Eight Camelback Mountain hikers had to be rescued from the Echo Canyon Trail in Arizona Thursday due to heat-related illnesses and dehydration. The hikers had been filming a faith-related reality TV series when they called emergency first responders for assistance Thursday morning.
None of the 15 total hikers were Phoenix locals, FOX 10 reported. They were visiting from Alabama, California and Tennessee. Unfamiliar with the Echo Canyon Trail, the hikers had not done research on the trail’s difficulty or dangers ahead of time. They instead prepared by bringing one water bottle each, and over half carried a phone.
“We had no idea going into it that this apparently was one of the hardest trails in Phoenix,” Kristin Livingston, one of the hikers, told KPHO-TV.
The hikers were at Camelback Mountain for their reality TV series “Bad Girls Gone God,” a faith-based show revolving around increasing their spirituality.
One hiker, Jasmin Hunter, said in a statement to Fox 10, “We started doing a women’s retreat every year, where we get together. We praise, we worship, and we do different activities not only to test our physical (strength) but spiritual (strength) as well.”
The group of 15 began their trek around 7 a.m., Phoenix fire officials reported, as part of their women’s retreat. With the area’s temperature reaching a high of 105, not much time had passed before the hikers began to show symptoms of heat exhaustion.
“We kept stopping and then we had no more water. So the more that we stopped, the harder it got.” Tatiana Robinson said to KPHO-TV, saying her dizziness was the one of the first signs something was wrong.
Eight of the hikers had to be rescued off the mountain later that morning, both on foot and by helicopter. Those less affected by the heat offered their water and phones to communicate with emergency services, as the descent down the mountain grew more difficult for hikers and first responders, alike.
The rescue took 100 men and women from the Phoenix Fire Department to see it to completion, according to KPHO-TV, since the hikers were spread out across the Echo Canyon Trail. The department’s newest drone was also used to locate groups of hikers scattered across Camelback Mountain.
Of the 15 women, five were rescued by helicopter and big wheel basket, while three were able to walk down the mountain with assistance. The Phoenix Fire Department reported that three of the hikers needed to be taken to the hospital but are currently stable. Ultimately, all 15 hikers were successfully rescued and will recover from the Arizona heat.
Other hikers have not been so fortunate in the past. Arizona locals created a Facebook page in 2020 to spread awareness of Camelback’s difficulty and intense heat, as many have lost loved ones on the Echo Canyon Trail.
A recent post from the Facebook group reads: “Sadly, we see this every year. Visitors: please don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones! Don’t hike in hot months, period! Visitors who insist on hiking should start right at sunrise, turn around at the first pass that has East & West views, and return in less than an hour!”