A 35-year-old woman hiking along the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park died late last week after tumbling off a cliff and falling about 400 feet, park officials said.
Colleen Burns, of Orlando, Florida, had been taking pictures with friends at Ooh Aah Point at sunrise on Friday when the accident occurred, said Emily Davis, a public affairs specialist with Grand Canyon National Park. Ooh Aah Point is a scenic vista about one mile down the trail that offers a dramatic panoramic view of the eastern canyon.
Davis said deadly falls from the canyon are not common, but Burns's accident was the second in less than a month. The body of a 23-year-old man from Irvine, California, was found in the afternoon on June 27, several hundred feet below Mather Point.
The circumstances of Burns’s death are still under investigation, but a friend told a local television station that Burns and friends were taking pictures near the canyon's edge when Burns tried to step out of the way to let another person in. She tripped and fell over the edge, the woman told WESH 2 News in Orlando.
The Orlando Sentinel said Burns worked as a regional marketing director for Yelp.
Davis said national park visitors are reminded to use caution near the canyon edge and to stay on trails.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon can be a spectacular experience. But with volatile weather, elevations of 2,135 meters on the South Rim, 2,438 meters on the North, and a snaking canyon far below, it's important to understand the environment and follow a few safety tips.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Stay away from cliffs and behind railings, and don't back up with looking around. Obey signs.
Dress appropriately. Weather can change in an instant, with heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Stay away from tall objects, such as trees, during storms.
Avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Average summer temperatures in the upper canyon can range from 40°F (2°C) to 84°F (29°C). But down near the river it can be scorching, with average temperatures fluctuating between 92°F (33°C) to 106°F (41°C).
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Use sunblock, carry plenty of food and water, and soak your hat and shirt to stay damp and cool.
Leave an itinerary with someone. Let he or she know when you plan to return. Ideally, travel with a partner.
Rest often while hiking. Remember, it takes at least twice as long to hike out as it does to hike down.
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