The best part of today was meeting Kerry Johnson. He’s a mid-60’s ranger with the US Forest Service. We stopped at the Nez Perce lookout over Hells Canyon for a toilet break and he was manning the lookout. We started talking to him about the area and then we got on to the subject of rattlesnakes because of the one we saw the night before.
Here are a couple of his stories:
- He’s been bit 4 times. Never got the anti-venom serum because it cost about $1800 for the treatment and he had no insurance at the time. We found out later that he was a kid all 4 times. One time his leg turned black and when his mother finally saw it she thought that just maybe he should go to the doctor.
- A guy he knows, Wendall Weaver, was always messing with rattlers. He’d tell people that the bite only hurt a little and that he, too, never got treatments. Well, as the story goes, one night in the bar after a few too many beers he bet his croonies that he could let a snake bite him and live. They all said he was nuts and kept telling him he could die from the bite. Soooooo, old Wendall got a rattle snake from outside and proceeds to set it on the bar. Well, everyone about died and backed away. He bet everyone $50 that he’d let the snake bite him. Each guy put up $50. Wendall proceeds to push up his sleeve, pick up the snake and let the snake bite him…hard. After a few minutes he pulls the snake off his arm, gathers up the money and leaves. He didn’t die…although he did die a few years later from stomach cancer and you just have to wonder.
- Now this one is not about a snake but a skunk. The Rangers would go out and check traps that were set for some wild animals, but one time a Ranger found a skunk trapped and the skunk was dead. The ranger goes to free the skunk from the trap when the last of rigor mortis hits and the skunk’s jaw automatically lashes on to the ranger’s arm. The ranger can’t shake the skunk plus the ranger still has one foot on the trap. Pretty soon the other rangers wonder where he is and when they find him they can’t believe what they see. The ranger who has the skunk jaws wrapped around his arm had to use a saw to file off the teeth of the skunk so that the rest of the skunk would drop and then he could pull out the remnants of the teeth from his arm and then release his foot from the trap.
What great stories. This ranger feels he has the best job ever. Plus he said ever since he started carrying a snake bite kit and has insurance he has not been bitten. I think he has built of antibodies and it wouldn’t matter if he got bit or not.
Here’s a few parting shots of our drive through a section of Hells Canyon and then Grande Ronde Canyon and river. The sun was bright and the sky was gray from the smoke. but it was a great day…again.
Our lunch spot in Troy turned out to be owned by the Shilo Inn people. We had a great lunch here before heading back to Wallowa Lake.