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Hiker Rescued After Mysteriously Losing Feeling in Her Legs

Last week, a woman who was section hiking the John Muir Trail required rescue after she mysteriously lost feeling in her legs and could not continue her trek.

In an announcement posted to Facebook, Inyo County Search & Rescue (SAR) says the hiker had changed her mind about the original hike and was on Taboose Pass Trail, which was her nearest exit out of the Sierra Nevada. She took a brief detour to the creek and, while filling up on water, the woman told Inyo County SAR that she thinks something bit her, possibly a spider.

Shortly afterward, the woman couldn’t feel the skin on her legs. She called for help, and then her phone battery died. It was late at night, but help came promptly.

“Inyo SAR assembled a team in Bishop and drove the rough road up to Taboose trailhead,” the announcement reads. “The rescuers pushed a wheeled litter up for about 1.5 mi, then stashed it when the trail became too rough to safely continue with a litter for the last quarter mile. After assessing the patient, the rescuers slowly walked her down the tricky section of the trail while ensuring her safety with ropes, then transferred her into the wheeled litter where the trail became stable.”

Taboose Pass Trail is in Inyo National Forest, near California’s Kings Canyon National Park.

What’s With the Numb Leg Skin, Though?

While the official announcement didn’t give any more detail about the woman’s mysteriously numb leg skin, Inyo County SAR said in a comment reply: “We don’t know what bit her and if she got bitten at all (there’s stinging nettle, too).”

Turns out, the person from Inyo County SAR who left that comment may have been on to something. A representative from the organization told PEOPLE that while they still don’t know for sure, they suspect that stinging nettles stung the hiker, not a spider.

This dangerous plant has small needle-like “hairs” that stick out on the stems and leaves. When a person touches these needle-hair things, they inject some nasty stuff into the person’s skin, causing irritation.

Reactions to nettle stings vary depending on the individual. Common symptoms include burning, tingling, or stinging sensations, white or red spots, and raised bumps. It’s possible this hiker may have had a more severe allergic reaction, leaving the skin on her legs where she got stung feeling numb and tingly.

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