Arizona Rescue Crews Expecting More Hiker Rescues This Year

By Scott Bourque
Published: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 11:03am
Updated: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 11:05am

Camelback Mountain rescue
Phoenix Fire Department
Phoenix Fire Department teams rescue a hiker from Camelback Mountain in September 2019.

Parks and hiking trails across Arizona are still crowded as people try to stave off boredom during social distancing. 

That, combined with warming temperatures, means emergency crews are expecting an increase in mountain rescue calls in the coming weeks.

Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade says in the Valley, mornings with perfect hiking weather quickly give way to triple-digit heat.

“We’re expecting triple digits this weekend," McDade said. "We want to remind everybody to hydrate the night before, know your limitations, you don’t have to go to the top of the mountain, hike with somebody and have plenty of water.”

Crews in Coconino County have already responded to three separate search-and-rescue calls in a 24-hour period, and as Sheriff’s Office spokesman Paul Clifton explains, they expect more.

“We are tracking at last year’s record pace this year," Clifton said. "How much of that is a result of COVID-19 remains to be seen, but we do anticipate an increase.”

Experts recommend hikers bring at least one liter of water per hour they plan to hike — but they say hikers should bring more than they think they’ll need.

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