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Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

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azbackpackr
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Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by azbackpackr » Jul 10 2015 6:01 am

Is it my imagination, or is this year so far worse than previous years? There have been at least two heat-related hiker deaths in Grand Canyon that I've heard of (one on BA, one on NK). How many on Camelback and in other Valley areas? And then this latest awful tragedy out in Gila Bend.

Am I just paying attention to this a lot more, or is it actually worse this year? Are there a lot more hikers out there these days, or is the temperature hotter?

Here are some questions I have for general discussion, for those who are concerned and would like to help prevent these tragedies:

1. What more can we as hikers do to prevent these tragedies happening to others?
2. What more could the authorities do? There are many governing agencies involved where hiker deaths are concerned: local, state and federal branches. Too many to count, in fact. I know they do put up signs. What else could they do?
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SpiderLegs
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by SpiderLegs » Aug 09 2015 7:55 am

azbackpackr wrote:@SpiderLegs
Sheesh. How far down had they gone?

From what I remember at least a couple of miles. Were determined to make it to the river.

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joebartels
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by joebartels » Aug 10 2015 10:48 am

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/pho ... es-7554143
While hiking at night is against city rules, (and ticks off area residents), Bach ( spokesman for the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department ) confirms that it's perfectly acceptable to park at the Echo Canyon lot just before sunset, which means the vehicle would be there after official closing hours. He also says it's fine to start hiking before the gate opens in the morning, though vehicles aren't permitted to enter until just before sunrise.
https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/lo ... k-mountain
Parking lot and trail hours: sunrise to sunset
It's concerning the surrounding residents are forcing hikers out of the coolest part of the day.

Other parks are dialed in for safety. For reference South Mountain, North Mountain, Piestewa Peak and the Sonoran Preserve are open until 11 p.m.
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chumley
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by chumley » Aug 10 2015 11:06 am

joe bartels wrote: the surrounding residents are forcing hikers out of the coolest part of the day.
Sounds to me it's the exact opposite? It ticks off area residents, but despite the rules prohibiting it, the city is on record as saying they won't cite people who hike outside of park hours when temperatures are more moderate.

matching edit: It would certainly help if they published hours that matched the other parks. But this might be a way of placating the complainers: have rules in place that sound good to the residents, with no intention of enforcing them.
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by joebartels » Aug 10 2015 11:28 am

Hopefully they are making the right decisions now.

The city website hasn't changed, it says the trail closes at sunset. Also, a month ago rangers were talking to hikers starting Camelback in the last half hour of sunlight. The friendly chat was to make hikers aware they needed to be out of the park by sunset. There was an A frame notice up too.

If the article is true then something has changed. They wouldn't need to inform hikers starting near sunset or have an A frame if hiking is allowed to those that get in before the gates close.
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chumley
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by chumley » Aug 10 2015 11:54 am

Yeah, when the spokesman for the parks department says it doesn't matter, but signs are being put out daily that contradict that, then I would say there's going to be some confusion. ](*,)
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big_load
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by big_load » Aug 10 2015 12:51 pm

Unfortunately, Phoenix seems to have a disproportionate number of those who believe that anyone outside after dark is up to no good. That surprises me a little, since the summer climate is more conducive to evening exercise, but it's an attitude I encounter on almost every visit. (To go a step further, some people are leery of anyone who ventures outdoors under any circumstances).

Tucson seems a little different in that regard, although maybe I haven't sampled it well enough. I was really struck by the crowds pouring into Sabino Canyon at dusk, just as I finished a sweltering dayhike.

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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by ddgrunning » Aug 10 2015 3:30 pm

hippiepunkpirate wrote: young fit males in their teens and early 20s are prone to suffer heat exhaustion as their young bodies are able to perform at a superior level remarkably close to the point of their core temperature sky rocketing
A big challenge for some is not realizing how quickly one can go from "okay" to "major distress." It seems like in several of the tragedies I've read about recently, the victims are found within a mile or so of the trailhead--a relatively leisurely 20 minute walk, under normal conditions.

I was thinking about that when I went on a 10-mi. run this past Saturday in Phoenix. A 10-13 mile weekend run is not unusual for me, but the combination of heat, and humidity (from the Friday rain) did a real number on me. It was one of the more miserable runs I've had in a long time. I made it home fine, but with about a mile left to go, I began to appreciate just how "far" that distance is for someone suffering from heat-related illness ....

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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by TeamBillyGoat » Aug 10 2015 6:46 pm

I am always surprised when I hear people (even people on HAZ) only mention the importance of drinking plenty of water. Water is only half of the equation.... Electrolytes, Electrolytes, Electrolytes... nobody ever mentions the importance of electrolytes in combination with water. When you sweat you're losing massive amounts of electrolytes along with hydration. I use Salt Stick capsules when I hike. You can find them at REI. I think there needs to be more emphasis on the need for replenishing these vital minerals in the body along with water. More info: http://www.builtlean.com/2012/11/28/electrolytes/

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big_load
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by big_load » Aug 10 2015 7:29 pm

Buku Hoodoo wrote:... Electrolytes, Electrolytes, Electrolytes...
Yes, they make a big difference when the chips are down. I keep careful tabs on how I feel and how I react to what I just drank. There are definitely some tell-tale signs of electrolyte depletion, but they're hard for me to verbalize. The easiest one is a feeling a gulp of plain water just sitting on my stomach, while being able slug a pint of electrolyte solution without stopping for air. (That's already worse off than I like to get).

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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by JimmyLyding » Aug 10 2015 7:33 pm

I'm reading 'Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon' right now, and am in the chapter about "environmental deaths." One thing I will add about that is that the authors pointed out that the big ditch is an "inverted mountain." Hikers attempting to hike a big mountain realize they're in over their heads relatively sooner than hikers going downhill if that makes sense. To further complicate matters the mountain hiker who decides to head back goes downhill while the GC hiker has to go up.

That doesn't explain any increase in the number of heat-related deaths this year, but I found it interesting.

I'm baffled how anyone could think that two 20-oz. water bottles would be enough for 3 people at White Sands in August. The authors of 'Over the Edge..." also point out that people from the Northern Hemisphere tend to be very cognizant of how to prepare for cold-weather outdoor activity, but not necessarily for the heat of the Southwest. Those poor people from France would've had no idea how to safely hike in the heat unless they went out of their way to find out or possibly pay attention to signs that would be treated as being invisible by many of us. They easily could've learned what's required for an August hike in White Sands, and perhaps a few more signs would've helped convince them to take the necessary steps to survive, but many people are going to travel into the desert heat without proper preparation no matter what the rest of us do.

One is either a hiker or one is not.
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Re: Heat-related hiker deaths this year--more than usual?

Post by Jim_H » Aug 16 2015 9:32 am

http://azdailysun.com/news/local/cluele ... t=headline

Clueless must be the most appropriate term. I do take issue with the wearing a dress part, as a woman could easily be comfortable and hike well in one, provided it was short enough. I mean you probably wouldn't want to hike to the river in a ankle length dress. Overall, it isn't the dress that impedes hiking, it's the 6 inch heels. ;) I once saw a guy on the Humphrey Trail (not me) in a hiking kilt, which is sort of the same thing. Wool probably isn't good for 110, though.
I just feel better, when I eat a carbon based diet.

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