Body of missing Mt. Rainier hiker found, search for firefighter continues in CA forest

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Seattle, WA, United States (4E) – The search for a missing hiker near Mount Rainier ended Saturday after her body was found while more than a hundred fire and safety crews were still looking for a firefighter missing in California’s Los Padres National Forest since June 13.

National Park Service officials informed the family of well-known outdoors writer Karen Sykes that the body found on the east side of Mount Rainier was hers.

Sykes, 70, and her boyfriend were hiking the Owyhigh Lakes area near Mount Rainier on Wednesday when they encountered ice at 5,000 feet. Her boyfriend did not continue hiking on snow and went down while she proceeded to go up. Before parting, both agreed to meet later.

Sykes’ partner reported her missing around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday. Rescue teams on the ground and in helicopters scoured the area around the trail for three days until a ground crew found the body in rough terrain and off the trail just before 3 p.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, searchers found the dog of Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman, 36, on Thursday but have yet to locate him as of Sunday.

Herdman went after his dog when it ran into the wilderness on June 13 while they were camping with his friend, Taylor Byars. Both failed to return and Byars had to hike out of the remote terrain for two days before calling the police.

Search crews are using drones, infrared cameras and even harmonicas to find Herdman in the Los Padres National Forest. They believe Herdman is still alive and waiting for rescue as he is an experienced and trained outdoor enthusiast.

Ventura County Sheriffs Captain Don Aguilar told KPCC it was their first time to use drones in a search and rescue operation. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary emergency permit for the sheriff’s department and the Simi Valley-based AeroVironment to use their drone in the area, Aguilar said.

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