Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Standing astride a massive boulder atop Bishop Peak, I watch the turkey vultures fly past at eye level.  As I watch them glide over the sage scrub carpeted slopes, I turn a slow pirouette to scan the horizon.  From up here, you can see all the way to foggy Los Osos to the North, the bulk of downtown San Luis to the South, and a number of agricultural fields, ranches, parks and residential developments in between.  It was worth fighting gravity for the 4-mile trek towards the summit of this rocky volcanic outcrop.

Timing my visit for late spring/early summer, I am lucky enough to be treated with moderately cool weather, a steady breeze, and a riot of wildflowers.  Regardless of which of the two trail heads you choose, you are assured a moderate to challenging hike through several plant ecosystems.  After traveling through this nature reserve’s oak forests, past giant rock faces, through sage brush and chaparral, and up a number of switchbacks, you will feel as though you have gotten your exercise and been rewarded with one of the best views in the county.

How to get there:  There are two trail heads that access the Bishop Peak Trail.  The first is off of Patricia Avenue and Highland amidst a residential neighborhood. This point also allows you to take the less strenuous Felsman Loop Trail, a fairly easy 1.7 mile loop at the North East base of this member of the “Seven Sisters”.  The second approach is located on East Foothill Blvd. between  Los Osos Valley Road and Patricia Ave., and has a small lot for parking near the beginning of the route.

What to bring:  A majority of the trail is exposed to the elements, so during the warmer months, make sure to bring your sunscreen, glasses, hat, a pair of well-soled shoes, and plenty of water.  For cooler weather, long pants and a fleece are most likely the heaviest protection you will need.  For the top of the trail, bring a camera to capture the landscape unfolding before you, and maybe a snack to regain some energy before you head back down.

Stay safe: There are some steep and rocky parts along the trail, so make sure to watch your footing.  There have been accidents at the top of the morro where the weather can become gusty.  Try and stick to times where daylight is adequate enough to navigate some of the most challenging terrain, and if you are heading out during the evening, pack a flashlight just in case the journey takes you longer than expected.  There is a fair amount of poison oak in some of the more wooded areas, and long slacks and healthy amount of attention and respect for the rash-inducing plant are recommended.  (Remember: leaves of three, let it be! …unless it’s hairy, in which case it’s berry …but don’t take a chance with poisonous plants!)  If you are unfamiliar with Bishop’s, take a buddy with you and always let others know where you are going to be and around what time they should expect you back.

This summer, go and take advantage of San Luis Obispo’s natural beauty and make a date for the top of Bishop Peak!

In honor of San Luis Obispo’s upcoming Native Plant Week (April  17-23), Spring, and the heaps of pollen swirling on the breeze, Bambu Batu presents the top 8 natural ways to beat allergies this season.

1.  Native honey-  Eating locally farmed honey helps to inoculate the immune system by letting the body get used to very small doses of pollen.  For best results, eat 2-3 spoonfuls of native, unfiltered honey each day for for several months prior to the height of allergy season.  Browse your farmer’s market for some sweet relief!

2.  Neti pot- When your head feels like its been stuffed with enough cotton to soak up the Atlantic, drain your sinuses with a saline solution using a Neti pot.  The little ceramic container helps to flush out nasal passages, relieve pressure, and soothe irritation.  The salt rinse works by allowing the small hairs (cilia) in your sinuses to better remove mucus, bacteria and allergens.  Sure, inserting the spout of what looks vaguely like a magic lamp up your nose may take some getting used to, but its a great alternative to taking medications and leaves your head feeling clean and clear.

3.  Spring cleaning- Give your home a good wipe-down and and allow air to circulate.  Dust is composed of a myriad of elements that can cause coughing, sneezing and inflammation.  Some of these appetizing ingredients  include pet dander, mite feces, molds and fungi.  To curb the growth of irritants, maintain a constant low humidity in living spaces, run fans, and vacuum regularly.  While a little tidying can do a lot of good, be careful not to go too overboard!  Vigorous cleaning may eliminate the small amount of allergens on which our immune systems practice.  Some household chemicals may also increase immune reactions, so play it safe by using “green” or environmentally friendly products that easily biodegrade and contain less caustic substances

4.  Quercetin- This plant-derived compound helps to stabilize cells in the respiratory system that trigger the release of histamines and cause allergy attacks.  Quercetin is commonly found in citrus, tea, onions, apples, parsley, lettuce, onions, and wine and can also be bought in supplement form.  Sufferers should take about 1,000 mg each day between meals and start about six weeks before allergy season reaches full bloom.

5.  Allergy-fighting foods-  Recent studies have shown that people with diets rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, (found in fish, walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed meats and eggs), were less likely to suffer from allergies.  For decongestion, add spicy foods like horseradish, chili or mustard to meals.

6.  Stinging nettle-  As a natural antihistamine, nettle prevents the immune system from over-reacting to environmental irritants.  You can avoid the pain of touching this common weed and find its freeze-dried extract in capsules at your local health foods store.  This supplement does not cause drowsiness or dry mouth like most proscription medications and 300mg a day should provide relief for several hours.

7.  Butterbur- This European plant derivative has been shown to be as effective in fighting symptoms as cetirizine, the active ingredient in the Zyrtec.  Four doses of 32mg each day should alleviate discomfort.  However, Butterbur is in the same family as ragweed, so those sensitive to these plants should show caution before considering this remedy.

8.  Apple cider vinegar-  Good for more than just salad dressings, 1-3 doses of 1/8 cup of vinegar throughout the day can prevent attacks and keep the itching and watery eyes at bay.  Either dilute the vinegar in 16oz of water to form a tonic, or if you are feeling brave, take a shot from the bottle.  Add a a little local honey to buffer the tangy flavor and boost the allergy fighting power!