Hiker found alone and lying down on Joshua Tree trail in ‘heat-related emergency’

·2 min read
NPS/Brad Sutton

A hiker was found alone and lying down on a Joshua Tree trail while having a “heat-related emergency,” deputies said.

Gregory Nawrocki was several miles into a hike in Joshua Tree National Park on Monday, July 4, when he decided he couldn’t continue.

The temperature in the national park soared to about 86 degrees July 4. Nawrocki was struggling in the heat, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The 57-year-old from Desert Hot Springs was alone on the Boy Scout Trail and called 911.

“He advised he needed help,” the sheriff said in a news release. “Due to the remote location and steep, rugged terrain, Fire Dispatch requested Sheriff’s Aviation for a hoist rescue.”

When rescuers arrived, they found Nawrocki lying down on the trail.

Crews hoisted him into a helicopter and flew him to the trailhead, then took him to a hospital for treatment, deputies said. Officials did not disclose his current condition.

Joshua Tree encompasses 800,000 acres of desert land and has few facilities within the park. The weather can change quickly, and there is little cell service in the park.

Over the summer of 2021, at least two hikers died in Joshua Tree within 30 days, according to McClatchy News. The body of a 20-year-old Oceanside man was found after he was missing for nine days in May 2021.

In June of last year, a body was found during the search for a 38-year-old man from Twentynine Palms.

Beating the heat

When temperatures are extremely high, some people can have trouble regulating temperature, McClatchy News reported.

In some cases, people can experience heat exhaustion. People experiencing heat exhaustion can have muscle cramps, nausea, weakness, and cold or clammy skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If heat exhaustion persists for too long, it can lead to heatstroke, the most serious form of heat injury. People experiencing heat stroke can have hot, red, dry or damp skin. They have a fast pulse, and they can become confused. People should move indoors immediately and call 911 right away if they have symptoms.

If people choose to hike or be outdoors in dangerously hot temperatures, officials recommend the following tips:

  • Carry and drink plenty of water and plan to replenish electrolytes

  • Eat twice as much food as normal and have salty foods on hand

  • Carry a first-aid kit

  • Pack essentials only

  • Bring a flashlight with spare batteries to hike during the cool evening

  • Spray yourself with water to cool down

  • Have a hat and sunscreen as protection from the sun

  • Have a whistle or signal for emergency use

  • Wear waterproof clothing

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