Monday, May 21, 2007

Tragedy in the Canyon [L]

The news trickled out slowly in the Forums on Thursday. An NPS report was posted stating a woman had died of apparent heatstroke on Tuesday while backpacking in a remote region of the Grand Canyon. The few details that were released sent a chill up our collective spines - the party size, location, and women's age fit with one of our own groups out there. Anyone with a number of the party of 6 sent out calls and we waited. A message was finally received: 'something bad has happened'. The forum moderators were asked to delete the threads and complied immediately. We knew which one it was. And it is so unfair.

It was April from Oregon.

I'm not positive, and I am surmising, but from the description it appears she died of "Fluid intact heatstroke" - the heat challenge overwhelms the body's heat loss mechanism even though the fluid level is sufficient. It kills quickly if you can't reduce the body temperature. Not an easy thing to do in the desert with temperatures hovering around 105*. And they were all experienced desert backpackers. They used all their resources and knowledge in a valiant attempt to save her.

She died in her husbands arms, Tuesday afternoon. They had been married for 25 years. They loved the Canyon. Two set out Wednesday morning for help. They were hoping to get to the Trailhead by Friday. From there they would have to search for a Ranger. Another party came upon them. They would be at the River by Thursday. River Rafting Companies equip their people with satellite cell phones.

A Helicopter arrived Thursday afternoon. A Ranger would be dispatched to meet the two hiking out.

I didn't know them personally. But the communities are tight knit. I've met maybe 50 between the two forums and know all the regulars by no more than one degree of separation. I counted them as friends and knew they were two beautiful souls. When I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's, He & his wife were one of the first of many from the forums that contributed to my fund raiser. He contacted a friend before word went out on how to help. Once, near Christmas, I mentioned on the forums about how I loved ginger snaps. A few days later I got a package of ginger snaps from him. His wife was a Christmas cookie maker fanatic. Best Ginger snaps ever.

It's little things like that make some shine more than others. I promised my next trip would be in the Pacific Northwest. I needed to meet these kind souls. we chatted on the forums last night. He told me he's still looking forward to meeting me one day. I hope it's soon.

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