Anyone who has been to the Grand Canyon – or even seen photos of it – knows what an awesome and intriguing wonder it is.
But it can also be a “terrible beauty,” to coin a phrase used by poet William Butler Yeats.
Even folks using common sense can fall prey to the sheer drops, unrelenting conditions and potential death that lurks just beyond every rock.
Please note: this is not to scare people from taking in the grandness of the Canyon, just a reminder in any hiking situation to watch your step, travel in pairs and steer very clear of the edge.
Two incidents this week, one fall and one death, illustrate the dangers:
Woman Rescued After Fall at Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – Late Thursday afternoon, park rangers rescued a 38-year-old woman who had fallen approximately 50 feet near a popular view point in Grand Canyon National Park.
At about 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received two separate 9-1-1 calls from park visitors who reported seeing a woman slip and fall over the edge at Mather Point.
Upon arriving at the scene, park rangers found the woman about three-quarters of a mile west of Mather Point. She was approximately 50 feet below the rim.
Rescue personnel rappelled down to the woman and secured her so that they could assess her injuries. Once she was stable enough to move, the woman was packaged in a litter, and park staff used a rope haul system to pull her up to the rim. She was back on the rim by 6:30 p.m.
The woman was transported by Classic Lifeguard Aeromedical Service to the Flagstaff Medical Center where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Body of Missing Hiker Found in Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service news release
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – A body, presumptively identified as 69-year-old Robert (Bob) A. Williams, was found June 1 by park search and rescue personnel in the Hermit Basin area of Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 26, park rangers received a report that Williams was overdue from his Memorial Day weekend plans which had included hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.
On May 27, after finding Williams’ vehicle on the South Rim, park rangers began searching a broad area-from Hermit Basin to the South Kaibab area-that could easily be accessed on foot or via shuttle from the point where Williams’ vehicle was found.
On May 29, park rangers were able to narrow their search to the Hermit Basin area based on information received after issuing a public request for assistance to anyone who had hiked in the park’s backcountry during the Memorial Day weekend.
On Monday, June 1, search personnel were once again in the Hermit Basin, using a spotting scope to check difficult to access scree slopes and cliff areas. Based on information received from the spotters, search crews investigated an area _ mile south of Santa Maria springs. At approximately 10 a.m., searchers found Williams’ body located approximately 200 feet below the Hermit Trail.
The remains were transported by helicopter to the South Rim helibase where they were transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
My only Grand Canyon experience was when I was about 2 and my mom tells me all I did was try to get candy from the vending machines.
One of my friend’s dogs went leaping over a sheer cliff, landing dozens of feet below. The dog survived but always acted kind of strange, like it had brain damage, after that one.
Have you ever had a hiking tragedy, in the Grand Canyon or elsewhere?
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?