Tragedy Serves as Reminder to be Safe When Hiking

We have some sad news to report out of the Grand Canyon… a hiker lost his life on the Tanner Trail on Sunday. No word as to the cause of death yet, but two other hikers who passed him reported that he appeared exhausted and in distressed. Despite pleas from the hikers that he join them and hike down to the river, the man, who had abandoned his pack earlier, told them that he wanted to continue up the trail.

He was found in a wash just above Tanner Beach. Rangers on-scene confirmed that the body matched the description of the hiker that the backpackers encountered on Friday. The body was prepared for transport then flown to the South Rim by helicopter and transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner. You can read the full report below.

Often, it takes a tragedy like this to remember that taking simple precautions could mean the difference between life and death when out and about hiking.

Here are a few simple things to keep in mind…

  • Hiking alone can be appealing, but as a general rule, it’s always better to hike with someone else. If that’s not an option, make sure you have a plan in place. And make sure someone knows where you’re going.
  • Stay in tune with your body. Thirst is a poor indicator of fluid requirement. If you’re thirsty chances are you’re already dehydrated. Be sure to drink water regularly.
  • If you run out of water, rest in the shade until sunset and travel at night. If you must travel during the day, go from shady spot to shady spot.
  • Shade your head with a hat or bandanna.

Lastly, remember even if you’re embarking on an easy hike, there are several things that you should always carry with you:

  • Topographical map (sealed in a plastic bag)
  • Pen and paper
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches
  • First-aid kit
  • Pocket knife or multitool
  • Extra clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water (a gallon a day is the general rule, but if you’re hiking the desert in the summer — something that is strongly discouraged — you’ll need at least double that amound)
  • Compass
  • GPS device
  • Fire starter or tinder kit
  • Pocket flashlight (with spare batteries)
  • Extra food
  • Space blanket
  • Insect repellent

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Mid-morning on Sunday, August 28, a ranger at the Mather Campground on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park received a report of a hiker possibly in distress on the Tanner Trail.

The reporting party, a pair of backpackers, told the ranger they ran into a hiker on the Tanner Trail on Friday, August 26, who appeared to be exhausted and had abandoned his pack further down the trail. The pair, who were also feeling heat-stressed, provided the hiker with additional water and told him they didn’t think he could make it out. They urged him to go with them down to the river. He refused, saying he wanted to continue up the trail. On their way to the river, the pair passed the man’s abandoned pack.

On Saturday as the pair began their return journey, they again passed the abandoned pack, took note of the permit information, and looked for the distressed hiker as they continued to their next campsite. They were carrying an extra gallon of water in case they ran into him again.

On Sunday, they finished their backpacking trip without again seeing the distressed hiker. Concerned for his welfare, the pair reported their encounter with the hiker as soon as they returned to the rim.

After receiving the report and determining that the hiker’s car was still parked at the trailhead, rangers called for the park’s helicopter to fly the Tanner Trail in an effort to quickly locate the distressed hiker; and at approximately 10:45 a.m., the helicopter’s crew reported spotting a body in a wash just above Tanner Beach. Rangers on-scene confirmed that the body matched the description of the hiker that the backpackers encountered on Friday.

The body was prepared for transport then flown to the South Rim by helicopter and transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Flickr pic by Al_HikeAZ

2 Comments

Filed under Eco Issues, Hiking

2 responses to “Tragedy Serves as Reminder to be Safe When Hiking

  1. Dehydration affects judgment and leads to bad decisions. A hiking partner can recognize the impairment and help you when you don’t realize that you are making poor choices. In the heat of the Canyon, replenishing electrolytes is also critical. As you sweat you are dehydrating and losing electrolytes. If you only drink water and don’t replace electrolytes you will experience hyponatremia. The symptoms of heat exhaustion and hyponatremia are very similar and make diagnosis and treatment difficult.

    Thanks for honoring me with the use of this photo of Erin Frazier on the Thunder River trail. That little tinaja had dried up when we went back across this section of the esplanade just two days later.

  2. Sue

    When you are the one in distress you often do not know it until it is too late…so sad!

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