Friday, August 6, 2010


Earlier this week, I posted a story on copperhead bites in North Carolina.

And earlier this week, I saw a story on Matt Jenkins, aka "The Barefoot Runner," completing his 740-mile run across the state to raise funds for the Western Youth Network in Boone.

Later, those two stories converged…almost in my own backyard!

The Barefoot Runner must have passed within hollerin’ distance of my house Tuesday afternoon going up the mountain to Cullowhee Gap and Macon County. By the time he descended to the level land along Ellijay Creek, it was dark.

He had seen one snake earlier. Then, continuing carefully on the dark road, he felt a sting on his foot. Looking back, Jenkins saw a snake glide away.

Hemmed in by tall ridges, he didn’t have a cell signal, and faced the unfortunate need to start knocking on doors at 10:30 PM. Aargh!

Help and hospitality awaited at the first house he called on, though. The sting turned out to be a copperhead bite. Even with prompt treatment, his leg is painful and swollen and he could be off the road for a couple of weeks.

More on The Barefoot Runner, from Karen Chavez with the Asheville Citizen-Times:

He said he has 88 miles left until the run from Manteo, which he started July 14, to Murphy, is completed.

So far, the WYN has raised $4,000, a drop compared to the more than $150,000 lost from state budget cuts, but Matt said he is grateful for every penny that people have donated.

"It's a great thing," he said of his snake bite. "It's one of the greatest things that's happened on the run. It has renewed interest from the media and increased sympathy donations. It's not about me. It's about the Western Youth Network. I'm just the village idiot."

For more information, or to donate to the WYN, visit

I have to wonder if it was the same copperhead I saw on that same stretch of road, on a mild November afternoon. It was the prettiest copperhead I’d ever seen.

Frank Fraboni reported this for WLOS, and the video lets you see the damage a copperhead can do:

All in all, I’m thankful we have “village idiots” like Matt Jenkins on this planet.

1 comment:

DianeD said...

Hi Gulahiyi,
I thought of your article on copperheads too when I heard of Matt's bite on WBT radio. Keith Larson has interviewed him at least twice, and he is a fine fellow. We go hiking a great deal at McDowell Park on Lake Wylie near Charlotte. It is a haven for reptiles. We've seen many lizards, frogs, various snakes and a couple of copperheads. They are beautiful snakes, and very well camouflaged. If they don't move you think they're a stick or a mess of leaves. "Look out for Mr. No Shoulders", my husband always says when we start out. We wonder too why Parks and Rec decided to name one area in the Park Copperhead Island... it doesn't seem to have any more copperheads than the rest of the Park! It isn't really an island either, so perhaps the name was used as a warning to naive walkers as they read the trails guide. Happy hiking and be safe!