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Thread: Couples goes hiking at Zion National Park (160 miles from Vegas), gets cold, one dies

  1. #1
    Zion National Park is one of a few famous national parks close to Las Vegas. The other two major National Parks somewhat near Vegas are Death Valley and Grand Canyon, though only the less impressive "national monument" portion of the park is fairly close, whereas the real national park is over 250 miles away.

    Most people know Zion as a place with large vertical rock walls of various colors, which you see by typically taking a bus to different view/hiking points in the valley.

    You can also drive through a different part of Zion, where you pop out on the east side and can continue on to other scenic places, such as Bryce Canyon National Park.

    I have been to Zion many times, both as a child and as an adult. It's 160 miles from Vegas, so it can make an interesting 2-3 trip without going too far, if you live in Vegas (or even if you're just visiting).

    At Zion, there's a portion called "The Narrows", which is a 16-mile trail in a gorge following a river. Depending upon the water level, you often have no choice but to wade in the river during the hike:

    Even in the summer, the water is on the cold side, because it's melting snow. However, the water is much colder in November, as is the air. This couple set out on a hike on a 49-degree day, but didn't complete it that day, and as night fell, the temperature dropped massively, reaching a low of 19. The woman, who was 31, died of hypothermia, whereas the man survived but had also lost a lot of body heat.

    Deaths in The Narrows aren't uncommon, but tend to occur more often in the summer, when thunderstorms produce flash floods, which sweep away hikers who cannot go anywhere to avoid the rushing water. A 29-year-old woman died there in August for that reason. This is the first hypothermia death I've read about in awhile.

    Interestingly, the man was only rescued because the park's tour bus happened to pass him, and he looked like he needed help. Had that not occurred, he probably would have died as well. He left his dying wife to attempt to get help, and was able to get himself to the road and flag down the tour bus. By the time they got to the woman, she had died.

    I have never attempted to hike The Narrows. While it seems very scenic, the whole flash flood possibility always freaked me out. I also don't like walking in cold water, even if I'm dressed for it.
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  2. #2
    I see what you did there, “Dan.”

    Oh geez, Garnabby is back lurking.

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