Some
people from the Huntsville Canoe Club were paddling the Hiwassee the
weekend of June 2-3 and my buddy Matt paddled ahead through the rapid
after Lunch Stop in order to snap a few photos. He was holding onto a
rock with his left hand and snapping photos with his right.

After
a few minutes, he felt a pain in his left hand and looked down to see
a snake attached to his ring finger. The snake let go and darted into
some leaves so he grabbed the paddle and smacked the leaves to expose
the snake. He recognized the snake as a copperhead and let the group know
what had happened.

They
made the decision to paddle to the takeout without making any stops
and to keep his hand in the cold water as long as possible to slow
down the swelling. By the time they got to the takeout his
hand/forearm were described as “looking like Shrek.” They hauled
ass to the Cleveland ER, where they gave him anti-venom and an IV and
then the doctor made a decision to transport him (not sure if it was
ambulance or airlift) to the Chattanooga hospital because they were
better equipped to handle this.

I
talked to Matt’s wife and they were going to be holding him a
second night and then expected him to be released. She says
everything seems to be going well and the swelling has dropped down a
lot. She said the bite area looks like disgusting and is black and
bubbled up. Luckily he had removed his wedding ring before they
started paddling or it would have been cut off at the ER.

By
Kent Upshaw
From the Birmingham Canoe Club listserve
From The
Eddy Line, July, 2007