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Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

tragedy at the Grand Canyon

Check out this ominous pull quote from the homepage of (do copy editors get bonuses for this sort of thing?):

In the summer furnace of the Grand Canyon, hikers and runners try to avoid lugging a heavy piece of equipment: water. But those who skimp on it pay with their lives.

The headline (as seen on the front page) is equally menacing: Drink or die.

The story is disheartening: two healthy adults began a 27-mile trail run along an unmaintained path in the Grand Canyon, carrying about 1/6 as much water as they needed. 24 hours later, one of the two people, having spent an afternoon curled up in the shade and a night alone on the trail, stumbled into a USGS employee who was able to provide water. His trail-running companion was dead.

When I climbed Pike’s Peak last year, I carried 3 liters of water. I was climbing into cooler weather, and I knew I could refill at the 5- and 12.5-mile points — and I carried more than twice as much water as the woman whose body was airlifted out of the Grand Canyon. But then I wasn’t trying to run up the trail; my goal was to simply finish. The time was irrelevant.

I saw trail runners on the Barr Trail. Gangly ectomorphs wearing skimpy shorts, they’d fly by at a sprint, with a small bottle of water in one hand (weight-balanced by the stopwatch strapped to the opposite wrist). I’d like to think they’d carry more water were they descending 5000 feet into a 120° F river valley. To do anything else, especially at the Grand Canyon, doesn’t seem sane.

posted to channel: Travel
updated: 2004-08-17 19:28:46

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