"Everything is hot here."
A 71-year-old hiker died in Death Valley, California just hours after giving an interview to the Los Angeles Times about his voyage.
As the LA Times reported in a followup, its recent interviewee Steven Curry died last week after collapsing from what officials believe were heat-related causes in the hottest place on Earth. Death Valley, like the rest of the country, been experiencing a blistering heat wave this summer as climate change continues to wreak its havoc.
Early on the morning of his passing last week, the LAT conducted a brief interview with Curry for a piece about the increasing heat in the famously-scorching Southern California desert while he crouched beneath a metal sign that provided, as the paper noted in its follow-up, the only shade nearby.
"It’s a dry heat,” the hiker said while sitting atop the desert's Zabriskie Point summit. "Everything is hot here."
That was far from an understatement: the high during the week the hiker died got up to nearly 126 degrees, which even for Death Valley is tremendously hot.
Death Valley at 1 am this morning was a mind-boggling 120°F (49°C), before bottoming out at 105°F (40.6°C) at 7 am.
One of the hottest nights in Earth's recorded history. pic.twitter.com/810DwdbExs
— Colin McCarthy (@US_Stormwatch) July 17, 2023
As Curry's widow Rima tells the newspaper, this kind of dangerous hike was par for the course in their 29-year marriage.
"He had talked about Death Valley for at least a week or more," the hiker's 76-year-old widow said. Though she'd voiced concerns about the temperatures recorded there in recent weeks, Curry insisted on going — and did so without telling his wife, who had been expecting him home that night.
Curry apparently got the outdoors bug after marrying Rima in 1994, and would set up a tent in his own backyard or hike up Mt. Lukens, a San Gabriel mountains peak near his home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sunland-Tujunga.
"He was always happiest when he could be out there sleeping under the stars," she told the LAT. "That was his joy."
That Curry completed his round-trip hike from Death Valley's Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point is some comfort to his widow, she's still devastated.
"We were supposed to grow old together, sit on our rocking chairs on the porch," she said.
More on extreme heat: Brutal Heat Wave Is Literally Putting People Into Comas
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