A 66-year-old Texas man, James Bernard Hendricks, was found deceased on August 1 in Arches National Park, Utah. According to his family, Hendricks was on a mission to scatter his father’s ashes. His sister, Ruth Hendricks Brough, believes that her brother succumbed to heat stroke during his hike on the Sand Dune Arch Trail.
Hendricks, a resident of Austin, Texas, was described by his sister as an exceptionally kind and friendly individual who had touched many lives. His sudden death has left a void in the hearts of many, causing widespread grief.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office initiated a search for Hendricks after he failed to return from his hike as expected. His vehicle was discovered in the parking lot, and his body was found off the trail nearby. According to the sheriff’s office, the water bottle Hendricks had carried was empty, leading them to suspect that a combination of heat, high altitude, and dehydration may have contributed to his death.
The Sand Dune Arch Trail, where Hendricks was hiking, is a relatively easy trail that takes about 15-30 minutes to complete. It leads hikers through deep sand to a secluded arch nestled among sandstone fins. The trail also connects to the more challenging Broken Arch Loop Trail, which takes approximately an hour to complete.
The National Park Service (NPS) and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office are jointly investigating the incident. Hendricks was on a trip he had named “Last Journey With My Father,” scattering his father’s ashes along the way. He had planned to conclude his journey in Reno, Nevada, where his father had spent a significant part of his life.
Arches National Park has witnessed several fatalities this year, including a 69-year-old man who died while hiking the Devil’s Garden Trail in May 2023. The park, known for its iconic rock arches, attracts around 1.5 million visitors annually.
Hendricks’ sister shared with the media that her brother’s final destination was Reno, Nevada, where their father had lived for many years. She remembered him as a person who brought joy to everyone and everything he encountered, cherishing everything from human beings to fossils to stardust.