Wednesday, July 6, 2011
It is ironic and a little sad that I must follow up my last post about the beginning of Lewis’ love of honey bees with a blog post about the end of it. Like other recent posts, this one features a waterfall—one of many along the road to Hana on Maui’s rugged windward coast—and bees.
Because we had devoted so much time this spring to exploring the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, most of the falls along the road to Hana were relatively unimpressive as photographic subjects. Upper Waikani Falls, aka Three Bear Falls, was the first one we encountered that struck me as worthy of the time it would take to photograph it. I decided to do so; and Lewis decided to come with me while Darla watched us from the bridge above. Reaching the base of the falls involved navigating down a steep muddy slope, scrambling across a series of large slippery rocks, and then wading through the pool at the bottom of the falls. At least that is how I imagined things going; we never made it that far.
As we carefully made our way through and across the rocks, I was focused on Lewis, who was in front of me, and on my own footing. I didn’t want to see either of us slip and fall head first onto a rock and then, potentially unconscious, into the fast moving stream coming off the upper falls and flowing toward the lower falls. As it turned out, the real problem was the hive of bees in the adjacent vegetation. Unfortunately, I only noticed it after batting it with my elbow as I walked by. I felt an acute burning sensation in my elbow just before becoming enveloped in a swarm of angry bees.
Being in front of me, Lewis had no idea what was going on as he started to get stung. If Lewis hadn’t been involved, if it had been just me, I could probably spin this into a humorous story about my own wilderness incompetence but it was such a terrifying experience for him that there just isn’t anything funny about it. We couldn’t run away so, in the end, we just sat down in some shallow water and waited out the attack with me trying my best to swat bees off of Lewis as they attacked. By the time it was over we each had been stung about 20 times.
Twenty bee stings is no picnic but it could have been much worse. We were fortunate to be wearing clothes that we had treated with permethrin, a very effective organic insecticide, as well as insect repellent on our exposed skin. This seemed to make many of the bees reluctant to sting. We were also fortunate that neither of us were allergic to bee stings since we had no cell service and were hours from medical facilities.
The following day, the doctor in Hana—who was also the one answering the phone at the small hospital—expressed surprise that we hadn’t had to come in to the emergency room. She said we both needed tetanus vaccinations; and that the worst day is always the day after. She was right. We both felt like someone beat us with a baseball bat. There wasn’t any part of our bodies that didn’t ache.
If there is a humorous aspect to this story, it is listening to my wife tell this story and talk about how stressful it was to watch this all take place from the safety of the bridge. I’m sure it was; and I always tell her how bad I feel that she had to endure that… Meanwhile, honey bees are now insecta non grata in Lewis’ world.
©2011 Timothy Linn. All Rights Reserved.