3rd Hiker Dies Along Stunning, Deadly Ariz. Trail

'The Wave' has no trail markers, intense heat
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2013 6:17 AM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2013 7:03 AM CDT
3rd Hiker Dies Along Stunning, Deadly Ariz. Trail
This May 28, 2013, file photo shows a section of a rock formation known as The Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.   (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

"The Wave" is such a breathtaking hiking destination that just 20 people are allowed to visit per day, in order to ensure it remains protected—but the intense heat along the Utah-Arizona border, coupled with an open landscape with no marked trail, has claimed three lives this month alone. On Monday, Anthony and Elisabeth Ann Bervel set off to see the sandstone patterns that give the region, part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, its name. They were celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. But hours later, Elisabeth, 27, was dead of cardiac arrest, the AP reports.

The Bervels were on their way back to a trailhead when they got lost in 90-degree heat, humidity, and soft sand, and Elisabeth's legs eventually gave out. Her husband went on, looking for a cellphone signal, but it was too late. "It seems to go well for people going to The Wave," an officer explains. "But for some reasons on the way back, they end up getting lost. ... Once you hit the slickrock, nothing distinguishes the trail." On July 3, another couple died in 106-degree heat; last year, a hiker died after falling into a slot canyon. The deaths have officials re-evaluating the risks of the hike. Some changes under consideration, as per the Salt Lake Tribune: trail markers, better cellphone coverage, and closing the region completely at times. (More national park stories.)

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