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‘Semi-conscious’ hiker dies trying to reach lodging in Grand Canyon, rangers say

A “semi-conscious” hiker died trying to reach lodging for an overnight stay in the Grand Canyon, rangers said.

He was hiking the River Trail in order to reach Phantom Ranch, a popular lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, when the hiker became unresponsive at about 7 p.m. Saturday, June 29, the National Park Service said in a news release.

The hiker, later identified as 69-year-old Scott Sims of Austin, Texas, was about halfway between the Silver Bridge and Black Bridge near Phantom Ranch, officials said. He was attempting to reach the lodge via the South Kaibab Trail.

Sims became unresponsive shortly after bystanders found him and started CPR until Phantom Ranch paramedics arrived, officials said.

The resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful, officials said. And while rangers didn’t say whether the heat was responsible for his condition, they warned others against hiking in the inner canyon “during the heat of the day” between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“In the summer, temperatures on exposed parts of the trail can reach over 120°F (49 °C) in the shade,” rangers said in the release. “Be aware that efforts to assist hikers may be delayed during the 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 National Park Service is investigating along with the Coconino County Medical Examiner, officials said.

It is the second time a hiker has died in that area this summer. A 41-year-old hiker died on June 16, McClatchy News previously reported.

Beating the heat

When temperatures are extremely high, some people’s bodies can have trouble regulating temperature.

In some cases, people can experience heat exhaustion and have muscle cramps, nausea, weakness and cold or clammy skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If heat exhaustion persists for too long, however, it can lead to heatstroke, the most serious form of heat injury. People experiencing heatstroke can have hot, red, dry or damp skin. They also can have a fast and strong pulse, and they can become confused. People should move indoors immediately and call 911 right away if they have symptoms.

If people choose to hike or be outdoors in dangerously hot temperatures, officials recommend the following tips:

— Carry and drink plenty of water and plan to replenish electrolytes.

— Eat twice as much food as normal and have salty foods on hand.

— Carry a first-aid kit.

— Pack essentials only.

— Bring a flashlight with spare batteries to hike during the cool evening.

— Spray yourself with water to cool down.

— Have a hat and sunscreen as protection from the sun.

— Have a whistle or signal for emergency use.

— Wear waterproof clothing.

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