Summer monsoons are making themselves known lately with their telltale signs – the morning clouds, the increased humidity with a rising dew point, listening as the afternoon sky grumbles in the distance, and ultimately the scattered thunderstorms that may, or may not, roll in - sometimes as heavy downpours. As of the first week in July, the Grand Canyon area has been entertaining afternoon and evening thunderstorms on a regular basis! The monsoon pattern has moderated temperatures a bit by providing sufficient cloud cover to keep the daily high temps often five to ten degrees cooler than average through the first half of this, the hottest month of the year. Inner Canyon daytime temps at Phantom Ranch are currently staying in the 105-110 degree range with nights in the 80s. Visitation inside the Canyon wanes a bit during July due to its debilitating heat, but take heart – the cooler fall hiking season is approaching.
Reminder: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in December, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax on or after August 1, 2014.
Grand Canyon National Park Emergency Contact: For emergencies within the park call 928.638.2477 (Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center).
So, what else is going on in and around the Grand Canyon…
Hiker Dies on Bright Angel Trail: On Sunday, June 29 at 11:30 am the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center (GCRCC) rec’d a call reporting CPR in progress on a man along Bright Angel Trail just above Three-Mile Resthouse. Other hikers had initiated the resuscitation efforts and a rescue helicopter was diverted to provide Advanced Life Support but all attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful. The as yet unidentified 62-year old man from Ohio was hiking out of the Canyon at the end of a commercial rafting trip at the time of the incident. An investigation is underway.
Days Later Another Hiker Dies on North Kaibab Trail: The GCRCC rec’d a call on Friday, July 11 at 2:20 pm reporting CPR in progress on a male hiker on North Kaibab Trail. The man, identified as Andrew Sammler (47), of Lancaster, OH, was hiking up the trail with three others and was about a half-mile from the North Kaibab Trailhead at the time of the incident . CPR was continued by park service personnel but to no avail. The incident is under investigation.
Kayaker Fatality: The report of an unconscious male kayaker was called into the GCRCC on Wednesday, June 11, at 2:00 pm. The victim, Hans Uhl (43), of Germany reportedly capsized his kayak and was unable to right himself while navigating Badger Rapids (about 8 miles from the put-in at Lees Ferry). A safety boat reached the man who was initially responsive but soon lost consciousness. Members of the rafting party and park service medical personnel performed CPR but all attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful. The commercial river trip was on its first of a multi-day tour through the Canyon. An investigation is currently being conducted.
Man Reported Missing from Rafting Trip Found Deceased: The GCRCC received a satellite phone call on Friday, June 27 at 3:40 pm from a commercial river group. They reported that Victor Tseng (68) of Phoenix, AZ, had been missing for about a half-hour after he reportedly fell from a ledge into the Colorado River near Havasu Canyon (River Mile 157). The victim was not wearing a personal flotation device (pfd) at the time and was last spotted below Havasu Rapids. A Search and Rescue Operation was initiated and the area was searched by helicopter for two days and then scaled back to a continuous but limited operation. On Friday, July 4, at 9:30 am a commercial rafting group called the GCRCC to report they had located a body at River Mile 182 just passed Lava Falls. While not confirmed, all indications are that the body is that of the missing Phoenix man. The body was removed via helicopter and an investigation into the incident is being conducted.
In the year 2014, so far, nearly twenty people have died while visiting Grand Canyon National Park. The average is twelve annual deaths. Please be safe while exploring the Canyon. It is adding up to be a very bad year!
NPS Bans Drones in National Parks: As of June, 2014 a memorandum has been signed making all unmanned aircraft (drones) banned from all National Parks. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis issued a statement which read, “We have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.” Recently drones had been spotted buzzing the Mount Rushmore presidential faces, crashing into the walls of the Grand Canyon, and pestering endangered wildlife at Zion. National Parks have 60 days to put drone prohibitions on their books. Thank you Director Jarvis!
Grand Canyon is Named Top Affordable Vacation: U.S. News and World Report recently named Grand Canyon as the number one most affordable family vacation spot. To see the full list and read the article click HERE.
Esplanade Development Update: The National Park Service recently stated that the proposed Navajo Esplanade Development Project is the most serious threat to the park in its 95-year history. You can read the full L.A. Times article by clicking HERE.
WATER / SHADE / REST / WAIT
The summer heat is here! Please remember to use adequate sun protection, hike only during the cooler part of the day, drink at least one quart of water per hour while hiking, rest often and eat snacks, and wear cotton and keep it wet to help keep you cool. Most importantly, in other words – drink WATER, seek SHADE, REST often, and WAIT for temps to cool.
Summer’s Lightning Dangers: With the summer monsoon in full swing it’s time to talk about lightning. First of all, nearly all lightning strikes occur along the Canyon’s Rim, not inside the Canyon. Although last year at this time we did have a rare Inner Canyon lightning strike that killed one member of a river crew during a commercial trip along the Colorado River. But, I say again, it is almost always the high ground along the North and South Rims of the Canyon that attract most strikes.
To help prevent a possible lightning strike, you should familiarize yourself with the local weather patterns, especially during the southwestern summer monsoon season, which results in widespread afternoon thunderstorms. Avoid hiking in exposed locations like cliff edges or being near isolated tall objects like trees and metal poles during these and other stormy times. In order to monitor a storm front, remember that sound carries at one mile per five seconds, so if you count the number of seconds after you see a flash of lightning and divide it by five, you’ll know about how far away the storm is. If caught outside in a lightning storm, get to a low area that does not collect water, drop those aluminum or carbon hiking sticks if you are using them, take off your pack, and squat low on your sleeping pad or the pack itself (for insulation). If you are in a tent, stay on your sleeping pad and do not touch the tent walls. If at any time you feel the hair rise on the back of your neck, get down quick! A lightning strike can accost you in many ways—a direct strike, ground current, and the blast effect, to name a few. If you or your hiking companion(s) happen to be struck by lightning they should be evacuated immediately.
My Book, Hikernut’s Canyon Lands Companion, Wins Gold Award!
From the Press Release: The 2014 Benjamin Franklin Book Awards were recently announced by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) during their gala event at New York University’s Kimmel Center. Among the award winners was Arizona author Brian J. Lane, (in the travel category), with his book “Hikernut’s Canyon Lands Companion – A Guide to the Best Canyon Hikes in the American Southwest,” published by The Countryman Press in 2013. The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers. Prestige is one of the many benefits of being named a winner of this distinguished award. In addition, gold award winners receive an engraved crystal trophy.
Lane said that his prize winning book, “is geared toward the average hiker wanting to explore the most majestic canyons along the Colorado Plateau safely and responsibly.” The author has placed over twenty years’ experience hiking throughout this area to good use in detailing trails, safety concerns, proper gear, and environmental information. The author added, “To explore Canyon Country is to experience a world unlike any other, and I hope this full-color book is sure to kindle your desire to trek.” This is Lane’s second Benjamin Franklin Award, his first book, Hikernut’s Grand Canyon Companion, self-published in 2007, won a Silver Award in 2008. Please visit the authors’ website at www.aSenseofNature.com for more information.
…and that’s it for this month.
Hike safe and have fun!