Grand Canyon Update: July, 2014

Cardenas Overlook, Tanner Trail (photo by Brian J. Lane)

Cardenas Overlook, Tanner Trail (photo by Brian J. Lane)

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.

NorthKaibab_Afternoon-Sun

North Kaibab Trail heading south, just past Cottonwood Campground (photo: Brian J. Lane)

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.

Benjamin Franklin Book Award Gold Winner!

Benjamin Franklin Book Award Gold Winner!

…and that’s it for this month.

Hike safe and have fun!

Hikernut - Author Brian J. Lane

Hikernut – Author Brian J. Lane

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Grand Canyon Update: June, 2014

Moran Point, Grand Canyon

Moran Point, Grand Canyon

Whew! The summer heat has arrived and excessive heat warnings have been posted as Inner Canyon temperatures rise into the 105-110 degree range, (in the shade no less). Remember, temps inside the Grand Canyon are comparable to Phoenix, therefore, do not use the temperatures posted for the Grand Canyon’s South Rim when checking the forecast to see how comfortable you’ll be hiking inside the Canyon. For every 1,000 foot descent into the Canyon temperatures rise about 4 degrees, making the Inner Canyon along the Colorado River about 20 degrees hotter than the South Rim. Lots of folks simply do not realize how debilitating such heat can be and try to take on more of a hike than they should, many have paid with their lives – please do not become a statistic.

Follow these simple rules that I tend to repeat over-and-over again during the summer season:

- Use adequate sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, large-brimmed hat) 
- Hike only during the cooler time of day (4 pm – 9 am)
- Wear cotton clothing and keep it wet to help keep you cool
- Drink a minimum of one quart per hour while hiking
- Rest often and eat salty snacks

Reminder: Backcountry Permit Applications for trips starting in November, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax on or after July 1, 2014.

Other Newsworthy Notes of Interest…

Grand Canyon Announces Fire Restrictions: Beginning Friday, June 13, 2014, any and all wood or charcoal fires will be prohibited throughout the park. Gas stoves, lanterns, and heaters with shut-off valves will still be allowed. It is wildfire season here in Arizona and we all have to do our part. 

New Information about Muscle Cramps: I read a recent article from regressing.deadspin.com concerning heat, electrolytes, and muscle cramps. Some of this new information on electrolytes echoes what the Wilderness Medicine Institute has been teaching in the last couple of years – that we Americans take in more than enough salt during the day to keep our electrolytes in balance. Most folks do not need supplemental electrolytes, BUT they add that everyone taking on an arduous hike in the heat of the Canyon should know their bodies. In other words, if you perspire a lot and get those dried salt lines around your collar, you may want to include electrolytes to replenish what your body is losing. You may have noticed that I still include ‘eating salty snacks’ as a way of beating the heat. For me, the verdict is still out, but the new info is making us all think a bit more about the electrolyte factor. The article is titled, “Everything You Know About Cramps Is Wrong, And Gatorade Is Full of Sh@t.” Click HERE to read the full article.

Boater Dies While Rafting the Canyon: On the early evening of June 3, 2014 an emergency call was placed via satellite phone reporting a woman going in and out of consciousness from an apparent allergic reaction. Members of the commercial river trip, as well as emergency personnel arriving on the scene, attempted to resuscitate the woman to no avail. The woman has been identified as 54-year-old Kathy Newman of Seattle, WA. The Park Service and Coconino County Medical Examiner are conducting and investigation into the incident. I do not know the circumstances of this death, but The Wilderness Medicine Institute advises that if anyone believes they are suffering from an allergic reaction they should not hesitate to use an Epi-pen (epinephrine) or similar medical treatment immediately. If anyone suffers from severe allergic reactions they should always have some form of epinephrine with them during such journeys (and know how to use it).

North Rim Fire Forces Road Closures: Four wildfires took hold along the North Rim on Friday, May 23, 2014. The most serious of these fires has been the lightning caused Galahad Fire which, (as of June 10), had scorched over 4,000 acres and is over 30% contained. The burn area is less than 12 miles northwest of the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim. Two road closures remain in effect; the W-4 Road is closed from the junction of the FS268B road south to Point Sublime and the W-1 Road, also known as the Point Sublime Road, is closed from the W-4 junction, east to the western end of the basin.  

Monsoon Season Coming Soon: The early summer brings scorching heat but the humidity levels are around 15%. That means if you step out of a pool at 100 degrees you will usually get goosebumps and feel the instant chill as the moisture is quickly evaporated off your body. BUT, by mid-July, on average, the Arizona Monsoon Season will begin and we too get to sweat. Officially the Monsoon Season begins on June 15 and continues through September 30, but traditionally the monsoons don’t become active until the dew point exceeds 55 degrees for three consecutive days, and this can vary greatly. Monsoon storms occur most often in the afternoon and may result in violent thunderstorms with heavy downpours that can wash out trails, forcing hikers to find other routes out of the Canyon, in a place with few viable trails. The accompanying rise in humidity can also make you feel more uncomfortable and forces you to intake more water to compensate for your perspiration. Roads too may become flooded and any driver crossing a flooded wash is risking their life. It only takes a few inches of water to take a vehicle down a flooded wash. If a driver does not obey posted warnings to not cross when the road is flooded, Arizona has its “stupid motorist law” where folks can be charged the full cost of being rescued. This can cost thousands of dollars, so just don’t do it.

Flood Caution

Flood Caution

 

Quick Review of the Ten Essentials: According to REI we now have the updated list of the ten essentials for hiking. I have included both their new list and the classic list just for comparison…

Updated Ten Essential “Systems” List:

  • Navigation (map and compass)
  • Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  • Insulation (extra clothing)
  • Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  • First-aid supplies
  • Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  • Repair kit and tools
  • Nutrition (extra food)
  • Hydration (extra water)
  • Emergency shelter

Classic Ten Essentials List:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Extra clothing
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • First-aid supplies
  • Firestarter
  • Matches
  • Knife
  • Extra food

Donations for New Picnic Tables at Indian Garden Being Accepted: Grand Canyon hikers and other supporters can join in the replacement of old picnic tables at Indian Garden (campground and day use area) with the installation of thirty-three new thermo-plastic coated, galvanized steel tables. Funding covers the cost of delivery by Park Service helicopter to Indian Garden in preparation for assembly by rangers and volunteers. So far, more than $15,000 has been raised towards the project goal of $35,000. Please join the Grand Canyon Association and its donors to make this project a reality! View project details HERE, and donate HERE.

Grand Canyon Ranger Logs: The Grand Canyon News has recently been listing Grand Canyon incidents reported by Park Service Rangers. Between May 20 and June 3, 2014 there were at least 18 hiker related incidents including - breathing difficulties, ankle injuries, nausea, dehydration, hypernatremia (too much salt due to fluid loss), and exhaustion. For the full list of park-wide incidents visit: GrandCanyonNews.com and look under the ‘Latest News‘ heading.

That’s about all I have this month, thanks for stopping by!

Hike safe and have fun!

Brian 'Hikernut' Lane

Brian ‘Hikernut’ Lane

 

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Grand Canyon Hiker’s Blog has Moved

The Grand Canyon Hiker’s Blog is currently the highest ranked Grand Canyon blog! Although we have moved to WordPress we will continue to provide ongoing and updated information for hikers and backpackers visiting Grand Canyon National Park.

New post coming soon!

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Grand Canyon Update: May, 2014

Cape Solitude (photo illustration by Brian Lane). The muddy waters of the Little Colorado River flow in from the right (east), mixing with the cold, blue water of the Colorado River. This view looks down toward the area of the proposed Escalade development (more information below). Photo was taken in 1996 when I spent the night there after hiking solo nearly 20 miles out to this beautiful spot in June (hot and dry). It is still one of my most memorable hikes.
Is it mid-May already?!? Northern Arizona was hit with 2-4 inches of snow during the last week of April but then the heat began to move in as Phoenix hit the century mark, recording its first day of over 100 degree temperatures (102 degrees) on May 3, 2014. The summer heat is coming soon. Remember that Phoenix temps are roughly equivalent to what you will experience inside the Grand Canyon – about 20 degrees warmer than up along the Canyon’s South Rim. Trail activities will soon slow down a bit as the real summer heat moves in by next month and the Inner Canyon campgrounds thin out a bit until the heat begins to abate this fall.
 
As the heat moves in please remember to: 
- Hike only during the cooler time of day (4pm – 9am)
- Wear cotton clothing and keep it wet to help keep you cool
- Drink a minimum of one quart per hour while hiking
- Eat salty snacks
 
The intense heat of summer has, and will, kill unprepared hikers – so please remember that it’s much better to be safe than to be sorry.
 
Reminder: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in October, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after June 1, 2014. 
 
Other news in and around the Canyon…
 
Woman Suffers Fatal Fall from South Rim
45-year-old, Jody McDaniel of Flagstaff, Ariz., died from a fatal fall that occurred on Monday, April 28, 2014. The victim reportedly fell about 400 feet from the Canyon’s South Rim, near Mather Point. This popular viewpoint was closed temporarily after the incident. Few details are known at this time and the incident is under investigation by the Nat’l Park Service (NPS) and the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
 
North Rim Opens
The Arizona Department of Transportation unlocked the gate and officially opened Highway 67 to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim on Thursday, May 15, at 8:00 am. The North Rim is now open to visitation through mid-October. Head up north if you want to enjoy the solitude found on the “other rim” of the Canyon.
 
NPS Requiring Reservations for Tuweep Campground
As of September 1, 2014 all campers wanting to overnight at the isolated Tuweep Campground along the northwest rim of the Canyon will be required to make prior reservations. This campground is used by many to access such features as the Lava Falls Trail, Tuckup Canyon Trail, and the photographically famous Toroweap Point. For more information on Tuweep Campground click HERE.
 
Escalade Development May Not Happen
Recent remarks by Navajo President Ben Shelly indicate that this misguided project will not happen due to the amount of litigation the project would trigger. The project was to be built at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River, and included a tramway down into the Canyon with restaurants, gift shops, and the like. For more information concerning opposition to the Escalade development plan please visit Save the Confluence.
 
Tusayan Shuttle Starts Up for the Summer Season
The NPS is offering its seasonal free shuttle service between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the gateway community of Tusayan beginning May 10, 2014. Shuttle service runs daily through September 5, 2014, between 8am and 9:30pm, at 20-minute intervals.
 
More Open Camping Proposed for Kaibab Nat’l Forest
According to a recent news article the Kaibab National Forest is proposing the designation of “camping corridors” along many of the roads within the Tusayan and Williams ranger districts. Campers would then be allowed open camping within 200 feet of the center of the road and allowed to drive 30 feet off of these open roads. More info as it becomes available.
 
Link to Park Newspapers
For those wanting to check current shuttle times or other official events prior to visiting the park you can now view or download a copy of the park newspaper – the same one visitors receive as they enter the park. To access these PDFs click HERE.
 
NPS Posts Information on Trail Etiquette
The NPS has posted information concerning trail courtesy and Leave No Trace outdoor ethics specifically for Canyon explorers. Anyone new to Grand Canyon hiking should check it out. Click HERE to view the info.
 
Save Kolb Studio (Grand Canyon Association Press Release)
The Grand Canyon Association is launching a fundraising campaign to renovate Kolb Studio, a 109-year-old building perched almost impossibly on the edge of the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park. 

Kolb Studio for decades served as the business and home for brothers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, who photographed hikers and tourists starting down the adjacent Bright Angel Trail. Their images helped
document the Grand Canyon and early tourism in the West. The Kolb brothers’ storied passage on the Colorado River formed the basis of a movie first shown in 1915, introducing many to the wonders of the Grand Canyon.

Countless people have visited Kolb Studio over the decades in Grand Canyon National Park, coming from around the country and around the world. But the visitors and extreme weather on the canyon’s edge have taken a toll. Without significant renovations, the studio could ultimately close to the public.

“Kolb Studio offers an amazing opportunity for the public. Millions of people are drawn to its doorstep and instantly transported back in time,” said Susan Schroeder, executive director of the Grand Canyon Association, noting that the studio is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The studio includes a free exhibit that educates visitors about the Kolb brothers’ life and longtime business, family and adventures on the rim. The treasure trove of images offers an intimate glimpse back in time at life in and around the canyon from decades long past. 

The Grand Canyon Association was formed in 1932 as the non-profit partner of Grand Canyon National Park. The Association hopes to raise about $400,000 to renovate the three-story building. The work will restore
structural integrity to the entrance and exterior so the site can continue to be used to educate and engage park visitors about the history and culture of the Grand Canyon.

The project will replace the entranceway; repair and replace structural beams, wooden porches and log and shingle siding; solve drainage problems with sidewalks and retaining walls; and correct other issues.
Special effort will be needed to work on the studio’s north side, which extends into the canyon, and to be sensitive to the environment.

To learn more about Kolb Studio and to make a
donation toward its renovation, click HERE.

…and that’s about it for this month.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hike safe and have fun!


Brian J. Lane

Please note that I will be changing this blog from GoDaddy to WordPress next month as GoDaddy inevitably charges more money while taking away features that had traditionally been free of charge. I hope there is no interruption of postings due to this change. #GoDaddySucks

 

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: April, 2014

Scene near Yaki Point (photo-illustration: Brian Lane)
 

Backpacking season is on!

Temperatures are on the rise as the spring backpacking season arrives at the Grand Canyon. The best time of year to hike is now, daytime temps inside the Canyon are in the mid-80s to low-90s, while nights are mid-50s to low-60s. A nice comfortable time to explore the great chasm before the summer heat arrives. It is the busiest time of year for Inner Canyon hikers and overnight permits not already secured are in very short supply. Hope you get a chance to visit the Canyon during this beautiful spring season! 

                                                            Reminders: 

* Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in September, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after May, 1, 2013.

* The North Rim is still closed until mid-May, 2014.

* A small section of North Kaibab Trail damaged last year has yet to be repaired just below Supai Tunnel. A rope hand-line has been installed to assist hikers. 

Other news in and around the Canyon… 

Go Wild – No Entrance Fees: Park entrance fees will be waived on April 19 & 20, 2014, during National Park Week (April 19 – 27, 2014) and in celebration of Earth Day (April 22, 2014). Many free, family friendly park activities and events are scheduled during this time. Check with the folks at the Visitor Center for more details on daily activities or click HERE for more info.

2014 Fire Season: We had a very dry and warm winter here in the Southwest, which translates as a chance for a severe wildfire season from now until the monsoons kick in around July. Many forest sections in Northern Arizona have already been designated as “high” fire danger areas, and our seasonal winds have been blowing steadily with gusts up to 30-50 miles-per-hour. While there are currently no fire restrictions in
force everyone must be conscientious and make sure you put out any and all fires
completely before leaving the area, and discard all smoking materials properly.
If you inadvertently start a wildfire you could be held responsible for any and all damages – let alone the possible loss of life to those brave souls who fight these conflagrations.
 

Bison Management at Grand Canyon: Early in the 1900s bison were introduced to the Grand Canyon vicinity. Possibly due to poor forage, fire and drought conditions, and hunting pressures, these bison migrated over the years and now a majority of the original herd, (about 350 bison), reside exclusively within Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim. The Park Service is working on a long-term management plan to address this free-roaming bison herd and is seeking public comment. For more information read the NPS press release HERE.

New Grand Canyon National Monument: The Sierra Club recently proposed the possible creation of a “Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.” This new monument would cover about 1.7 million acres including the Kaibab-Pausagant Wildlife Corridor, North Kaibab Plateau, and House Rock Valley. The Sierra Club representative Alycin Gitlin has stated that the area needs added protection from mining and logging threats. See a NAZ Today video discussion of the issue HERE.

Inversion Layer from December, 2013: I
was cleaning up my photo downloads and spotted this nice NPS photo by Erin Whittaker of a rare inversion layer of clouds that had settled into the Canyon last December that I had forgotten to post – better late than never I guess…


Tip of the Month – Critters Emerge: As temps get warm the poisonous critters of the Southwest begin to emerge. Black widow spiders, scorpions, and rattlesnakes are the most prevalent dangers (there are gila monsters within the Canyon, but mostly in the western most regions). Extra cautions should be taken to avoid these creatures, and while these are some of the most venomous creatures in the country, you’ll find that if you ever encounter any of them while in the canyon, they usually scurry away. It’s only by being careless that you risk injury.

First of all, don’t handle any of these critters. Don’t stick your hands or feet into or under anything where you can’t see—bushes, brush, dark corners, etc. Leave your tent zipped up tightly, and check your boots and any clothing left outside your tent before putting them on. At night (critters preferred time for moving about), wear shoes and use a flashlight while you are up and about.

For identification purposes, a black widow is jet black with a red hourglass on her abdomen. The widow’s reclusive cousin is the Arizona brown spider, it is usually
reddish to light brown, with inch-long thin legs, and the shape of a violin is on the top of its body, with the head of the “fiddle” pointing towards the tail (although they are rarely found in canyon country). A scorpion is colored between light brown and yellow straw, about an inch to three inches long, pincers in front and a long tail, curled at the end, holding its stinger. A rattlesnake is a snake with rattles—stay away from it. 
I’ve rarely seen a rattlesnake while hiking in canyon country, but extra care must always be taken
to avoid a strike. In most cases, you will hear the rattle long before you can see the snake. If you hear the buzz of a rattler, freeze immediately and without moving your head (if possible) locate the snake with your eyes. Once the snake relaxes from a striking position, slowly move away. If you are within about three feet of the snake, you are in striking distance. Slowly and carefully double that distance and you should be well out of its striking range.

If bitten, stung, or struck… most spider bites are initially painless, with intense pain setting in within ten to twenty minutes. Although patients may think they are dying, only a few people in the United States die from spider bites each year, while thousands are bitten. Common symptoms are cramping, fever, chills, and nausea. General treatment is to wash the site and apply an antiseptic, apply a cold compress, administer
pain killers, and evacuate.

On the other hand, a scorpion’s sting hurts right away and can feel like a bad bee sting or worse. Death usually only occurs from severe allergic reaction, so if you are allergic to bee stings and are stung by a scorpion use the epinephrine (EpiPen) you should be carrying to prevent anaphylaxis. I’ve been stung many times by scorpions, and it’s never been a big deal. Cooling the sting site is the best treatment, but if the victim has difficulty swallowing, heavy sweating, blurred vision, or other such troublesome signs, evacuate them immediately.

If you or a hiking companion is bitten by a rattlesnake, quickly move away from the snake and stay calm. The area of the bite may swell dramatically, so remove any tight clothing or jewelry. Nearly a third of rattlesnake bites are nonvenomous, “dry” bites, but you’ll need to assume the worst, so clean the wound, and evacuate the patient as soon as possible. Do not use a Sawyer Extractor or other snake bite kit as it has been shown that they do little good and can cause more damage to the tissue around
the area of the bite. Do not apply cold, do not administer pain killers, do not give alcohol to the victim, and don’t apply a tourniquet. Immobilize and splint the wound, and then evacuate.

Until next month…

Hike safe and have fun!

Hikernut - Brian J. Lane

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: March, 2014


Early Morning Near Mather Point (Photo: Brian J. Lane)

                                        Spring has Arrived!

Here in the Southwest we barely experienced any winter this last year as daily temperatures were at least ten degrees warmer than average and only a couple of storms came through, producing little precipitation during the last four months. If there are any icy spots remaining on the trails they are few and far between, so you can put the cleats and crampons away until next winter. Inner Canyon temperatures are in the 80s during the day, with night temps dipping into the low 50s. Very comfortable!

I was back in New England last month and I know folks are still living through what for many appears to be an endless winter, but take heart – the Southwest is only a plane flight away – so come on out, visit, hike the Canyon and thaw out!

                                                            Reminders:

* Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in August, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after April, 1, 2013.

* The North Rim is still closed until mid-May, 2014.

* A small section of North Kaibab Trail damaged last year has yet to be repaired just below Supai Tunnel. A rope hand-line has been installed to assist hikers.

                    Other Items of Interest from around the Canyon:

Cross-Corridor Drinking Water Availability:

> Plateau Point: water turned OFF 
> Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned OFF 
> Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned OFF 
> North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
> Supai Tunnel: water turned OFF 
> Roaring Springs Day Use Area: OFF 
> Cottonwood Campground: water turned OFF
 
> Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round 
> Indian Garden: ON year-round 
> Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round 
> South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round 
> Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round
 
Human Remains Recovered from Hermit Creek Drainage:
Human skeletal remains were found recently by Park Rangers up-canyon from Hermit Creek Camp. In September of last year a visitor on a private river trip discovered the weather-beaten wallet of a Tucson man reported missing in 2010 initiating a joint investigation between Park Rangers, the Investigative Services Branch, and the Tucson Police Department.  On February 17, 2014, a backpacker found several assorted camping items in a small canyon along the Hermit Drainage and a subsequent search of the area netted about 40 pieces of evidence, including nine human bones. The Tucson man was reportedly a homeless transient with little information available and his name has not yet been released. Although DNA confirmation has not yet occurred, the initial evidence points toward the remains being that of the missing Tucson man.

Man Falls 350 feet to His Death:
On March 15, 2014, at about 8 a.m., 53-year-old, John Anderson of Grapevine, Texas, fell about 350 feet off the South Rim of the Canyon near El Tovar Lodge. Mr. Anderson was visiting with his family and may have been attempting to retrieve his hat by some accounts. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS and Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Kayaker Dies inside Grand Canyon:
Curtis Joyce, a 31-year-old male, was found capsized and unresponsive on March 18, 2014, about ten river miles south of Lava Falls near Lower Whitmore Camp. The man, from Portland, Oregon, was on a 12-day private river trip with eight other self-supported kayakers when the incident occurred and CPR was administered by members of the group to no avail. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the NPS and Coconino County Medical Examiner. Sympathies go out to his family and friends.

The Town of Tusayan Considers a Name Change:
Due to visitor confusion concerning the Grand Canyon’s gateway Town of Tusayan and the Southern Arizona City of Tucson, and for marketing purposes, the Tusayan Town Council is mulling over the idea of changing its name. The only alternative name yet mentioned is the “Town of Grand Canyon.” Hmm… No town hall meeting has yet been scheduled to discuss the issue.

Grand Canyon Earth Day Celebration April 18-20, 2014:
The theme for this year’s Earth Day celebrations at the Canyon is water conservation. For more information visit the Grand Canyon News article HERE.

Take a Virtual Rafting Trip down the Colorado River:
Google Maps launched its virtual rafting experience on March 13, 2014. Visitors are now able to travel along the mighty Colorado from Lees Ferry to Pierce Ferry, a trip of nearly 300 miles. Last year, Google released other “Street View” virtual treks following along many of Grand Canyon’s inner trails. Click HERE to go to Google Maps and the new Colorado River experience.

Tip O’the Month - Cactus Spines

I moved to the desert over twenty years ago and quickly learned that almost everything in the desert tries to stick you. Yucca spikes, prickly pear cactus, and jumping cholla are just a few of the desert natives that have poked, attacked, or attached themselves to me.

Yuccas can poke a neat little hole in you, but what really gets you is the small amount of toxin in their needle-like tips. It is that mildly toxic point that will give you a burning sensation for more than a few minutes. There is usually no treatment necessary, the pain will subside soon enough.

I have rested my pack against a small cactus or accidentally brushed against a prickly pear on numerous occasions. You’ll normally find that the large spines are easily removed with a simple tug. It’s those little spines, or glochids, that are the biggest nuisance. Barely perceptible, these little buggers are the ones that you can feel when you brush your hand against your skin but can’t really spot them.

The easiest way to remove these tiny glochids is with a pair of tweezers. With a dark background and the affected area in bright light, you can usually spot the difference between your own body hair and the straight, stiff, slightly thicker glochid. Once you spot it, just pluck it with your tweezers. If you can feel it but can’t spot it, I usually use the shotgun approach. Narrow down the area and use the tweezers to repeatedly pick at the skin until you no longer feel the spine. I’ve also heard that a piece of duct tape or an Elmer’s type glue, applied to the affected skin and then pulled off, will remove these little spines.

To propagate and spread itself around the desert the jumping cholla cactus will attach itself to almost anything that it touches. If you get too close to a jumping cholla and a piece breaks off on you or your clothing you will need to use a tool (such as two sticks – using them like chopsticks) in order to pry the cholla off without using your bare hands. If any spines break off you will have to manually pull them out using the same techniques used for prickly pear cactus. Infection is always possible, so treat these wounds accordingly.

That’s it for this month, remember to
 
Hike safe and have fun!


Brian ‘Hikernut‘ Lane (Bright Angel Trailhead - October, 2013)

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: February, 2014


Moran Point juniper with snow (photo: Brian lane)

Winter is barely hanging on here in the Southwest. While most of the country is continually being pelted with snow and ice, accompanied with sub-freezing temperatures, we have been enjoying an extremely mild winter season. Very few storms have come our way and Phoenix has not received any precipitation in nearly two months, although a period of unsettled weather may hit near the end of February. At the Canyon little snow has fallen, but enough to keep the upper reaches of most trails slick and icy in spots from the day-melt to night-freeze cycles. The anticipation of spring hiking season has Canyon hikers chomping at the bit to get out of doors and get hiking again. By next month, and especially in April, the masses will return, the solitude of the Canyon will be lost a bit, and the increasing echoes of campground laughter will be heard once again…

Reminder: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in July, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after March, 1, 2013.

Other news and information this month:

South Rim Visitor Dies of Heart Attack
An unidentified visitor died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday, January 25, 2014. The 66-year-old was reportedly having breathing difficulties while visiting viewpoints along the South Rim when his family called 911 requesting help. EMS personnel quickly arrived just as the man stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest. Although he was revived twice and flown to Flagstaff Medical Center for further treatment, he died in surgery. All condolences to the family.

Base Jumper Death
The Coconino County Sheriff’s office received notification of a possible base-jumping fatality on Friday, January 24, at 5:30 p.m. Friends reported the jumper was wearing a ‘wing suit’ and attempting his second jump of the day when he went missing. 41-year-old David Stather of Calgary, Canada was found dead due to traumatic fall after jumping about 2,000 feet near the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the main channel of the Colorado River. The victim was a surgeon at the Alberta Health Center. Again, condolences go out to his family and friends.

In an unrelated incident, on Saturday, February 8, a woman in her mid-30s perished while base-jumping inside Zion National Park after jumping/falling 1,500 feet from Mount Kinesava.




Pile Burning at Indian Gardens
Beginning Monday, February 24 – Wednesday, February 26, 2014, the National Park Service is planning on burning piles of woody debris collected from the Indian Garden area during hazardous fuels reduction projects spanning the last few years. Smoke may be visible from the South Rim and may impact visibility and air quality in the vicinity of Indian Garden and along sections of Bright Angel Trail. The burn dates may vary depending on conditions. 

Health Benefits of Hiking
Web MD posted a recent article on the benefits of hiking – along with some common sense tips to get you going. Read the whole article
HERE

Thanks to everyone who turned out in mid-February for my Grand Canyon presentations at REI in Paradise Valley and Tempe! I hope it was inspiring enough to get you out there and hiking inside the Canyon – safely. It was great to meet you all!

Hike safe and have fun!

Hikernut -
Brian J. Lane

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: January, 2014


Fresh snow along the Rim Trail (photo: Brian Lane)

Happy New Year 2014! I know, I didn’t post last month, but it’s such a busy time of year while also being such a very slow time at the Grand Canyon, and well, before I knew it, the year was over. The crowds and traffic of the busy season are gone from the Canyon while maintenance and repair crews are busy catching up on backlogged issues. Weather has been very pleasant as of late and very few winter storms have occurred so far, making for easy travel in and around Canyon Country. Temps on the South Rim remain in the 50s with nights dipping into the mid-20s, while Inner Canyon temps are right around 60 degrees with nights just above freezing. I love visiting at this time of year as you get a more personal experience since you’re not being jostled about by the summer hordes.

Reminder: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in June, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after February, 1, 2013

Other Canyon News:

Trails Remain Icy Near Rim –
South Rim trails are still under winter conditions although little precipitation has fallen lately. Due to daily cycles of snow melting and refreezing the first 300 vertical feet of most trails will remain snow packed and icy in spots – usually until March. Traction devices (crampons/cleats) are recommended when hiking these upper reaches of the Canyon.


Bright Angel Trail, December 5, 2012 (NPS Photo)


South Kaibab Trail, December 5, 2012 (NPS photo)

Fee Free Day in Celebration of Rev. Martin Luther King,  Jr. –
No admission fees will be charged for entry into National Parks, Monuments, Forests, and Wildlife Refuges on Monday, January 20, 2014 in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Body Recovered in December, 2012 Identified by DNA - 
The body of Yoshikazu Yamada, a Japanese National, (whose body was recovered last December 8, 2012) was recently identified by DNA. Mr. Yamada’s body was found approximately 800 feet below the Abyss Overlook along the West Rim Drive after having been reported missing on October 6, 2012. He had last been seen getting off a commercial tour bus near Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim of Grand Canyon. He was traveling with a companion when he failed to return to the bus that afternoon. The incident is still under investigation. (NPS News Release)

Aircraft Noise to be Reduced at Grand Canyon -
For years, tourists and hikers have complained about sightseeing aircraft interfering with “the feeling of solitude and appreciation of nature” here at the Grand Canyon. Now, as part of the transportation bill passed in 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration are required to devise incentives for the implementation of quiet air technologies in aircraft at the Grand Canyon. One of the first measures to be employed is a reduction in per-flight fees paid to the NPS by air tour operators that use technology to quiet the sound of aircraft flying over Grand Canyon National Park. (Associated Press)

Hot Tips for Hiking in Cold Weather –
As I have said, exploring the Canyon in winter is special due the amount of solitude you’ll enjoy during the cold season. That said, there are a few special considerations for those wanting to enjoy wintertime inside the Grand Canyon…

* Most importantly, dress in layers. Depending on how cold temps are I’ll wear a base-layer, wicking, long-sleeve t-shirt with a heavier shirt over it. Then a light-weight vest, a light-weight jacket, followed by a down pullover jacket, with a heavier down (puffy) coat on top. For the bottom half,  I wear synthetic tights or light fleece pants while hiking, with a heavy layer fleece pants for off-trail. To save body heat make sure to cover your head too.

* Use a sleeping pad and light-weight sleeping bag liner. A sleep pad helps prevent heat loss due to the conduction cooling from laying on the cold ground, while a silk bag liner can add up to 15 degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag.

* The Grand Canyon is a dry climate with humidity regularly around a paultry 10 – 20 percent. Therefore, it is especially important you stay hydrated while hiking the Canyon. You should drink a minimum of about 1/2 quart (1/2 liter) of water for every hour hiking (and this is just for winter hiking – for summer you’ll need to, at least, double that).

* As mentioned previously in this post, crampons, or some form of cleats are highly recommended during winter along the upper sections of trail due to snow and ice accumulation.

* Don’t forget the sunscreen. In the predominately sunny Southwest, even in the winter you should still be using sunscreen to protect your face from long exposures. 

…and that’s it for this month.

Hike safe and have fun!


Brian J. Lane

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: November, 2013


Along the West Tonto Trail (Photo: Brian Lane)

November at Grand Canyon brings much cooler temperatures to the Inner Canyon with average highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s. This means that high temps along the South Rim will average mid-40s with nights in the upper teens. A cold weather storm is set to come through late November bringing a wintery mix, after which the long-range forecast shows pleasant weather continuing through mid-December. The crowds dissipate, the snow flies, the holidays approach, and the Canyon gets quiet ’til next spring. Still a great time to visit this wonder of nature, especially if seeking solitude. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Remember: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in April, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after December, 1, 2013.

Other Newsworthy Topics:

North Rim Road Closure:
Annual access to the North Rim will end on December 1, 2013, as the gate will be locked and Highway 67 will be officially closed until mid-May, 2014. There is a chance that the highway will close earlier if an approaching winter storm dumps enough snow to close the road prior to that date.

Cross-Corridor Drinking Water:
* North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
* Supai Tunnel: water turned OFF
* Roaring Springs Day Use Area: OFF
* Cottonwood Campground: water turned OFF
* Plateau Point: water turned OFF
* Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned OFF
* Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned OFF

* Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round
* Indian Garden: ON year-round
* Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round
* South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round
* Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round

‘Tis the Season for Prescribed Burns:
Pile burning and prescribed burns will be taking place along both the North and South Rims of Grand Canyon Nat’l Park and adjacent Kaibab National Forest during November and (perhaps) into December, 2013. Smoke may be seen for many miles and may obscure Canyon views at times.

Uranium Mine just South of Grand Canyon on Hold:
Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. has announced that they will suspend uranium mining activities until December of 2014 due to market conditions and litigation expenses. The mine rests on nearly one-million acres placed off-limits to new claims in 2012, while sites with existing claims are still in play. Due to the efforts of many groups, including the Sierra Club and the Grand Canyon Trust this misguided operation has been halted for the time being. For more information regarding this issue please click HERE.

Anonymous Rangers Video:
During the Republican forced shutdown of the government park rangers took the brunt of the anger voiced by many wanting to enter our national parks and monuments. To view their response click HERE.

KT Tape Uses:
Watching the London Olympics I saw many athletes wearing colorful strips of tape said to be used for relief of pain, to prevent injuries, and to recover from such injuries more quickly. This elastic sports tape is now available at many outdoor stores and I recently purchased some at REI to try it out. Now, I must state that if you purchase this tape please visit their website and watch the instructional videos on how to apply it for common injuries (too many to list here) as it should be applied in a specific manner. Not only have I used it while battling a bit of plantar fasciitis but have found it great for keeping Spenco 2nd Skin in place over blisters. The tape is flexible and easily shapes along the body’s contours really well, plus, after application, you rub it vigorously and the heat helps to make this tape stick even better. I wore it on my heel for two days hiking in the Canyon and it worked to keep my blister treatment in place and my feet feeling awesome. I highly recommend this new form of sports tape. For more info visit: www.kttape.com

That’s about all for this month, thanks for stopping by!

Hike safe and have fun!
 
Hikernut, Brian J. Lane
 

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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Grand Canyon Update: October, 2013


Bright Angel Trail showing fall color (Photo by Brian Lane)

Grand Canyon National Park will remain open to visitors now that the Republican insanity has subsided!

Fall at the Grand Canyon is my favorite time of year. Temps are nice and cool inside the Canyon and the colors of autumn show brightly. I did manage to complete my own Rim2Rim trip as the park opened up just in the nick of time, and it was absolutely splendid! I was hiking solo and took the time to enjoy the wonders of the Grand Canyon’s Inner Gorge as I meandered along the Corridor trails from the North to the South Rim. So, with that in mind, if you have the chance, I would ask that you make the time to visit this jewel of the National Park System and enjoy its wondrous trails and vistas before the rush of the holidays and winter weather settle in. It’s your last chance before the snow really flies!

Remember: Backcountry permit applications for trips starting in March, 2014, can be submitted by mail or fax, on or after November, 1, 2013.

Other Items of Note…

Inner Canyon Temps are staying about 75 degrees (days) and 45 degrees (nights) with very little rain in sight at this time. Visit my main website for a link to the complete weather forecast for Phantom Ranch (Inner Canyon) at: a Sense of Nature.com

North Rim Lodge Closed for the Season
The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim has closed for the season and will reopen on May 15, 2014. The Visitor Center, Campground, and other facilities will stay open until December 1, 2013, unless snow closes the road (Hwy 67) earlier. Yes, there is a bit of snow already on the ground at both the North and South Rims.

Report from the North Rim (from Nat’l Park Service “Critical Backcountry Updates” 
posted Oct 24, 2013)

Most concessioner services and regularly scheduled ranger-led programs have ended for the season. The National Park Service will continue its operations including the North Rim Visitor Center and Bookstore, as well as the Backcountry Permits Office through October 31.

November 1 through December 1 the North Rim will be open for day use only unless snow closes Highway 67 prior to that date. NO OVERNIGHT PARKING will be allowed along the Highway 67 corridor inside the park, this includes the North Kaibab Trailhead and North Rim Campground.

From November 1 through December 1:

Services: The North Rim is day use only in November, defined as dawn to dusk. No overnight parking is permitted along the Highway 67 corridor inside the park, this includes the North Kaibab Trailhead and North Rim Campground. The North Rim Visitor Center, Backcountry Permits Office, and all other services are closed starting November 1. Water is available outside the Backcountry Permits Office. Pay-at-the-pump gas and diesel will still be available.

North Rim Campground: Camping will be available provided a backcountry use permit has been obtained in advance – these permits are available through the South Rim Backcountry Information Center, and at the Visitor Center at Pipe Spring National Monument located in Fredonia, Arizona. No car camping. Overnight parking of vehicles is not allowed.

Backpacking: Hikers (with a backcountry permit) may proceed to open trailheads. Those descending the North Kaibab Trail will need to be dropped off by friends or arrive via a commercial shuttle bus.

Weather: Come November, short days and cold nights have arrived. Remember the North Rim is at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) which means that nighttime temperatures are guaranteed to be in the in the 20′s F and 30′s F (-6C to -1C) at best. Watch the weather carefully and talk with experienced friends or park rangers, know when to call off your trip. A few feet of snow could easily fall in a powerful, early winter storm.

Roads: Unimproved roads to destinations such as North Bass Trail and Point Sublime are open until winter weather closes them. Be aware, tree fall is common on the North Rim and you should have alternate routes for getting to and from trailheads (the possibility exists that the road you enter on may be blocked upon your exit). The roads to Point Imperial and Cape Royal Road are closed for the season, all other roads remain open until December 1 unless Highway 67 closes.

Water Line Breakage
Another trans-canyon water line break occurred last week drying water spigots along the Corridor Trails and at Phantom Ranch. Just a reminder that you should always carry a personal water treatment system while hiking the Inner Canyon. I use a SteriPen with a pre-filter. It is lightweight and it has always worked well for me.

Water Availability along the Cross-Canyon Corridor Trails
* North Kaibab Trailhead: water turned OFF
* Supai Tunnel: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Roaring Springs Day Use Area: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Pumphouse Rest Area: ON year-round
* Cottonwood Campground: water turned ON (expected off early Nov)
* Bright Angel Campground: ON year-round
* Plateau Point: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Indian Garden: ON year-round
* Bright Angel Trail, Three-Mile Resthouse: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Bright Angel Trail, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse: water turned ON (expected off on Oct 29)
* Bright Angel Trailhead: ON year-round
* South Kaibab Trailhead: ON year-round

North Kaibab Trail Damage
Just a short distance up trail (north) from the Redwall Bridge along North Kaibab Trail a late monsoon storm damaged a small section of the trail. It is being repaired, but in the meantime you’ll have to cross this section, where the trail is only about 10 inches wide, with the aid of a rope hand-line secured to the wall. No worries.


NPS Photo

Woman Dies while River Rafting
67-year-old Mary Phyl Simpson was reported deceased on September 25, 2013. According to witnesses the boat she was in flipped at Granite park, near River Mile 209. The well-known and long time Grand Canyon river runner and backpacker died of hypothermia prior to being pulled from the river. An investigation is being conducted by the Nat’l Park Service and the Mohave County Medical Examiner.

MY NEW BOOK:
                      Hikernut’s Canyon Lands Companion
            recently earned a Five-Star Rating from Readers’ Favorite reviews!
                            To read the full book review click HERE!

 * * * * *

That’s all for this installment…
                        Hike safe and have fun!


Brian

Copyright 2014 A Sense of Nature, LLC

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