PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The warm weather is here, and so are the rattlesnakes. One hiker learned that the hard way.

Hiker bitten by rattlesnake

Kaija Johnson was hiking the Arizona Trail when a rattlesnake bit her right leg just below the knee.

She's living proof that being prepared for an emergency like this could make all the difference.

[RELATED: Rattlesnakes everywhere? Expert says they're just more visible]

Vermont resident Kaija Johnson is recovering in the hospital after being bit by a rattlesnake right below her knee.

Here for two weeks to hike the Arizona Trail, Johnson was deep in a canyon outside of Superior when she says the snake never gave her a warning rattle before it struck.

[WATCH: "There's not time to think or be scared ..."]

“As I came up out of the wash, I was flipping my hiking sticks, and I never saw the snake. I must have stepped on him,” said Johnson.

She says it hurt no more than a bee sting. But she realized it was much more serious when her leg started to swell.

[GRAPHIC PHOTO: Johnson's bite]

She focused on remaining calm.

Hiker bitten by rattlesnake

Johnson was air-lifted to the hospital.

"With the snake, it just happens so fast; there's no time to think or be scared. It was just like, 'OK I got bit. What next?'” said Johnson.

[RELATED: Phoenix grandfather bitten by rattlesnake after falling off mountain bike]

[AND THIS: Wife of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio home after snake bite hospitalization]

The friend with whom she was hiking ran for 5 miles to get cell signal so they could call 911.

Johnson was airlifted to Banner University Medical Center Phoenix where doctors say her bite was severe.

“I believe thus far she's received 26 vials of anti-venom, and it's possible she'll need additional doses,” said Dr. Steven Curry.

Johnson credits knowing what to do for saving her leg and maybe even her life.

[RELATED: Phoenix man first in US to receive new anti-venom treatment]

Hike bitten by rattlesnake

Johnson should be back to hiking in about six weeks.

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

Johnson is expected to make a full recovery and should be able to hike again in about six weeks.

[RELATED: Rattlesnake season approaching as temperatures rise in Phoenix]

Arizona Trail

Johnson was hiking the Arizona Trail outside Superior when she was bitten.

The Arizona Trail is a non-motorized path that spans 800 miles across Arizona from Mexico to Utah.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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(4) comments


You two ^^^ are quite the duo. JO partners?

Wayne kenoff

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. I don’t understand people who go hiking.


Totally agree. I find it ridiculous that they're out there away from society where law enforcement can't keep track of who's up to what. It just sounds suspicious. These trails need to be made off limits to civilians or at least require permits so that the Authorities can track people.


Should have left the piece of trash in the mountains.

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