Distance

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Elevation

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Vertical

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Time

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What was supposed to be a long day in the mountains turned into a real adventure as a result of the local wildlife participating in the proceedings. Drove up Middle Fork Road on Sunday as far as I was comfortable pushing the Subaru Outback... Hiked up to Cucamonga Peak and then stayed on or close to the ridge to tag Icehouse Peak, Etiwanda Peak, Peak 8386 and the peak 1 mile to the East of there (7,398 feet). Plan was to reach the saddle directly East of 7,398 and then descend directly via the canyon straight north of the saddle to reach the side trail leading directly to the Middle Fork Trailhead and a short hike along the dirt road back to the car. Just before reaching the saddle I traversed on a cliffy section, reached above my head to use a crack and had the novel experience of being bitten twice in the finger by a rattlesnake who was enjoying his afternoon sunbath until I disturbed him. After taking a few minutes to calm down I called a doctor friend to assess my options. We figured that it would likely be faster to hike down on my own rather than rely on a helicopter rescue particularly since the sun was going to set in the next couple of hours. The next couple of miles down the canyon were excruciatingly slow, stepping carefully down the canyon to avoid losing my balance as the venom started traveling up my arm. I kept moving despite the visual disturbances, pain, growing numbness and general tiredness. Reaching the stream was a major milestone as drinking a liter or two afforded me reviewed energy. I was quite relieved to reach the car around 9pm and drove down to the valley to check myself into the local ER where I spent the next couple of days. What are the takeaways from this? I'm not quite sure, but here are a few ideas:
- always plan for a mishap even on known terrain - make sure you have means to communicate (eg Garmin InReach) and be ready to self rescue
- SoCal mountains are beautiful because they are so wild - underestimate them at your peril
- if bitten by a rattlesnake pay very close attention to any systemic symptoms such as accelerated heart rate, swelling, tingling, etc. If you have any of these get rescued ASAP. If not, you have a couple of hours or more to get to a hospital
- oh and by the way the loop via the canyon is a totally doable off-trail option with no major drop-offs or cliff-outs, just stay away from my friend the snake!

Route to summit

Unknown route

loop
Obstacles

routefinding, bushwhacking

Key gear

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Other peaks climbed on this trip