Hikers, this book is a Must Read.

by Jean on July 27, 2012

I am reading the latest edition of:

“Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon” by Tom M. Myers and Michael P. Ghiglieri.

  • I have had several versions of the book over the years, and this updated version was printed in 2012.  You can’t miss this book if you visit the Grand Canyon because it is displayed at many gift shops.
  • I think everyone should read this book who wants to go below the Rim, and certainly all who plan to hike Rim to Rim with this group.   The pages are filled with the details, names, and ages of the roughly 700 people who have been involved in various fatalities at the Canyon.  It is eerie but it teaches basic safety and is also good reinforcement why we have the strict rules I repeat over and over such as never hike alone (don’t lose sight of someone), never leave anyone behind, cool yourself down all day long, drink when you are not thirsty, be familiar with the signs and remedies for heat exhaustion, and do not step foot into the Canyon to hike unless you are beyond 100% physically fit, trained hard for the hike, and are well prepared.
  • But even if you are “Canyon Ready” accidents, illness and injury can happen to the strongest of us all.  Do not invite or bring anyone with you unless you are willing to hike and stay with them the entire time, even if that means you spend the night in the canyon.  Bring people who would do the same for you, without any hesitation.  If you or your hiking buddies are not training and are not prepared, you risk your own safety as well as the safety of all the others.
  • Soon after we hiked this year, a 16 year old tragically drowned below a waterfall that was only 5 feet deep but with strong undercurrents.   About a week ago, a woman fatally fell 300 feet down a trail.  Very sad reminders that the Canyon is a deadly serious place where bad things happen with unsettling frequency.
  • If you hike long enough you will find people in the book whom you realize you met along the way.  Years ago Katie and I met “Maverick” (approximately 80 + years old, page 550), just south of the Supai Tunnel on the endless North Kaibab brown switchbacks.  He stopped to talk to us for a few minutes as he descended into evening shadows for a full moon rim-to-rim hike.  Wow, we will never forget him.
  • Once you understand what you have gotten yourself into, you are alarmed by other people who did not have someone like me sending them irritating death e-mail warnings.  You can spot the day tourists who failed to glance at this book at the gift shop.  You will find yourself talking to people miles below the Rim who you can see are unprepared, and you will urge them to turn around and go back.  You might argue with people you meet at dusk with no flashlights who are heading into down the trail with their small kids who are just going “down a little ways”.
I can’t imagine what the authors of this book have seen and done over the course of their careers …

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