Father, daughter survive being lost in 107-degree heat while hiking in Texas national park

In mid-June, the two ventured into Big Bend National Park on the southwestern border of Texas.

What should have been an hour and a half hike turned into a 27-hour fight for survival for Jeff Hahn and his daughter Harper.

In mid-June, the two ventured into Big Bend National Park on the southwestern border of Texas, where the desert terrain is arid and rocky, and temperatures reached at least 107-degrees.

Around this time, Texas and several other Southern states were experiencing a heat wave. Areas around the Lone Star State had feels-like temperatures near 120 degrees.

"In our situation, we weren't as used to that dry heat that West Texas has to offer," Hannah said. "So for us being out there, the moisture is getting sucked out of us so quickly that we didn't even realize it."


To make matters worse, the extreme heat triggered an unknown health condition for Jeff. Known as rhabdomyolysis, it is a medical condition associated with heat stress that causes the quick breakdown, rupture and death of muscles, according to the CDC.

"That condition meant that I couldn't move," Jeff said. He added that his condition prevented him from being able to sit still.

Returning to their vehicle and finding a way to escape the heat became a high priority. So he and Harper made the decision to have Harper, an endurance athlete, move ahead and Jeff would try to stay with her.

For them to find safety, however, the two eventually had to split up.

During this time, Jeff said he experienced a couple of miracles. 

One of which involved him spotting what turned out to be an old miner’s shack. The shack not only provided him shelter from the extreme heat, but it also contained two sealed bottles of water from hikers that had visited the structure before.


The second miracle also provided a way for Jeff to access water. As day turned into night, he said he stumbled over a rock and fell to the ground, breaking his wrist in the process. Despite the injury, his other arm fell into a pool of rainwater in a rock basin, which Jeff would have missed had he remained standing.

After 27 hours in blistering 107-degree heat, the duo finally made it to safety.

"It was a harrowing day, but it had a happy ending," Jeff said.

The hottest months at Big Bend National Park are June, July and August with average high temperatures in the low to mid 90s, according to the NPS. 

However, temperatures can vary greatly depending on elevation, the NPS noted. The desert floor is often above 100 degrees Fahrenheit while the Chisos Mountains can be 10-20 degrees cooler.