65-year-old Grand Canyon hiker dies on popular trail, national park rangers say

J. Baird/National Park Service photo

A hiker died while trying to trek across a popular but notoriously dangerous trail in Grand Canyon National Park, rangers said.

The hiker’s personal locator beacon alerted dispatchers to the unresponsive hiker on Bright Angel Trail, about 1.5 miles north of Havasupai Gardens, on Nov. 16, officials said in a news release.

A rescuer at the gardens hiked to his location as search and rescue members flew overhead in a helicopter. Rangers pronounced the hiker dead when they located him.

The hiker, 65-year-old James Handschy of Oracle, Arizona, was trying to trek from the South Rim to the river and back — a treacherous route where several hikers have died this year, McClatchy News previously reported.

In February, a 56-year-old hiker from Wisconsin died trying to trek the trail in one day, McClatchy News reported.

Then in May, a 36-year-old hiker died attempting the same route in the same timeframe, McClatchy News reported.

Park officials don’t recommend hiking the popular Bright Angel Trail in a day. It’s a nearly 8-mile trail with a 4,460-foot elevation change, the National Park Service said.

Several people commented on the park’s Facebook post about how tough the trail can be.

“Those trails are no joke,” someone said. “You get lost in the almost incomprehensible scale of the canyon. Very powerful place.”

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