Sad news to report today. 

On Thursday, July 21, a 75-year-old man from Houston was found dead near the trailhead of Chimneys Trail at Big Bend National Park, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. Park rangers were called to the scene after someone discovered the body at around 7:45 pm. 

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While no cause of death was immediately evident, the report did say that temperatures reached around 104 degrees on Chimneys Trail that day, leading authorities to believe the death was related to the extreme heat. 

Temperatures have been getting up to around 100 degrees at the park by late morning and getting progressively hotter until long after sunset. 

Big Bend National Park recommends hikers carry and drink at least one gallon of water, In addition, hikers are required to exit all trails by noon. 

For hikers here in Texoma, hiking times were recently limited at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge enacted an Emergency Closure Order in June that required all hikers to exit the trails by 10:00 am for safety reasons. Hiking is allowed to begin at sunrise while the order is in place. 

The order was put in place as a result of several rescues that had lasted for hours at a time, according to Visitor Service Manager Quinton Smith: 

There’s right at 24,000 acres of public use lands that people can hike and even though they get out at a trail-head, like the one we’re at now, you can see the vast area that’s behind us...there’s no telling where they’ll be at out there. Which leads back to the complication for search and rescue, when you start thinking that we’ve got someone out there and we know they’re hurt, or we know they haven’t reported back when they should, finding them in that is really tough…Some of the search and rescues we’ve went on has lasted hours after hours, and a rescuer can only give you so many hours before they put themselves in danger.

It looks like these extreme temperatures are here to stay for a while to come. So, be sure to stay safe and hydrate properly if you’re planning to head out on a hike. 

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