Grand Canyon backpacker dies in 115-degree heat. How to stay safe as temperatures soar

·2 min read

A Grand Canyon backpacker died after falling ill from the extreme heat — and it wasn’t the only heat-related death over the weekend, when temperatures soared across the West.

Michelle Meder, a 53-year-old from Hudson, Ohio, was on a multi-day backpacking trip Friday when she became disoriented from the heat, park rangers said. She became unconscious and died Sunday.

“Responding rangers determined Meder to be deceased,” park officials said Monday in a news release. “The cause of death is believed to be heat-related.”

It was at least 115 degrees Sunday, and park officials said exposed parts of the trail can get hotter than 120 degrees. In the past, the Grand Canyon has been so hot that shoes melted and fell apart.

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“Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia, and death,” park officials said. “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.”

In California, a hiker died and another is in critical condition after being in the desert heat in Borrego Springs, according to City News Service.

The West has been experiencing record-setting high temperatures in a major heatwave. Temperatures have soared above 120 degrees in some places.

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The National Park Service said there are ways to still hike and stay safe in brutal temperatures.

  • 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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