The desert is nothing to play around with, and a tragedy at White Sands National Monument puts that into harsh focus. White Sands officials say a man and woman from France are dead after an afternoon hike. Their nine-year-old son was with the couple, but he is expected to be okay.

White Sands rangers say they were on a routine patrol around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when they found the body of the woman. The man's body was found 30 minutes later. The couple's son was with the man. He was treated for heat exposure. He has been turned over to his grandmother.

The three were on the what White Sands officials say is the most strenuous hike in the park, the Alkali Flats. It isn't known how much water the three were carrying with them when they set out on the trail, nor why they didn't call for help. Tuesday's temperature was about 101 degrees. There is no shade at White Sands, and the reflection of the sands can intensify the heat.

If you are planning on going hiking, it is important to remember that you should carry at least a gallon of water per person, hike in the early morning or early evening, and wear a hat and sunscreen. Possibly the most important thing to remember is to let someone who isn't with you know where you are and when you plan to return.

Our prayers are with this family at this terrible time.