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Two die in high heat during hike in Utah backcountry

Published July 5, 2013 7:39 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A California couple apparently was overcome by heat and died Wednesday while hiking at The Wave near the Utah-Arizona border.

Ulrich and Patricia Wahli, of Campbell, Calif., had permits to hike to The Wave in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on Wednesday, while temperatures exceeded 100 degrees, Kane County sheriff's Sgt. Alan Alldredge wrote in a news release.

On Thursday, hikers found the body of 69-year-old Patricia Wahli lying under a tree "as though she was trying to find some relief from the heat, or may have been feeling ill," Alldredge wrote. A helicopter crew flew in to retrieve the body; while at the scene they found Ulrich Wahli's body about 250 yards from the first.

Ulrich Wahli, 70, may have been trying to get help when he died in the heat, Alldredge wrote. Investigators believed they died sometime Wednesday afternoon.

"This is a difficult time of year to be hiking in the Wire Pass area of Kane County," Alldredge wrote. "If you must hike, it is best to do it early in the morning, and make sure you have enough water and supplies."

The Wave is a popular photo subject and hiking destination that allows only 20 visitors' permits each day. Ten permits are reserved in advance, and 10 are issued each day in a lottery at the Grand Staircase-Escalante visitor's center in Kanab, Alldredge wrote; up to 100 people have arrived at the visitor's center for a single day's lottery. Last year, more than 48,000 people applied for the 7,300 available tickets.