Park rangers at Zion National Park rescued two hikers Tuesday who were overdue while canyoneering the difficult Heaps Canyon trail.
The 41-year-old man and 26-year-old woman began the 11-mile hike on Saturday at about 9 a.m., telling a ranger who gave them their wilderness permit that they planned on finishing the route later that day.
Rangers spotted the pair’s vehicle still parked at the trailhead on Monday morning, so they initiated a search with the help of a helicopter from Grand Canyon. The two were spotted in the lower reaches of Heaps Canyon on Monday afternoon, having gone two-thirds of the way through. The helicopter crew was able to get a radio to the pair, who reported they were not able to finish the trail without help.
On Tuesday morning, a ranger and firefighter got to a bench above the pair ahead of a helicopter to clear a landing spot. The six-member rescue team then lowered a ranger 125 feet from the landing to the stranded pair and raised all three to the helicopter. The hikers did not require medical assistance.
The successful rescue came just weeks after rangers recovered the body of a 74-year-old man who died after getting his foot caught while rappelling down the Subway trail in Zion. The man and his wife were the last to start on the challenging canyon trail that day, and the woman was unable to reach rangers until the next morning after getting lost in the dark. Rangers make multiple rescues every year from the park’s challenging trails.
"While canyon hiking in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity, it is not one that should be entered into lightly," said a statement released by the park Wednesday.
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