Call me a dope, but I had zero clue about the dangers of the "hairy rope" you may see on trees during the Winter.

At the risk of sounding like a city boy who isn't very outdoorsy, I'm about to be totally honest with you: I have never seen this "hairy rope" looking thing on a tree, ever. Therefore, I would have no idea what it is or know that I shouldn't touch it.  I'm pretty sure if I saw this on a tree, I would want to touch it; heck I think I might even try to partially pull it off and swing on it Tarzan style.  This would be a really, really bad idea and here's the reason why.

It's poison ivy.  Plain and simple.  And if I'm an idiot for not knowing then so be it but I found this to be useful information.  While I'm not usually in the forest all that much, I do like to take hikes and I enjoy observing wildlife.

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According to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation:

"In the winter, the poison ivy plant loses its characteristic leaves of three, but its vine, which resembles a "hairy rope," can still cause a rash if you touch it. Remember: "Leaves of three, don't touch me!" and "Don't be a dope, don't touch the hairy rope!"

I love the whole "Don't Be a Dope" message.  It's perfect because it resonates with people like me who are the actual dopes that want to touch it, feel it, play with it, swing on it and even make a fake moustache with it. Again, all really bad ideas.

Poison ivy can be a real mess if you're allergic to it and not everyone is.  But according to the NYS DEC, the "typical skin reaction of a rash appears up to 24 hours after exposure. In some people, the rash progresses to severe blistering and may require steroid treatment."

Now, even dopes like me are informed.

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