Vermonter recovering from rattlesnake bite

Published: Apr. 8, 2019 at 6:15 AM EDT
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A Vermonter is recovering after a hike in Arizona turned into a trip to the hospital.

Kaija Johnson planned to spend two weeks hiking the Arizona Trail but halfway through her journey, she was bitten by a rattlesnake.

She says it happened deep in a canyon and the snake never gave any warning before striking her below the knee.

Johnson said she focused on staying calm while a friend ran 5 miles to get a cell signal to call 911.

Johnson was airlifted to the hospital where she credits knowing what to do for saving her leg, and maybe even her life.

"It's being aware of your surroundings and in the back of the mind knowing how to get out and who to contact. If at all possible, be with a friend or a group of people that can get you safely somewhere," said Johnson.

Doctors say Johnson's bite is severe, but she plans to hike in Arizona again once she's fully healed.

Vermont has timber rattlesnakes but they're endangered and found only in two isolated populations in western Rutland County.