Dozens of members of an out-of-state hiking group had to be rescued after they tried climbing a mountain trail near metro Phoenix in sweltering temperatures, authorities said Friday.
Forty-four people had to be helped off the trail near Apache Junction, including two by helicopter Thursday afternoon, the Superstition Fire & Medical District said in a brief statement. The hikers were overcome by the heat, which reached 106 degrees.
The district said its rescue personnel and Lost Dutchman State Park rangers helped most of the hikers walk back down to the park from the Siphon Draw Trail. Known for being very steep and extremely difficult, the trail leads into the adjacent Superstition Wilderness in the Tonto National Forest.
No information was immediately available on the status or conditions of the hikers. A Pinal County sheriff's official, Chief Deputy Matthew Thomas, didn't immediately respond Friday to a call from The Associated Press.
State Parks spokeswoman Michelle Thompson said the hikers didn't begin their hike until 3 p.m. Thursday. They had been advised against making the five-hour round-trip hike that time of day.
"But they insisted. They went ahead," she said.
Thompson said the hikers weren't from Arizona, didn't have experience with local conditions and belonged to a fitness group of some kind. She didn't have details on where they were from. The group was from Kansas, according to Phoenix TV station KTVK/KPHO .
"They didn't have enough water," Thompson said.
She said the first hikers needing assistance were rescued at 4 p.m. and that others reached out for help at 8:40 p.m.
According to Thompson, rescue personnel drove off-road vehicles as far as they could and then hiked the rest of the way to reach the stranded hikers.