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Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #26816 08/11/12 06:24 AM
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saltydog ~
Good snake link, thanks ~ was reading an HST thread on the other board, and report was that snakes were spotted as high as 10,000' ~ thought Kern Canyon would be the worst of it! Moment of panic, as I am supremely unobservant of snakes - been pulled back from the brink of encounter at least 3 times. Guess the boyfriend will be hiking front & center. Which he owes me anyway, since he has repeatedly pointed out that though he may not be able to run faster than a bear, he can, in fact, run faster than me.

I was following a lightning thread on the other board too. This link was posted - Backcountry Light Safety technical paper - and it just made all evasive action or safety measures seem so hopeless. But after a good night sleep, and some light googling over coffee this morning, feeling much more relaxed and less control-freakish!

wagga ~
I don't know if this was intentional or not..... but when I read...
Originally Posted By: wagga
Snakes on the trail
... my mind leapt to Snakes on a Plane.

Henceforth, that is my new hiking mantra.
I have HAD IT with these mother******* snakes on this mother****** trail!

Thank you for making my morning! smile

cheers!
Adrienne

Re: HST & general advice please!
saltydog #26822 08/11/12 10:58 AM
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So, you're three or four days from any trail-head and you get a good wet rattler bite. What do you do? Haven't been able to get any advice except to get to an emergency medical facility that stocks anti-venom as fast as possible.


Mike
Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #26823 08/11/12 11:09 AM
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I am by no means a snake expert, but.......

There is only one kind of venomous snake in California (other than a very rare sea snake that I don't think we have to worry about in this context). And that is the rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are very easy to identify. So if you see a snake and it isn't a rattlesnake....Don't Panic!!

I hike in the Santa Monica mountains a lot. I see rattlesnakes on the trail all the time. They are almost always very considerate and let you know that they are there with a quick shake of the tail long before you are close enough to do it harm.

From my experience, rattlesnakes are slow. The only time they are fast is within their striking range. Which I would guess is somewhere around 3/4 of their body length. When I encounter a rattlesnake, I simply give it a wide berth when I walk by and put my hiking pole between it and me. If there isn't a whole lot of room, I've used my hiking pole to encourage them to move on.

I worry a lot more about bees than I do snakes.

Last edited by tdtz; 08/11/12 11:10 AM.
Re: HST & general advice please!
tdtz #26826 08/11/12 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted By: tdtz

There is only one kind of venomous snake in California (other than a very rare sea snake that I don't think we have to worry about in this context). And that is the rattlesnake.

From my experience, rattlesnakes are slow.

The only time they are fast is within their striking range. Which I would guess is somewhere around 3/4 of their body length.


Well "one kind of snake". The bad news is that there are 7 species and a couple of subspecies, totalling 10. The Good news is that only one of these, the Western (crotalus viridis) is common to the Sierra, and it is not one of the largest and fiercest. The bad news is that the largest and fiercest, the Western Diamondback, crotalus atrox, is common to the Southern San Joaquin valley, and if snakes are creeping higher this year . . . . The good news is that Its still unlikey that this big guy would go as high as 6000 feet, the start of the HST. Too cold at night.

More good news is that striking range is only 1/3 to 1/2 body length on the flat and level for any of these guys, more only if they are striking downhill. So pass em on the uphill side if you can, and farther downhill if you can't.

Oh: and in six days on the hottest part of the trail last July, we saw zero snakes.



Wherever you go, there you are.
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Re: HST & general advice please!
tdtz #26828 08/11/12 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted By: tdtz
I am by no means a snake expert, but.......

There is only one kind of venomous snake in California (other than a very rare sea snake that I don't think we have to worry about in this context). And that is the rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes are very easy to identify. So if you see a snake and it isn't a rattlesnake....Don't Panic!!

I hike in the Santa Monica mountains a lot. I see rattlesnakes on the trail all the time. They are almost always very considerate and let you know that they are there with a quick shake of the tail long before you are close enough to do it harm.

From my experience, rattlesnakes are slow. The only time they are fast is within their striking range. Which I would guess is somewhere around 3/4 of their body length. When I encounter a rattlesnake, I simply give it a wide berth when I walk by and put my hiking pole between it and me. If there isn't a whole lot of room, I've used my hiking pole to encourage them to move on.

I worry a lot more about bees than I do snakes.


I'm going to have to disagree with you here. I see rattlers in the local mountains at least once every other week during the summer, if not once a week and they are dumb as hell.

I have never, ever had one rattle ahead of time. The sequence usually goes like this:
1) I see a rattler laying on the trail and can't get by.
2) I kick dirt at it and nothing happens. I kick more dirt and nothing happens.
3) I throw little pebbles at it and nothing happens.
4) I find a long branch and poke it from far, far away or a rock the size of a dollar coin and throw it at the body. I'm not trying to kill the thing, that would be easy.
5) HISSSSSS, rattle, rattle, rattle.
6) I stand there exasperated for about 30 seconds as it lets me know it's pissed off.
7) It now starts to slink off into the bushes or I repeat step #4.

I've had one guy slink off without ever rattling. I've also had one guy lunge at me multiple times. It just did not want to move off the trail. I have never had one warn me ahead of time and I've had more snake encounters than I have fingers and toes.

I worry about ticks and lions.

Re: HST & general advice please!
Anonymous1 #26838 08/11/12 03:56 PM
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Adrienne,

Elfin bears...chippies and marmots. These are the varmints that will make you life a living hell, if you don't do what you are suppose to do with your food.

I once made a mistake at Trail Camp that cost me all my breakfast foods. Some marmot hit the stinking jackpot that day.

I have seen 1 bear, 2 snakes and 0 mountain lions in Sierra wilderness in the last 17 years. I do not believe I am atypical. Bears are a bigger problem at Whitney Portal than the trail. Don't sweat the snakes above 8,000'...although one of the snakes I was in the Sierra was above Upper Crabtree Meadow at about 11,000'.

Last edited by wbtravis; 08/11/12 03:58 PM.
Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #26915 08/13/12 10:10 AM
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Caplen
I use a Steripen Classic and love it. Best money I ever spent. Would never go back to using regular filter. I thru hiked the JMT last summer and used it for the whole trip filtering approx 4 liters water/day. Only used 1 set of Lithium batteries (4 XXA).
Major plus is not having to filter water at the source. Late afternoon I would fill bottles, then filter them after finding camp site for the night. I did carry pills as a back-up but never used them.

Re: HST & general advice please!
jmthiker #26918 08/13/12 11:13 AM
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I, too, am a fan of the Steripen Classic. Good to practice at home before going on the trail. It is easy to use but if you dunk it in the water before the green light starts blinking you're in for a world of frustration. But once you've got the sequence, it's a breeze.

Re: HST & general advice please!
Akichow #26923 08/13/12 02:02 PM
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And for another opinion regarding water treatment...

Ever since I read the Giardiasis paper by Robert Rockwell, PhD, I have never treated or filtered Sierra water. It is ok with me if you want to carry a filter or Steripen or chemicals, but just so you know, there IS another option.

The water treatment discussions and links to additional studies are in threads listed in the "Links to important Whitney information" topic in the Reference forum:

Quote:
Water discussions (Drink untreated, or filter/treat/boil/etc.)
  Water and Giardia around Mt. Whitney
  60,000 Liters of Water Consumed -- Untreated
  Filter question (links to studies, etc.)


Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #27228 08/25/12 01:29 PM
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Thanks to all of you! Just got home about 3am today. What a remarkable trip! A magnificent hike on the HST, culminating with a successful summit on the 23rd.

This was beyond my expectations, and honestly, way out of my league. But worth every minute.

Thanks again for all the advice, tips and encouragement. Trip report soon.

~Adrienne

Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #27244 08/26/12 03:56 AM
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Congratulations!

Out of your league? I think not. It sounds like you made it and had a great time! Looking forward to the trip report.

Re: HST & general advice please!
caplen #27245 08/26/12 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted By: caplen
and honestly, way out of my league.


Not any more! cool


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