Extreme heat may be the cause of death for one Grand Canyon hiker. Officials say Sunday that a report of a hiker was possibly in distress on the Tanner Trail.
Mid-morning on August 28, a ranger at the Mather Campground on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park received the report.
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.
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, but they say 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.
Sunday morning, the helicopter crew reported spotted 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. The man’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The Tanner is a rugged, exposed trail, and high temperatures on Wednesday through Sunday ranged from 103 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit at the Colorado River. The National Park Service, with the assistance of the Coconino County Medical Examiner, is conducting an investigation into the incident. This is the 13th death of the year in the park, but that includes fatalities among residents, auto accidents, visitor illnesses, and more. The park averages 14-15 deaths annually, she said, and gets more than 4 million visitors.