A search is underway for a missing hiker on Mount Rainier after she failed to meet up with her hiking partner on Wednesday evening. The search was launched on Friday at Mount Rainier National Park for Karen Sykes, 70, a knowledgeable hiker and outdoors writer, after she was reported missing while researching a story.
Park spokeswoman Patti Wold told the Seattle Times that Sykes had enough survival gear to camp overnight in an emergency. She is well-known in the Northwest hiking community and has led several hikes through The Mountaineers Club. Sykes wrote the book Hidden Hikes about places in Western Washington and co-wrote another book, Best Wildflower Hikes: Washington.
Wold explained that Sykes was working on a new story at the time of her disappearance, which was reported by her partner Bob Morthorst. The pair planned a day hike on Wednesday up the Owyhigh Lakes Trail for an article she was writing. The pair split around 5,000 feet in elevation when Morthorst took a lunch break and Sykes continued on, saying she would be back in an hour.
Sykes’ friend Don Geyer explained that the hiker missing on Mount Rainier couldn’t go far, because the trail was covered in snow. She told Morthorst she would meet him on the way down. He reported her as overdue around 10:30 pm. The Washington Post reports that Geyer stated of Karen Sykes, “Hiking is just her passion. It was just her life.”
The missing hiker was described by Geyer as a quick-paced hiker who doesn’t take a lot of breaks and doesn’t linger. Wednesday saw fair hiking conditions with few clouds in the morning. Seven teams have been looking for Sykes on Mount Rainier since Wednesday, but the weather was too cloudy Friday to aircraft to join the operation.
Lola Kemp, a close friend of the missing hiker who planned to hike with her this weekend, explained to the Seattle Times in an email that she was anxious but hopeful that searchers will locate Sykes alive. Kemp stated, “She is the guru of trails. I find it difficult to imagine that she would get lost. I think it’s more likely she’s injured and waiting, perhaps impatiently, to be rescued.”
Search teams combed through deep, rugged terrain in the Owyhigh Lakes area on Friday, focusing along the length of the 8-mile Owyhigh Lakes Trail where the Mount Rainier hiker was last seen.
[Image by papalars]