Indiana woman dies while hiking Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail
PHOENIX — A woman died hiking a Grand Canyon trail as she attempted to get to the Colorado River and back in one day, according to the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center.
At around 9 p.m. local time on May 14, the National Park Service responded to a report of a pulseless and unresponsive hiker on the Bright Angel Trail above the Three-Mile Resthouse. Although her name has not been released, authorities have identified her as a 36-year-old woman from Westfield, Indiana.
The Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail in the Grand Canyon, but like all trails that lead into the canyon, it’s steep and challenging, according to the park’s website. It is recommended that hikers descending to the Colorado River consult a ranger for safety advice. It is not known if the woman communicated with a ranger before her hike.
A cause of death was being investigated by the NPS in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner, NPS Public Affairs Specialist Joelle Baird said in a statement.
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“Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks”
In light of the incident and as temperatures continue to climb, Grand Canyon National Park rangers have urged hikers to be prepared for excessively hot days, as in the summer they can reach up to 120 degrees. Rangers also advised against hiking the inner canyon between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because many heat-related illnesses have occurred in that range, Baird said.
“Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia (a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance due to excessive water intake and drinking insufficient salt) and death,” Baird said. Please be aware that NPS efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the summer months due to limited staff, number of emergency calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flight capacity during periods of extreme heat or bad weather.”
According to park experts, the important gear to bring for a safe hike is to “balance food, electrolyte, and water intake; drink when thirsty; get wet to stay cool; and stop hiking if you start to feel sick,” Baird said.
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How to hike safely
For more information on hiking throughout the summer, visit the National Park Service website on hiking tips.
City officials in Phoenix, more than 200 miles south of the Grand Canyon, have provided the following safety precautions for hikers to take when using the trails:
- Watch the weather: Yes, “it’s dry heat” – but Arizona’s temperature can be deceiving and deadly. Hike when it’s cold outside, try early morning and evening when there is more shade.
- Dress appropriately: wear proper shoes, clothes, hat and sunscreen.
- Bring water: Hydrate before you go. Have plenty of water, more than you think you need. Turn around and head back to the trailhead before you drink half your water.
- Stay in touch: Bring a cell phone.
- Team up: Hike with others. If you are hiking solo, tell someone your start and end times and your location.
- Be honest: Do you have a medical condition? Asthma, heart problems, diabetes, knee or back problems? Don’t force yourself! “Even trained athletes have been caught off guard by becoming dehydrated on Arizona trails.”
- Don’t be a trailblazer: enjoy the beautiful, undeveloped landscape of the Sonoran Desert, but stay on designated trails.
- Take responsibility: don’t be “that person” – the one who was unprepared, who shouldn’t have been there for health reasons, or who ignored safety instructions. Be the responsible hiker, who hikes and does it well!
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