Tragic end to an emotional journey: A 66-year-old Texas man has died in Arches National Park, Utah, on a tour he took to scatter his father's ashes. Park rangers believed a combination of heat, high altitude and dehydration led to her brother's death, James H.'s sister wrote on Facebook.
"Travelling with Neil: One last trip with my father", H. had called his tour with his cremated father to the natural beauties of the American West. "I'm carrying his ashes west to the Sierra Nevada, stopping at special places along the way," he announced on Facebook on July 19. According to the sister, he wanted to scatter the ashes in Nevada because her father spent most of his life there.
On July 29, H. drove to Moab, south of the national park, according to a Facebook post. "Because I don't have a reservation to enter Arches National Park, I'll be there early in the morning before the traffic restrictions come into effect. The light for photos is better early in the morning anyway," reads his last post. The 29th was also the last day her brother was seen alive, according to his sister.
Two days later, H. did not return from a hike in the park, according to a press release from the park administration. Rangers then searched for the missing person and discovered his vehicle in the Sand Dune Arch Trail parking lot. Shortly thereafter, they came across the body of the man off the path. The water bottle that the 66-year-old had with him was empty.
According to the park administration, the Sand Dune Arch Trail is actually an easy circular route that is also suitable for hiking with children. It is only 600 meters long, can be completed in about 15 to 30 minutes and leads to a "hidden arch between high sandstone walls". Hikers can also continue from the trail to the Broken Arch Loop Trail, which is about 2.3 miles long and takes about an hour to complete.
According to his sister, H. was an experienced hiker. The temperatures in the area at the time were almost 40 degrees Celsius. In addition, the 66-year-old is said to have taken medication that can lead to dehydration.
The National Park Service and the responsible Grand County Sheriff's Office are investigating the death, as reported by several US media. The official cause of death has not yet been determined, but the heat and altitude are considered "relevant factors", according to the police.
Quellen: "San Antonio Express-News", "Austin American-Statesman", Associated Press, National Park Service, James H. auf Facebook