Trail limits set in this state park over heat-related rescues

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California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park announced Tuesday that it would limit trail access due to excessive heat after two hikers had to be airlifted out last weekend. 

In a Facebook post announcing the restrictions, park officials advised hikers to take safety measures to prevent similar occurrences. 

SOUTHWESTERN TEMPERATURES COULD PUSH TO 115+ DEGREES WHILE NORTHEAST COOLS DOWN

“Due to excessive heat in the desert, Borrego Palm Canyon Trail will be closed daily from 11 a.m. [to] sunrise the following day, starting today, June 8th, through September 30th, 2021,” the park wrote. “Any hiking in the area may be done from Sunrise [to] 11 a.m. Please refer to our post from yesterday for some tips on hiking in hot weather.”

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Previously, the trail had been open from sunrise to sunset. 

California Parks Department Information Officer Jorge Moreno told Fox News on Friday that preliminary information found that the medical rescues were due to the “rising temperatures in the desert.”

“Due to the ongoing rescue investigation on the incident, the trail is temporarily closed from 11 a.m. to the following sunrise the next day. The trail will fully reopen in less than a week or sooner. Information on the reopening will be updated on the Anza-Borrego Desert SP social media platforms,” he said.

SF Gate reported on Thursday that the hikers had been taken to a local hospital and that the last time the park was closed was in January of last year due to a fire in Palm Grove. 

Temperatures in the Golden State have spiked over recent weeks, elevating the threat of wildfires and endangering seniors, pets and children. 

The National Weather Service said Saturday that a large swatch of the western U.S. is expected to see even more excessive heat through next week.

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“Many visitors come to the desert unprepared” for huge temperature swings, Moreno said. “Do not be a victim to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

High temperatures in the park over the next week are expected to top 110 degrees.

Park officials said on Facebook that a closure due to heat hasn’t happened in “recent history” and that the park “has seen a recent increase in first-time visitors.”

Moreno advised parkgoers to be wary that the desert can be “very unpredictable and dangerous” during the summer season. 

“Simple actions such as taking plenty of water and food and knowing that cell coverage is extremely limited or non-existent can help visitors safely enjoy these iconic landscapes,” he noted. 

Moreno says the Parks Department asks all visitors to recreate responsibly by developing a plan. hiking when temperatures are cooler, dressing appropriately, carrying a map, not splitting up, seeking shelter and turning around on the trail or hike if the supply of water is half gone. 

“Carry water and drink it. We cannot stress this enough!” he said. “On a warm day in Anza-Borrego, by the time you feel thirsty it may be too late. Drink a lot of water and drink often.”

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 600 people in the U.S. die from extreme heat every year.

California is also in the midst of a historic drought – Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency in April – and mandatory water restrictions have been set for counties across the state.