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Hiker Dies in Grand Canyon Trekking From Rim to Colorado River and Back in a Day

A 36-year-old woman died on the popular Bright Angel Trail, the park announced recently. It's the second confirmed death on the trail this year.

Grand Canyon park hikers(Photo/Grand Canyon NPS)
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On May 14 around 9 p.m., officials at Grand Canyon National Park received a report of an unresponsive hiker on the Bright Angel Trail.

National Park Service (NPS) personnel responded to the location above the Three-Mile Resthouse, but attempts to resuscitate the hiker failed.

On Wednesday, the park identified the victim as a 36-year-old female from Westfield, Indiana. She was attempting a 1-day, round-trip hike to the Colorado River, the NPS said, without specifying the source of that information. The Park Service has declined all requests to release her name.

The exact cause and circumstances of the woman’s death remain unclear as of this writing, pending an NPS investigation. However, the agency did note numerous Grand Canyon hiking safety tips as the park’s hottest months approach.

Bright Angel Trail: Serious, Strenuous, Deadly

Potential victims of unsolicited recordings the occurred at several Grand Canyon restroom facilities are asked to come forward.
(Photo/Bella Bender)

Inner canyon hikers and backpackers will likely face excessively hot days in the coming weeks, park rangers noted. Visitors must be prepared — if they decide to hike at all. Temperatures on exposed portions of the Bright Angel Trail can climb above 120 degrees F in the shade.

For those reasons, rangers recommend against hiking in the inner canyon between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. At this time, the park does not recommend hiking from the rim to the river and back in 1 day under any circumstances. (The hike to Plateau Point, the river overlook, covers 12 miles and 3,080 feet of elevation change. From direct experience, GearJunkie can confirm it is extremely strenuous on the way back.)

Know your limits. Before hiking, make sure you’re acclimated to the climate and elevation, have the appropriate gear, and have experience hiking in steep, desert terrain. Basic preparation involves balancing food, electrolyte, and water intake. It also means drinking when thirsty, getting wet to stay cool, and stopping hiking if you start to feel ill, the NPS said.

The alternative is risking health problems ranging from heat exhaustion to death. It’s possible to exacerbate your condition by exposing yourself to hyponatremia — a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance that occurs when you drink too much water without consuming enough salt.

Finally, the NPS noted, help can be far away in the Grand Canyon during the summer. Staff sometimes struggle to respond to the sheer number of calls, and must consider their own safety. Even helicopters, the agency said, are subject to grounding during periods of extreme heat or harsh weather.

The woman is the second hiker to die along the Bright Angel Trail this year. In February, a 56-year-old man died near Havasupai Gardens, also attempting a day trip to the Colorado River and back.

The NPS continues to investigate the hiker’s death in conjunction with the Coconino County Medical Examiner. No further information was available as of this writing.

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