Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

General Palm Springs area.

Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Wildhorse » Thu May 12, 2016 2:08 pm

Like Sally, I paused when I read that the woman was bitten in Tahquitz Falls on the Skyline Trail. It makes me wonder about other details in the story.

So, pardon my expression, "Where was it she got bit?"

A few nights ago, I happened to read an obituary that Wendell Berry wrote long ago for James Still, the author of River of Earth. Berry noted that Still had been criticized for writing in the dialect of mountain people in Kentucky. Berry also noted that the story would not be same in a different dialect. I wonder how those mountain people might have phrased the question. The people who spoke the dialect, who lived in the mountains close to the earth, in the river of earth, no longer exist.

When I read here about the confusion of bit and bitten, I remembered the obituary. I wonder if the mountain people would say bit or bitten. I heard in the word "bit" a possible distant echo of an old mountain dialect.

I once wrote a piece about a place in our mountains for the USFS. A bureaucrat criticized it, informing me that I had not used language that is appropriate for forest service publications. My work contained no grammatical errors. No slang. No expletives. No contractions. No peculiar words or spellings. The problem was that it did not match their dialect. A government expert rewrote it in the official dialect. The official dialect resembles the language of police.

We need a mountain dialect for our mountains. The formal dialects of government and business and common journalism do not fit in wilderness. Such dialects really cannot describe in any meaningful way what happens to a person when a snake bites or what we feel when it happens to someone else in our mountains.
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby scottmac » Thu May 12, 2016 6:21 pm

Here is a quote from a PCT blog about a recent rattlesnake encounter north of Big Bear:

"At the cache I met two other hikers - Homeboy and Dan. Dan was actually with the hiker who got bit by the rattlesnake last week. I got the details from him.

Mighty Mouse was walking down the trail when she felt a slight pain on her ankle. She thought she had just bumped a thorn or something, but Dan who was right behind her saw a snake bite her. It didn't rattle at all - it was in a tuff of grass beside the trail and just reacted when her foot came down a few inches away from it. Just after it bit her it fled away from the trail.

At first Mighty Mouse was not concerned - she felt fine and the site of the bite didn't hurt much, so they decided to keep hiking. About ten minutes later her lips and tongue started to feel 'weird' which is when they called 911. Two helicopters responded.

Mighty Mouse is fine. She was treated with six vials of anti-venom and hopes to start hiking again in a few days.

What happened to Mighty Mouse is how I figure I will get bitten if it happens. Sounds like the snake didn't know she was there until her foot was already in striking distance (which isn't far)."

Full entry:

http://www.postholer.com/journal/Pacific-Crest-Trail/2016/Magician/2016-05-10/Escape-from-Cajon-Pass/54942
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Wildhorse » Thu May 12, 2016 7:54 pm

Scottmac, that is a scary story. I imagine many of us come that close to a rattlesnake. I can know of it happening twice to me, without a bite fortunately.

Makes me want to wear gaiters.
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby cynthia23 » Thu May 12, 2016 9:08 pm

Wow, that's an unnerving story ScottMac. I'm definitely going to up my awareness levels. Wildhorse, I do recommend the kevlar snake gaiters. They are very lightweight and not uncomfortable. Only downside is they're not very breathable when it's hot.
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Hikin_Jim » Fri May 13, 2016 12:00 pm

scottmac wrote:Mighty Mouse was walking down the trail when she felt a slight pain on her ankle. She thought she had just bumped a thorn or something, but Dan who was right behind her saw a snake bite her.
Hmm. Maybe there is a reason to wear boots (instead of trail runners) after all. :shock:

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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Wildhorse » Fri May 13, 2016 1:31 pm

I read that 85% of unprovoked snake bites happen below the knee. It looks like one can wear tough boots and snake gaiters up to the knee and eliminate most or all of the bites below the knee. Additional armor is needed above the knee to be really safe.

Not fun.

Can't we just spray snake repellent on our arms and legs and trail runners?

Makes me just want to ride my bike. Supposedly that is safe if one wear's a helmet. (Which is ridiculous, of course.)
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Hikin_Jim » Fri May 13, 2016 10:06 pm

Wildhorse wrote:I read that 85% of unprovoked snake bites happen below the knee. It looks like one can wear tough boots and snake gaiters up to the knee and eliminate most or all of the bites below the knee. Additional armor is needed above the knee to be really safe.
Ah! Of course! Now why didn't I think of that?

A bit awkward for hiking, but it's the only way:
Image

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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby Wildhorse » Sat May 14, 2016 10:34 am

I think I may have seen that outfit at REI. I think it breathes, has high SPF, and is ultralight.
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby hickey » Sat May 14, 2016 4:32 pm

For those interested in seeing these vipers, rather than avoiding them, I would suggest trying the North Lyken Trail (from picnic benches above museum to the benches at Northern end above W. Cielo Dr. This trail runs across the Tachevah Canyon alluvial and seems to me, as a local,to be the least used of the local trails.
Watch for them in that area where the wash dips deepest (after the big rock cave), they often blend in between the cracks of rocks when they are not sunning themselves directly on the trail in front of you. The sight of a road runner with a young snake in its beak not too uncommon in this area.
Best advice is, like bear bells in Yellowstone, let the snake your coming around blind curves....talk or sing to yourself. They generally will slither off, after a good rattle.
Don't venture off trail into deep scrub, to be safe and if you take the adjacent trail that goes up to Tachevah Rock, you will encounter bees and wasps.
Happy trails.
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Re: Skyline rattlesnake bite ...

Postby scottmac » Sat May 14, 2016 9:43 pm

Hickey,

Interesting about Tachevah Canyon. I have hiked there day after day, week after week in late fall, winter and early spring over the years, on and off trail, and have never seen a rattler there. I am watching diligently, especially in the spring, because of my dog.

But ask me about the time we encountered three angry ones one morning on the PCT above Snow Creek, in different spots, in just a half-an-hour.

Prior to that, I have seen many lounging on, or traversing across the trail, mostly over in Whitewater canyon - always quietly minding their business. So that day on the PCT came as quite a shock. That was certainly an attitude adjustment for me.

Experiences differ, that is for sure.
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