Hiker Collapses After Brush With Remarkably Common Acid Plant Everyone Should Know About


A woman hiking in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California had to call for an emergency rescue after her legs went numb following what she thought was a spider bite.

Later, it was determined the source of her body’s reaction was likely the stinging nettle plant.

The Inyo County Search and Rescue team reported about the incident in a Facebook post.

“At around 6:30PM on Wednesday, June 12, Inyo SAR received a call-out for a hiker on Taboose Pass Trail who was unable to continue her descent from the pass,” the post read.

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The woman had been hiking on the popular John Muir Trial, which traverses the Sierra Nevada range for 211 miles going through places like Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

At one point on her hike, she hit a section near Mather Pass, which peaks at over 12,000 feet, with too much snow for her liking and decided to exit the area via what’s called the Taboose Pass trail.

“About 1.7 mi shy of the trailhead, the hiker went to fetch water from the creek when she reportedly got bitten by what she thought was a spider. Afterwards, she was unable to feel the skin on her legs and could not continue her hike down. She still managed to call for a rescue and relay her coordinates, then her phone battery died,” Inyo County Search and Rescue described.

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Rescuers assembled a team at Bishop, California, south of the ski town of Mammoth Lakes, and went to locate the hiker.

They were able to bring a wheeled litter carrier most of the way up the Taboose Pass trail they needed to traverse until they were about a quarter mile from the stranded hiker. Rescuers then stashed the litter carrier and continued on.

Inyo County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lindsey Stine told The San Francisco Chronicle the rescue team was able to find the woman about four hours after her emergency call.

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They then slowly walked her down a tricky portion of the trail using ropes for added support until they reached the litter. From there, rescuers wheeled her out, arriving at the trailhead about midnight.

Stine told the New York Post, “Rescuers believe that the individual who needed rescuing was stung by stinging nettles located on the overgrown trail.”

“The leaves and young stems of the stinging nettles are fitted with stinging hairs tipped with formic acid and other irritants that can cause irritation upon puncturing the skin,” the Post explained, citing Britannica. “If touched, these needle-like hairs inject the stinging acid into the skin, triggering a burning, tingling sensation and an itchy rash.”

Symptoms usually don’t last longer than 24 hours, per Britannica.

The National Institutes of Health reports that stinging nettles are edible, but they must be cooked first to deactivate the acid.

Regarding the incident, Inyo Search and Rescue advised hikers, “Always bring a power bank for your phone, don’t use anything that can drain its battery, or – better yet – bring a satellite messaging device. About half of the emergency calls that SAR receives come from a person with a dying phone battery.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith