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Search For Missing Hiker At Mount Rainier National Park Suspended With Recovery Of Body


A missing hiker in Mount Rainier National Park apparently has been found dead, though park officials were awaiting official identification from a coroner.

Crews had been searching the Owyhigh Lakes Trail area on the east side of the mountain since Thursday for Karen Sykes, a Seattle, Washington, woman. She and a friend went for a day hike on Wednesday when they parted at 3 p.m. with the intention to meet back up. When Ms. Sykes failed to return, her friend alerted park authorities about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Ms. Sykes was an outdoor journalist, marathon runner, and considered a knowledgeable, experienced hiker. She had adequate survival gear to overnight in the event of an emergency.

Park officials suspended the search effort Saturday afternoon after they recovered the body of a woman from the search area. 

"The identification of the victim will be established by the Pierce County Medical Examiner," park spokeswoman Patti Wold said in a press release. "The victim was discovered off-trail near the eastern branch of Boundary Creek in rough, steep terrain. The area is difficult to access and not commonly traveled."

Seven ground crews and one helicopter were involved in the today’s search. 110 personnel were assigned over the course of the incident including volunteers and staff from North Cascades, Olympic, and Mount Rainier national parks.


The Pacific NW Hikers Forum has a thread on this search and the sad outcome. Ms Sykes seems to have been greatly loved and admired and will be sadly missed.


I wasn't familiar with her writings, but this incident reminds me of J Gordon Edwards, the mountaineer, ranger, and ecologist that wrote the best guide book for Glacier National Park, and finally died at the age of 84 while climbing up a peak in Glacier.  It's like a signatured exclamation point to a storied career.

Gary, interesting post. Back to an older issue, were you able to determine the facts on the issue of the alleged unauthorized trail building in the Smokies. If so I would be interested. 

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