It got even hotter, with temperatures exceeding 108 that day. With no shade to hide from the relentless sun, Robinson realized they were in trouble.
“I started getting really, really dizzy,” she told KSAZ, “and then after that it was like, ‘No, we can’t do that.'”
Robinson was among a group of women from across the country who gathered in Phoenix for an annual religious retreat, according to the Phoenix Fire Department. One of the women, Keisha Carter, says KNXV they were filming a reality show called “Bad Girls Gone God”. During the gathering, the women planned to pray together and test their physical and spiritual limits, while capturing the experience for show.
“We have started organizing a women’s retreat every year, where we meet,” Jasmin Hunter told KSAZ. “We praise, we worship, we do different activities that not only test our physique [side]but they also test our spirituality.
Thursday morning meant tackling Echo Canyon Trail. Outdoor website AllTrails describes the trek as beautiful, but adds that it’s generally “regarded as a challenging route.” It’s rocky and some sections require hikers to scramble – a more strenuous type of climb involving the use of hands and feet – while offering no shade. Cholla Trail, the only other path to the top of Camelback, is pretty much the same.
“Both trails are strenuous and subject to extreme heat, so hikers suggest bringing plenty of water as many people have experienced heatstroke,” according to AllTrails, which notes that Cholla is closed indefinitely.
The trek to Camelback Mountain is challenging, so much so that there is a community service Facebook group dedicated to educating people about preparing for the trek. The name of the band: “Please Don’t Die Or Have to Be Rescued On Camelback Mountain, Arizona.”
By mid-afternoon, the group had posted about Robinson and his compatriots: “Unfortunately they didn’t see this page before deciding to do this hike.”
The hikers admitted to authorities that they had not done their research before starting the hike. The result: Eight suffered what the Phoenix Fire Department described as “heat-related issues,” and three had to be taken to hospital.
One of the eight was Kristen Livingston: “I barely made it. I had an episode in the car – I almost passed out. It was a lot,” she told KSAZ.
Robinson told KSAZ she feared they would not survive. She attributes not dying to luck – and another form of unseen intervention.
“God,” she said, “was definitely with us.”