I can…
To BEE continued…
Update: Here’s Part Two of the Saga.