As he spring hiking season kicks in, it is worth remembering that 2009 was an unusually harsh year on solo hikers at Grand Canyon. In four separate incidents, men hiking alone have gone missing in the backcountry, their bodies to be recovered days later by Search and Rescue personnel. The causes of death range from falling to heat related illness.
These cautionary tales are a stark reminder that hiking with a companion dramatically increases your chances of survival should something go wrong. In the absence of a satellite telephone, sending a fellow hiker to alert park rangers is the only way to get an injured comrade to definitive care.
If you must hike alone, be sure you know the route, have an emergency plan, keep a realistic itinerary, and leave a detailed schedule with a reliable friend or family member. Hiking alone can be a wonderful experience. But it requires taking extra precautions and a keen understanding of the additional risks.