Bug Bite 101 - How to Soothe an Itchy Bite

How to do it: Gently roll a liquid or solid antiperspirant over the swollen, irritated welts. Wait five minutes, then reapply if the bites are still itchy.

Why it works: "The aluminum salts in the antiperspirant cause fluid in the bites to be reabsorbed into the body," explains Kenneth Haller, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "When the swelling subsides, the itching goes away.

When to call the doctor: If the bite shows signs of infection, such as red streaks or increased tenderness, or if your child develops flulike symptoms -- such as fever, headache, muscle pain, or swollen glands -- that could signal West Nile virus.

Excerpt courtesy of 10 Health Tricks Every Parent Must Know at

Guest Trail Review: Snow Lake, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Roundtrip: 8 miles. Elevation gail: 1300 feet.

"This is a beautiful hike!!!!! I highly recommend it! It's not very hard....we did it in four hours round trip at a moderate pace with a lunch/ohhhh ahhhh break." - Sent in by guest blogger Christy.

Trail Review: Cooper River Trail, Wenatchee National Forest
Roundtrip: 6 miles. Elevation gain: 400 feet.

Famous Cooper River swimming hole.
Cooper River is a quiet, short trail that runs a four mile stretch of a scenic mountain stream in Salmon la Sac near Roslyn.  From light rapids to calm ponds, the Cooper River offers hikers a variety of vistas.

The trail begins at a large parking area and leads you to an immediate fork of three trails - the Waptus River trail to the right, the Pollalie Ridge trail in the middle and Cooper River on the left. You'll quickly pass the swimming hole, which during the summer nearly always has groups of people playing in and above it. If you want to escape the crowds at the swimming hole, the river runs a bit faster at the beginning than at the end, so stay on the trail for awhile before you go swimming if that's your intention.

You ascend into the forest leaving the river down below for a couple of miles. Play attention to your surroundings and you'll probably see deer and maybe even elk. We saw a doe and her fawn thanks to Sydney's big, fluffly ears.

Autumn berries coming into season.
We loaded up on the bug spray and sun block, but didn't notice too many bugs and it wasn't hot. Lucky day I guess.

Eventually, around mile three or so, you head back down to the river. With large granite boulders that slide into the river, there are plenty of spots to dunk your feet or to stop for lunch.

The trail ends at the road to Cooper Lake. If you cross the road, you can find spur trails down to the lake. We ate our lunch there and the dogs went for a swim. There are cabins up there, which I hadn't seen before. Rentable? Hmmm...would be fun.

Cereal bar anyone?

Trail Review: Skookum Flats

Roundtrip 16 miles - Elevation Gain 549 ft - Highest Point 2640 ft

Well, this was a nice little surprise. I’ve been hiking in the Hwy 410/Crystal Mountain area for 16 years and this was my first time up the Flats.

Sydney leads the pack.

The trail is very easy to find. Just off the highway half a mile to the trailhead and the parking in plentiful. Bring your NW Forest Pass and display it in your window. The only driving hiccup is that you pass FS roads 74 and 72 before you hit 73. Sounds like how I count.

The trail starts and says incredibly flat. You hike alongside the river for the majority of the hike. For early August the river was still flowing fast and was full of glacial till. Keep out of the water. It’s too strong and there are a ton of downed trees and snags.

Our group of four kids, two moms and two dogs only went up to the waterfall spur trail (2.1 miles). The spur is a steep scramble to the base of Skookum Falls, a 200-foot two tier cascade. We took the whole group halfway up, and then I took the bigger kids to the top while my friend stayed with the two little ones. I wouldn’t recommend taking small children to the top. Our seven year old got a bit scared but toughed it out. Anyone younger than that would definitely have a hard time getting up and back. That said, the view of the valley from the base of the waterfall was worth the push.

Murray's loving it!

We passed a few nice campsites. If you want to go for a quick pack or are taking kids, this would be a great place to go. You don’t have to hike far to find tent pads and fire rings. I’m sure there are more sites further down the trail, which eventually ends at the Mount Rainier National park boundary.

BUGS! They were out with vengeance. Make sure you bring bug spray. The skeeters were in it to win it. A few times I tried to blow them off my arm only to find that they were stuck to me. Yuck! [shivers].

Kudos to the crews who have rebuilt the trail over the past couple of years. You can still see evidence of storm damage and where the river had flooded. Aside from some board rot, most of the bridges are in good shape. There were no blow downs.

Directions: Drive east on State Highway 410 from Enumclaw 24.8 miles to Huckleberry Creek Road #73. Turn right (south) onto Road #73 and follow 0.4 mile to trailhead just past bridge. Trailhead is on left (east) side of road. The trailhead has 10 parking spaces on road shoulder. Another access point is 5.1 miles south on Road #73 to Buck Creek Road #7160.

Trail Review: Annette Lake, Alpine Lakes Region
Roundtrip 7.5 miles - Elevation Gain 1400 ft - Highest Point 3600 ft

Annette Lake is in perfect hiking condition right now. There are plenty of toe tickling  streams, if water is needed, and the waterfalls still have allot to say.

We got to the parking lot late, just after 11:00am. There were about a dozen other cars, but is certainly wasn't too busy. In fact, most of the people we saw were in larger groups, so we had plenty of solitude.

The trail is pretty steep and rutted, which can be intense at times if you're carrying weight, like, oh I don't know, the biggest baby ever! All the bridges are in good shape. The last .75 mile is flat and slightly declining, but you have to work to get there. If you're hiking over the next few days, I highly recommend taking extra water or a purifier. It was hot even under the canopy.

Saw lupine, trillium, young huckleberries. There are some very pesky critters up by the lake, so watch your food.

Roundtrip 3.0 miles - Elevation Gain 900 ft - Highest Point 1880 ft

Cedar Butte is a quiet and quick hike, both on the road and on the trail.

Park at the Iron Horse parking lot (drop in a donation to State Parks if you have any cash) and follow the signs past the restrooms to the trail, basically two lefts. Trek along the Iron Horse for about 1.25 miles to the trailhead. Once you cross Boxley Creek, its just a few more yards up the trail on the right. There is a sign. Ooh, lots of ripe wild raspberries and huckleberry on the Iron Horse.

Rattlesnake Lake
The trail immediately starts uphill and pretty much stays that way until the summit, except for a short reprieve at the blowout approx. 1.25 miles up. There's a nice picnic spot at the Saddle Junction.

Take water and BUG SPRAY!!! Once your off the Iron Horse there is no water source. The 'squeeters are HUGE and aggressive right now. If you forget the goo be prepared to run, because they are taking no prisoners.

This is a great exercise trail and would be perfect for trying out a pack with extra weight.

Hiking with an Infant

After nearly ten months of pregnancy and roughly three months to heal (emphasis on rough), there’s nothing more exciting than hitting the trail again.

For many, hiking while pregnant is a new adventure, but the last few months generally get too uncomfortable to sleep on the ground or ascend thousands of feet, most likely eliminating you from the backcountry. Therefore, staying in shape while pregnant decreases the time to get back to the trail by shortening the ramp to get back in shape. According to, walking, pre- and postnatal yoga and swimming are low stress, high yield exercises that will keep your muscles active and might keep those dreaded kankles at bay.

After your baby arrives and you have properly healed, hiking offers a low impact option to getting back into shape. Here are a few tips to having a successfully pleasant experience in the backcountry.

Hike Close to Home - For your baby the drive to and from the trail counts in the grand total of time that they are away from the comfort of their home, their bassinet or crib and their toys. For younger infants, those less than four months, the drive isn’t as much of a factor, but once your baby realizes that they are confined to the car seat and then limited in a sling or backpack the drive times become more of an issue. Choose trails within an hour or less of your home.

From Ten to 15+ Essentials – We all know the rule to never hike without the ten essentials. Well, add on a few more when you’re hiking with baby. These include diapers and wipes, extra food or bottles (if Mom isn’t breastfeeding), warm layers for baby (particularly for the head, hands and feet since a baby’s circulation is weak and extremities are more vulnerable to exposure), your cell phone and a blanket. Lay out your blanket when you stop for lunch and give you and your baby a chance to rest.

Carry in Comfort - Young infants can be carried in a front sling, like a Baby Bjorn. However, once your baby reaches 15 pounds and can easily hold his or her own head, move them to your back in a sturdy child carrier. Although you will miss seeing that chubby face staring up at you as you hike, backpack carrying will be much more comfortable for you. Brands such as Deuter, LittleLife and Kelty offer comfortable options and accessories, like hand mirrors attached to carabineers. Similar to a standard backpack, the majority of the carrier’s weight should be supported on your hips, not your shoulders. A proper fitting prior to purchase is recommended.

Know Your New Limits – Hiking with an infant isn’t the time to bushwhack a new trail. Keep to well-manned paths where you can find help if you need it. Choose trails shorter in length, five to eight total miles for the average hiker, with a low to medium grade. Remember, also, that your body is still healing, so don’t push your physical boundaries. Your speed and endurance may have lessened. Trails that you could have hiked in three hours before your pregnancy may take you five or six hours after birth. The ruggedness of the trail should be considered from your baby’s perspective. Having to jump over boulders or continually duck and crawl under blow downs will not be appreciated by Junior. Crossing rivers, especially in the spring, should be avoided.

Water, Water Everywhere – As your baby grows, so does your load. In the hot summer months, this means you’ll need extra water to keep you from dehydrating, to keep you moving. Carry your water when you can. In fact, use a hydration system if you have one. Reaching around your infant carrier to pull out a water bottle is nearly impossible even with side pockets. And the last thing you want to do is unload your wriggler to find your water bottle.

Food for Plenty – Feed your child frequently, especially when you get back to the car before the drive home. Your baby may start to feel too confined on the drive home, so having a full belly (and dry bottom) will keep him or her happy and avoid a loud ride.

Clean Baby Equals Happy Baby – Follow this diaper demanding schedule to happiness. Change your baby before you leave to drive to the trailhead. Check your baby before securing him or her into the carrier. Change diapers at the apex of your hike. Change your baby before you leave in the car to head home.

Hiking, for many of us, is a way of life. There is no reason to stop because you’re a new mother or father. Just be patient, pack plentifully and plan ahead. You will get your stride back and your little one will become a nature lover, just like Mom and Dad.

For more information on local, child-friendly trails, check out Washington Trails Association's recommendations for family hiking.

Disclaimer - Remember that I'm not a doctor or a hiking expert. I'm merely a new mom who learned the hard way and thought I would pass along the tips that helped Jack and I learn to enjoy the trail together.