Death in the Grand Canyon

26 November 2011 in Reviews

 

Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon Book Review
By Michael P. Ghiglieri & Thomas M. Myers

Since volunteering at the Grand Canyon I have been asked several times, “Have you read Death in the Grand Canyon?” And until this week, I hadn’t. Our supervisor here at the Smith River just happened to ask us the same question and just happened to have a copy to lend to us. Now I am not the best reader and a book that doesn’t capture my attention in the first chapter means that I am bored and its nap time. But this book really sucked me in especially since I am now more familiar with the Grand Canyon and the areas mentioned in the book.

The book starts off with explaining why they wrote a book on death in the Grand Canyon. It sounds a little dark and morbid going into the details of why these people did what they did and how they died, but the stories of these people really open up your eyes and make you aware of how you can avoid most of these situations and learn from their mistakes.

The book is broken into several chapters on how people have died in the Canyon starting with falling from the rim and within the Canyon, environmental deaths – hiking through the extremes, flash floods, the Colorado River, from the air, freak accidents, suicide and murder. Each of the chapters start off with a well told story of a person or persons who have put themselves in a vulnerable situation, whether it is someone posing for a dramatic picture of the Canyon as a backdrop, running the Colorado River without a life jacket or a loving couple on a casual hike and along comes a boulder. Then the book continues with more stories of fatalities. The majority of the time these stories don’t end well, but they do give you an idea of how these situations could have been averted and how this person(s) could have survived. Of course the stories in this book aren’t all tragedies, there are some great tales of rescues and heroic acts that were done with the help of NPS Rangers, hikers, boating parties, law enforcement and tourist bystanders.

I found it amazing that people often mistake the Grand Canyon for Disneyland. The Grand Canyon being a tourist attraction means that nothing can hurt them and that they are protected; I don’t need these guard rails, I can swim across the water I am a strong swimmer, I can hop from rock to rock with a six pack in my hand, I can do this and that, watch me! They thought that if something bad did happen to them that help would always be right around the corner. This often is not the case. The Canyon is a big place that is full of danger and being rescued also puts the rescuer at risk since they could drown or fall as well. This is also true of hikers who aren’t quite prepared for the Canyon. Some people think that you can just go down into the Canyon and be back out in a couple of hours and they enter without food and with just one small bottle of water. They don’t need any food and they’ll be able to find water somewhere on the trail, right? Wrong. Many people suffer from dehydration and heat stroke because they are not prepared and begin their hike during the hottest part of the day. I could go on and on about more stories but you should read this book for yourself. I just couldn’t put this book down.

26 November 2011 Reviews

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