Climbing the traverse, 50 feet of sheer rock, is part of the Billy Goat Trail section A, shown here in a file photo. This is near where Rachel Parkerson, 32, was found unconscious. Parkerson died of hyperthermia.
File Photo by NPS
A hiker died Saturday, July 20, from hypothermia while on the main section of the famous Potomac Billy Goat trail.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue performed CPR on Rachel Parkerson, 32 of Severn, after responding to a report of an unconscious female on the trail.
Other hikers and people close to the trail assisted Parkerson, and guided more than a dozen rescue workers to the scene on Saturday, the second of three days with heat index over 100 degrees. Swift water rescue teams from Cabin John Volunteer Park Fire Department extracted her from the rough terrain and Park Police hoisted Parkerson by helicopter and to Suburban Hospital where she died.
Park Police say the cause of death was accidental, with hyperthermia being the attributing factor.
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to nearly a dozen other calls from the same area on Sunday.
During the heatwave, the Billy Goat Trail has been closed at times, and authorities urge hikers to have sufficient water to stay hydrated, at least two liters per person. The Park Service strongly discouraged anyone from hiking on the Billy Goat trail between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the heat.
According to Fire and Rescue, dangerously high temperatures and humidity can quickly cause heat stress or heat stroke if precautions are not taken. Use caution when visiting the park. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Check the weather before planning your trip.
Even in favorable weather, Billy Goat section A is challenging and dangerous. A sign in early parts of the trail says: “Difficult Trail Ahead. Many hikers are injured every year on this section of the Billy Goat A trail. The terrain includes sharp drops, requires jumps across open areas, walking along the edges of rocks and a climb up a 50-foot-traverse. Beyond this point, the next available exit is at the midpoint, up to on hour hike over difficult terrain. If you are tired, low on water, or unprepared for a very strenuous hike, please turn back.”
Hiker on Billy Goat Trail died at hospital after suffering a medical emergency (presumably heat related) on Saturday ~2p, patient located by >dozen @MCFRS_EMIHS 1st Responders & @mcfrs SWRT medics (near BGT A traverse) & extracted via hoist from rough terrain by USPark Helicopter
Several Passerbys (others in close proximity on Trail) immediately came to the aid of the stricken hiker & not only guided @mcfrs rescuers to scene, but remained on phone w/ 911 operators & assisted w/ medical treatment until FFs & medics arrived on scene - others were transported
Update - @COcanalNPS Billy Goat Trail A, hiker w/ medical emergency, @MCFRS_EMIHS & SWRT medics w/Pri1 patient, boats at River’s edge, extraction via USPark medevac & hoist evac of patient
Billy Goat Trail A - CLOSED RT @COcanalNPS Billy Goat Trail sec. A near Great Falls is CLOSED due to excessive heat. Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories are in effect. Heat indices are ranging between 105-115ºF. NPS Staff will reevaluate conditions on Monday
Hiker with medical emergency on Billy Goat Trail Saturday has died, officials say