CRR snakebite victim recovering in hospital

Sisters woman recounts frightening encounter

Hike to hospital bed: snake bite victim recovers

BEND, Ore. - Searching for fall colors, Marsha Phelps and her friends hiked into the Crooked River Canyon on Monday, but she came out on a stretcher, then a fast helicopter ride to Bend.

"There are marks all up and down my arm where they tracked the swelling and at what rate," said Phelps said Tuesday from her hospital room at St. Charles Medical Center-Bend.

Making her way over several big boulders on the Scout Camp Trail, Phelps was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I thought I hit a sticker bush, so I pulled my arm back," said Phelps.

Attached to her finger wasn't a sticker, but a foot-long Western rattlesnake.

"There was no rattle," said Phelps. "So it was a total surprise."

So was the fact that Phelps was relatively okay -- the numbness in her lips and tongue didn't come on until later. Sucking the venom out did cross their mind, but only as a joke with her three hiking companions.

"That was one of the things we kept laughing at, what we'd seen in the movies that you should and shouldn't do," said Phelps.

With no cellphone service, the four women hiked until they could call 911, Crooked River Ranch Fire Chief Tim McLaren headed up the rescue team.

"Where we were at is what I call 'no man's land', said McLaren. "So we took her to a plateau that we used for a rescue the year before, and we were able to meet a helicopter there and get here out."

After an anti-venom injection and lots of blood work, Phelps is still enjoying the fall color -- just not in her hiking boots, instead from her hospital room.

McLaren says rattlesnakes are common in the area, and they did a similar rescue last year when another person was bitten.

McLaren says the best thing you can do if you find yourself in that situation is stay put, as moving speeds up the venom's trip through your bloodstream -- and do not try and suck the venom out.

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