Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hiking Pinnacle in 102 degree heat

Anyone who knows me at all or reads this blog also knows that Pinnacle Mountain is my favorite place in Little Rock. However, hiking at 1 p.m. -- the hottest time of day -- on a 102-degree August day might not be the brightest idea I've ever had. Lately, it seems that every weekend I hike it is harder than the weekend before. Thank you, global warming...or whatever can be blamed for the ridiculous heat Arkansas has experienced this summer.

I managed to get up and back down in not much longer than usual -- it just felt a lot longer. But on the way up, I witnessed the first mountain rescue I've ever seen. About halfway up, there is one spot on the mountain vehicles can get to. At that point, I saw the ambulance and a couple trucks arriving, and a couple EMT guys emerged. One began sprinting up the mountain, and on the way, he said a 14-year-old boy was suffering symptoms of heatstroke. As my shirt was already soaked through with sweat and my bottle of water quickly disappearing, that led me to wonder, "What exactly are the symptoms of heatstroke?"

The top third or so of the hike to the summit is rocky, and unfortunately, this was where the boy had to be rescued. This made safely retrieving him more difficult for the rescue crew because it's steep and not at all a flat surface for walking. When I got to the point where the boy was, the crew had loaded him onto a stretcher, and assisted by other hikers, they were slowly bringing him down. Overhead, we could hear a chopper approaching. The boy was breathing with difficulty and seemed very out of it.

Observing all of this gave me the chills, which couldn't have been provoked any other way, given where the mercury was today. I continued on my hike, perhaps stopping for some water more often than usual. As scary as this was, I want to emphasize that in four years of hiking this park, this is the first time I have ever seen this happen.

But if that's not a reality check, I don't know what is.


  1. sam, actually chills can be a symptom of a heat injury! i (sarah) had to cut my bike ride short today bc i stopped sweating, started getting chills, and stomach was cramping...didn't think to have a lot of ice with me and my water/gatorade was sooo hot...i think the ice would have made a difference. ***that poor young man, i hope he is okay. keep trying to call me for pinnacle! must see you soon.

  2. Sam, I was one of those hikers helping carry him down the mountain, and I was wondering if you have any information on whether or not he is okay. I saw him get airlifted to the hospital but beyond that I have no more information.
    Keep safe and stay out of the heat!


  3. Sarah - I'm pretty sure the chills were a result of me being scared for the boy, not from having any actual heatstroke myself (fortunately!)

    Chris - I haven't heard anything about the boy, but I remain positive in hoping everything turned out OK because of the very fact that I DIDN'T hear anything. I think the media would have reported if something disastrous had happened.