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View Full Version : 20 year-old AT hiker dies in Grand Canyon



DuctTape
07-28-2009, 23:02
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/27/AR2009072703242.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Sad story. The end of the article states he "hiked the Appalachian Trail."

Anybody know this guy?

fiddlehead
07-28-2009, 23:12
Bummer.
After doing a bunch of hiking in the canyon, it is not hard to see how this could happen.
There are so few routes to the bottom that are not dangerous descents.
He not only was an Eagle scout and AT hiker, but it appears he went to Northern AZ University so it probably wasn't his first time hiking there.

Almost every time i hike in the canyon, i want to go exploring side canyons and often get in some perilous situations doing so.

May he Rest in Peace.

Dogwood
07-29-2009, 00:06
GCNP during summer, blazing heat, hard to find shade, effects of dehydration setting in, out or almost out of H2O, solo, no rope, descending steep perilous cliffs, a more remote trail, and rimrocked. Uh oh!

And you wonder why GCNP Rangers warn of doing most of the things he did.

Crazy Larry #1
07-29-2009, 06:48
The young man lost his life doing what he loved to do and by taking risks and that is what hiking is all about in my opinion.........

I bet he is really hiking the trails on the other side of this dimension.....

chefjason
07-29-2009, 08:36
That kid had the potential for a life of wonderful accomplishments and good works. That is a loss. Just one more example of why it is not a good idea tohike alone even if you are seasoned and compitent.

Jim Adams
07-29-2009, 09:51
It could have been worse...it could have been New Hampshire and SAR charge the family $25K for the recovery!

geek

Nean
07-29-2009, 10:07
Just one more example of why it is not a good idea to hike alone even if you are seasoned and compitent.
I completely disagree w/ that statement!! Makes no sense.

Rain Man
07-29-2009, 10:09
Really, really sad. He had led a full, fruitful life in his few years!

Rain Man

.

Frosty
07-29-2009, 10:19
Just one more example of why it is not a good idea tohike alone even if you are seasoned and compitent.Not sure I understand this. The idea of not hiking alone is so that someone can go for help if the other gets hurt. When you are lost, it is not a good idea to split up. Perhaps if there were two people, they might not have taken a wrong turn? I will say that when traveling alone in a remote area, a PLB makes a nice companion.

This is a case where a GPS could have been a life saver.

Twenty years old. So sad.

Six-Six
07-29-2009, 11:20
A sad loss, but living is dangerous. He died doing something he enjoyed. We should all be so lucky to be so full of life and cram so much into a life, short as this one was. I want to keep doing those things that have an edge to them and help to keep me living an exciting life. If it costs me my life in doing so, all the better way to go.

Live life and die living.

ShoelessWanderer
07-29-2009, 11:27
That kid had the potential for a life of wonderful accomplishments and good works. That is a loss. Just one more example of why it is not a good idea tohike alone even if you are seasoned and compitent.

Totally disagree with that. It would have been two lives lost instead of one.

Plodderman
07-29-2009, 11:32
Dangerous place and I feel for the the family. These kind of things can happen to any hiker.

Blissful
07-29-2009, 11:42
Sad story.

Cannibal
07-29-2009, 12:08
The good die young. :(
Still, very sad. My heart goes out to his friends and loved ones.

NedB
07-30-2009, 07:45
I have hiked the GC extensively it is very unforgiving. It sounds like he was already desperate (or possibly affected by the heat) when he decided to go down climbs he couldn't get back up. The really sad part is that the area where they found him is ringed with trails, either to Teapeats or Deer creeks, which are very accessible and full of water. He would have had to cross this trail to go down Bonita. Unfortunately we'll never know exactly what went wrong but it does make me wonder if he had a map. What a tragedy, my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Christus Cowboy
07-30-2009, 14:36
After reading the Washington Post article this particular part kind of jumped out at me....

"....After a wide-ranging search turned up personal items, rescuers focused on the Bonita Creek area. Gillies was found about one-half mile from where the creek joins the Colorado River, the Park Service said....."

Though it is not clear, it would appear to me that some of his personal items were found a ways from where they actually found the body..... it would appear that he may have been shedding some of his gear before he died.....

DuctTape
07-30-2009, 16:06
it would appear that he may have been shedding some of his gear before he died.....

Seems pretty obvious that he was out of water and for some reason making a last ditch effort to access the Colorado River via Bonita Canyon, got cliffed out at the top of the 100ft pouroff, and by then did not have the energy to retrace his steps and try another option. Clambering about the side canyons is tricky business and the smart, necessary thing to do would be leave the pack behind.

There's many possibilities that we'll never know, like perhaps he was experienced in the area, recreationally exploring Bonita and just had a bad day. This could happen to anybody. It's been extremely hot in the canyon this month, 115F in the shade... but there's often no shade to be found at all.


GCNP during summer, blazing heat, hard to find shade, effects of dehydration setting in, out or almost out of H2O, solo, no rope, descending steep perilous cliffs, a more remote trail, and rimrocked.

That just about sums it up. Sometimes it's just a perfect trap.

Still curious as to what exactly "Hiked the Appalachian Trail" in the article means, if he did a thru-hike it had to have been recent...

Christus Cowboy
07-30-2009, 21:42
Seems pretty obvious that he was out of water and for some reason making a last ditch effort to access the Colorado River via Bonita Canyon, got cliffed out at the top of the 100ft pouroff, and by then did not have the energy to retrace his steps and try another option. Clambering about the side canyons is tricky business and the smart, necessary thing to do would be leave the pack behind.

There's many possibilities that we'll never know, like perhaps he was experienced in the area, recreationally exploring Bonita and just had a bad day. This could happen to anybody. It's been extremely hot in the canyon this month, 115F in the shade... but there's often no shade to be found at all.

That just about sums it up. Sometimes it's just a perfect trap.

Still curious as to what exactly "Hiked the Appalachian Trail" in the article means, if he did a thru-hike it had to have been recent...

Thanks for the info Duct Tape that makes alot of sense..... I never hiked out your way but given the conditions that you point out, it is definitely not for the faint of heart.....

Dogwood
07-30-2009, 21:59
Still curious as to what exactly "Hiked the Appalachian Trail" in the article means, if he did a thru-hike it had to have been recent...

I'm also considering this statement.

While I'm not going to second guess or make judgemets about things I don't know, I personally have come to realize that while hiking can certainly assist a hiker hiking a different trail elsewhere, hiking the AT does not automatically prepare or qualify an individual to do what this hiker did when he did it, how he did it, and where he did it. Downclimbing steep perilous cliffs solo freestyle with a backpack in a rather remote area during the hotest part of the year in the inner canyon while possibly feeling the effects of exhaustion, dehydration, and disorientation is dangerous at best. This can be insanely dangerous in many places in the Grand Canyon. It can be very tempting to want to downclimb to all that water flowing down at the Colorado River when you are thirsty, have little or no water to drink, and you are at the end of a long hiking day. I have been tempted to do the same thing. I have hiked in the drainage where he was found. He was so close to water. He very well may have been exhausted, severly dehydrated, and/or disoriented from the downclimb. We may never know.

I have heard from rangers more times than I can recall, "this isn't the AT you know?" Some fail to recognize the magnitude of this statement. I know because I used to be one of them. I make this statement not because I think Bryce made this mistake, but as a word of advice that may save your life.

I don't think this event should automatically deter solo hiking though. HOWEVER, a hiker has to realize that hiking solo raises the risk factor. As someone who ordinarily hikes solo in some remote dangerous harsh terrain I'm constantly assessing the risks and weighing those risks with my equipment, attitude, experience, location, etc.

Feral Bill
08-02-2009, 19:47
On a solo hike in Oregon the last three days it was blazing hot, even above 8,000'. I shortened and changed my route, hiking out three days early. Reading about this tragedy makes me glad I did.

See Colin Fletcher's discussion of dehydration in The Complete Walker. It sheds light on how these things happen.

Erin
08-02-2009, 22:39
Gosh, I just read this post. Incredibly sad. I have hiked the GC and sectioned on the AT. I thought the AT was a harder hike, but I thought the GC was more dangerous because of heat and deyhdration. I had no problems, but my friends did....in October. The GC is beautiful, but the heat is bad in the GC and can get dangerous and deadly very quickly. I willl alway carry over weight in water and electolytes becasue of it.

weary
08-02-2009, 23:31
A terribly sad event. I backpacked to the bottom of the canyon in August 20 years ago, down one trail and back up another. We weren't in serious back country, however. Both trails were regularly used.

But I can understand how this could happen. I wonder what gear he had. Map? compass? extra water?

I remain worried whether all the chatter about ultralight backpacking is truly wise. It's hard to get hurt on all except a few places on the AT. It's easy in parts of the west.

KIds rarely have the judgment and experience needed to know the difference.

Weary

Wise Old Owl
08-02-2009, 23:43
It could have been worse...it could have been New Hampshire and SAR charge the family $25K for the recovery!

geek


Great Jim (OUCH)

they don't do that for recovery's...

Sad loss folks,,,, I wonder how he got confused? The trails are very well marked there.

rootball
08-03-2009, 07:12
Know your limits. Never hike alone. Be prepared. Put on clean underwear before you leave the house..all those old adages are worthy of respect, or else...bad things can happen.

Too bad for that dude...sounds like he had a promising future.

DuctTape
08-04-2009, 05:47
Sad loss folks,,,, I wonder how he got confused? The trails are very well marked there.

Not this trail - there's no signs, even at junctions - only cairns. When there's no shade at 110+ degrees and you're dehydrated it's easy to make bad decisions.

Egads
08-14-2009, 07:08
Another dehydrated hiker dies at the canyon. This one was 18

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/teen-dies-at-grand-115367.html

Namaste
08-14-2009, 08:09
Does anyone know if it's still mandatory to sit in on a lecture by the park ranger warning of the dangers of hiking into the GC? Preparedness before you enter? Then receiving a permit after the lecture. Not that this would make a total difference as I do think as hikers we say hiking this will be nothing compared to my hike in ____. I hiked down many years ago and had to listen the day before I entered the South Rim.

bonnermc
08-14-2009, 08:52
Another dehydrated hiker dies at the canyon. This one was 18

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/teen-dies-at-grand-115367.html

I would have to think this article must have gotten a few facts messed up or left out. If you can flag down rafters, you are obviously are at a water source. Maybe I just misread it.

bonnermc
08-14-2009, 08:56
My first distance hike was the GC when I was 16. I was with my sister who had worked at the park for a few summers and used to hike the canyon frequently. However, even so, we missed a turn on the trail and ended up on a side canyon for a couple of hours before deciding we needed to back out. We found our trail and made it to our destination - we were out of water for at least an hour.

I now live in NC now and sectional hike the AT a few times a year. I always feel embarrased by the amount of water I am carrying - usually double what I need at any given time. This is the primary reason why.

Egads
08-14-2009, 17:06
Does anyone know if it's still mandatory to sit in on a lecture by the park ranger warning of the dangers of hiking into the GC? Preparedness before you enter? Then receiving a permit after the lecture. Not that this would make a total difference as I do think as hikers we say hiking this will be nothing compared to my hike in ____. I hiked down many years ago and had to listen the day before I entered the South Rim.

Questions were asked such as do you have a map, water, first aid kit, rain gear, food, etc... from the North rim

Egads
08-14-2009, 17:07
Another dehydrated hiker dies at the canyon. This one was 18

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/teen-dies-at-grand-115367.html


I would have to think this article must have gotten a few facts messed up or left out. If you can flag down rafters, you are obviously are at a water source. Maybe I just misread it.

The hikers may have been cliffed out from the river. You may have a view of the river but no safe access.

ShelterLeopard
08-14-2009, 23:03
Know your limits. Never hike alone. Be prepared. Put on clean underwear before you leave the house..all those old adages are worthy of respect, or else...bad things can happen.

Too bad for that dude...sounds like he had a promising future.

That doesn't all make sense- I love hiking alone. And my underwear is dirty enough after a couple days that it sure doesn't matter.

MedicineMan
08-15-2009, 07:34
The year before I did the Bright Angel loop in a day several died of either heat stroke or dehydration. We started at 0430 and it was 28F; at Phantom it was a cool day (according to the ranger) at 99F.
The map debate should end because of this thread-either cold or heat can rob faculties and yield confusion-confusion that a map can help with.
There are some environments like the GC that do not suffer fools, another would be the Whites or for that matter the Everglades...casual doesn't work, prepardness and redundancy does.
Who doesn't hate it that this hiker's potential on Earth has ended; we can only imagine the pain his loved ones are feeling....it is an opportunity for us to mourn too-he was a hiking brother, but also a time to realize that any of us who go out 'there' will eventually have to stop, think, plan, and act. The more tools we have at that time-both mental and physical-can make the difference.

The Old Fhart
08-15-2009, 07:40
Very good post MedicineMan.

Shutterbug
08-15-2009, 11:33
Does anyone know if it's still mandatory to sit in on a lecture by the park ranger warning of the dangers of hiking into the GC? Preparedness before you enter? Then receiving a permit after the lecture. Not that this would make a total difference as I do think as hikers we say hiking this will be nothing compared to my hike in ____. I hiked down many years ago and had to listen the day before I entered the South Rim.

It is not necessary to get a lecture. I have observed that the rangers often give a lecture to those who appear to be inexperienced; however, one permit covers a group of up to six people. From the news story, the hiker who died was part of a group and probably was not the permit holder.

Dogwood
08-15-2009, 18:49
Does anyone know if it's still mandatory to sit in on a lecture by the park ranger warning of the dangers of hiking into the GC? Preparedness before you enter? Then receiving a permit after the lecture. Not that this would make a total difference as I do think as hikers we say hiking this will be nothing compared to my hike in ____. I hiked down many years ago and had to listen the day before I entered the South Rim.

No, it's not mandatory to sit in on a lecture by a ranger warning of the dangers of hiking into the Grand Canyon. But, regulations, suggestions, and warnings are in evidence in quite a few places including: written on your permit, permit paperwork, on the backcountry office walls, on park magazines and brochures, and at some/most of the corridor trailheads. This information is there to keep you and others safe, not to hinder your hike.

Not that this would make a total difference as I do think as hikers we say hiking this will be nothing compared to my hike in ______. I THINK YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WRONG ABOUT THIS STATEMENT. IT CAN AND DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE, MAYBE A LIFE CHANGING DIFFERENCE, TO A PROSPECTIVE HIKER WHO IS HUMBLE ENOUGH TO KNOW HE OR SHE DOESN'T KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT HIKING EVERYWHERE, IS WILLING TO ACCEPT THE WISDOM OF THOSE WHO KNOW BETTER, AND ARE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR EGO AND KNOW IT ALL ATTITUDE IN CHECK!

Those lectures you speak about Namaste - I have sat in on many of those lectures by rangers in most of the National Parks regarding, my gear, attitude, experience level, trip planning, potential dangers, etc. This is sometimes by less of my own choosing and more by the insistence of the rangers themselves. I used to think they were a hassel. I also used to have a cavalier and dismissive attitude about what rangers were saying, but I have come to realize that rangers, particularly backcountry or permit issuing National Park Rangers, are one of, if not the, greatest sources of current trail information and they desire for me to have a safe trip while protecting the resource for all to enjoy.

Namaste
08-16-2009, 09:00
What I meant by that statement is not everyone will listen to what the rangers have to say-some think they can handle anything. I saw hikers on the trail there wearing "tennis" sneakers that they were warned about-the drive by tourist just wanting to get into the canyon to say "I hiked into the GC". Totally unprepared even after listening to the ranger's lecture.

Dogwood
08-16-2009, 11:53
What I meant by that statement is not everyone will listen to what the rangers have to say-some think they can handle anything. I saw hikers on the trail there wearing "tennis" sneakers that they were warned about-the drive by tourist just wanting to get into the canyon to say "I hiked into the GC". Totally unprepared even after listening to the ranger's lecture.

Absolutely right Namaste. Sometimes this can lead to trouble. That's why I felt I had to say what I said. It wasn't aimed at you. It was a general statement that we can all lean to heed and it was not meant to imply that this is what occurred with Bryce, the hiker who passed away.