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  1. #41
    imscotty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    So is a rattlesnake bite a reason to hit the SOS button on the InReach?? Once again, what does one do? There seems to be no answer. The ATC addresses this in their FAQ only by saying that most snakes are not venomous.
    My current best answer remains: Walk out while dialing 911.
    My best recollection is that this hiker kept walking at first, not feeling too much pain and with the hope that it was a 'dry bite.' When she and her mouth started feeling funny she called 911 (lucky to be in a place with cell access) and they sent a medi-vac to get her out. I believe the bite put her off the trail for about three weeks.
    “For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


    John Greenleaf Whittier

  2. #42
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    Living here in Middle TN we have quite few snakes. There are several venomous snakes, not poisonous Copperhead, Timber Rattler, Pygmy Rattler (SW TN), and the Water Moccasin/Cotton Mouth (West of the TN River). I have done ALOT of web searching, talking with rangers, and having conversations with herpetologist (In Training) because we hike the South Cumberland SP and Big South Fork often, both have "healthy" copperhead and Timber populations Here's the info that I have received:

    1) Over 50% of venomous snake bites are dry. It takes a lot of energy for a snake to produce venom, they only want to use it on actual prey. This is a possible reason for hearing the old tale that if you get bitten by a young snake it is "more" venomous, wrong, it actually just cant control its venom output.

    2) If you come across a rattle snake that is feeding dont assume that it cant push the prey out of its mouth and defend itself. I learned this through experience... kind of. My last hike out we came up on a Timber feeding and I wanted a closer photograph, I chose not to go closer but stated to my buddy that i could have since "they can push the prey out of there mouth once they start feeding"... He informed me later that his friend, a herpetologist stated that it was completely false, they are certainly able to push prey out of their mouths during feeding"

    3) Copperheads are the least aggressive and also have a mild venom, Timbers on the other hand have a higher potency but are still fairly docile.

    4) As stated above the Cottonmouth is typically only found in West TN west of the Tennessee River, however this isn't a hard a fast rule, but here's a story, unconfirmed but I believe its fairly reliable. TWRA has never verified a Cottonmouth in Percy Priest lake area.

    5) In Spring and fall as temps are rising and falling it isn't uncommon for them to travel under your tent. (Strap up them boots for that midnight piss....)

    6) The number of deaths are hella small, fractional to actual bites, speaking of which, bites are extremely uncommon, unless.... you feel the need to spur the Holy Spirit with some handling, in which case you're a fool, BTW it increases your chances of being bit exponentially, and if this is describing you then you know all too well that you will probably refuse treatment, which based on the reported cases will typically end in death.... so good luck with that...

  3. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i would say whether you hit the SOS on an InReach for a snake bite is more a question of where you are.
    On the PCT you could easily be multiple days of hiking away from help.
    On the AT should you hit the panic button 5 miles from a busy road crossing? no, probably not.
    How far can one walk after being bitten? That's likely impossible to answer. Any examples of a hiker being bitten and walking for help?

  4. #44

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    "5) In Spring and fall as temps are rising and falling it isn't uncommon for them to travel under your tent. (Strap up them boots for that midnight piss....)"

    if this is true then Evan was wrong. �� I suddenly like my hammock a lot more.


  5. #45

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    "5) In Spring and fall as temps are rising and falling it isn't uncommon for them to travel under your tent. (Strap up them boots for that midnight piss....)"

    if this is true then Evan was wrong. 😀 I suddenly like my hammock a lot more.


  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    How far can one walk after being bitten? That's likely impossible to answer. Any examples of a hiker being bitten and walking for help?
    In post number 12, of the following thread

    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/sho...alachian-Trail
    Dillard reported hiking a couple of miles to a parking area after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Oh and don't forget, we're entering the season of the Yellow Jackets and Their Nests. You MUST see the rattlesnake---you often never see the yellow jacket nests. Both are mine fields.
    I have never been bitten by a snake on the trail. But, I have DEFINITELY been stung by a yellow jacket on the trail. Maybe the third time in my entire life. Really hurt. Right on the back of the neck as we were approaching Unicoi gap.

  8. #48
    Registered User BuckeyeBill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    We saw a pretty timber rattlesnake a couple weeks ago on Cove Mtn Trail, which hugs the GSM park boundary between Sugarlands and Wears Valley. This guy was curled up right in the middle of the trail minding his own business when I came stomping along. I think I was within 4 feet of him when I suddenly reversed course. From a safer distance we took pictures. He never moved or said a word.

    So then it's time for us to move on. The trail was fairly wide, maybe 6'-8', so I figured I'd skirt by on the edge. I took just one step forward, and that set him off. He started buzzing that tail and quickly moved to the taller weeds on the side of the trail, where he buzzed continuously as we passed by.

    Before we left the scene, he introduced himself. He said his name was "Rutherth", and asked if we knew where to find "Thee-thee." Finally figured out that Rupert was hoping to meet Tipi. I guess it's hard to pronounce T's and P's with a forked tongue.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    That's a good one---a rattlehead with a speech impediment. My old backpacking buddy and Pisagh NF brother for 30 years is named John Rupert so maybe there's some deeper meaning here.

    Oh and don't forget to look for the viper boys when you're crossing over big blowdowns---Here's magnificent James (he goes by Jimmy) on the Nutbuster trail---Upper Slickrock Creek #42---and close to where I almost put my hand to get across.

    Well I'm glad he was looking for his buddy Tipi, but I have never seen a "pretty snake" of any kind, shape or size.
    Blackheart

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by madfarmer View Post
    During my 2011 thru-hike, a hiker was tagged on the ankle by a copperhead while filling up at a water source behind a shelter (in VA). He remained calm and called emergency services. He wrote about it in the shelter log while waiting 2-3 hours for them to arrive and assist him to the nearest road. It ended his thru-hike after 1400 miles because the swelling and bruising took 30 days to reduce down to a normal level. He was pretty bummed, but I think he attempted again the next year.
    Interesting. on one of my section hikes a few years back I met a SOBO hiker who had gotten off the trail the previous year due to a copperhead bite. The details match what you describe to a T - in Va, at a shelter and getting water. I would have to believe it was the same guy although I do not recall his trail name. i suspect he finished as I met him somewhere in NC or TN.

  10. #50
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    A953C19D-B6F0-4729-935F-7595C71E9E75.jpg
    Saw this guy on the AT just north of the Curley Maple Gap shelter in TN in May. He was right in the middle of the trail, I could have stepped on him. He only gave a mild buzz, not the omenous rattle of the cowboy movies. Good reason not to wear earbuds. I showed him my Stick on the left side of the trail and scooted around the right side.
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  11. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    A953C19D-B6F0-4729-935F-7595C71E9E75.jpg
    Saw this guy on the AT just north of the Curley Maple Gap shelter in TN in May. He was right in the middle of the trail, I could have stepped on him. He only gave a mild buzz, not the omenous rattle of the cowboy movies. Good reason not to wear earbuds. I showed him my Stick on the left side of the trail and scooted around the right side.
    I equate to stepping on a rattlesnake to stepping into a pile of horse poop---Most of us see it and never step in it.

    A foot trail is a narrow usually open strip of land running thru the backcountry. We keep our focus on this pathway and see the smallest things---snails, millipedes, poison ivy etc. And so to miss a big rattlesnake in the trail and step on it would take an incredible amount of non-awareness.

    Seeing a pit viper is always an off-pack event whereby I back off many feet and dump the load and pull out the camera and hang out for 20 or 30 minutes. Why not? These guys are the Grizzlies of the Southeast and keep the Wild in Wilderness.

    I had one weird experience recently whereby I was backpacking the Grassy Gap trail in Big Frog wilderness and had to stop for this guy in the middle of the trail---
    TRIP 185 (422)-XL.jpg
    The trail is narrow with no detour available so I waited and eventually got him to move off the path after 20 minutes.

    What's weird is just after seeing him I see Little Jimmy on the same trail and just a couple hundred yards ahead---

    TRIP 185 (442)-XL.jpg

  12. #52
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    "5) In Spring and fall as temps are rising and falling it isn't uncommon for them to travel under your tent. (Strap up them boots for that midnight piss....)"
    if this is true then Evan was wrong.  I suddenly like my hammock a lot more.
    This makes me want to go order a hammock, stat!
    "In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks"....John Muir

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    A foot trail is a narrow usually open strip of land running thru the backcountry. We keep our focus on this pathway and see the smallest things---snails, millipedes, poison ivy etc. And so to miss a big rattlesnake in the trail and step on it would take an incredible amount of non-awareness.
    or its on the far side of a big rock or down tree branch youre stepping over. thats how i managed to step on a black rat snake.

    i also once nearly stepped on what may have been a copperhead but was probably a milk snake. it was coiled up in the brush at the side of the trail and blended in incredibly well. my foot landed centimeters from it and it slithered away.

  14. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    or its on the far side of a big rock or down tree branch youre stepping over. thats how i managed to step on a black rat snake.

    i also once nearly stepped on what may have been a copperhead but was probably a milk snake. it was coiled up in the brush at the side of the trail and blended in incredibly well. my foot landed centimeters from it and it slithered away.
    Stepping over a log blowdown can be a problem unless you're very careful and eyeball what's underneath before you cross over. Reminds me of a rattlehead under a log on the South Fork Citico trail---

    Trip 175 326-XL.jpg

    He eventually found safety completely under the log---
    Trip 175 334-XL.jpg

    As I said before, looking for these guys all the time---under logs, on the other side of rocks---wears me out and takes some of the fun out of backpackaging. But it's all part of the outdoor life. Sitting on a couch all year is far more dangerous.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    Death from a snake wasn't my concern. It could end a thru hike or keep one from ever being able to do big miles again. It is comforting that no one has stories like, "Beaver and I had done 750 miles when he got struck by that rattler. It ended our adventure right there."

    My 12 year old and I just finished the Sheltowee Trace Trail. Many miles were badly overgrown with grass. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of blow downs. A fair amount of bush whacking to get through it all. It was prime terrortory for a snake bite simply because you walked through so much stuff where you could not see your feet. Somehow I can't get comfortable with the fact that the odds are really THAT low.

    And if you are bit, what do you do?
    Plenty of poisonous snakes like rattlers and copperheads in Big South Fork on the ST and rattlers especially on the BMT. PA AT has lots of rattlers.

    Tipi has the right perspective IMO. Prepare. Be knowledgable about where poisonous snakes are likely, placing hands and feet, not mindlessly romping through tall grass with head phones in, around escarpment and rocks, along weedy water edges, etc. Those 7-8K bite stats have reasons or conditions connected with many of the numbers. It's people screwing with poisonous snakes or being mindless that tend to often get bit. It's been estimated that up to 25% of poisonous snake bites are dry. With some species it's a higher % of dry bites. Avoiding being bit should be top priority just as not sleeping under a widow maker or on a ridgeline or out in the open during lightning or in a wash when it's raining.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    A953C19D-B6F0-4729-935F-7595C71E9E75.jpg
    Saw this guy on the AT just north of the Curley Maple Gap shelter in TN in May. He was right in the middle of the trail, I could have stepped on him. He only gave a mild buzz, not the omenous rattle of the cowboy movies. Good reason not to wear earbuds. I showed him my Stick on the left side of the trail and scooted around the right side.
    That is a big boy

  17. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Avoiding being bit should be top priority just as not sleeping under a widow maker or on a ridgeline or out in the open during lightning or in a wash when it's raining.
    YES! Don't sleep under a dead tree. Don't try and cross a raging river. Don't backpack up or down a rock face or cliff, most especially with a 75 lb pack. And don't step on a rattlesnake or copperhead. As always: Keep your eyeballs open . . (and your pee hole clenched etc etc etc ).

  18. #58
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    I managed to step on a timber rattler last August In New Jersey two miles or so north of the Mohican Outdoor Center.

    I was hiking on a sprained ankle which PA had given me as a parting gift two days previous as I excitedly galloped into DWG. Another hiker and I were hanging out at the MOC eating ice cream and waiting out some wet weather, but as it got closer to dusk the rain only seemed to fall more steadily. We threw on our rain gear, donned our headlamps and hit the trail. The other hiker took the lead and was a few minutes ahead of me. The trail back up to the ridge was a stream of water so I was being real careful not to further damage my ankle. As I came upon the ridge, I was wet, tired and just thinking about making camp. I was having thoughts of sitting dry in my hammock eating beans and rice when all of a sudden my brain started to register I was seeing something that should cause alarm. I took another step and realized I was in the process of planting my left foot on a snake. I jumped 3 feet into the air and broke into what seemed like a run. I imagine I looked like a character in a cartoon when then hover for a split second with their legs churning before bolting off at the speed of light. I waited a second to compose myself and cautiously approached and there is was, a timber rattler, I'd estimate 3-4 feet long with a critter hanging out of its mouth. My adrenaline was through the roof.

    I realized that when my brain first registered the warning I had planted my trekking pole either into the snake or on the ground right next to it, but it didn't fully register until I took that next step onto the snake itself. At first I thought I might have injured it. I stood there in the rain with my heart beating out of my chest and realized that the snake was completely unfazed. It just continued to gulp down its meal which I think was a rabbit. In hindsight, I wish I would have taken my camera out to snap a picture, but it was packed away and my attempt at taking pictures in the rain earlier on my trip was not good. Five minutes later I caught up to the guy I was hiking with. I figured, he had to have seen or possibly even stepped on it like I did, but unfortunately he never saw it.

    That was my 3rd encounter with a rattlesnake on that trip. The first one was especially large, hanging out right in the middle of the trail and easy to see. My 2nd encounter was about 10 miles south of Raush Gap at the awesome campsite with the stone reclining chairs. It was dusk. I had been there about 15 minutes, had started cooking dinner and I had just finished inspecting trees for my hammock. I was starting to wrap a strap around a tree at my chosen spot and happened to look down to see a rattlesnake facing me from only a few feet away. He wasn't the biggest, maybe a little over 2 feet long but he owned that place. He slithered all around the campsite near the stone chairs and fire pit before I eventually lost track of him. Needless to say I moved to some trees at the opposite end of the campsite.

    In all 3 encounters, not one of them rattled to alert me to their presence.

  19. #59
    Registered User middle to middle's Avatar
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    The biggest fattest black snake I ever saw was in a shelter in MD. He or She was well fed I presume by the mice there eating the scraps of food dropped by hikers.

  20. #60

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    That's a good story, Mugthumper. Is there a way for a backpacker to go slow and carefully see everything underfoot? Sometimes. In a perfect world, yes. In reality I often lose focus and want to make time for various reasons, esp in bad weather. Pit vipers always break me out of that routine. Now I'm so wired that my head's a swivel on a stick and nothing goes unnoticed . . . until I inadvertently squat over a rattlehead on my next turtlehead break and get buttock fanged.

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