An attempt to hike a Grand Canyon trail to the Colorado River and back in one day has cost a woman her life. The Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center reported the woman was found unresponsive on the Bright Angel Trail. The National Park Service responded to the location right above the Three-Mile Resthouse on May 14, around 9 p.m. Soon after their arrival, she no longer had a pulse.
Authorities did not release the hiker's name but did say she is a 36-year-old female from Westfield, Indiana. NPS is coordinating with the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
The Bright Angel Trail is one of the park's most popular treks, but it can be incredibly dangerous. The NPS does not recommend that hikers attempt making the journey in a single day. "Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia (a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance from drinking too much water and not consuming enough salt), and death, " the NPS warns. Temperatures can reach well over 120 degrees in even the shadiest parts of the canyon during the summer. Therefore, rangers recommend that hikers avoid hiking within the canyon between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when temperatures are at their highest.
While the rangers will do their best to assist anyone who finds themselves in trouble in the canyon, a response may be delayed during summer months due to "limited staff, the number of rescue calls, employee safety requirements, and limited helicopter flying capability during periods of extreme heat or inclement weather."
The NPS advises hikers to be well-prepared before hiking anywhere within the canyon. Visitors should acclimate to the temperature and elevation before heading out, and they should always pack the appropriate gear. The Bright Angel Trail can be accomplished safely—but it has to be done right. According to the NPS, the ingredients for a successful hike are "balancing food, electrolyte, and water intake; drinking when thirsty; getting wet to stay cool; and stopping hiking if you start to feel ill."