A 53-year-old backpacker who was hiking in the Grand Canyon died due to what rangers believe to be heat-related causes.
Michelle Meder of Hudson, Ohio, was on a multi-day backpacking trip from the Hermit to the Bright Angel Trail when she began experiencing heat illness Saturday, according to the National Park Service.
“Hiking down the Hermit Trail on June 19, [Meder] became disoriented and later unconscious,” the National Park Service said in a statement regarding the incident.
Meder was hiking in a group of five, who split up to call for help when she fell ill. Three of her fellow hikers flagged down a commercial raft group and contacted park rangers via satellite phone, Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Joelle Baird said, according to The Associated Press.
Unfortunately, the rangers were not able to respond to the incident until Sunday, where they found Meder dead. The cause of death is believed to be heat-related as the temperature where she was hiking was approximately 115°F. Investigators are working with the local medical examiner to determine an exact cause of death. (RELATED: Authorities Find Body 465 Feet Below Rim of Grand Canyon, Believed To Be Missing Kentucky Man)
Visitors to the Grand Canyon are being urged to prepare for “excessively hot days,” according to the National Park Service’s website. Most of the rocky, strenuous trails in the park are known for having very little shade and minimal water sources.
The heatwave scorching the Rocky Mountain West does not make things any easier, and Baird said the Grand Canyon has seen a recent spike in heat-related illness.
This summer be aware of the hazardous H’s: Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stoke, Hyponatremia, and Hypothermia.
Learn more about how to identify and avoid these summer hazards at https://t.co/5TRcn4ZL1I
????: Grand Canyon NPS pic.twitter.com/OlxbymBzHK
— Grand Canyon Conservancy (@GCConservancy) June 21, 2021
“It’s just very unforgiving this time of year, even for people who are acclimated, and fit and in shape,” Baird said. “They struggle. It can be really hard to thermal regulate if you’re not used to hiking in these elements, and you’re not getting proper nutrition and hydration.”
Hiking in extreme heat can lead to exhaustion, heatstroke, hyponatremia and even death, according to the National Park Service.