July 27, 2023
As the LA Times reported in a followup story, its recent subject 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, has 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.
That was far from an understatement: The high during the week the hiker died got up to nearly 126 degrees (F); which, even for Death Valley, is tremendously hot.
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.
“I thought, ‘That rascal. He just took off because he knows it’s hard for me to let him go,'” she added.
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 mountain 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.”
“We were supposed to grow old together, sit on our rocking chairs on the porch,” she said.
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