I usually spend the first few minutes of my work day checking my Grand Canyon Alerts on email. Today I was saddened to read that a hiker had been injured in a rock fall in a location known as “the box” near the North Rim. In March of 2011, two hikers were injured in a rock fall on the South Kaibab Trail below the South Rim.
You may be wondering, “What would cause a rock fall in the Grand Canyon?” To answer that question, let me reference the Park Service’s website, “Don’t be so committed to your hike that you refuse to recognize a dangerous situation….” They also add this advice:
- Watch and listen for rock falls and slides, especially during and after downpours.
- Do not stand at places where rocks have obviously fallen before.
Rock falls, usually caused by heavy rainstorms during the “Monsoon Season” are not the only weather-related danger in the Grand Canyon. Lightning and Flash Flooding are also very real dangers, especially during the summer months. For more information on what to do in case of these dangers, visit the Park Service website.
The hiker, referenced in the beginning of this article, was seriously injured but his hiking companions were able to get him to Phantom Ranch last night. The Park Rangers attended to him but the medical helicopter was unable to fly due to bad weather. This morning the helicopter was able to fly him out to Flagstaff Medical Center where he remains in critical condition. We certainly hope he fully recovers and is able to hike in the Grand Canyon again at some future date.
A section of the River Trail also sustained damage in the storm. It is still open to hikers but is temporarily closed to the Mule Rides. The mules are using an alternate trail.
Because the weather service has issued storm warnings for the next several days, be sure you take extra safety precautions. We want you to have a wonderful experience on your Grand Canyon Vacation!