Hiker celebrating 60th birthday rescued from trail
by Julia Guzy - Jul. 13, 2009 07:09 PM
The Arizona Republic
A man's 60th birthday celebration hike on Camelback Mountain came to an unexpected end when he passed out and had to be rescued by fire personnel Monday morning.
The hiker's fainting spell triggered warnings from local fire officials for residents to be wary of strenous activities during the Valley's heat wave. Last weekend, they noted, a Phoenix hiker's pet dog died due to possible over-exertion in the heat.
Members of the Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe fire departments shortly after 10 a.m. Monday located the distressed birthday hiker about two-thirds up Camelback on Echo Canyon trail, near 6101 East Cholla Lane.
They administered two liters of fluids to hydrate the hiker, who had inadequate water supplies with him and also complained of shortness of breath, said Capt. Shelly Jamison of the Phoenix Fire Department.
Once his condition was stabilized, firefighters used a "big wheel" to move the 200-pound man down the mountain's difficult terrain. The rescue took an hour, but once at the mountain's base he declined to be hospitalized, Jamison said.
The solo hiker had experienced a dizzy spell and fainted on the mountain. Once he awoke, he waited on a rock to be rescued while remaining on his cell phone with rescuers, Jamison said.
The man reportedly was dressed in heavy clothes - blue jeans, a shirt and a black hat. He began hiking about 4:30 a.m. and suffered from heat exhaustion due to dehydration and overexposure.
"The man's an avid hiker, in good shape and does this on a regular basis," Jamison said. "He got a little carried away when he decided to loop around and hike the mountain a second time."
As the heat intensifies, hikers need to take extra precautions, Jamison warned.
In a tragic Saturday morning incident, a woman's dog perished while she was hiking South Mountain near South Central Avenue and East Jesse Owens Parkway in Phoenix.
The woman, in her 30s or early 40s, was about half-way up Pima Canyon Trail with her two dogs when she suspected the larger of the pets was sick and dying. When she bent down, the dog nipped her in the face, said Cpt. Tony Mure, Phoenix Fire Department.
By the time Phoenix and Guadalupe firefighters arrived, the dog had perished and they instead treated the woman's wound.
The dog was believed to have succumbed to heat stress. It weighed about 50-60 pounds and had thick, long black hair. The smaller dog survived.
The woman also appeared unprepared to deal with the heat, according to Mure. She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and jeans, and did not appear to have any water.
Fire department officials offer the following hiking safety tips:
• Be smart - think ahead of potential emergencies.
• Tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back.
• Wear appropriate, breathable clothing, a hat, hiking shoes with ankle support, and apply sunscreen liberally.
• Bring plenty of water - ideally, wear an apparatus that holds 1 to 1½ gallons.
• Don't overextend yourself. Know what your limits are.
• In intense summer heat, exercise early and finish by 7 a.m.