A missing Yosemite hiker was found dead on Monday after plummeting roughly 300 feet from a cliff. According to officials, the body of 73-year-old Kenneth Stensby was recovered from the base of Vernal Fall, a popular waterfall located within the park.
Stensby, a retired real estate investment executive from Edina, Minnesota, was considered an experienced hiker. According to Yosemite spokesperson Scott Gediman, Stensby frequently visited the park. Usually staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel, he was known to venture out on daily hikes with camera in hand.
Before the hiker headed out on his daily adventure, he would leave a note for the hotel staff detailing the area of Yosemite he planned to explore. It was one such note that initially alerted personnel to his disappearance.
According to Yosemite officials, Stensby checked into the Ahwahnee Hotel last Tuesday. Early Sunday morning, he left his customary note with staff before heading out to hike the three-mile-long Mist Trail leading to Vernal Fall.
The Minnesota man wrote that he expected to return to the hotel around noon. When Stensby failed to arrive by late afternoon, the staff became concerned and reported the hiker missing.
Yosemite rangers began searching for the retiree and discovered his backpack next to guardrails located near the top of the waterfall. Stensby’s camera was reportedly missing from the belongings found inside the pack.
From Sunday evening through Monday, dozens of rangers, a dog team, and a California Highway Patrol helicopter tried to locate Kenneth Stensby. On Monday evening, the Yosemite hiker was found dead at the base of the falls. However, inclement weather conditions and approaching darkness preventing the recovery of his body until approximately 1 pm on Tuesday.
The fatal hiking event serves as a painful reminder of the precautionary practices that must be used by visitors. “Yosemite by geography has a lot of cliffs, and it is a very rugged area,” explained park spokesperson Kari Cobb. “We do urge visitors to be cautious to matter where they’re hiking.”
According to Cobb, a spokesperson for the park, the Yosemite hiker found dead on Monday represents the first accidental fatality at the site this year.
[Top image via Shutterstock]