At about 8:45 a.m. on July 4, Kane County Dispatch received a call from some hikers returning from a hike to “The Wave” near the Utah/Arizona border. They located the body of an elderly female who was deceased a short distance off the trail.

The Wave is a popular hiking spot that only allows 20 permits each day. Ten of the daily permits are issued on the Internet several months ahead of time. The other 10 are issued by a lottery at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab. Some days, 70 to 100 people show up for the lottery for the available 10 tickets for the next day. Last year, over 48,000 individuals applied for the 7,300 available tickets.

Kane County Sheriff Lamont Smith, who is a medical investigator for the state medical examiner’s office, and Deputy Brent Smith flew from the Wire Pass Trailhead on the House Rock Valley Road in a helicopter from Classic Helicopters of Page, Arizona. After documenting the scene, the body was flown by sling from the site to the trailhead.

On the return trip to the scene to pick up the Sheriff’s Office personnel, the helicopter located what appeared to be another body about 250 yards away from the first. The second body was also investigated and flown back to the trailhead.

Ulrich Wahli, age 70, and his wife Patricia Wahli, age 69, had permits to hike to The Wave on Wednesday July 3. The Wahli’s are from Campbell, California. They would have been hiking in temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. It is believed they passed away during the afternoon on Wednesday, July 3. Patricia was lying under a tree as though she was trying to find some relief from the heat, or she may have been feeling ill. Ulrich may have been trying to get to help when he was also overcome by the heat.

The bodies were transferred to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office. At this time, cause of death has not been confirmed by the Medical Examiner’s office.

This is a difficult time of year to be hiking in the Wire Pass area of Kane County. Add that to the high heat we are experiencing right now, and it makes for a lethal combination. If you must hike, it is best to do it early in the morning, and be sure to have enough water and supplies.