On Wednesday evening, January 9th, a 33-year-old Californian man was found dead by a search party an hour after he was reported missing by his travel companion. The man had run ahead of his companion and is believed to have taken a wrong turn, where he was found just 400 metres further down the ‘wrong’ path.
The man from California and his friend, a 40-year-old man, had been hiking part of the Larapinta trail, which is approximately 160 kilometres from Alice Springs. The trail is famed for its sacred Aboriginal sites and is somewhat popular among tourists. The pair had already walked up Mount Sonder and were on the descent when they were separated. It is estimated that they had walked close to 16 kilometres that day. The man’s companion made it to Redbank Gorge where he informed authorities about the missing man, around 3 hours after they had separated. Authorities found the 33-year-old Californian a mere hour after he was reported missing, but it was, unfortunately, too late.
Police have stated that the cause of death is in no way suspicious and that the man most likely died of a snake bite, a bad fall or dehydration and heat exhaustion. The man’s friend did confirm that they both had a limited supply of water on them that day. Heat may very well have played a factor, as the temperature on Wednesday in the area exceeded 42 degrees Celsius. The path the men had been walking on gave very little to no shade and the area is classified as semi-desert.
Australian police have not yet identified the hiker or given out any additional information about him. Police have, however, taken this opportunity to urge authorities to warn locals and tourists alike of the dangers of hiking in the Australian Outback.
This incident follows up the death of two elderly German tourists in February 2017. The German tourists perished near Alice Springs under similar conditions. It is advised that all tourists attempting to hike in the Outback bring with them adequate water supplies and wear protective clothing to shield them from the elements.