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Search Operations for Missing Hiker in Panhandle Gap area on the Wonderland Trail Continue

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Date: July 15, 2014
Contact: Casey Broom, Information Officer, 360-569-6701

Search efforts to locate a missing day hiker on the Panhandle Gap area on the Wonderland Trailcontinued today.

The search for the overdue day hiker, Edwin Birch of Tacoma, WA, continued today with ground crews scouring the Ohanapacosh, Cowlitz Park and Nickel Creek areas of the Wonderland Trail. Air Search Operations focused on a 1 mile radius from the last know point of Mr. Birch.At approximately 3:30 pm on Saturday July 12th, father and son met midway on the trail about 1.5 miles north of Indian Bar at around 6600 feet. The park received the overdue hiker report at 1:30 am on Sunday, July 13th, 2014.

It is anticipated that ground search teams and air operations will continue to perform search operations tomorrow. The search area is in steep, rugged terrain with snow cover starting at the 6000-6500 foot level.

Sunrise road reopened today at 3:30 pm and it is not anticipated to be shut down for the remainder of the search operations.

Search and rescue dog teams from Lewis, Kittitas and Snohomish County, and Everett, Olympic, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma Mountain Rescue personnel are actively involved in the search efforts. Air support is coming in the form of a Bell206 helicopter from Northwest Helicopters and a Chinook helicopter out of Joint Base Lewis McChord is being used in support of the incident.

The Incident Command Post is located at the White River Ranger Station in the northeast segment of the park.

This section of the Wonderland Trail is snow covered above 6300 feet and patchy at other locations. The park advises that all hikers should come prepared with the ten essentials (http://www.mountaineersbooks.org/Assets/ClientPages/zz_TenEssentials.aspx) , and be prepared for difficult travel this time of year when snow can obscure park trails.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Tahoma Creek suspension bridge

The 93 mile Wonderland Trail encircles the mountain offering hikers commanding views of Mount Rainier blanketed by 25 icy glaciers. The trail leads through extensive subalpine meadows of wildflowers and lowland old growth forest. The Tahoma Creek suspension bridge is part of the Wonderland Trail.