Keaton Baker

Keaton Baker left Iowa to work on trail maintenance in Yosemite National Park. The experience has been exciting and full of adventure. “You are totally in the wild, living in tents,” he noted. “On the weekends, though you’re still in the wild, you can do pretty much whatever you find pleasing.”

On one of those weekends, Keaton was having some fun rock hopping. When he stepped out of the river and onto the shore, a rattlesnake was sitting in the shade, likely asleep. Disturbed by Keaton’s sudden appearance, the rattlesnake bit Keaton on the foot. A good distance away from the rest of his crew, Keaton closed his eyes, took some deep breaths, and began to journey back to his teammates.

Unfortunately, Keaton’s body quickly began to go numb. He could feel tingling in his lips and knew time was ticking. Unable to put pressure on his foot, Keaton began to crawl back. The journey took him an hour and a half. First, there were large downed trees he had to hop over, then later, Keaton had to go underwater. Thankfully, the water was not too rapid at the time. At the end of his journey back, Keaton had to play a game of Marco Polo to find his friends.

Keaton awaiting helicopter transport to the hospital

When he first returned, Keaton told his buddy that a rattlesnake had bitten him. Unfortunately, his friend didn’t believe him, instead thinking that Keaton was pulling a prank. Once everyone realized it wasn’t a drill, they tended to him and his wound. Fortunately, one of the crew members was an EMT, who continuously checked Keaton’s vitals and prepared an exit plan.

First, they sent a couple of members back to base camp to radio for a helicopter pickup. Then, they organized a route to get Keaton back. Roughly four to five hours passed from when the rattlesnake bit Keaton to when he arrived at the hospital.

At the hospital, Keaton received an estimated ten vials of antivenom and pain medication. However, even with some of the strongest pain medication available, Keaton could still feel the painful effects of the snake bite, which he described as immense pressure and tingling.

Keaton’s leg and foot were swollen and bruised. “It was hard as wood,” he explained. Needing to work on his range of motion and regaining his mobility, Keaton transferred to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Fresno for inpatient rehabilitation.

When Keaton arrived at SJVRH, he required a wheelchair to get around and could only walk about ten feet, with lots of pain. However, having worked hard in his therapy sessions, Keaton now ambulates up to 150 feet with crutches and will fully recover in time.

“The people here really care about what they do,” Keaton said about his inpatient rehab stay. “It’s very clear. I couldn’t do what they do.”

“I have had a different experience here than I think most people have,” he reflected. “Because I’m younger, everyone went into “Mama mode.” They are very close with everyone. It’s kind of like a little family. Everyone has been very kind.”