Mount Angeles - Encounter with Aggressive (Stinging) Insects

A full roster of scramblers encounters squadrons of yellow jackets. It stings.
David Shema David Shema
August 19, 2015

Mount Angeles, Olympic National Park - August 16

Incident reports of party members getting stung by yellow jackets and wasps began arriving in mid July this year, six weeks earlier than one would normally expect.


I had a full roster of 12 scramblers on a Mt Angeles scramble. The weather was cloudy and we were in fog/cloud through the entire outing.

As we began ascending on the lower wooded portion of the trail toward the ridge, our group encountered angry insects that stung two individuals. We assumed that they were yellow jackets but no one actually saw the aggressive critters. One hiker was stung on the hand and the other twice on his right bicep.

From a MOFA perspective we made sure that antihistamines were available and provided. We also applied topical crème to help with pain. One participant (the bicep sting) indicated that he has had negative reactions to stings in the past and carried his own preferred brand of medication. We then continued on our trek.

A short time later, we had a third participant that was having problems keeping up with the group. She has been experiencing health issues all season and had decided that she would not be able to continue on this trip. Since we were on good trail and within a short distance of the vehicles, she was allowed to leave the group and descend by herself to the car.

Upon continuing our ascent, the bicep stung individual was experiencing significant discomfort and due to his history, decided that he too should not attempt to continue. We again decided that it was safe to allow him to return to the vehicles. Both solo hikers were directed to meet us back at the trailhead at a predetermined time.

A while later as we were ascending the ridge we again encountered an angry mob of ground dwelling yellow jackets. This time we were able to find an alternate route around them without incident.

As we approached the summit, there was a group of mountain goats that we had to move past. They were not aggressive and did move off as we became loud and obnoxious. This was necessary since they were blocking our approach to the summit block.

Upon our descent, we re-encountered aggressive insects in the same locations. We had two additional hikers stung. Each participant was stung once on a leg. Again, antihistamine was provided.

When we reached the trailhead, we re-connected with our two solo hikers.

EpiPen and similar epinephrine auto-injectors require a prescription in the US.  Anyone at risk of a severe allergic reaction to insect stings, certain nuts, etc., should consider carrying an epipen. Consult your physician to obtain a prescription.

If you carry an EpiPen, educate others on your trip on how to administer your EpiPen for you if you are unable to self-administer.

Use of antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can help relieve allergy symptoms, but work too slowly in a severe reaction.

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